QuickerTek releases Apple Juicz external battery for iPad

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Date: Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 10:31
Category: Accessory, iPad, News

Accessory maker QuickerTek has announced a new line of external batteries via its
Apple Juicz for iPad. The unit, a 9400mAh lithium polymer battery is claimed to be rated for over 2000 charge cycles with the web site claiming that the battery pack adds an additional 20 hours of usage time for the iPad with each charge.

The pack features advanced safety circuitry with failsafe protection, temperature and charge/discharge controls and automatic cell balancing. Per iPodNN, the Apple Juicz can fully recharge an iPad in three hours, while a second USB port can charge a second device such as an iPhone or iPod touch. It can power any USB-chargeable device, but has special circuitry guaranteeing compatibility with Apple’s range of products.

The battery is housed in a machined aluminum case with an anodized finish. The design also integrates a 10-LED gauge that allows users to quickly view the remaining battery power.

The Juicz for iPad is now shipping for US$250 and includes a year’s warranty with parts and labor.

Apple releases sixth beta of Mac OS X 10.6.4, no known issues reported

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Date: Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010, 11:09
Category: News, Software

snowleopard

Apple this week issued a sixth beta of its Mac OS X 10.6.4 security and maintenance update for its Snow Leopard operating system. Per AppleInsider, the latest build remains free of known issues.

According to sources close to the story, the beta, which was issued to developers last Tuesday, is labeled as “build 10F564″, weighs in at 600 megabytes which developers being asked to focus on graphics drivers, SMB, USB, VoiceOver and VPN.

The last few builds have all contained the same focus areas and enhancements, and this week’s update is no different. The updates addressed issues that could cause the keyboard or trackpad to become unresponsive, and also fixed a problem that prevented some Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications from loading.

Apple first began widespread testing of Mac OS X 10.6.4 in late April. The previous update to Snow Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6.3, was released at the end of March. It included improvements for QuickTime X and OpenGL-based applications, in the form of a 437.2 megabyte update.

Elgato releases EyeTV 3.4 update

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Date: Tuesday, May 25th, 2010, 02:41
Category: Software

eyetv2

Late Monday, Elgato Systems released version 3.4 of its EyeTV software application, which finds and tracks all television programming you want to see and allows users to pause live television and save content to file.

The new version, a 104.9 megabyte update which can be found here via VersionTracker (and can also be found through EyeTV 3.0’s update feature), adds the following fixes and features:

– EyeTV Sat: A problem where the EyeTV infrared remote would repeat the same key has been resolved.

– EyeTV’s CPU utilization and memory usage have been reduced when no windows are open.

– The EyeTV Application size is smaller.

– The FF/REW buttons on the Apple remote now work as intended with longer key presses.

– A problem where EyeTV USB would hang has been resolved.

– A cosmetic problem where long channel numbers would not display correctly in EyeTV’s on screen menu has been resolved.

EyeTV 3.4 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run. The program retails for US$79.95.

USB 3.0 underperforms in notebook tests, bottlenecks cited

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Date: Monday, May 10th, 2010, 05:49
Category: News

USB 3.0 may be the future, but it may still have room for improvement. Per Techworld, the upcoming port technology may be hard pressed to surpass current technologies like eSATA.

The test comprised plugging Freecom’s USB 3.0 external drive, the XS Hard Drive 3.0, into a mainstream dual-core notebook using the company’s new USB 3.0 Express Card notebook add-on.

Throughput was derived using a simple calculation based on how long the drive took to copy and paste a large number of video and image files to and from the laptop, replicating how the drive will actually be used in the real world for functions such as directory backup.

The Freecom XS operating in USB 2.0 mode managed an average throughput of 18.7MB/s for reads and only 11.1MB/s for writes, well below the theoretical maximum of USB 2.0 but in line with real-world transfer speeds on a mid-range laptop.

The same drive in USB 3.0 mode raised this to 36.6MB/s for reads and about the same or slightly slower for writes, although this fluctuated considerably for reasons that might relate to the supplied NEC driver. Still, there seems to be a relative difference which will depend on a range of factors including overall system performance.

