Gartner and IDC see Apple’s share of declining US PC market grow to 12.5-percent to 13.6-percent

Both IDC and Gartner are out with their reports for PC shipments in the third quarter today. While Apple is not in the top five vendors for worldwide shipments, estimates from the two firms place Apple’s share of the United States market at 12.5-percent to 13.6-percent.

According to IDC’s numbers (above), Apple captured 12.5-percent of U.S. PC shipments in the third quarter. This is up from 11.8-percent in the same quarter last year. Apple faced a year-over-year unit decline of 7 percent, but market leaders HP and Dell posted shipment declines of 18.8-percent and 16 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, shipments for the U.S. market in total were down 12.4-percent.

In comparison, the same numbers from Gartner have the total market decline at 13.8-percent. Apple hit 13.6-percent of the U.S. market, where as it had a 12.5-percent estimate for Q3 2011. Estimates from both firms put Apple’s market position firmly behind HP and Dell, despite IDC estimating fourth-place Lenovo’s growth at over 9 percent for the quarter:

Four of the top 5 vendors in the U.S. market experienced shipment declines. HP maintained the No. 1 position in the U.S. market despite a shipment decline of 19.3 percent (see Table 2). Lenovo was the only vendor among the top 5 to increase shipments. Both Acer and Toshiba shipments declined significantly due to the tough environment in the consumer market. Apple expected to have a PC shipment decline due to softness in the public market, but the company faced a slowdown in the consumer market.

New MacBook Pros will get Samsung’s fast 830 series SSD too

In January, following a meeting with Samsung Storage solutions at CES 2012, we told you that Apple’s next-gen MacBook Air would likely make the switch to the speedier 830 series SSDs from Samsung alongside an update to Ivy Bridge. This was of course before we revealed some major changes coming to Apple’s new MacBook and iMac lineups. In addition to Retina displays for almost the entire new lineup, the new ultra-thin 15-inch MacBook Pro will be getting a complete redesign, losing the optical drive, and bringing it closer to to the thin design of current Airs. Like the new MacBook Airs, we have been told that at least some of Apple’s prototype MacBook Pros have used Samsung’s 830 series SSDs…
Read more

How to add a USB Blu-ray player to your Mac for $42

With 1080P hitting the new iPad and Apple TV last month, some of you are perhaps now looking to send your Blu-ray collection over to iOS devices.

Here is the easy part: Buy a Toshiba Lightscribe Blu-ray Player for just $42 with free shipping (via 9to5Toys). It also burns DVDs, and Lightscribe media will even do some art on the cover. Oh, and it is USB bus-powered, so it is nice and portable.

Update: There is a white version!

Toshiba advertises it as “Mac compatible,” but we all knew that the late and great Steve Jobs viewed Blu-ray as a “bag of hurt” from the “mafia.”

So, the hard part is getting Blu-rays to your Mac….

Read more

The MacBook Air Samsung SSD is about to get twice as fast

I had a chance to meet with Samsung Storage solutions at CES 2012 this week and got the low down on its new OEM SSDs that Apple tends to buy in large numbers.  Samsung and Toshiba are the OEMs that provide the SSDs in MacBook Airs.  Samsung’s 470 OEM SSD product is noticeably faster than the Toshiba model that Apple also puts in otherwise identical MacBook Airs.  We have talked about the speed difference before and how Air-buyers often will pay a premium for the faster Samsung drives.

Well, the speed difference is about to get even more noticeable. Samsung told me that it sold out of the 470 series OEM SSDs late last year and the company only makes a much faster variety: the 830 series.

How fast is the 830 Series controller/chips?  I had a chance to speed test the popular 2.5-inch 830 model late last year when it debuted.  Typical speeds were over 400MB/s write and 500MB/s reads (below, left).  That is almost twice as fast as the current MacBook Air SSD from Samsung (below, right), which itself is significantly faster than Toshiba’s SSD.

Samsung stopped short of announcing it is shipping the 830s to Apple, but the company confirmed it ran out of 470s a while ago and all of its SSD customers were receiving the updated 830 series. Samsung also confirmed that Apple is still a customer.

Today I ventured to the Las Vegas Apple Store to check the speeds of the MacBook Airs.  I checked a new 128GB MacBook Air right out of the box which had the same “APPLE SSD SM128C” listed in System Profiler as my year-old Air.  I checked the speed and it is indeed the old disk (same as above, right), which means the new Samsung SSDs haven not hit stores —at least here anyway.

Theoretically, a few things could happen at this point…

Read more

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.

.

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

Juice your MacBook Air SSD to Other World speeds with Aura Pro

MacBook Airs ship with one of two models of SSD.  You either get a moderately fast Toshiba SSD or a significantly faster samsung drive with an updated controller. But for some, that’s not enough.

We’ve pointed out in the past that OWC provides a new SSD called the OWC Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSD, and it’s definitely something speed freaks will want to look into. AnandTech has reviewed the Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G SSD, confirming the benchmarks and blowing away just about any laptop or desktop SSD on the market.

AnandTech breaks it down:

Performance is just staggering. The comparison is borderline unfair because both the Samsung and Toshiba controllers Apple uses in its MacBook Air are really a generation old at this point, while the Mercury Aura Pro Express is the absolute latest and greatest 6Gbps solution SandForce offers. 

As you can see in the chart above, the 6G SSD offers a 4KB  88.4 MB/s write and 30.4 MB/s read speed, and 128KB sequential write speed of 495.1 MB/s and read speed of 451.4 MB/s. Sadly, the SSD packs a SandForce controller which requires more power, so using this SSD adds up to 5% to battery drain on the notebook, but with these speeds we think you’ll get over it.

OWC makes 6G SSD available in both a 120GB and 240GB version, costing $280 and $550 respectively. If you’re big into speed this might be for you.  For all the details check out AnandTech’s review.

So is the speed advantage noticeable day to day?  Want a bigger product? Read on:

Read more