Apple receives patent for “ionic wind generator”, may look to replace conventional fans in upcoming devices

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Date: Tuesday, November 6th, 2012, 08:10
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

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This could turn into something interesting.

And, hey, if it works…there might be fewer dust bunnies in your computing devices.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday a patent for a cooling system that blows ionized air through an electronic device, controlling its path by creating electromagnetic fields that can be dynamically adjusted to direct cooling where it’s needed most.

Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,305,728 for “Methods and apparatus for cooling electronic devices,” describes a system in which the direction of ionized air moving through a computing device is deflected by either an electric or magnetic field. Currently, mechanical fans pull in air and push it through predetermined physical paths within a computer, usually over passive heat exchangers, and out through an exhaust port.

Driving the air in Apple’s system is the ionic wind generator, basically a solid-state air mover based on “corona discharge–an electrical discharge near a charged conductor caused by the ionization of the surrounding air.” The system is comprised of a corona electrode, a collector electrode and a high voltage power supply. When voltage is applied to electrodes, an electric field is created and causes particles in the surrounding air to take on a charge, or become ionized. An electric field propels the charged particles toward the collector electrode, which collide with other neutral particles as they move to create to generate “bulk air movement.”

As the ionized air moves through the device, it can be deflected or redirected by a “deflection field generator,” which can be a magnet or electromagnet. The magnitude of deflection is governed by the Lorentz force, or force on a charged particle from an electromagnetic field, which can be varied by the deflection field generator.

By employing standard issue heat sensors, the ion wind pump and deflection field generator system can direct cooling air to high temperature areas like the CPU or GPU.

The system also solves another problem associated with always-on mechanical fans, the so-called “no slip” condition at the “surface and the mean free stream velocity at the outer reaches from the surface” of a component. When such a condition arises, it creates a boundary layer of air over a component, making heat transfer more difficult. By modulating the rate of deflection, or time in which air flow passes over a component, the system creates eddy currents and turbulent flows to disturb the boundary layer.

Finally, the ionized air exits the device through a vent that is in the path of the ionic pump’s normal air flow.

Interestingly, the invention notes that the system is not limited to large desktops and laptops, but in mobile devices such as cell phones and media players as well.

Although such ion wind pump technologies are used in specialized industrial and laboratory settings, a solution has not yet been presented in a consumer device. Apple has shown that it is actively looking to solve issues related to cooling internal components, including noise reduction as seen with the asymmetrical fans in both MacBook Pro with Retina display models, however it is unknown if the company will implement the solid state generator any time soon.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iFixit tears down fourth-gen iPad, finds similar design, updated processor, components

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Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 07:04
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

The fourth-gen iPad is faster with a better camera and a Lightning connector, but it’s apparently still the same beast as the third-gen iPad.

The cool cats at iFixit have completed a teardown of Apple’s new tablet and found that the tablet’s internal design has remained essentially untouched when compared to the previous iteration.

Hours after iFixit tore down the iPad mini, the firm did the same with Apple’s new 9.7-inch tablet to find that the iterative component changes didn’t warrant a redesign of the chassis or internal layout.

The tablet dissected by iFixit happened to be using an LG-sourced Retina display, not a Samsung panel like those first seen with the initial rollout of the third-generation iPad. At the time, it was reported that LG Display was ramping up production of their own high-resolution displays and began shipment months later. Samsung is still thought to be one of the main suppliers for the 9.7-inch panels, though Apple has recently made moves to diversify its supply chain.

Most of the significant changes were seen in the device’s logic board, which now boasts an A6X processor clocked at 1.4GHz with quad core graphics and 1GB of memory. Components on the backside of the board, such as the Broadcom touchscreen controller, were identical to the third-generation iPad.

Full list of chips found on the logic board:
- Apple A6X SoC

- Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash

- Apple 338S1116 Cirrus Logic Audio Codec

- 343S0622-A1 Dialog Semi PMIC

- Apple 338S1077 Cirrus Logic Class D Amplifier

- QVP TI 261 A9P2

It appears that Apple chose not to utilize the space afforded by its switch to the Lightning connector, as the extra room is left unfilled. In fact, the Lightning connector is placed in a frame that is the same size as the outgoing 30-pin unit.

The other notable change is the tablet’s upgraded front-facing camera, which gets a spec bump from 0.3 megapixels to 1.2 megapixels, granting it the FaceTime HD moniker.

