Microsoft targets iPad, unveils Surface tablet

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, 07:56
Category: Hardware, News

A little competition never hurt anyone.

Per Engadget, Microsoft debuted its Surface Windows 8 tablet on Monday at a last-minute special event in Los Angeles, marking the tech monolith’s entrance into the iPad-dominated tablet market.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, showed off the tablet computer based on the company’s new Windows 8 operating system he called “the new Surface,” according to the report.

After giving a brief history of Microsoft-branded hardware like the venerable mouse and keyboard, Ballmer introduced the new device, likening it to the Xbox 360 in that it has a strong synthesis of software and hardware that push each other to new limits.

Microsoft’s President of the Windows and Windows Live Division Steven Sinofsky proceeded to show off the 10.6-inch multi-touch tablet, which features a magnesium enclosure called “VaporMg” with built-in stand, dual MIMO arrays, an optically-bonded proprietary display with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2 and a variety of input ports. The unit is also coated with vapor-deposited magnesium (PVD) to avoid scratching.

Surface will be sold in two distinct incarnations with one touting an Ivy Bridge i5 processor while the other will feature a low-energy NVIDIA-made ARM cortex CPU. The Intel model, called Surface for Windows 8 Pro, will weigh in at 1.9lbs at 13.5mm thick and feature a 10.6-inch 1920-by-1080 pixel ClearType full HD display. Input and output for the higher-tier Surface is handled by USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort and an microSDXC card reader.

The thinner ARM cortex version will be released under the Surface for Windows RT moniker and will come in at a trim 1.5lbs and 9.8mm thick but bumps specs down to a 1280-by-720 pixel screen. Handling the heat put out by the Intel chip is what Microsoft calls “perimeter venting” or a series of integrated vents encircling the edge of the bezel, which itself is beveled. While the Windows RT model doesn’t carry the high-powered connectivity as its bigger brother, it still manages a microSD slot, USB 2.0 and Micro HD Video.



Accessories for both units include the “Touch Cover” which is a full multi-touch keyboard complete with arrow buttons that changes the color of Surface’s screen to the color of the cover when attached. Much like Apple’s Smart Cover, the Touch Cover also turns the device on and off presumably through use of magnets. The Surface “Type Cover” accessory brings physical switch-type keys and a clickable trackpad, though the part adds 5mm of girth to the tablet.

The Surface supports palm-blocking Digital Ink technology and can mark up PDFs and other supported documents with a digitizer, though the feature seems to be limited to the Intel model.

It is unclear what company is manufacturing the tablet for Microsoft, though the product itself looks to be a branded device with prominent Windows logos adorning the screen bezel and the back kick-stand.

The debut of the ARM-based Windows RT version of Surface is set to coincide with the launch of Windows 8 and will be available in 32GB and 64GB flavors. Pricing will be in-line with competing ARM tablets. The Intel Ivy Bridge i5-based Windows Pro Surface is slated to follow about three months later and will be sold in 64GB and 128GB capacities with prices comparable to Ultrabook PCs.

Full video of the event can be found here and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases updated MacBook Pro notebooks, adds Retina Display feature to higher-end models

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 11th, 2012, 14:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

You may have gotten your wish.

Per AppleInsider, Apple delivered its long-awaited update of its MacBook Pro notebook on Monday, adding Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors, as well as dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics on the 15-inch model.

The updated MacBook Pro is different from the next-generation MacBook Pro Apple unveiled on Monday, as the legacy model maintains the design of its predecessor, as well as the optical disc drive. But the hardware has been updated with new processors and better performance.

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro has a 1,280 by 800 display with options for a 2.5 gigahertz dual-core i5 processor, or a 2.9 gigahertz dual-core i7. The low-end model has a 500 gigabyte hard drive and 4 gigabytes of RAM for US$1,199, while the high-end model sports 8 gigabyte of RAM and a 750 gigabyte hard drive for US$1,499.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro has a 1,440 by 900 pixel display, and both models feature Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics. The low-end model has 512 megabytes of graphics memory, 4 gigabytes of RAM, and a 500 gigabyte hard drive for $1,799. The high-end model has 1 gigabyte of graphics memory, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and a 750 gigabyte hard drive for US$2,199.

For those with deeper pockets and a craving for Retina Display goodness, the company unveiled an all-new ultra-thin professional MacBook Pro with a high-resolution Retina display.

Unveiled on Monday by marketing head Phil Schiller at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the new MacBook Pro is as thin as the MacBook Air, at just 0.71 inches thick, Apple said. It’s also the lightest Pro ever, weighing under 4 and a half pounds.