The tests concluded that USB 3.0 offers even notebook users a handy though not spectacular speed boost compared to USB 2.0 of around two-three times. However, when pitted against an eSATA drive from LG, the interface port for which is found on many high end notebooks, the results were less clear cut.

Copying the test files to an external LG eSATA drive achieved throughputs of 32.5MB/s for reads, and 29.7MB/s for writes, not much slower than USB 3.0 on this hardware. In some cases, it even matched the USB 3.0 drive.

Freecom engineers agreed that USB 3.0 would be held back by a number of bottlenecks on today’s systems, especially laptops which typically use slower internal hard drives. Desktop systems which can use the company’s faster PCI Express Card interface would fare better, they said.

USB 3.0 will start to shine when paired with forthcoming SATA 3.0 or even SSD drives, faster CPUs able to keep up with the dramatically higher data throughtputs, integrated USB 3.0 ports that don’t need slow interfaces such as Express card, and possibly also better drivers and chipsets.

Mac OS X 10.6.4 update to address OpenGL, iPhoto, DVD Player and VNC-related issues

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Date: Friday, May 7th, 2010, 05:46
Category: News, Software

snowleopard

The Mac OS X 10.6.4 update will pick up where Mac OS X 10.6.3 left off by tackling compatibility issues with OpenGL-based applications and bandaging glitches with first- and third-party applications.

Per AppleInsider, a list of code corrections that Apple provided to some developers on Thursday alongside the second external beta of Mac OS X 10.6.4, carrying build number 10F46 is pointing development along those lines. The build arrived roughly one week after Apple issued the first external pre-release copies of the Snow Leopard update, which focused on graphics drivers, Windows file sharing, USB devices and Voice Over.

While the focus areas remain relatively the same in Thursday’s build, Apple added a fix for dropped connections with Cisco VPN and thus asked developers to evaluate the overall reliability of VPN connections under the beta.

According to sources testing Mac OS X 10.6.4, other fixes are also in the cards for pairing Apple remotes with Macs, graphics anomalies that surface when editing images in iPhoto’s full-screen mode, and video playback in DVD Player.

Additional code corrections reportedly target glitches with Parental Controls, erratic USB keyboard behaviors, 3D animations, and problems launching Adobe CS3 applications like Photoshop and Illustrator.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new Mac OS X 10.6.4 build and have any feedback, let the rest of the class know what you make of it…

Intel demonstrates Light Peak port technology for HD video streams

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Date: Thursday, May 6th, 2010, 04:48
Category: News

intellogo.jpg

PC Pro is reporting that Intel has been demoing a laptop running the company’s “Light Peak” connectivity standard initially offering transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps in both directions. The company previously demonstrated the technology using a prototype Mac Pro motherboard last year, but has now reduced the required hardware to fit inside a laptop enclosure.

The demonstration laptop was sending two separate HD video streams to a nearby television screen, without any visible lag. The laptop includes a 12mm square chip that converts the optical light into electrical data that the computer understands.

Intel’s chief technology officer, Justin Rattner, claimed that the bandwidth afforded by the optical technology is practically unlimited. “Light Peak begins at 10Gbits/sec, simultaneously in both directions,” he said. “We expect to increase that speed dramatically. You’ll see multiple displays being served by a single Light Peak connection. There’s almost no limit to the bandwidth – fibers can carry trillions of bits per second”.

Intel has touted Light Peak as a possible replacement to USB, Firewire, and display connectors in the future, and notes that the hardware should become available to computer manufacturers by the end of this year.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.4 build to wider developer base for testing

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Date: Thursday, April 29th, 2010, 04:40
Category: News, Software

applelogo_silver

Apple on Wednesday released a widespread developer beta version of its Mac OS X 10.6.4, the fourth maintenance and security update for its Snow Leopard operating system. Until now, the future OS had been under development internally for several weeks.

According to AppleInsider, the beta, labeled Mac OS X 10.6.4 build 10F37, made its way to Apple Developer Connection (ADC) members just one day after a more elite set of testers belonging to Apple’s Apple Seed program were able to test the beta.

According to sources familiar with Wednesday distribution, Apple has asked developers to test four key areas of the system, including graphics drivers, Windows file sharing, USB devices and Voice Over.