Unveiled alongside the iPad mini at a special event in October, the fourth-generation iPad is available today at only at brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, as preorders for the device sold out on Tuesday.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new fourth-gen iPad and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

OWC Aura Pro fits into 13-inch MacBook Pro via included drive caddy

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 20:16
Category: hard drive, Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

This could be nifty.

According to an entry on the OWC blog, the OWC Aura Pro solid state drive fits just fine in Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s drive caddy (something new that wasn’t in the 15″ model), and so far everything seems to be running quite solidly.

Albeit there’s still a battery of tests to conduct, the drive seems to work well in the new notebook with no side effects.

Not a bad thing for an SSD unit that’s about US$200 cheaper than Apple’s drive, as mentioned by the mighty Jason over on the Apple Core

If you’ve tried the OWC Aura Pro in your brand new 13-inch MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iFixit teardown of 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro finds reconfigured battery layout, Samsung flash drive and soldered RAM

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 08:16
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

The long-awaited, mucho-lusted-after 13-inch MacBook Pro has arrived.

And dissected by the cool cats at iFixit.

During its investigation, the company found that Apple redesigned the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s battery to “cleverly” hide the solid-state drive underneath the device’s trackpad assembly, iFixit discovered in its disassembly of the new notebook. There’s even an empty space next to the SSD, which the repair site found to be “very un-Apple.”

The solutions provider attempted to fit a 9.5 millimeter Crucial solid-state drive into the space under the trackpad, but it couldn’t be closed. They suggested that a thinner 7-millimeter or 5-millimeter hard drive could fit in the space, which could allow upgrades for even greater capacity than Apple’s flash memory can allow.

The flash storage in the 13-inch MacBook Pro taken apart by iFixit is a Samsung MZ-DPC2560/0A2 unit rated at 3.3 volts and 2.39 amps with 256 gigabytes of storage.

The disassembly discovered that the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro has the same AirPort card as its 15-inch counterpart, while the heat sink has been slightly scaled down to fit into the smaller notebook. Apple has also once again used fans with asymmetrical blade spacing to reduce fan noise.

And like the 15-inch model, the RAM is surface-mount soldered to the logic board, meaning no upgrades are possible. Apple does not offer any more than 8 gigabytes of RAM on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The chips found on the system’s logic board are:
- Intel Core i5-3210M 2.5 GHz processor (Intel HD Graphics 4000 and Turbo Boost up to 3.10 GHz).

- Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM (8×4 Gb front and back for a total of 64 Gb or 8 GB).

- Intel BD82QS77 platform controller hub.

- Intel DSL3510L Thunderbolt controller.

- Texas Instruments Stellaris LM4FS1AH microcontroller with integrated ARM core.

- Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM.

- SMSC USB2512B USB 2.0 Hub Controller.

- Cypress Semiconductor CY8C24794-24L programmable SoC.

- Maxim MAX15119 Apple-specific IMVP7 CPU/GPU power controller.

- Cirrus Audio 4206BCNZ audio controller.

- Texas Instruments TPS 51980.

Another strange inclusion found in the notebook is a flash memory chip on the trackpad board. The same feature is also found in the 15-inch model, but iFixit doesn’t know why a trackpad would require flash memory.

Where repairability was concerned, iFixit found that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is a slight improvement over the 15-inch model in terms of recyclability and repairability, specifically with relation to the removal of the device’s batteries. Still, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display could only earn a repairability score of 2 out of 10.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.2 Update for 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina Display, late 2012 21.5″ iMac and Mac mini models

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 07:48
Category: iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News, Software

Where new hardware is released, the software updates will follow.

Per AppleInsider, only one day following the announcement of new iMac, MacBook Pro and Mac mini models, Apple on Wednesday released an OS X Mountain Lion update built specifically for those devices.

While the download is called OS X 10.8.2, just like the most recent update to Apple’s current operating system for all other Macs, Wednesday’s release is “for 13″ Macbook Pro with Retina Display, 21.5″ iMac (Late 2012)Mac mini (Late 2012).”

A quick look at the release notes doesn’t yield much in the way of new information, possibly pointing to issues the new 2012 units are facing with some features in 10.8.2. Of note is the update’s compatibility with the 21.5-inch iMac, a model that has yet to be released, though the no mention was made of the 27-inch version.

