Retina MacBook Pros run three external displays, refreshed Airs get dual external display support

Picture by Gabor Cselle

While Apple already recognized in its support documents for Thunderbolt that the new Retina MacBook Pro supports up to three external displays (as pictured above from Other World Computing’s recent tests of the setup), it has yet to confirm official support for the refreshed Ivy Bridge MacBook Airs. Today, we get word that the new MacBook Airs indeed support two external Thunderbolt displays thanks to the recent “Mac OS X Lion Update (Mid-2012 MacBook Air)” update that “improves external display support.” Apple has not updated the device’s specs page to reflect support for dual external Thunderbolt monitors.

The image below from OWC shows two iMacs running at 2,560-by-1,440 as Thunderbolt displays, and it shows an LG monitor at 1,920-by-1,200 via HDMI. The post noted “moving images and media didn’t create any lag and we were able to play video on all four displays simultaneously.” This makes the new MacBooks the first to support up to four displays at their native resolution. Note: You could theoretically add even more space with AOC DisplayLink displays.

The refreshed MacBook Air with dual external Thunderbolt displays is pictured above, while the MacBook Pro with three displays is below:
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Review: Epson MegaPlex MG-850HD Projector turns your iOS device into a portable home movie theater

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Just seeing Epson’s MegaPlex iOS device projector at tradeshows and in still pictures doesn’t do it justice. Set up in a small, awkward booth and surrounded by bright lights, the projector does not inspire a second look. It was not until I got a private screening at Macworld that I really saw what this thing could do.

The MegaPlex MG-850HD is an incredibly bright 2800 lumen 720P projector with some mighty 10-watt stereo speakers built-in, but it adds something that you would not find in many other high-end consumer projectors: a 30-pin iOS device dock. The dock will accommodate anything from an iPod touch, iPhone, or even any iPad.

Amazon has the MegaPlex MG-850HD for $612. Buy.com has it for $620.

This thing is a Portable. Home. Movie Theater—and I mean that in every sense of the word “portable.” At less than eight pounds and with a sturdy handle, it is easy to pack and take it to the parents’ house, or even move it from the basement to the bedroom. Your iOS device is the “brains” of this thing, and it starts working immediately upon plugging in, so it takes only seconds to set up. You can watch your iTunes, Hulu, or Netflix videos in under a minute after choosing a destination.

Similar to most high-end projectors, this one features manual movable feet to adjust projection angles, focus, zoom, and horizontal keystone. The MegaPlex also does auto-vertical keystone and iris controls to make setting it up at angles surprisingly easy.

This thing boasts some range, as well. With the early spring weather this year, we turned an evening birthday party into an impromptu outdoor movie showing on the backside of our house (with a sheet over a window). The MegaPlex is rated for an over 25-foot diagonal screen, and I can attest that it looks fantastic even before it is fully dark outside.

With that said, something even better happened with the release of the new iPad and 1080P Apple TV…

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Pioneer Airplay 3D Home Theater Receiver with iOS App controls: $300

Amazon offers the Pioneer 840-watt 7.1-Channel 3D Home Theater Receiver, model no. VSX-1021-K, for $299.99 (add it to your cart to see the price). With free shipping, that’s $20 under our mention from last month and the lowest total price we could find by $99. Features include 120 watts per channel into seven channels, Airplay streaming, iPod, iPhone, and iPad App compatibility, Ethernet and Bluetooth connectivity, five HDMI inputs with 3D passthrough, one HDMI output, and more.

Just last week, the older model, without Airplay, was slashed to the same price.

Videos below: Read more

Pioneer VSX-1020-K 770W 7.1 3D Home Theater Receiver: $299

From 9to5Toys.com:

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Today only, Amazon has the Pioneer VSX-1020-K Home Theater Receiver for $299 with free shipping.  That’s close to half off the list price of this 770W 7.1 3D iPod/iPhone/iPad-controlled stereo system which features include six HDMI 1.4 inputs, 110 watts of power into seven channels, subwoofer output, and more.

iPhone Screenshot 1iPhone Screenshot 2.