The new model’s 15.4-inch display is said to boasts a resolution of 2,880 by 1,880 pixels which equates to a dense 220 pixels per inch, the highest of any laptop in the world Apple says. Like the iPhone and iPad before it, the new Retina Display has pixels so small that Apple says your eyes cannot discern them from a reasonable distance.

The screen has also been improved with deeper blacks and a higher angle of viewing. Glare has also been reduced by 75 percent, Schiller said.

In preparation of the Retina Display-toting MacBook Pro’s debut, Apple has updated a number of OS X apps including Mail, Safari, iMovie and iPhoto. Professional software like Aperture and Final Cut Pro also received performance bumps to take advantage of the screen’s high resolution.

Third-party apps are also being updated for the Retina display, as Apple showed Diablo III running on the device, and said that Autodesk is working on a new version of AutoCAD.


The next-generation MacBook Pro runs exclusively on Intel’s new Ivy Bridge quad-core Core i7 processors and can be configure with up to 16 gigabytes of RAM. Batteries have also been improved as the unit boasts up to 7 hours of life under normal load along with a MacBook Air-like 30 days of standby time.

As far as connectivity, the new machine features the usual SDXC card reader, but adds two high-speed USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, and HDMI-out. Due to the lack of an optical drive, Apple had space to include ports on both sides of the device and relocated the SDXC card slot and one USB port to the right of the keyboard flanking the HDMI-out connector. New Thunderbolt accessories announced on Monday give FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet capabilities to the new transfer technology.

On the audio/visual front, a new FaceTime HD 720p camera is joined by dual microphones, and are accompanied by what Schiller said are the best stereo speakers Apple has ever put into a notebook.

Rounding out the next-generation MacBook Pro’s feature set is a backlit keyboard, Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.

The machine will also sport a new, smaller MagSafe charging port, which Apple has dubbed “MagSafe 2.”

Pricing for the next-generation 15.4-inch MacBook Pro starts at US$2,199 for a 2.3 gigahertz quad-core Core i7 processor and 8 gigabytes of RAM. The most-affordable Retina Display laptop features 256 gigabytes of flash storage and the NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics card with 1GB of GDDR5 memory. The second-tier 2.6GHz model starts at US$2,799 which doubles the SSD size and grants buyers access to the fastest-available 2.7GHz Intel quad-core Core i7 chip.

Tech Specs:
- Height: 0.71 inch (1.8 cm)

- Width: 14.13 inches (35.89 cm)

- Depth: 9.73 inches (24.71 cm)

- Weight: 4.46 pounds (2.02 kg)

Display:
- Retina display: 15.4-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology; 2880-by-1800 resolution at 220 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors

- Supported resolutions: 2880 by 1800 pixels (Retina); scaled resolutions: 1920 by 1200, 1680 by 1050, 1280 by 800, and 1024 by 640 pixels

Storage:
- All flash, 256GB in 2.3GHz model; 512GB or 768GB in 2.6GHz model.

Processor:
- 2.3GHz or 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 with 6MB shared L3 cache (configurable to 2.7GHz)

Memory:
- 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3L onboard memory (configurable to 16GB)

Graphics:
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 with discreet NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 1GB of GDDR5 memory and automatic graphics switching

Video Support and Camera:
- 720p FaceTime HD camera

- Dual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on up to two external displays, at millions of colors

- Thunderbolt digital video output

- Native Mini DisplayPort output

- DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (sold separately)

- VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (sold separately)

- Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (sold separately)

Connections and Expansion:
- MagSafe 2 power port

- Two Thunderbolt ports (up to 10 Gbps)

- Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)

- HDMI port

- Headphone port

- SDXC card slot

- Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (sold separately)

- Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter (sold separately, available July)

Wireless:
- 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible

- Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology

Audio:
- Stereo speakers

- Dual microphones

- Headphone port

- Support for Apple iPhone headset with remote and microphone

- Support for audio line out

Battery and Power:
- Up to 7 hours wireless web

- Up to 30 days standby time

- Built-in 95-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery

- 85W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter with cable management system; MagSafe 2 power port

Electrical and Operating Requirements
- Line voltage: 100V to 240V AC

- Frequency: 50Hz to 60Hz

- Operating temperature: 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C)

- Storage temperature: –13° to 113° F (–24° to 45° C)

- Relative humidity: 0% to 90% noncondensing

- Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet

- Maximum storage altitude: 15,000 feet

- Maximum shipping altitude: 35,000 feet

In the Box:
- MacBook Pro with Retina display

- 85W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter, AC wall plug, and power cord

- Printed and electronic documentation

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces next-gen MacBook Air notebooks, adds USB 3.0, Ivy Bridge and larger capacity flash storage

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 11th, 2012, 11:56
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

The MacBook Air may not have received a Retina Display, but it has some cool new stuff under the hood.