The update, a 654 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

Facebook:
- Single sign on for Facebook.
- Facebook as an option when sharing links and photos.
- Facebook friends’ contact information and profile pictures in Contacts.
- Facebook notifications in Notification Center.

Game Center:
- Share scores to Facebook, Twitter, Mail, or Messages.
- Facebook friends are included in Game Center friend recommendations.
- Facebook Like button for games.
- Challenge friends to beat your score or achievement.

Other new features:
- Power Nap support for MacBook Air (Late 2010).
- iMessages sent to your phone number now appear in Messages on your Mac.
- From Safari and Mail on your Mac you can add passes to Passbook on your iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 6.
- New shared Reminders lists.
- FaceTime now receives calls sent to your phone number.
- New sort options allow you to sort notes by title, the date you edited them, and when you created them.
- Dictation now supports Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Korean, Canadian English, Canadian French, and Italian.
- The Dictionary application now includes a French definition dictionary.
- Sina Weibo profile photos can now be added to Contacts.

This update also includes general operating system fixes that improve the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac, including the following fixes:
- An option to discard the changes in the original document when choosing Save As.
- Unsent drafts are opened automatically when launching Mail.
- Receive Twitter notifications for mentions and replies from anyone
- URLs are shortened when sending tweets from Notification Center
- Notifications are disabled when AirPlay Mirroring is being used
- SSL support for Google searches from the Smart Search Field in Safari
- New preference to have Safari launch with previously open webpages
- Graphics performance and reliability enhancements
- USB 3.0 reliability enhancements

As always, the update can be located and installed via the Mac App Store or OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

Skype updated to 6.0.60.2946

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Date: Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, 07:41
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, version 6.0.60.2946 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 34.5 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:
- Microsoft and Facebook Account Integration: Sign up and sign-in is easier than ever. You can now sign into Skype using your Microsoft or Facebook account – there’s no need to create a new Skype account. This makes it even easier to connect with friends on Skype without having to set up another account.

- IM friends on Messenger: Now you can instant message your Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail and Outlook.com contacts via Skype all in one place. If you use a Microsoft account today, merging your accounts is easy – just sign in to Skype with your Microsoft account.

- Calling with Messenger friends is coming soon: We’re working on polishing a feature which will enable audio and video calls to Windows Live Messenger customers using Skype desktop clients. The feature will be available in coming weeks.

- Open Chats in Multiple Windows: We hear your feedback! With this release we’ve added support to open chats in multiple windows.

- Retina Display Support: We also added another feature you’ve asked for – support Retina display. Now you can take full advantage of improved usability and of higher resolutions.

Skype 6.0.60.2946 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iPad 2 left without Siri support after iPad mini launch

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Date: Wednesday, October 24th, 2012, 07:12
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

As nifty as the iPad 2 is, it’s getting left behind where some features are concerned.

Per AppleInsider, while it was announced on Tuesday that the new iPad mini is compatible with Apple’s Siri voice recognizing assistant, however owners of the now long-in-the-tooth iPad 2 still won’t be able to access the feature.

With the announcement, it appears that Siri will never make it to the iPad 2, as the tablet was only mentioned in passing in a brief a comparison to the new iPad mini.

Looking at the technical specifications, the iPad mini boasts a number of improvements over the iPad 2, including upgraded cameras, extended wireless capabilities, and perhaps most important to some, a lower price tag.

What is identical, however, is the A5-series chip found in both tablets, a version of which is also used in the fifth-generation iPod touch. Unlike the iPad 2, however, the iPad mini and iPod touch sport Siri functionality.

It is unclear why Apple decided to once again pass over the iPad 2, though it could portend the inevitable axing of the product from the tablet line as it is more expensive and less capable than its newly-released sibling. The tablet is likely to be kept on as a “budget” model to the fourth-generation iPad, and could be phased out when the next full-size tablet is launched sometime next year.

The only feature trumped by the second-generation iPad is the size of its display, though as Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller pointed out, the mini’s screen resolution is identical to the 9.7-inch iPad 2′s, except condensed into a 7.9-inch format. According to those on hand at the event, the higher pixel density is noticeable, though not quite up to par with the full-size iPad’s Retina display.

Given that almost every new device coming out of Cupertino being Siri-capable, the iPad 2 stands out as a lonely carry-over product that is past its prime.

