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

Posted by:
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.

Mac OS X 10.6.3 release seems imminent, upgrade tips posted

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 22nd, 2010, 04:16
Category: News

snowleopard

Following a flurry of developer releases for the upcoming Mac OS X 10.6.3 update, a public release seems imminent with sources guessing it could be released today or this week.

With that in mind, the cool cats at CNET have offered the following preparation steps to take prior to the update:

Back up:
Always back up your system before updating it. The best practice is to perform a full and restorable backup by using Time Machine or a cloning system (SuperDuper, Carbon Copy Cloner) and then testing the backup to be sure you can access it in the event of an update failure.

To test your Time Machine backup, boot to the OS X installation DVD, select your language, and choose the option to restore from backup that is in the Utilities menu. In the restorable backup list, you should see the most current backup you made. To test a bootable drive clone, boot to it either by selecting the clone in the Startup Disk system preferences and rebooting, or by holding the Option key at start-up and selecting the drive from the boot menu.
Once you have confirmed the backups are healthy and have booted back to your main hard drive, unplug the drive from your system (if you can–some people use internal drives for Time Machine) or unmount it at the very least (just drag it to the trash) so the system will not interact with it during the update. Then proceed with the update.

Clear up current issues:
If you are having major problems with your current OS installation, try addressing them first. While OS updates can be the solution to many problems, if you are having major stability problems (i.e., random crashes, odd noises, inability to authenticate) then be sure to address them before applying the update.

Run general maintenance:
At the very least, run some general maintenance on the system before updating. For the most part you can do this by booting into Safe Mode (which runs a few maintenance routines at start-up) and then running a permissions fix using Disk Utility. In addition, you can also clear caches and other temporary files using programs like OnyX, Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner, IceClean, Yasu, and Cocktail.

Unplug peripheral devices:
If you have external USB or Firewire devices, unplug them from your system before updating. While it is rare that peripheral devices interfere with installations and updates, it can happen especially upon the first reboot as the system reconfigures drivers and boot caches. Once you have installed the update and have completed the first boot, then plug in your devices again.

Installation options:

Software update:
This is the most common method of updating, and will download the minimum number of files needed for your system and current software setup. It is the fastest and easiest method, but will keep a large number of the unchanged files on your system.

Standalone Delta update:
As with other versions of OS X, Apple will provide the 10.6.3 update as a standalone installer. This may be a larger download than what is available via Software Update because it includes update files for all computer models and software setups. It will be available at Apple’s support downloads page, and we will also provide a link to the delta updater when it is released.

Using this update allows you to take extra recommended precautionary steps during the installation, such as booting into Safe Mode and installing when unplugged from the network to avoid any interruptions.

Standalone Combo Update:
Similar to the Delta updater, you will have the option for the full Combo update. This update will contain the full set of files that have been updated since the OS X 10.6.0 release. Using it to install the update will ensure all updated files are replaced, even if they have not been changed since 10.6.2. Using the combo updater is a fairly standard troubleshooting step that can help fix various OS problems, and is a good way to keep your OS installation as fresh as possible.

As with the delta update, we recommend you install this when booted to Safe Mode and after running standard preparatory maintenance routines such as permissions fixes.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know if you happen across any tips, tricks or fixes during your update.

Apple Releases Updated Mac OS X 10.6.3 Dev Build, Official Release Seems Close

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 25th, 2010, 05:21
Category: News, Software

applelogo1.jpg

Late Wednesday Apple released a new version of its Mac OS X 10.6.3 beta to its developer community. The build, labeled 10D561, currently lists no known issues, which suggests that a formal release via Software Update may be in the near term.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest beta claim no changes have been made to the software’s enhancements checklist, which includes an update to QuickTime X that improves security and compatibility while simultaneously enhancing overall reliability.

Other changes present since earlier betas include tweaks that enhance the performance of Apple’s 64-bit Logic Pro audio suite and improved compatibility with third-party printers and OpenGL-grounded applications.

Those familiar with Wednesday’s beta say Apple is now asking developers to focus their evaluation efforts on Bluetooth, iChat, and USB, in addition to two previously listed focus areas: graphics drivers and QuickTime.

An earlier emphasis on AirPort testing has reportedly been omitted from build 10D561.

Mac OS X 10.6.3 currently weighs in at just over 716MB in Delta form, down slightly from the 737MB package distributed with the previous seeding.

If you’ve had a chance to play with the new build, let us know.

Battery-Powered Wi-Reach Classic Converts 3G/4G Cards Into Wi-Fi Hotspot

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 16th, 2010, 08:18
Category: News

This could be nifty.

Per Business Wire, Connect One‘s battery powered Wi-Reach Classic allows users to insert a 3G or 4G USB card to create a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can allow up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices to connect to the Internet. The device will support the WiMax and LTE protocols after a future firmware update and car reportedly run for up to five hours on a full charge as well as recharge over a USB connection.

wi-reach-classic

The Wi-Reach Classic is available now for US$99.

MWSF: Incase Reveals Combo Charger for iPod and iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 15th, 2010, 05:44
Category: Accessory, iPhone, iPod, Macworld Expo

Let’s face it: we’re gadget-centric and we need our chargers.

Per iLounge, accessory maker Incase has released its Combo Charger for iPod and iPhone. The device arrives in black or white and allows users to charge two devices at once if you provide a cable for the second USB port.

3

An Incase leaf logo below the ports glows when connected to a car or wall power source, and the bulb has been redesigned from previous versions to occupy a narrower profile while enhancing the functionality and the company says that the ports offer the “fastest possible charge” — 1 amp — as compared with 0.5 amp competitors.

