Intel launches updated Haswell chips, likely to appear in upcoming MacBook Pro spec bump

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Intel has debuted the next generation of its Core i5 and i7 processors, according to a report from CPU World. Each of these updated chips sports a 200 MHz speed boost over its previous incarnation, which can currently be found in the MacBook Pro lineup. It’s likely that these processors will be found in a spec-bumped version of the MacBook Pro later this year.

The current series of MacBook Pro processors are available at clock speeds of 2.0 GHz (in the lowest-end 13-inch model) up to 2.6 GHz (in the top-of-the-line, built-to-order 15-inch model). The next-gen models released this week range from 2.2 to 3.0 GHz, which will provide a decent speed boost to each model.

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Review: Kickflip is a cool, simple, and affordable stand for your MacBook

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For the past couple of weeks, I have been testing a new MacBook stand called the Kickflip. I’ve used some of the more high-end stands for my laptop in the past as it improves the ergonomics involved with keyboard typing and because it improves the cooling of the computer. This new Kickflip is not stationary like some other stands on the market, but it is an accessory that sticks to the bottom of your laptop. The stand can be closed for when you want to keep the laptop in a bag or carry it around, and you flip out the kickstand when you want to raise up your laptop. The experience is nice, the stand is sturdy, and I very much have enjoyed using the Kickflip…

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Review: Transcend’s JetDrives add whopping 240-960GB SSD to MacBook Air at a great price

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See that little $190 daughter card up there^? It houses 240GB of Transcend SSD and it could replace the 64GB or 128GB SSD that came in your MacBook Air in as little as 5 minutes. Even better, Transcend just released larger versions in 480GB and 960GB sizes to blow your SATA III MacBook Air or Pro into new worlds of space. Keep in mind these are SATA-based SSDs and Apple’s latest round of MacBook Pro/Airs came with speedier PCIe SSDs so you can’t use these on Apple’s late 2013/2014 models (see bottom of the article for compatibility list).

I got my hands on a demo unit and took it for a test drive…

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Opinion: It’s time to bring back the mobile professional’s workhorse, the MacBook Pro 17

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Many of us were deeply disappointed when Apple discontinued the MacBook Pro 17. While the Retina MacBook Pro 15 introduced at the same time offered higher resolution, sometimes there’s just no substitute for physical screen size. Photographers and videographers in particular loved the combination of the sheer size and the option of a matte screen.

I loved mine enough to immediately sell the three-year-old one I owned at the time in order to replace it with the last model made, to maximize its useful life. I still love it enough that I’ve just laid out a thousand bucks on a 2.5-year-old machine to fit 2TB of SSDs, giving it the best of both worlds: lightning-fast performance combined with huge storage that allows me to have all my files with me when I travel.

There may not be too many others who’ll follow my admittedly extravagant example, but I do think it’s time for Apple to revisit its decision and bring back the mobile professional’s workhorse …  Read more

Apple building support for driving 4K displays at ‘Retina’ resolution, 60Hz output from 2013 MacBook Pros

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4K display running at “Retina” resolution on 10.9.3

Earlier today, Apple provided developers with the first beta for the upcoming release of OS X Mavericks version 10.9.3. Apple did not disclose any new features coming in 10.9.3, but we have discovered that the update includes notable enhancements for users with Macs connected to 4K-resolution monitors. With 10.9.3, Mac users can now natively set their 4K monitors to run the Mac operating system at a pixel-doubled “Retina” resolution.

The new settings, which appear nearly identical to the settings on a standard Retina MacBook Pro display, can be seen here on a 10.9.3 Mac connected to a 4K monitor:

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RIP Mac optical drives? Rumor suggests Apple to drop last non-Retina MacBook Pro this year

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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 …  Read more

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

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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

Update: Check out the Harman Kardon Esquire which we reviewed in December 2014

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