Apple working on innovative solar charging system for MacBooks, iPads and iPhones

solar1

An innovative approach to solar charging revealed in an Apple patent application published today (via Patently Apple) could make it more practical to power both MacBooks and iOS devices from the sun.

The voltage and power generated by a solar panel varies with the amount of sunlight. To turn the power supply into something that can safely be used by an electronic device, you need a converter or regulator to deliver the correct specs to the device, adding cost and bulk to the panel.

What the Apple patent describes is building the necessary power management circuitry into the MacBook, iPad or iPhone so that it can accept whatever power the panel supplies. This potentially allows for cheaper and more portable panels …  Read more

Opinion: What can we expect from the elusive Apple Television?

All concept visuals: martinhajek.com

All concept visuals: martinhajek.com

Having recently speculated on what Apple might have planned in the way of 4K displays, I thought I’d build on that to think about what it might have in store on the television front.

If you didn’t read my 4K piece, the tl;dr version is I think Apple will launch a 4K Thunderbolt Display in about a year’s time, once it has a new generation of MacBook Pro models able to drive one (or preferably two) at a decent frame-rate.

The question then is: what form might the long-rumored Apple Television take? After all, plug an upgraded Apple TV box into an Apple 4K display and you’d have an Apple Television right there. Why would we need anything more … ?  Read more

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

New Haswell MacBook Pro teardowns beautiful but prove almost non-repairable by mortals

13-inch

MacBook Pro 13

Teardowns of the new  13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models reveal lots of shiny technology, but with the machines following the construction lead of the MacBook Air, it’s no surprise to see IFixIt giving both models low scores for repairability. The extreme difficulty in removing both battery and trackpad mean both models get even worse scores than the Air, at just 1 out of 10.

As with the Air, RAM is soldered directly to the logic board, so if you think you may need more in the future, take a deep breath and pay Apple’s price for the 16GB upgrade as there is no way to upgrade it later. IFixIt also draws particular attention to the difficulty of replacing the battery,

The lithium-polymer battery is glued rather than screwed into the case, which increases the chances that it’ll break during disassembly. The battery also covers the trackpad cable, which tremendously increases the chance that the user will shear the cable in the battery removal process.

More details and photos below the fold …  Read more

Report: New MacBook Pros on sale Oct 24/25, iPads Oct 30/31, Mac Pro Nov 15

Image: techbeat.com

Image: techbeat.com

French site MacG, which has an imperfect track-record, claims to have been given the dates on which the new MacBook Pros, iPads and Mac Pro will go on sale. The claimed dates are:

With Apple’s media event scheduled for 22nd October, this would put the MacBook Pros on sale very quickly indeed, just two or three days later.

However, the iPad and Mac Pro dates do not make as much sense. Apple has typically launched its new iPad models on Fridays (or Saturday for the original version), making it unlikely that the new tablets would hit store shelves on a Wednesday or Thursday (as the MacGeneration report claims).

As for the Mac Pro, that machine is a built-to-order computer, so perhaps it would be difficult to pinpoint an actual launch date for that product. MacG also happened to have claimed that Apple’s event would occur today, so that does not add much credibility to these new claims.

Below is what we’re expecting to see for each product …  Read more

Coming from Apple in 2014: 12-inch Retina MacBook, sharper iPad, cheaper iMac?

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According to typically-reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, Apple has a slew of new products in the works for 2014. The analyst has summarized his expectations for these new products in a new research note, and has also reaffirmed some of his previous claims for products in Apple’s pipeline for the rest of Fall 2013…

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Opinion: Is Thunderbolt doomed to be the new Firewire, or can the new Mac Pro save it?

thunderbolt

I’m a huge fan of Thunderbolt. A single wire carrying both DisplayPort and high-speed PCIe data is an incredibly elegant approach to minimising cable clutter even if you don’t need the blistering speed, especially when you can use an Apple Thunderbolt Display as a hub for your USB devices.

I also admire clever tech. The reason you can daisy-chain up to six separate devices is because Thunderbolt automatically multiplexes and de-multiplexes the signals as needed. Thunderbolt 2 takes this approach one step further, combining two 10Gbit/s channels into a single 20Gbit/s connection, with the the Thunderbolt controller again doing all the work. It’s impressive stuff.

A fast, clever technology developed by Intel and enthusiastically marketed by Apple ought to stand a fighting chance at mass-market adoption. Sadly, there’s so far not much sign of this happening. It’s all looking rather reminiscent of Firewire …  Read more

Can Apple announce the rest of 2013’s products in just one event?

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Last fall, Apple had a lot of products to introduce: a new iPhone, two new iPads, three new iPods, and a few new Macs. Apple ended up dividing those new devices into two events: an iPhone + iPod event and an iPad + Mac event.