The Combo Charger retails for US$40 and is immediately available.

Wisair Introduces Wireless USB Display Dock for Apple Notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 9th, 2010, 05:21
Category: Accessory, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro

WUSB_DISPLAYDOCK_Adapter

Getting a bit of a jump on the Macworld releases, peripheral company Wisair on Monday introduced a Wireless USB DisplayDock Set, allowing users to wirelessly connect their MacBooks to a desktop-like setup that include a monitor, speakers, a keyboard and mouse. Per Electronista, the device connects to a USB port on any MacBook and Wisair claims there are no delays in sending the keyboard or mouse commands due to the nature of the ultra wideband radio.

The pre-paired adapters have a 128-bit encrypted link for security, while maximum range is said to be 30 feet. Video tops out at a resolution of 1440×1050.

The Wireless USB DisplayDock Set requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run. will ship by the end of March, though final pricing has yet to be revealed.

USB 3.0 PCI Express Cards for the Mac on the Horizon…Maybe

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 27th, 2009, 08:38
Category: News

USB3.0_2

Back in 1998, the original iMac was one of the first computers to adopt USB technology. Later, Apple proved to be a little late in getting USB 2.0 on its machines. Now, with USB 3.0 around the corner, some options may be emerging that suggest that Mac Pro and various PowerMac users will have access to USB 3.0 technologies.

Per CNET, Buffalo Technology recently announced their latest hard drives with USB 3.0 support, beating speculation that these devices would not arrive until next year. As for what this means with regards to USB 3.0 in Macs, the drives apparently ship with a USB 3.0 PCI-express card that can be dropped in and used on any system, and according to the press release they are compatible with both PCs and Macs.

“The USB 3.0 PCI Express Interface Card allows users to upgrade their PC, notebook or Mac to take advantage of the next generation of external hard drives that offer faster data transfer speeds than ever before.”

Although this may be good news for Mac users, the press release is a bit confusing since it also mentions the card is compatible with notebook systems. This may be an error, but also puts into question their claim of Mac compatibility.

The card being supplied with the drive is Buffalo’s IFC-PCIE2U3 card, and its inclusion with a drive that is advertised as being Mac compatible suggests (albeit indirectly) that the card is also compatible with Macs. Despite this, as with most USB 3.0 expansion cards that are already out on the market, this card’s information page has no specific mention of Mac support, and only lists Windows XP and later as supported operating systems.

Overall, this card may be an option for adding USB 3.0 support to PowerMacs and Mac Pros with PCI-express slots, but there is the possibility that these cards do not support Macs and are only being included with the drives to provide USB 3.0 speeds for PCs.

Time to wait and see, but if USB 3.0 drives are on the horizon, there’s a fortune to be made for a good third party PCI-express card that works and allows for the 4.8 GB Gbit/second data throughput rate none of us would mind having access to.

Apple Seeds Latest 10.6.2 Build, Includes Bug Fixes for Fusion 3.0, iMacs, Retains Atom Support

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, November 5th, 2009, 04:59
Category: Software

applelogo1.jpg

Apple has released the most recent build of its upcoming Mac OS X 10.6.2 operating system update. Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the build, titled 10C540 have said that it contains fixes for AirPort performance issues on the newly released iMacs and also resolves a problem which arose when plugging and unplugging a system to an Apple TV. A VMWare fix is also included, presumably for the newly released Fusion version 3.0.

The new build also fixes reported panic issues with USB, Apple Filing Protocol, and some video cards.

In the 10.6.2 update, Apple plans on fixing and tweaking nearly 150 OS X components.

Some components slated for fixes include: AppleBacklight, Battery Menu, Dictionary, Expose, FileSync, Family Controls, Fonts, Front Row, HFS, Inkwell, iPhoto, MobileMe, OpenCL, Parental Controls, QuickTime, Screen Sharing, Spell Checker, Spotlight, Time Machine, and USB.

The new build also reportedly restores support for Intel’s Atom processor, which was said to have been blacklisted and might not be supported in the update given its popularity in the “Hackintosh” community.

Mac OS X 10.6.2 is expected to be released sometime this month and will reportedly be around 480 MB in size.

Apple to Upgrade Nearly 150 Components in Mac OS X 10.6.2 Update

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 29th, 2009, 05:34
Category: Software

applelogo1.jpg

Recently, Apple shipped yet another beta of its upcoming Mac OS X 10.6.2 operating system update to developers, the update altering nearly 150 components. Per AppleInsider, the latest beta, labeled Mac OS X 10.6.2 build 10C535, arrives one week after the Mac maker issued build 10C531 to address issues with Snow Leopard’s Dock, ColorSync, QuartzCore and graphic driver components.

This week, Apple has asked developers to continue to provide feedback on graphics drivers while also tasking them with focusing their evaluation efforts on TrackPad preferences and the ability to create virtual machines, sources close to the story say.

As was the case with last week’s beta, documentation accompanying build 10C535 reportedly lists no known issues. While Apple has temporarily ceased its practice of providing a running list of bug fixes that will come baked into the impending release, it did identify 148 components that have seen tweaks.

Among those components are AppleBacklight, Battery Menu, Dictionary, Expose, FileSync, Family Controls, Fonts, Front Row, HFS, Inkwell, iPhoto, MobileMe, OpenCL, Parental Controls, QuickTime, Screen Sharing, Spell Checker, Spotlight, Time Machine, and USB.

In bare bones Delta form, Mac OS X 10.6.2 currently weighs in at a roughly 480 megabyte download. The update is expected for release sometime in November.