We covered the VSX-1020-K when it was launched last year for $549.  Since then it has been superseded by newer Pioneer products with Airplay. Read more

Hulu Plus app is ready for Apple TV, decision to update is “political not technical”

We’ve gotten word that inside Apple there are Apple TVs running the Hulu Plus app natively. The app is feature complete and ready to roll out to Apple TV users on current builds. In fact, it has been ready for at least a month and development is now on hold.

While there are no technical issues standing in the way of the Hulu Plus release on Apple TV, there appear to be some political ones. At some level at Apple, there appears to be some consideration that the Hulu Plus app could eat into iTunes TV sales on the Apple TV. Where Netflix tends to run older programming, iTunes is the Apple TV’s only outlet for current TV programming.

Hulu Plus is available on the iPad and other iOS devices but unlike many other content apps, you can’t AirPlay them to an Apple TV like Apple’s own iTunes videos. Additionally, you can use an HDMI cable to watch the iOS Hulu Plus through an iPad on your HDTV, but mysteriously only in Standard definition, not the native HD Hulu or iTunes quality. Plus, who needs an HDMI-tethered solution?

Adding to the political troubles, Hulu was recently trying to sell itself to players including Apple competitor Google (and Apple itself) but no bidders were willing to bid high enough. Perhaps Apple wanted to make sure that Hulu Plus didn’t turn into a Trojan Horse for one of its competitors?

Hulu Plus was originally barred from all TV platforms, but giving hope to Apple TV users, it recently appeared in HD on the $59 Roku (above) and even a few smaller platforms like the very capable Western Digital’s TV Live (pictured below).

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VMware View Client for iPad updated with iOS 5 support- Airplay, multitasking, more

In anticipation of Citrix Synergy 2011 in Barcelona, VMware has just pushed out a huge update to all of their mobile View clients, which are used to access a Windows virtual machine from your iPad and other mobile devices.

Other than a refined and slightly resdesinged UI, the name of the game for the iPad client update (version 1.2) is definitely iOS 5 support. That means you will now be able to use multitasking without losing your current session. Before today’s update, lack of the feature really took away from the experience of being able to use native iPad features/apps and your virtual machine’s apps simultaneously. Parallels ($79) has had much of this functionality for awhile now.

Also included as part of the iOS 5 support is AirPlay. While the previous client allowed you to hook up to a larger display via HDMI or VGA adapter, the updated View client has full AirPlay support allowing you to use the $99 Apple TV as a wireless go between. Another really nice addition that goes great with AirPlay support is a new full-screen keyboard and trackpad combo (image above). This will of course only be enabled when using an external display.

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Really, Sony?

Reader Elaine sends us this scene from a Costco

So I imagine there is a marketing meeting at the Sony Bravia offices a few months ago where they are brainstorming new ways to market this 46″ TV.

Someone steps up and says Apple is about to release a new OS and all of their boxes are going to have this ‘Galaxy Swirl’ thing on the cover.  Perhaps we can confuse a few people into thinking this is Apple/type/quality products.

Sure, its a different angle and view, but it is pretty clear what the intention was.  While this is probably legal and will certainly fool a certain part of the population, those who follow tech have to feel a little sorry for the once-great Sony, which is rapidly turning into an also-ran knock-off artist.

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Mac OS 10.7.1 is ready for your downloading…(Update: More fixes for new Minis and Airs)

The update addresses a few issues including the Wifi issues we’ve been hearing much about.  It also appears to incorporate the recent Migration Assistant update.  It is available via Software Update and weighs in at a paltry 17.4MB on our rig.

