Intel officially launches 4th gen Haswell processors bound for next-gen Macs just in time for WWDC

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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. Read more

Logitech announces ‘UE BOOM’ Bluetooth speaker, first with 360-degree sound & 15-hour battery

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Logitech’s UE brand is often at the top of our list when it comes to the best bluetooth speakers around, so we’re excited that today the company introduced its latest product with the announcement of the ‘UE BOOM’. Logitech is calling this “the world’s first social music player,” and that’s due to the fact that it’s the first to offer 360-degree sound and a 15-hour rechargeable battery. That’s a nice step up from the 5-8 hours you’ll get with most Bluetooth speakers.

Logitech is also following a trend that many Bluetooth speaker manufacturers have been lately: With UE BOOM you’ll be able to wirelessly connect two UE BOOMs via a free companion app to allow for traditional right/left stereo sound and other sound settings. It’s also water and stain proof: Read more

Review: Digital Treasures Powerflask — Is it better than booze?

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Most technologies have changed beyond all recognition in the last 10 to 20 years. Compare a smartphone from 10 years ago with the latest iPhone, and the difference is night and day. Laptops, TVs, cameras … pretty much any technology you can name has transformed almost beyond recognition. But there’s one technology whose pace of development seems truly glacial: batteries.

I’m not suggesting battery tech hasn’t improved at all, of course, but my smartphone 10 years ago got me through a typical day with a bit to spare, and my iPhone today does pretty much the same (albeit in a significantly smaller package). Those tiny fuel-cell batteries they keep promising us, with smartphone and laptop battery-life measured in weeks and not hours, seem as elusive as ever. Until that glorious day arrives, there will be times when our iPhone or iPad just isn’t going to have enough power to cope with an extra-long day, weekend camping trip, or similar.

There are a couple of different approaches to the problem. The first is a powered case. We previously reviewed the Morphies Juice and Air power sleeves. This is ideal when you know in advance that you’ll need the extra power and don’t mind a bit of extra bulk to achieve it. The second approach is an external battery pack you use to recharge your phone (and other USB-interfaced gadgets) when needed, or when you’re in one location for a while.

This is the approach taken by the Digital Treasures Powerflask, a cute-looking pack that can simultaneously charge an iPad and either one or two iPhones … Read more

Sharp announces first IGZO 7-inch tablet, claims battery life increased over 2X with new tech rumored for Apple’s mini iPad

We heard reports in the past that Apple passed on Sharp’s IGZO display tech for the third-generation iPad due to Sharp not having the tech ready in time. Going with Sharp’s IGZO tech would have allowed for a thinner display assembly, a brighter display with less LEDs, and the ability to use a smaller battery or extend battery life specs as a result. It could have also helped shave off some of the increased weight and depth of the new iPad. These are all things we witnessed first hand when we got up close and personal with a few IGZO demos at IFA this year.  Sharp is announcing today its first 7-inch tablet to use the display technology, claiming the 1,280-by-800 IGZO display allows for 2.5 times the battery life from the tablet’s 2,040mAh battery (via ComputerWorld).

With the iPad mini launch coming later this month, it is a possibility the tech is finally ready for Apple to take advantage. Sharp also has 10-inch and 13-inch variants of the IGZO displays, but the 7-inch would of course make a lot of sense for iPad mini given what we already know about the device. Apple’s ability to increase battery life, or simply have the ability to use a smaller battery (in a smaller form factor) while maintaining battery life specs, is just one benefit. Another big benefit for Apple would be narrow borders: rumor has it—which is something we also talked about a lot in the past—the iPad mini will have a much narrower border than previous-generation iPads. Sharp told us its IGZO LCDs can be built with a bezel under 2mm, and it was showing off a demo display with a 1.75mm border at IFA. That would definitely fit the bill for the narrow-border, one-handed experience we expect from iPad mini. Read more

iOS 5.0.1 causing new issues for some users, along with mixed results on battery life

iOS 5.0.1 was released last week with promises to fix the issue of battery life that has been plaguing many users and some security issues like the Smart Cover hack.

As we originally reported, the update even left some of those without battery issues with quicker battery drains. Over the weekend, even more issues within iOS 5.0.1 have arisen including Wi-Fi signal loss, microphone failures, and cellular network issues.

If you head on over to the Apple Support Forum you’ll find a very long list of issues people are having. The most prominent complaint is still the battery life.  “The recent iOS software update addressed many of the battery issues that some customers experienced on their iOS 5 devices,” Apple said in a statement to All Things Digital. “We continue to investigate a few remaining issues.”

Among the Wi-Fi, microphone, and cellular issues, the other big bug in iOS 5.0.1 has to do with Contacts.app (via CNet). All of the names and numbers associate together inside of Contacts.app, but when making a phone call or sending a text through iMessage, 5.0.1 can’t seem to associate the name with the number as usual.

How’s the upgrade going for you?

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