Apple increases Mac mini pricing in multiple countries

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Alongside the new iMacs, Apple has silently raised the prices of all Mac mini models in both Australia and Brazil. In Australia, the prices were formerly A$699 and A$899 for the standard configurations, and the Mac mini Server model was priced at A$ 1,099.00. Now, the machines are priced at A$749, A$999, and A$1249, respectively.

Here are the new prices in Brazil (up R$ 300, 400, and 500 respectively):

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The prices for the Mac mini have also been raised in Portugal and Malaysia, multiple tipsters have noticed.

These are notable price increases, but it is unclear if there is reasoning for the change beyond standard currency fluctuations. The iMacs pricing was also tweaked when it was updated yesterday, but the Mac mini has not been altered. No other Mac prices in Australia nor Brazil have changed.

The Mac mini is presumably due for a hardware update with 802.11ac WiFi, new Fusion Drive options, and Haswell processors to match the new iMacs. Thanks, James and Joao! 

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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

Add a portable Blu-ray player to your Mac (including playback software) for less than a SuperDrive

tl;dr: Buy a $40 Portable USB Blu-ray/DVD-R drive and $30 Blu-ray player MacGo for $10 less than an Apple SuperDrive and you get to watch/rip Blu-ray movies as a bonus.

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With Apple having eliminated optical media from just about every product it makes, including the redesigned iMacs, Mac Minis, and Retina MacBook Pros, many readers will be considering whether they need to procure a separate external DVD reader for emergencies. Some folks store archives, have software installers, backups, or have vast movie collection on DVD – and then there is Blu-ray…

Apple’s remedy is the DVD SuperDrive that costs $79 (well, $70/$50 used if you know where to shop). The SuperDrive is an Apple-quality product and can be used as a boot drive for many Macs that need to be upgraded or repaired via DVD.

But perhaps we can get a little more for our $80?

Steve Jobs viewed Blu-ray as a “bag of hurt” from the “mafia,” and Apple would frankly rather you stick to the iTunes ecosystem for video watching. But there are many nice Blu-ray titles out there, and iTunes’ compressed 1080p content still doesn’t come close the video and sound quality of Blu-ray. So, for those thinking of dropping $80 on a SuperDrive, we think we have a better option:

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27-inch iMac with 3TB Fusion Drive can’t yet do Boot Camp, early adopters frustrated

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As customers begin receiving the new iMac this month, business-end users and gamers may find one issue when booting up their new machine. As reader Michael Verde first shared with us, the built-to-order 27-inch iMac configuration with a 3TB Fusion Drive (an extra $400) will not allow any Boot Camp use. This essentially cuts off access to a full Windows experience that some Mac users may want to benefit from. Many might consider this a bummer, as a sizable amount of users turn to Boot Camp to access necessary Windows programs or just simply enjoy Windows paired with Mac hardware.

Apple highlighted the issue on both its iMac configuration and Fusion Drive explanation page. “Boot Camp Assistant is not supported at this time on 3TB hard drive configurations,” Apple said in buried text. “At this time,” could mean the feature is enabled down the road in a software update, but it is non-existent as of now.

There are virtualization solutions, such as Parelles and VM Ware, that provide a Windows experience, but they do not offer a full experience that many may want. Boot Camp users include gamers who want to run games at full settings and business users looking to use specific business apps in a full Windows environment.

Right now it is not clear what the cause is, or if it has anything to do with Apple’s new Fusion Drive technology, but it seems that Boot Camp is limited to hard drive with less than 2TB of space (PC World has a good explanation for this). Announced in October and shipping in the new Mac Mini and iMacs, the top Fusion Drive configuration provides 128GB of flash storage coupled with 3TB of HDD space. The cheaper configuration, 128GB Flash Storage + 1TB HDD, supports Boot Camp. So, we have to wonder: what is holding back the more expensive configuration? We reached out to Apple for comment.

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Best Buy ratchets up the Apple sales with dedicated Apple ad against increased pricing competition [video]

The above ad has entered heavy rotation this weekend, while Best Buy has new deals on Apple- and Apple-related products (including $25 off $250+ purchases):

Best Buy takes 15 percent off all iTunes Gift Cards, both physical and digital, with free shipping.

Best Buy also continues to have significant discounts on iPod Touches, Nanos and Shuffles, as well as the rest of Apple products (including refurbished Airports starting at $39).

The competition is also moving, as MacMall continues to have big savings with its Cyber Monday sale and impressive “Door busters”:

11.6″ MacBook Air dual-core Intel Core i5 1.7GHz, 4GB & 64GB Flash Storage $849.99 ($150 off)
13.3″ MacBook Air dual-core Intel Core i5 1.8GHz, 4GB & 128GB Flash Storage $1,019.99 ($180 off)
iPad 2 16GB Wifi: $329 ($70 off and the lowest price we’ve ever seen new)

…while Amazon continues to match many competitive prices.

Of note, MacConnection’s Tech Holiday sale has some pretty remarkable prices, including: MacBook Airs starting at $699Retina MacBook Pros starting at $1,559  ($140 off Apple’s Price), and Mac Minis starting at $549.

As always, check our Apple product pages for the latest best prices on iPadsiPad MinisiPod TouchNanoShuffleMacBook ProsAirsiMacsMac Minis, and Apple TVs. More of our holiday shopping coverage below: Read more

2012 Mac Mini users are unable to update to OS X 10.8.2, after update was pulled by Apple on Friday

A flurry of users on Twitter and CNET report that the newest Mac Mini released last month is unable to update to the latest version of OS X Mountain Lion, 10.8.2. The update is unavailable through the App Store’s Software Update feature after Apple pulled it for an unknown reason on Friday. Additionally, users received an error when trying to install the update manually through the manual installer made available by Apple. OS X displays an error message of  “Error: OS X Update can’t be installed on this disk. This volume does not meet the requirements for this update.” Customers on the Apple Support Communities also voiced their concern.