The 10.7.1 update is recommended for all users running OS X Lion and includes general operating system fixes that enhance the stability and compatibility of your Mac, including fixes that:

- Address an issue that may cause the system to become unresponsive when playing a video in Safari
– Resolve an issue that may cause system audio to stop working when using HDMI or optical audio out
– Improve the reliability of Wi-Fi connections
– Resolve an issue that prevents transfer of your data, settings, and compatible applications to a new Mac running OS X Lion

For detailed information on this update, please visit this website:http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4764.

The Mac App store still lists Lion at 10.7 so it isn’t clear if new updaters will always have to do additional updates.  We’re also left wondering if this update fixes the “video performance after a sleep” that new Lion Mac users have been reporting.

Update: Interesting there is a direct link (here) for New Mac Mini and MacBook Air users (68MB) which updates a few more issues (below):

HDMI.org: Your Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable is “unlicensed and should not be sold”

TechRadar is reporting that HDMI.org, the group that oversees the HDMI spec has informed them that MiniDisplayPort->HDMI cables are illegal and shouldn’t be sold. All of them.

Last week that it was rumoured that hundreds of thousands of Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cables are to be recalled because HDMI Org has deemed the cable system to be out of HDMI spec.The DisplayPort system is used primarily by Apple in its Mac range, but there’s a number of other manufacturers who use the port – including Toshiba.HDMI Org has exclusively contacted TechRadar about the situation and confirmed that any cable that has a DP male connector on one end and an HDMI male connector is unlicensed and should not be on sale.

Apparently at issue is that the “HDMI specification defines an HDMI cable as having only HDMI connectors on the ends. Anything else is not a licensed use of the specification and therefore, not allowed.”

Insane.

So for the record this is not OK (get them while supplies last):

What is OK, is these little dongles, which are actually pretty popular (we like the Kanex!)

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What is making HDMI.org so batsh!t insane?  As you can see, you still need to buy a licensed ($$$) HDMI cable to use the adapter below whereas the top adapter bypasses the licensing issue altogether…or at least it did until today.

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Sony debuts Light Peak product in Europe with external GPU

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It looks like the report that Apple has a lock on Light Peak technology for a year was wrong.  Sony has gone ahead and announced their first Light Peak product in Europe and perhaps most interestingly, it contains an External GPU.  TIMN summerizes:

The vertically standing peripheral (pictured above) uses Intel’s Light Peak (yes, the same thing as Apple’s Thunderbolt) via a proprietary port and USB 3.0 socket to connect to the laptop. And not only does it provide an AMD Radeon HD 6650M with 1GB of VRAM, but also allows you to connect up to three additional displays via its HDMI and VGA ports.

One of the promises of Thunderbolt was External GPU video cards.  Imagine hooking your Thunderbolt-equipped, Sandy Bridge MacBook Air (with crappy integrated Intel GPU) to an external Thunderbolt GPU which drives a few 27-inch screens?

I like where this is going.

More shots below: Read more

HP's PalmPad tablet leaked before CES

Well, they have to be doing something over at HP with that $1B acquisition.  According to FoxNews, they are going to announce a (gasp) tablet…

HP will introduce three models of the PalmPad at CES, with minor hardware differences distinguishing them. All three will run a new iteration of the WebOS operating system, version 2.5.1; they’re collectively a spin-off of the never-released HP Slate. A fourth version won’t be shown off at CES, I’m told, but it will be custom made for university students to prove how versatile the machines can be.The consumer version of the PalmPad will run on Sprint’s fast 4G network, but otherwise it has hardware specs nearly identical to Apple’s iPad. There are minor differences, of course: It has a mini HDMI port, for example, while the iPad requires a special dongle for video output. And there are front- and rear-facing cameras (1.3 megapixel and 3 megapixel, respectively), both with LED flashes.The PalmPad is slightly thinner than the iPad with rounded edges closer to the Amazon Kindle. At 1.25 lbs, the PalmPad also sports a USB 3.0 port and a “multi-switch” just like the one on the Palm Pre.

I can’t wait to take advantage of the front facing flash camera. Read more