Opinion: Why I love Apple products, and am just a tiny bit embarrassed to be seen using them

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I love my Apple products. I’ve used Macs since day one. My desk right now has on it my MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPad Air, Thunderbolt Display and iPhone. Oh, and an Apple Bluetooth keyboard and Magic Trackpad, of course.

My friends are convinced that I’m incapable of leaving the house without my iPad, and I have to confess that the evidence is on their side. My car has an iPhone dock so I can listen to music and podcasts. If I’m on a plane, train or tube, it’s a near-certainty that I’ll be using my iPad or listening to music on my iPhone – or both.

I love Apple hardware design. Sleek, minimalistic, beautiful. There aren’t that many other really attractive laptops out there, and most of the ones that are have essentially copied Apple’s designs …  Read more

Apple acknowledges AirPlay Mirroring issue with new Mac Pros & MacBook Pros

AirPlay Display

Update: The document originally recommended disabling Bluetooth, but it appears updating to the latest version of OS X is Apple’s recommended fix. Much better.

In a support document issued today, Apple addressed a known issue with AirPlay Mirroring performance freezing or dropping out. MacBook Pro and Mac Pro users with last year’s models may see the issue when using an 802.11 b/g network… Read more

Review: How I transformed my workspace w/ LandingZone’s MacBook Pro Dock

Think of it as an iPhone-style dock for your MacBook. At home you might have several things plugged into your MacBook’s various ports (hard drives, USB products, speakers, etc), which means disconnecting and reconnecting everything each time you leave or return with your MacBook. With LandingZone, everything gets connected to ports in the back of the dock, allowing you to simply place your MacBook in the dock and instantly connect to all your peripherals. When you leave, you can pop out your Mac and walk away in seconds without thinking twice about all the connected cables. It also packs in a 5-port USB hub, ethernet adapter, HDMI, and Mini DisplayPort all while reducing cable clutter on your desk. I’ve been using the latest LandingZone Dock model for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro for a couple weeks and it has truly transformed my workspace. Read more

Bluetooth portable conference speakerphone smackdown: Philips WeCall vs. Logitech P710e

As we begin to rely on our mobile devices for more and more of our business needs, I found myself needing a “portable Polycom” which would allow me to make quality speakerphone calls from my Mac or iPhone. Sure, the built-in speaker and mic are top notch on Apple products for their size, but I’d often have a hard time hearing what was on the other end of the line. Even more importantly, people couldn’t understand what I was saying, especially as I moved around.

I’ve decided to take a look at two similar solutions:  Philips WeCall ($150) vs. Logitech P710e ($140) pictured above… Read more

New Retina MacBook Pros can drive 4K displays at 60Hz – when running Windows, Mac OS needs new drivers

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Tests by French site Mac4Ever.com found that current model Retina MacBook Pro machines can use their Thunderbolt 2 connections to drive the Sharp PN-K321 4K display at 60Hz when running Windows 8.1 with the latest NVidia drivers, rather than the 30Hz possible with OS X. This suggests that OS X will be able to do the same when Apple updates the rMBP video/Thunderbolt 2 drivers.

While 30Hz is good enough for movies, our own Seth Weintraub found on his bargain Seiki that it gives a poor experience when scrolling webpages, and is of course completely unusable for games. 60Hz, in contrast, gives a smooth experience when using a computer. The mystery had been why the latest Retina MacBook Pros, with Thunderbolt 2 support, were limited to 30Hz when the specs should have made them capable of double this – and the video drivers appear to be the answer …

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Removal of Sharp display from Apple Store probably doesn’t mean Apple’s 4K display is imminent

The 'now you see it, now you don't' 4K Sharp display

The ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ Sharp PN-K321 4K display

When Apple started offering a Sharp 4K display in its European online Apple Store, then withdrew it shortly afterwards, some speculated that this might mean an Apple 4K display is about to be launched.

It’s possible, of course, but I strongly suspect not. As I argued in October, the launch of the Mac Pro would have been the obvious point at which to announce an Apple 4K display – and current MacBook Pros can’t drive 4K displays at decent frame-rates, so I can’t see Apple launching a display that would leave the bulk of Mac owners disappointed.

The far more likely explanation is that Apple plans to sell the Sharp displays alongside the Mac Pro once it launches – as I suggested it might in that same opinion piece in October. The displays were inadvertently made live on the store before the Pro was launched, and have been removed until the Pro is available …  Read more

Opinion: Will Apple return to a single MacBook range next year?