Although the build released to ADC members on Wednesday is identical to the one issued to Apple Seed members on Tuesday, an emphasis on evaluating Time Machine backups noted in the Apple Seed distribution was not extended to the ADC version.

It’s unclear what specific issues Mac OS X 10.6.4 will target upon its release, as Apple reportedly stopped short of including a list of enhancements with either of the aforementioned distributions.

That said, the updated build could arrive sooner than later given that the Mac maker went through 36 builds internally before tapping its developer community to put its weight on the software.

Apple listed only one known issue in documentation accompanying Wednesday’s build: that iChat will require a password each time it’s launched.

Fourth-Generation iPhone prototype discovered, analyzed

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Date: Monday, April 19th, 2010, 05:19
Category: iPhone, photos, Rumor

3gs.jpg

A series of new photos of an alleged fourth-generation iPhone prototype surfaced over the weekend, the device sporting dual cameras with flash, a high-resolution screen, and a slot for a MicroSIM card.

Per Engadget, the device was allegedly found laying on the floor of a San Jose bar and sports a front-facing camera, 80GB of storage, and aluminum sides. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber spoke with sources who reaffirmed to him that the device is legitimate, and “Apple is very interested in getting it back.”

“I am not certain this is the actual production unit Apple intends to ship to consumers,” he wrote. “I think it’s a testbed frame — thicker, with visible (un-Apple-like) seams, meant to fit into 3GS cases so as to disguise units out in the wild. It’s hard to tell from the photos. But I think it is the real deal in terms of the internals and the display being next-gen hardware, and the new glass back.”

He also went on to mention a patent regarding radio-transparent zirconia CE casings. Such casings could allow wireless signals to pass through an enclosure uninhibited and could improve reception on future iPhone models. Gruber theorized that the glass-looking back seen on the iPhone prototype could be a “high-durability” ceramic enclosure, similar to what was mentioned in the patent, as having glass on both sides of the new iPhone would make it very fragile if dropped.

The alleged prototype iPhone, reportedly dubbed “iPhone HD,” sports a double-resolution 960 x 640 pixel display. Previous reports suggested the new handset would, like the iPad, sport a custom-built processor from Apple.

The back of the device has Xs in place of certain numbers, such as the amount of storage and Federal Communications Commission ID number. It was also said to be previously running with a “decidedly new” operating system, though it is no longer booting. The device also has a “button” on its side, which sources told Engadget is for holding a MicroSIM card for connectivity with a GSM network, suggesting it is not the CDMA compatible model Apple is purportedly working on.

When Apple introduced the developer preview of its forthcoming iPhone OS 4 mobile operating system, users found references to iChat and frameworks containing the strings “front facing” and “back facing,” providing even more potential evidence of a new model with video chat. Apple was also said to be looking to secure large quantities of LED camera flash components for a forthcoming iPhone, and data discovered in the iPhone OS 4 beta suggests that the next-gen device will indeed include a camera flash.

Apple is expected to introduce the fourth-generation iPhone at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Last week the head of a Canadian wireless carrier said Apple will ship the device that same month, while AT&T employees have been restricted from taking vacations in the same month.

Intel: Light Peak could succeed, replace USB 3.0 ports in several years

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Date: Wednesday, April 14th, 2010, 11:14
Category: News

intellogo.jpg

Representatives from Intel went on record to state that the company’s upcoming Light Peak technology could eventually succeed and replace USB 3.0 in several years. Intel, which announced Light Peak last year, hopes it will be broadly used by devices ranging from PCs to consumer electronics and other gadgets, said Kevin Kahn, an Intel senior fellow, in a speech at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing. Per Macworld, Intel will make the technology available late this year and expects partners to start shipping devices with it next year, Kahn said.

“We view this as a logical future successor to USB 3.0,” Kahn said. “In some sense we’d… like to build the last cable you’ll ever need.”

A trend toward optical instead of electrical links raises the risk that separate optical cables could appear for many protocols, such as USB and serial ATA, said Justin Rattner, the head of Intel Labs, on the sidelines of IDF. Light Peak can run multiple protocols at the same time over one line, so all the data meant for the separate cables could run through one Light Peak cable instead.