Apple announces updated, Ivy Bridge Mac mini

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:23
Category: Hardware, Mac mini, News

The Mac mini, it’s now equipped with Ivy Bridge goodness.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, besides a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, Apple also updated its Mac mini line of desktops. The affordable Mac computer keeps the same boxy form factor, but soups up internals with a Core i5 or Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor (dual-core or quad-core configuration), integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, up to 16 GB RAM and up to 1 TB hard drive or 256 GB SSD. Other features include Bluetooth 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI out, FireWire 800, Thunderbolt port, four USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot.

The base model starts at US$600 with a 500 GB hard drive and 4 GB of memory. It is available starting today. A server edition will be available for US$999.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 18:18
Category: MacBook Pro, News

You’ve been waiting for this for a long time now.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday took the wraps off its redesigned 13-inch MacBook Pro, featuring a high-resolution Retina display.

Apple executive Phil Schiller noted that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is Apple’s best selling Mac in its entire product lineup. With that in mind, the company has high expectations for its new MacBook Pro with Retina display.

The pixel count on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro is so high that it is now the second highest resolution notebook, ahead of all competitors’ models with larger 15 or even 17 inch screens, the company said. The new screen features rich color, deep blacks, a 29% higher contrast ratio, a 75% reduction in reflection, uses IPS for 178 degree viewing, and delivers 300 nits of brightness.



“The 13-inch MacBook Pro is our most popular Mac, and today it gets completely reinvented with a new thin and light design, fast flash storage and a gorgeous Retina display,” Schiller said. “With vivid colors, razor sharp text and more pixels than anyone else’s 15 or 17-inch notebooks, the Retina display completely changes what you expect from a notebook.”

The new model weighs just 3 lbs, almost a full pound lighter than the previous 13-inch MacBook Pro, and is 0.75 inches thick, 25% thinner than before and the lightest ever. Schiller noted that the MacBook Pro’s Retina display has more than 4 times as many pixels than its predecessor.

The 13-inch Retina display has a pixel density of 227 pixels per inch. It also uses IPS technology for a 178-degree-wide viewing angle, and has 75 percent less reflection with 28 percent higher contrast than the current generation.

Beyond the screen, it has a FaceTime HD camera, dual microphones, stereo speakers, a backlit keyboard, and glass multi-touch trackpad, as well as the new MagSafe 2, dual Thunderbolt ports and USB 3.0.

Schiller said the “most exciting” part of the computer is on the inside: It’s been re-engineered from scratch, with asymmetric battery technology, Intel Core i5 or i7 “Ivy Bridge” processors, and Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics.

It also has up to 7 hours of battery life and comes with 8 gigabytes of RAM. Like its 15-inch brethren, the new MacBook Pro is only available with flash storage, which can be upgraded to 768 gigabytes.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage starting at US$1,699; and with 256GB of flash storage starting at US$1,999. Configure-to-order options include faster dual-core Intel Core i7 processors and flash storage up to 768GB. Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at apple.com/macbook-pro. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available today through the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to offer livestream of media event today

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Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012, 06:08
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPad, iPhone, News

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Today’s Apple media event starts in just a few hours.

And Apple will be streaming it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has added a new channel to its Apple TV set-top box called “Apple Events” that will live stream the company’s media briefing today. In addition, the event will also be streamed to iOS devices and Macs.

Users are invited to tune in at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern to watch the “Apple Special Event” live. The presentation will be held at the California Theatre in San Jose.

In addition to a live stream of the event, Apple TV users can also watch Apple’s other past presentations, including the iPhone 5 unveiling, the 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference, and the introduction of the third-generation iPad with Retina display. Streaming via Apple TV requires a second- or third-generation model with software 5.0.2 or later.

For those on a Mac, the live stream requires Safari 4 or later on OS X 10.6 or later. On iOS devices, Safari on iOS 4.2 or later is required. The stream will be made available at this link later today.

Apple has on occasion offered live streams of its events, most recently in September of 2010. However, those events were streamed to Mac and iOS devices, not the Apple TV.

A week ago, Apple sent invitations to members of the press inviting them to see “a little more.” The company is expected to introduce a new, smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display.

Also potentially on tap today are new Macs, most prominently a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. The company may also introduce a new version of iBooks, and a revamped version of its iTunes desktop software.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and happy streaming later on today!