Per AppleInsider, Apple announced the new generation of the lightweight notebook today, the new generation featuring USB 3.0 as well as Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors, and configurations running up to 2.0GHz in speed with a Core i7 processor and 512 gigabytes of flash storage.

The new MacBook Airs also feature 720p high-definition FaceTime cameras for both the 11- and 13-inch models. And they have been upgraded with high-speed USB 3.0 ports that offer up to 500MBps read speed, in addition to the existing Thunderbolt connection. Users can also configure the new MacBook Air with up to 8 gigabytes of RAM.

The 11-inch MacBook Air has a 1,366-by-768-pixel display and a 1.7GHz dual-core i5 processor. It has 4 gigabytes of RAM, Intel HD graphics 4000, and up to 128 gigabytes of flash storage. It starts at US$999 for the 64 gigabyte model, and is US$1,099 for the 128 gigabyte capacity.

The 13-inch MacBook Air has a 1,400-by-900 display and a 1.8GHz dual-core i5 processor standard, with 4 gigabytes of RAM and Intel HD 400 graphics. For 128 gigabytes of flash storage, it costs US$1,199, while 256 gigabytes is US$1,499.

Both new notebooks are shipping today, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller announced at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen Mac Pro units to feature Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 and 8-core Xeon X5 CPUs

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 7th, 2012, 07:20
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, Rumor

This could be snazzy.

Per MIC Gadget, Apple’s anticipated Mac Pro update will feature Intel Xeon E5 series processors with either six or eight cores, as well as native support for USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt.

The new Mac Pro desktop tower has been given a codename of K5B according to the report. It will also reportedly feature 1600MHz memory with 8 channels, SATA III/SAS 6-gigabyte-per-second drive connectivity, and PCI-Express 3 native support for video cards.

Intel’s new Xeon E5 workstation-class chips first hit the market in early March. They are based on the Sandy Bridge micro-architecture that first found its way into the remainder of Apple’s Mac lineup last year.

This year, Apple’s MacBook Pros, MacBooks Airs, iMacs and Mac minis are expected to be upgraded to Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors. But the Mac Pro won’t be getting Ivy Bridge processors with this update because those chips “handle voltage far worse than their 32nm Sandy Bridge brethren,” according to the report.

The new SATA III/SAS native connectivity is expected to be a major boost for speedy solid-state drives, while native PCI-Express 3 support with 40 lanes per socket will enhance RAID arrays and video cards. The onboard memory controller has also reportedly been moved to the CPU itself, which will allegedly result in a “massive leap” in performance.

And along with standard USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt support, memory is said to be likely to see an upgrade to 1600MHz, an improvement from the 1333MHz memory in Apple’s previous-generation Mac Pros. The new desktops are also expected to have 8 physical memory lanes, allowing for 25 percent more memory.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Belkin previews Thunderbolt Express Dock, offers September release date

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 07:50
Category: Hardware, News

Thunderbolt came out last year, now it’s time for the nifty peripherals.

Per Engadget, Belkin is showing off new upgrades to its Thunderbolt Express Dock even before it’s hit store shelves. The new upgrade brings three USB 3.0 ports, ditching the aging USB 2.0 ports that were shown off in the version at this year’s CES. An eSata port was also added, bringing a significant US$100 price hike on the updated version, making it US$399.

Overall, the Thunderbolt Express Dock features 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1 FireWire 800 port, 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, 1 eSata port, 1 3.5mm-out port, 1 3.5mm-in port, 2 Thunderbolt ports (1 upstream, 1 downstream for daisy-chaining up to 6 additional Thunderbolt devices), and a MiniDP to HDMI Adapter. Additionally, Belkin announced a US$44.99 Thunderbolt cable that is 3-feet long and can daisy chain up to six devices. Yesterday, Matrox announced a Thunderbolt dock priced at US$249, and while it doesn’t have as many ports, it is a lot cheaper — and looks more retro.



Perhaps most importantly, Belkin also offers another Thunderbolt port so you can daisy chain up-to six more Thunderbolt parts to your rig. The Dock launches in September, while the cable launches in July.

In other Thunderbolt news, Drobo has teased new Thunderbolt-powered arrays that are set to be shown off at this year’s Computex. With Thunderbolt, Drobo says it has the “potential to provide a 10x increase in performance.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple approaches Genesys to supply USB 3.0 chips for next-gen MacBook Air

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 06:06
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, Rumor

This could prove useful.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is said to have inked a deal with Genesys Logic for USB 3.0 card reader controller chips.

