1.3 GHz, built-to-order MacBooks begin preparing to ship following charges

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Apple has started to charge the credit cards of customers who ordered the highest-end 1.3GHz version of the 12-inch MacBook, according to emails from 9to5Mac readers. The customized, built-to-order MacBook went on sale earlier this month with 3-4 week shipping times for even the earliest orders, and Apple originally promised a delivery timeframe of May 8th to May 15th. As we saw with Apple Watch credit card charges earlier this week, it seems plausible that Apple already charging customers for the 1.3 GHz MacBook could indicate that shipments of the new laptop will begin occurring sooner than originally expected. However, readers have yet to report any signs of UPS or FedEx tracking numbers, or their Apple Online Store status pages moving from “Processing” to “Preparing for Shipment.”

Update: Several readers reporting that their MacBooks are now preparing to ship, several weeks early:

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Review: Can you actually use the new 12-inch MacBook for work?

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Early reviews of Apple’s MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015) have framed it as an expensive prototype from the future — a notebook that will someday be the standard, but one most people aren’t ready for yet. Despite that classification, the new MacBook is extremely tempting if you’re in the market for a new computer: it’s more portable than even the MacBook Air, it’s the first Mac available in gold and space gray finishes, and it has a trackpad with a new feature called Force Touch.

But can you actually do work on the 12-inch MacBook? That’s the $1300 question everyone is asking. I’ll unpack my experience below …

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Apple’s 2015 MacBook Pro and Air models now at US retailers Amazon, Best Buy, MacMall, B&H and others

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Refreshed 2015 MacBook Air and Pro models are now available at major US retailers following their announcement at Apple’s Spring Forward event on March 9th.

Currently, Amazon has all of the new MacBook Air models in stock and ready to ship, from $899. The new MacBook Pro models are also listed on Amazon as well, although supply is currently more limited. 2014 versions are discounted.

B&H offers $5 off and no tax at the time of purchase outside of New York on the new MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros as well as a free copy of Parallels. 2014 versions are discounted.

MacMall also offers $5 off the new MacBook Airs and Pros and tax only in a few states. 2014 models discounted.

Meanwhile if you want to get your hands on one today, Best Buy offers free site to store on the new MacBook Pro/Airs which will have stock varied by location. 2014 models discounted.

If you want to save some real money, 2014 models are seeing deep discounts at 9to5toys. At the Apple Refurb store you can pick up some heavy discounts on previous models while extraordinary savings are available at B&H and Best Buy on 2014 models including a student deal that chops the 2014 models down to $750 .

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USB-C cable gallery, compare to Lightning and Micro-USB, specs and Apple’s future

We’ve been poring over Apple’s change to the 8.4mm by 2.6mm USB Type C standard since we got tipped the design of the new MacBook late last year. It is a big change for Apple and puts the future of longstanding technologies like Thunderbolt and MagSafe into questionable status.  Even Lightning seems a whole lot more vulnerable when an adapter that is marginally bigger, but has the whole industry behind it, shows up in Apple’s future flagship laptop.

Some quick, fun facts on USB Type C that make it pretty amazing: Read more

Opinion: Why I’m not the target for the new ultra-portable MacBook, but most MacBook Air owners are

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Mark Gurman nailed it, so there were few surprises for 9to5Mac readers in yesterday’s launch of Apple’s new, ultra-portable 12-inch MacBook. But one thing we didn’t know for sure then was whether the new machine would be a cut-down, entry-level MacBook or a high-spec premium one.

The answer, we now know, is neither–or both. It’s cut-down in some respects, specced-up in others. A lower-spec CPU, but more RAM and SSD storage. A lower-spec GPU, but a higher-res screen. It loses Thunderbolt, but gains USB C. Clever things done with battery space and power-efficiency, but potential gains in battery-life wiped out by the smaller, thinner form-factor.

It makes for a slightly odd positioning in the line-up …  Read more

News Hub: Apple’s ‘Spring Forward’ Apple Watch event

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Today’s the day: Apple is holding its “Spring Forward” event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California. This article contains the latest updates from the event in live blog style; all of our detailed individual stories from the event are now summarized at this link. The event officially began at 10 AM Pacific/ 1PM Eastern time, and our live coverage is below.

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Apple’s next major Mac revealed: the radically new 12-inch MacBook Air

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Apple is preparing an all-new MacBook Air for 2015 with a radically new design that jettisons standards such as full-sized USB ports, MagSafe connectors, and SD card slots in favor of a markedly thinner and lighter body with a higher-resolution display. Sources within Apple, who have used internal prototype versions of the upcoming computer, have provided in-depth details about the machine, and our exclusive artist renditions of the revamped MacBook Air provide the first close look at Apple’s first major step in mobile Mac computing since the Retina MacBook Pro launch in 2012.

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KGI: iPad Pro pushed back again to Q2 2015, Q1 to see under 10M iPads shipped

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The latest report from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims Apple will delay its expected launch of a 12.9 (or 12.2)-inch iPad ‘Pro’ as it predicts a 50% decline for iPad shipments heading into next year. Specifically, KGI thinks Apple will sell just under 10 million units in Q1 2015 following a busy holiday season in the last quarter of this year. That would be a 54.5% drop from quarter to quarter with KGI predicting 21 million iPad units sold during the Q4 2014 Holiday quarter: Read more

The tl;dr version of early iMac with Retina 5K display reviews is TAKE MY MONEY [Review roundup]

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The early reviews are out for the iMac with Retina 5K display, and the tl;dr version is: if you can afford it, buy it.

Everyone of course agrees that the key market for the machine is video professionals (beating even the base-model Mac Pro in benchmarks), the 5K resolution offering the ability to display full-size 4K video while still leaving enough room for editing tools.

But while the new iMac may be overkill for more mundane tasks, reviewers also agreed that the display is so good that even if you don’t need one, you’ll still want one …  Read more