Intel insists there is no conflict between Light Peak and USB 3.0 and views the technologies as complementary, as Light Peak enables USB and other protocols to run together on a single, longer cable and at higher speeds in the future, according to a slide in Kahn’s IDF presentation. “We expect both to exist together in the market and perhaps on the same platform at the same time,” the slide said.

A laptop with Light Peak built in was on show during Kahn’s speech. A long, thin Light Peak cable, which linked the laptop to a docking station and a monitor, was used simultaneously to transmit Blu-ray video, a feed from a high-definition camera and a duplication of the notebook’s display onto the other screen. Light Peak can currently transfer data at a speed of 10G bps (bits per second), or fast enough to send a full Blu-Ray movie in less than half a minute, according to Intel. But the technology could be scaled up to 10 times that speed in the next decade according to company representatives.

USB 3.0, the latest version of USB, is far slower than Light Peak with a signalling rate of 5G bps, though it remains much faster than the current version of USB. Still, USB 3.0 is not yet widespread in devices. That is partly because many PC manufacturers will wait on USB 3.0 until support is built directly into the chipsets they buy, which is only expected to happen in late 2011, according to a research note from In-Stat.

Intel, which is a major vendor of PC chipsets, did not immediately reply to a question about whether it will launch chipsets with built-in support for USB 3.0. A spokesman for rival chip maker Advanced Micro Devices said the company will have chipsets with built-in support for USB 3.0 but declined to say when.

When asked if Intel would build Light Peak support into its chipsets, Kahn said the company could do so if Light Peak spreads quickly, but declined to comment further.

Intel expects an industry group promoting Light Peak to launch next year, Kahn said. The company has said it will work with the industry to make Light Peak a standard and speed its adoption.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Review: Apple iPad Cover

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 8th, 2010, 03:30
Category: Accessory, iPad, Review

By Mike DeWalt

So, you’ve bought your iPad – or are thinking about it – and you’re starting to think about accessorizing. You have several options even at this early stage: You can pick up an extra charger, a dock, an external keyboard, a VGA adapter, a USB connector for your camera, and headphones or ear buds. All are worthy additions that some iPad owners will want.

There is however, what I’d consider a “must have” for all iPad owners … and that’s some kind of cover or case. I’ve had my iPad since Saturday morning and it came to work naked with me on Monday and Tuesday … and that wasn’t good. Without a cover it’s more prone to bumps, scratches, and drops. Also, the screen seems to collect greasy finger smudges and it’s tough to carry it around naked without getting the screen even more smudged up.

So, I was pleased that my official US$39 Apple iPad case arrived late yesterday afternoon. My initial impressions are somewhat mixed. In terms of the form factor, I’m 100% sold. This is absolutely the type of case I need. The iPad slides into the right side, it’s a snug and secure fit, the screen is uncovered and there are cutouts for all the do-dads … on/off button, dock connector, speaker, headphone jack, etc. The left side folds over the screen like a book cover. Think legal pad folio.

The material is very slightly padded, but not so much that it makes the sleek iPad bulky. The cover is mostly rigid and offers decent protection. The surface of the material is matt with a very fine texture. The cover can fold backward and clip into a flap on the back of the case to make it a nifty little stand that you can use in portrait or landscape mode.

All-in-all a very good form factor and a reasonable value for 39 bucks. So, why did I say my impressions were mixed? Three reasons:

1. The edges are a bit sharp and stiff where the seams are joined (pinched together). It would have been better if they were rounded around the edge.

2. The “stand” feature is a great idea and should work fine on dry land. However, I’m not so sure it’s stable enough to use on a train or plane table without falling over.

3. The iPad itself looks like a million bucks. It feels and looks like a very high quality product … really nice. The Apple iPad cover is a bit more “utilitarian”. It works, it looks OK, and the price is fine. In other words, iPad=Filet Mignon … iPad Case=a good hot dog.

The Bottom Line:
I’ll happily use this case … I’m glad I have it because a naked iPad is a recipe for trouble in my hands. But I’ll keep my eye out for something better down the road once the 3rd party suppliers get cranked up.