The integrated-circuit design house will provide the USB 3.0 chips for Apple’s next-generation MacBook Air models, which will be released in the second half of 2012, DigiTimes reported on Monday. Overall shipments of USB 3.0 products are expected to take off in 2012 with the launch of Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which are also expected to be found in Apple’s next Macs.

Genesys Logic manufactures the GL3220 Card Reader Controller, a USB 3.0 complaint chip which can support various types of memory cards. Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air includes a dedicated SD card reader, which would make it an ideal fit for the new chips.

The card reader controller allows for a system’s internal SD card slot to connect to a system’s onboard USB 3.0 controllers. The rumored deal with Gensys and Apple could suggest that Apple plans to add USB 3.0 support to its future MacBooks.

Last year, Apple launched its first Macs with the new high-speed Thunderbolt port, which the company co-designed with Intel. Thunderbolt support is set to come to Windows PCs this year, as Intel views it and USB 3.0 as complementary technologies, with support for both built in to Ivy Bridge processors.

Formerly code-named “Light Peak,” Thunderbolt’s data transfer speeds are 20 times faster than the current, widely available USB 2.0 specification. Thunderbolt’s 10Gbps speeds are even twice as fast as USB 3.0.

Last September it was rumored that Apple was investigating USB 3.0 support with new Mac hardware. The third-generation of USB is backward compatible with the previous generation of devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype updated to 5.7.60.1037

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 12th, 2012, 08:45
Category: News, Software

skypelogo.jpg

On Tuesday, version 5.7.60.1037 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 23.5 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- We have made overall improvements to the product quality and calling experience.

- Following user feedback, we have enabled Volume Control in the Preferences for users who use USB headsets.

- Fixed: IM area becomes blurry after scrolling

Skype 5.7.60.1037 is available for free and requires 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.

AT&T using iTunes, telephone-based assistance for iPhone unlock process

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 07:36
Category: iPhone, News

attlogo

Following up on Friday’s story, wireless carrier AT&T began allowing out-of-contract customers to unlock their iPhone for use on other carriers yesterday, and the unlock codes are applied to the device after restoring through iTunes.

Per AppleInsider, customers who were among the first to take advantage told the web site that after dialing 611 to speak with a customer service representative, they were met with a lengthy wait to speak with a technician.

Once that AT&T representative was on the phone, they asked a series of qualifying questions to ensure that the user was eligible for their iPhone to be unlocked.

The unlock process is detailed by AT&T in a PDF document shared by users who request the service. In it, the carrier offers a series of four steps that must be accomplished in order to complete the unlock.

The unlock code actually comes through Apple and is administered through iTunes. AT&T’s instructions tell users to open iTunes on their Mac or PC, connect their iPhone via USB, and backup and restore their handset. Restoring the iPhone will unlock it for use on other carriers.

AT&T’s instructions also include a link to a support document available on Apple’s website. There, users are instructed to reseat the SIM card in their iPhone, restore their handset, or contact their carrier if they experience issues with unlocking via iTunes.

If the authorized unlock is completed successfully, users are met with the message: “Unlock Complete. Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked. To set up and sync this iPhone, click Continue.”

If you’ve been part of the unlock process, please let us know how it went via the comments and thank you.

AppleCare+ program rolled out for iPad 3, usual terms apply

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 13:08
Category: AppleCare, iPad, News

If you’re going to snag an iPad 3, it never hurts to have it under warranty.

Per MacNN, in tandem with announcing a third-generation iPad, Apple has also brought its AppleCare+ warranty option to the tablet. By default an iPad is only given a limited one-year warranty, with 90 days of free support. Paying US$99 extends coverage up to two years, and allows for two incidents of accidental damage, although in each instance a US$49 service fee still applies.

The plan covers not just an iPad but its battery, power adapter, and USB cable, as well as any AirPort or Time Capsule device bought during coverage or two years before. AppleCare+ must, however, be applied no later than 30 days after buying an iPad. The warranty package was initially offered only to iPhone 4S buyers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype updated to 5.6.0.143

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 09:07
Category: News, Software

skypelogo.jpg

On Tuesday, version 5.6.0.143 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 22.7 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Automatic Updates.

- Improved UI for group video calling.

- New full screen mode in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

- Ability to delete conversations.

- Ability to disable Audio Gain Control.

- Fixed: Chat messages aren’t shown after clearing recent conversations or closing the last one.

- Fixed: Choppy audio issue with USB headset while in group call.

- Fixed: Call toolbar does not appear after call is ended.

- Fixed: Selection of contacts in the contact list.

Skype 5.6.0.143 is available for free and requires 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.