June 7, 2012

September 29, 2011

August 3, 2011

Asian trade publication DigiTimes reports this morning that next-gen notebooks built around Intel’s Ultrabook platform “may suffer defeat if not less expensive than MacBook Air”. The entry-level MacBook Air lowers the price barrier to just $999, which gets you up to an 11-inch screen, a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 chip and 64GB of flash storage in a beautifully designed package that turns heads. Market sources reason:

The sources pointed out that Intel’s ultrabook concept is not a brand new innovation, but a design to allow first-tier notebook players to quickly catch up with Apple’s advances in the ultra-thin segment and help the notebook industry recover from the impact of tablet PCs. The sources pointed out that the new MacBook Airs are priced at about US$999-1,599 with rather strong demand in the US; however, designing an ultrabook based on Intel’s technical suggestions will still be unable to reduce the machine’s price level to lower than the MacBook Air’s unless Intel is willing to reduce its prices, which already account for one-third of the total cost. If Intel does reduce its prices there is a chance for vendors to provide pricing below US$1,000.

This is despite Ultrabooks cutting down on features like the optical drive and the designs calling for flash chips soldered onto the motherboard and sealed batteries, just like the Air. Apple’s experience engineering really small devices just keeps on building and there are few – if at all – companies able to challenge the Cupertino, California consumer electronics powerhouse with the old pricing argument. Of course, seasoned watchers are anything but surprised…

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May 31, 2011

Forget about Chromebooks, here come the Ultrabooks. Ultra-what? Per Intel’s presser at the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan, Ultrabooks represent an entirely new class of notebooks that include the best features of tablets. If this sounds suspiciously familiar, look no further than the upcoming Mac OS X Lion operating system that is being pitched by Apple as “taking our best thinking from iPad and bringing it all to the Mac” or the MacBook Air’s iPad-like instant-on promise. Intel is playing exactly the same iPad card, their senior vice president Tom Kilroy telling Reuters:

We’re shooting for ultra responsive. You’ll have always-on, always-connected, much more responsive devices, similar to what you would see with a tablet today such as an iPad.

This sounds a lot like a catch-up to the MacBook Air’s all-flash instantaneous performance, cynics would argue. Ultrabooks are about Intel’s latest chips and reference designs. Intel also took the wraps off of its new fanless netbook platform code-named “Cedar Trail” and proposed a “Medfield” tablet reference design for sub-9mm designs, weighing less than 1.5 pounds and supporting a choice of operating system, per press release. So when can we expect first Ultrabooks to challenge MacBook Air’s dominance?

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November 5

AAPL: 120.92

Stock Chart

When Zolt announced the Laptop Charger Plus ($100) at CES this year, I was skeptical that the accessory — a practical, logical power solution — would actually make it to market. Zolt promised that it would work with any laptop, including Macs with MagSafe connectors, and at that point, zero third-party MagSafe accessories were available to purchase. But a week ago, a company called Beaver sent us Quarter, the first MagSafe-based battery pack and car charger. And now Zolt is sending out review samples of the finished Laptop Charger Plus, complete with both MagSafe 1 and MagSafe 2 cables (the $20 “Optional MacBook Accessory Cable”), which will hit stores in less than two weeks. Are MagSafe accessories finally about to become a real thing?

The Laptop Charger Plus continues the concept Twelve South pioneered with the $35 PlugBug, leveraging a MacBook wall adapter to charge both your laptop and a USB-based device, such as an iPhone or iPad. But Zolt’s execution goes several steps further, as it fully replaces any 11″ or 13″ MacBook’s wall adapter with something smaller while adding two extra USB ports. Even if the price is a bit steep, the all-in-one functionality may justify the expenditure for travelers with limited bag space…

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March 5, 2014


DigiTimes is claiming that Apple will cease production of the non-Retina version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro this year as it prepares to launch refreshed Retina models toward the end of the year.

Apple is expected to stop production of the 13-inch MacBook Pro in the second half of 2014 and will replace the product line with thinner models equipped with a Retina display. Meanwhile, Intel will offer second-generation ultrabooks in the fourth quarter of 2014, pushing the notebook industry further into the ultra-thin era, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers …  expand full story


January 14, 2014

The total number of Apple devices sold will equal the number of Windows PCs by some point this year, predicts Asymco’s Horace Dediu in an interesting piece of analysis.

The dark shaded area compares all Apple hardware – Mac plus iPad plus iPhone – with Windows PCs, and shows that by last year there were only 1.18 more Windows PCs than Apple devices. It’s of course a somewhat artificial comparison, as Dediu is including iPhones while excluding Windows Phones and tablets, but given the very limited success of Windows mobile devices to date, correcting that wouldn’t change the patterns too much.

What’s particularly interesting here, as John Gruber notes, is that the dramatic reversal kicked in well before the launch of the iPhone. Dediu and Gruber between them put forward a number of theories for this, and of these I think three are likely key …

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November 7, 2013

August 28, 2013


June 19, 2013

June 4, 2013

We’ve told you several times in recent months about Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors that are largely expected to replace Apple’s current Ivy Bridge offerings in the next round of Macs. Now, ahead of Apple’s expected WWDC announcements, Intel has just officially launched its next-gen processors. The company confirmed that quad-core versions of the chips are available now with availability of ultrabooks, all-in-ones, laptops and desktops planned for this summer.