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Photo: anandtech.com

I guess you could call me something of a fanboy where Apple laptops are concerned. I bought the very first one, the Macintosh Portable, in 1989 (and actually still have it tucked away in a cupboard even now). This was followed by a series of PowerBooks before the MacBooks came along, and I currently have both a MacBook Pro 17 and MacBook Air 11.

The split between the Air and Pro ranges made sense for a whole bunch of reasons up to now. The Air has performed two important roles for Apple. First, the cachet of producing the world’s slimmest notebook further boosted Apple’s style credentials. Even today, after it lost the slimmest notebook crown and has seen the wedge design copied by others, it remains a style icon, getting admiring glances every time you pull it out in a coffee shop …  Read more

Review: Studio Credence leather & felt book-style iPad case (and iPhone sleeve)

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While I may be known for my addiction to all things anodised aluminum, I also have a love of natural materials, wood and leather especially. My MacBook Pro and MacBook Air both travel in BookBook leather cases (reviewed here by Jordan), so when Studio Credence announced a book-style case for the iPad, I decided to take a look.

First impressions

Studio Credence is clearly going for a bit of a rustic look. The packaging is undyed cardboard, with the case itself in a muslin-type drawstring bag. Open this, and what you have inside is a very similar approach to the BookBook range …  Read more

Apple fixes 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro trackpad/keyboard issues, graphics bug on 15-inch

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With the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro launch last month, many users have noticed and complained about issues relating to the computer’s keyboard and trackpad becoming unresponsive.

In line with Apple’s promise, a fix has been delivered:

This update is recommended for MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, late 2013) models.    This update addresses an issue where the built-in keyboard and Multi-Touch trackpad may become unresponsive.

The solution comes in the form of the MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update 1.3, and this update is available via Software Update in the Mac App Store. Apple has also released an update for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro to fix issues relating to NVIDIA Graphics chips:

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Latest MacBook Pro 15 gets blazing SSD performance thanks to 4-channel PCIe (updated)

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Update: It appears this may be a function of the 1TB drives fitted to both 13- and 15-inch models. The reason for this isn’t yet clear: it may be the drives used offer greater bandwidth.

Benchmark tests by French site Mac4Ever show that the latest MacBook Pro 15 is delivering SSD read and write speeds in excess of 1GB per second. The site repeatedly achieved these speeds when Apple claims only “up to 775MB per second.”

The MBP 15 is able to achieve these speeds because it has a 4-channel PCIe connection to the SSD, in contrast to the 2-channel link on the MBP 13 and MacBook Air models, though from some reader reports this may be the case only on models fitted with 1TB drives …

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Apple says fix incoming for 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro trackpad & keyboard issues, offers interim solution

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Apple has published a new support article detailing an issue with some new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros that debuted alongside the iPad Air earlier this month. The issue can lead to the computer’s keyboard or trackpad becoming unresponsive.

There have been numerous reports of the issue in a 67-page thread on the Apple support forums. Apple’s statement:

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Thinner, lighter, FASTER: Early benchmarks show 50-65% improvement in MacBook Pro’s Iris graphics

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Macworld’s benchmarks

…less expensive, better battery life too

Apple’s relentless improvement iterations continue unabated. Macworld’s early benchmarks on Apple’s new base model 13″MacBook Pro with built in Intel Iris Graphics are in and show huge speed gains in graphics performance:

The most impressive improvements in the new laptops came courtesy of the new Iris graphics. Compared to the HD 4000 graphics in the early 2013 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, the Iris graphics posted between 45 and 50 percent higher frame rates in Cinebench r15’s OpenGL tests and the Unigine Valley Benchmark. Unigen’s Heaven benchmark showed the new systems with about 65 percent improvement in frame rates over the earlier model.

Iris Graphics also support displays up to 4K at 24Hz, a first for Apple’s entry level Pro laptops.

CPU performance improvement is slight but the Intel Haswell architecture adds a few hours of (Apple’s estimated) battery life while the machine actually got thinner and lighter. Meanwhile, Apple loaded up faster 802.11ac Wifi and speedy Samsung PCIe SSDs up to 1TB and Thunderbolt 2.0.

Price? Dropped $100  to $1299. (we are already seeing discounts/tax advantages in our Products section). Read more