The cause of the error is unclear, but what is clear is that for some reason a special version of OS X 10.8.2 is required for the Mac Mini (like the one that was pulled on Friday). Apple doesn’t explain why a special version is needed—perhaps it boils down to the new Fusion Drive that is also set to ship with the new iMac later this month—or why it pulled the update from the App Store on Friday. The best option for 2012 Mac Mini owners now is to stick it out on 10.8.1, because as Twitter user Gerald explained it, the update still didn’t work “after 5 hours and 4 reinstalls.”

There is no word on when the new version of OS X 10.8.2 will be released for Mac Mini owners or if they’ll have to stick it out until 10.8.3. We reported on Friday that Apple will soon release a build of 10.8.3 to early testers soon, and the Cupertino, Calif.-based company will provide new information about the 10.8.3 build during the week of Nov. 26.

Update: Additionally, we learned the update has also been pulled for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro and latest iMac…suffering the same issue as the Mac Mini.

Update 2: Apple has released a supplemental update to address the issue.

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New Mac minis get first tear down and Geekbench scores

Apple’s refreshed Mac mini lineup already received some nice RAM upgrade options from OWC this morning, but now we get a look at the insides of the updated Macs courtesy of a tear down from Mac Mini Vault. The website also published Geekbench scores for the device, showing some impressive performance increases over the 2011 models.

First off, it found minimal changes to packaging and the positioning of the new Mac mini’s internals:

The overall packaging size was unchanged, however marketing specs have been updated and the inside organization has been optimized… Under the hood only minor differences are visible. Most notable are the fan design, Hitachi hard drive, and connections for the antennas. (2012 on left – 2011 on right)

As for Geekbench, the new stock Mac minis were able to record a score of 7433 running 10.8.1 out of the box. In comparison, Mac Mini Vault had a 2011 Mac mini running 10.8.2 clocked at 6583. Mac Mini Vault also noted it will begin testing alternative OS options for the new Mac mini server edition next week:

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Apple October 23rd event: What we know, expect and some new tidbits

Had you heard? Apple’s got a ‘little’ event going on at the newly-decorated California Theatre tomorrow where they will FINALLY showcase the iPad Mini, new Mac Minis, a Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro as well as software like iBooks 3.0 and iTunes 11.

First, the bad news: We’ve heard that the some of the iMacs that we found earlier have been pushed so far back that they might not warrant inclusion at the event this week. That doesn’t mean they are cancelled but because there have been some issues with the products and the including them is a “gameday decision”. We’re obviously hoping they make the docket.

And now the good news: Read more

Estimated prices on 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros: Starts around U$1,699

Alongside the new mini/iPads, Mac Minis, and iMacs, Apple will reveal a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display on Oct. 23. We have now received pricing information on the base model and the “best” model. We believe the entry model 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will cost roughly $1,699 at launch, based on wholesale prices we received, while the higher spec model will cost $200 to $300 more.

The base model Retina MacBook Pro retails for $2,199 in the United States, so the 13-inch varieties would create a more inexpensive option for those who also prefer a smaller device. We expect these to be available shortly after launch, but we can probably expect some supply constraints as we saw with the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. We also expect initial supply constraints on some of the new iMacs.

It sounds like the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will have a 2,560-by-1,600-pixel display (the same as a 30-inch Cinema Display), with the effective area being the same as the 1,280-by-800 screens as the current MacBook Pros when used in pixel-doubled Retina mode. We do not yet have other specs on the Retina Pro configuration, but we will update as that information comes in.

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OWC puts together Mac Mini Stack Max: USB 3.0, 4TB 3.5 inch drive, eSATA and more

We love this add-on to the Mac Mini that turns it into more of a pro-device (and a cube!).  The business up front is a DVD-R drive (not sure about BluRay) and an SDXC card reader that complements the one on the back of the mini. On the rear, you get a high power USB source for quick-charging an iPad as well as a few USB 3.0 ports that require separate drivers.  Also on the back is an eSATA port for fast external peripheral support as well as two Firewire 800 ports. Inside, there is room for up to a 4TB 3.5 inch hard drive which you can order with the Mini Stack Max or you can bring your own.

This is interesting because it is moving the Mini more toward a pro-like setup.

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OWC has not put a price on the Mac Mini Stack Max but expects them to be available in March. Read more

Apple outlines some limitations of Thunderbolt displays

Following the first shipments of Apple’s new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, a new support document reveals some limitations regarding multiple display support that we weren’t exactly expecting.

Nearly every current Mac model is able to support two Thunderbolt displays. The exceptions are the 13-inch MacBook Air (mid 2011), which only supports one, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro which supports two, but disables the device’s main display to do so. Also of note, the $800 Mac mini can support three Thunderbolt displays thanks to the AMD graphics and its HDMI port.

One other somewhat surprising limitation of the new displays is the inability to daisy chain a Mini DisplayPort screen off the new Thunderbolt display. The support document explains:
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Thunderbolt Displays now shipping to end users

…in New Zealand anyway.  One 9to5Mac reader said that the Thunderbolt Display he ordered on August 17th was now en route to his home.  If anyone else has a shipping display let us know in the comments or at tips@9to5mac.com.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this shipment information is that these displays aren’t shipping directly from China as most Apple products do. They are shipping from a holding spot in Australia (below) perhaps indicating that the wait on these displays isn’t because of hardware, but in fact software, which, incidentally was updated last night on Thunderbolt MacBook Pros and Mac Minis.