Without much occurring during the first half of this year, and even with the new iPhones launching this month, Apple still has a significant amount of products to still announce this year. Let’s take a look at what’s coming:

Could Apple announce all of this in one sitting?…

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Apple invents a flexible material to create truly seamless enclosures for MacBooks & other products

The US Patent & Trademark Office today published a new Apple patent application (via PatentlyApple) that details a flexible material that could be used as a hinge to create a seamless enclosure for devices like the MacBook, for example. Apple details a technical process of using specialized machinery to laser cut “flex apertures” and interlocking features in a rigid material to allow it to bend and function as a hinge. On top of creating a seamless enclosure, Apple claims the process would allow it to reduce the size of devices that are often increased due to traditional hinge solutions. Imagine if the enclosure of a MacBook didn’t include that black plastic hinge and instead appeared to be a seamless piece of aluminium connecting the display to the bottom half of the unibody.

While MacBooks might seem like the obvious application for Apple’s invention, it also notes the usual list of devices that could potentially use the technology including everything from smartphones to televisions and game consoles. The patent also shows the material being used on headphone cables to allow a flexible connection from the cable to the earbud to prevent damage, and on what appears to be an iPad Smart Cover-like accessory: Read more

Best Buy slashes new Mac prices w/extra savings for students; Haswell Airs start at $849

From 9to5toys.com:

best-buy-sale-macs

Best Buy is having a significant College Student sale this week on MacBook Airs, Retina/Pros and iMacs and Students or anyone with a .edu email address get another $100 off the sale prices signing up here. For instance, the entry level Haswell MacBook Air is now $949 and another $100 drops it down to $849, the lowest price we’ve seen by $100.

Haswell MacBook Air prices:

  • MacBook Air – 11.6″ Display/4GB Memory/128GB Flash Storage:$949.99-$100 students=$849.99 ($150 off)
  • MacBook Air – 11.6″ Display/4GB Memory/256GB Flash Storage:$1139.99-$100 students=$1039.99 ($170 off)
  • MacBook Air – 13.3″ Display/4GB Memory/128GB Flash Storage:$1,044.99-$100 students=$944.99 ($155 off)
  • MacBook Air – 13.3″ Display/4GB Memory/256GB Flash Storage:$1,234.99-$100 students=$1134.99 ($165 off)

Retina MacBook Pro prices:

iMac Prices save $100 across the board and another $100 for students = $200 savings starting at $1100

The MacBook Student $100 off promotion starts today, and will end July 27. Read more

Apple announces refreshed MacBook Airs with Haswell, 802.11ac, 12hrs battery life

As we expected based on our intel leading up to the event, Apple just introduced refreshed MacBook Airs live on stage at it’s WWDC 2013 keynote address today. Apple announced that the new MacBook Airs will be arriving with the new Intel Haswell chips, as expected, and spent most of the time talking about increased battery life for the devices which now includes up to 12hrs battery. The 13-inch model now boasts battery life up to 12 hours (up from 7 on the previous generation), while the 11-inch model is expected to get 9-hour battery life (up from 5 on the previous generation).

Apple also announced that the new MacBook Airs would include the faster 802.11ac with “a maximum data rate of 1.3Gbps, almost three times faster than 802.11n.” Other specs that Apple mentioned: dual microphones, a FaceTime® HD camera, a high-speed Thunderbolt port and two USB 3.0 ports.

All models will be available with a 1.3 GHz processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.6 GHz and 4GB of RAM, but Apple will also make a BTO option available with a 1.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD.

Apple said the new MacBook Airs include up to 40% faster graphics, 2x GPU execution units, and more energy efficient CPUs, while the machine itself now meets ENERGY STAR 5.2 and EPEAT gold environmental standards.

Apple will be shipping the new MacBook Airs starting today starting at $999 for a 128GB 11-inch model and $1099 for the 128GB 13-inch model. An extra $200 will bump you up to the 256GB models, but Apple didn’t provide any other details on any other upgraded internals.

Earlier this month we received SKUs indicating that Apple had some MacBook refreshes in the works for today’s event that would include an upgrade to Intel’s new Haswell chips and upgraded internals. At the time, the SKUs pointed to availability of the refreshed MacBooks this week, but it was unclear when the models would ship and if some would arrive before others.

Apple’s full press release below: Read more

MacBook Air refresh looks set for WWDC, potentially with faster Wi-Fi

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 1.08.25 PM

Apple appears set to release new versions of its MacBook Air notebook computer at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, according to information provided by a source. Earlier this week, we reported that Apple is planning to release four new Mac models at WWDC, and we narrowed this down to either new MacBook Pro with Retina display models or MacBook Air models.

Today, we have received specific pricing for the aforementioned SKUs, and the price-points correspond to Apple’s current pricing for the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models. We have yet to receive pricing information that points to the imminent availability of new MacBook Pros (as some had hoped), but perhaps the next refresh to Apple’s Pro portables will arrive in the coming months. Supply constraints to the Retina MacBook Pro line seems to imply that…

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