Intel says the processors provide up to a 50 percent improvement in battery life (the biggest gain in the history of Intel’s processors), and double the graphics performance of previous generation chips thanks to its ‘Iris’ technology.

Delivering Intel’s largest generation-over-generation gain in battery life enablement in company history, 4th generation Intel Core processors can bring an 50 percent improvement in battery life over the previous generation in active workloads when watching movies or surfing the Internet, and two to three times improvement in standby battery life. For some systems coming to market this year, over 9 hours of active use battery life or 10 to 13 days of standby with fresh data on a single charge is expected.

Earlier this year we saw stats from early performance tests showing Haswell will provide some notable performance boosts for MacBooks, and we’ve also heard reports that the 4th-gen Intel processors will be headed to iMacs and Mac minis towards the end of the year.

In a more recent report, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed Apple will introduce new MacBook Pro and Air updates next week at WWDC that will include an upgrade to Haswell. Yesterday, we posted even more evidence with SKUs showing that Apple is likely planning a MacBook refresh. expand full story

May 2, 2013


The next generation Intel CPUs, named Haswell, offer support for 4k displays even in the lowest-power version likely to be used in the MacBook Air – making a Retina MBA a feasible option for the first time.

Intel has announced that its Haswell processors will offer a choice of three different levels of integrated graphics, one aimed at long battery-life, the other two aimed at performance (via AnandTech).

If terms like ‘integrated graphics’ leave you scratching your head, let’s start with some background … expand full story

January 7, 2013


August 1, 2012

July 25, 2012

Broadcom just announced its next round of portable device wireless chip, the BCM4335, which includes the ability to connect to the superfast 802.11ac networks. Apple exclusively uses Broadcom chips in this family for its iOS devices (and a different family for its Macs). The current iPad and iPhone use the Broadcom BCM4330 802.11a/b/g/n baseband/radio with integrated Bluetooth 4.0+HS and an FM transceiver—and the xxx5 is just a minor step up.

We found some code that indicates the next iPhone will use the Broadcom BCM4334, which adds the 40nm process and Wi-Fi Direct capabilities (perhaps opening some Airdrop capabilities too).

The 40nm chip will continue to deliver Bluetooth 4.0 and FM, but its 802.11ac networking could save some power using the new standard. It also features the “industry’s most advanced idle power consumption performance, which significantly extends a mobile device’s battery life.”

Sample chips are already available with a full production expected to be delivered in Q1 2013, just in time for next year’s iPads.

The press release follows: expand full story

June 3, 2012


Do you remember all of those ports you used to see on Macs? DVI, Gig Ethernet (har), and separate analog stereo for in and out? Matrox, a company that used to make mad graphics cards and other video devices, is coming to DubDub with a new $249 piece of kit called the “DS-1.” This box brings you all of those old school ports and even throws in a “superspeed” USB 3.0 port, so you can match the speed of the new MacBooks.

Matrox makes a bunch of other highly rated, high-end Thunderbolt breakout boxes that retail for much more. If you are looking for a (relatively) cheap Thunderbolt dock to hide away from sight and hook up to an old DVI monitor, this may be a good pick up. We should have a review unit to play with next week.

The press release follows: expand full story


May 7, 2012

Digitimes today says Apple is planning a $799 MacBook Air for Q3 based on “sources from the upstream supply chain.”

Clearly, no one in Apple’s Asian supply chain knows Cupertino’s pricing strategies. Digitimes is— at best—working off Apple, perhaps building a spec-reduced model. From the context, it seems that it is making the assumption based on falling prices of surrounding Ultrabooks, which we know is a mistake.

Nevertheless, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt:

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April 26, 2012

April 23, 2012


April 2, 2012

With Apple’s next round of Macs likely to include Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors recently confirmed for an April launch, there is still some speculation about which processors from the lineup will land in certain Macs. Rumors today point toward a refreshed iMac. Moreover, new Benchmark tests (via tonymacx86) submitted to Geekbench show Apple’s desktop operating system performing with the 3.5GHz Quad-Core i7-3770K, which is one of Intel’s most powerful Ivy Bridge chips suitable for desktops.

Note: The “Mac Pro” in the above screen capture is the profile used by the Hackintosh user, not the hardware. Also, note that the user had to modify the kernel to employ these new chips, which will also see further optimizations by Apple.

Geekbench user “hiwa” obviously had to use a Hackintosh to boot with the new chip. A Z77 motherboard was used in this case. Some benchmarks listed by the user demonstrate scores higher than any current Apple hardware. It is unclear what machine the benchmarks performed on, but it is clear Ivy Bridge is posting some impressive results compared with current Mac hardware.

While the benchmarks above show the Core i7-3770K desktop chip, Intel Product Manager Anand Kajshmanan claimed Apple’s MacBooks (likely to include Ivy Bridge CPUs in the near future) would face strong competition from Intel-powered Ultrabooks. In an interview with PC World, Anand was asked why a person would choose an Ultrabook over a MacBook Air or even an iPad:

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