Apple unveils micro USB adapter for iPhones in Europe

It’s been long time coming and it’s finally here. The U.K. online Apple Store now lists the Apple iPhone Micro USB Adapter, available for £8.00 and shipping October 14. From Apple:

The Apple iPhone Micro USB Adapter allows you to use third-party micro USB cables and chargers to sync or charge your iPhone. Simply connect your iPhone to the Micro USB Adapter, then connect a micro USB cable or charger to the Micro USB Adapter

Standards bodies in Europe had agreed last year that all mobile phones sold in Europe should drop proprietary connectors in favor of standard USB jacks. Apple’s been ignoring the initiative up to the point when some watchers questioned whether the European Union should fine the Cupertino, California-based gadget maker.

As it turns out, Apple has elegantly addressed those concerns with this dongle. What it does for Apple is it lets them follow the letter of the law without redesigning the iPhone or, worse, risk incompatibility problems with a billion dollar ecosystem of accessories that take advantage of Apple’s 30-pin dock connector.

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AnandTech reviews the Thunderbolt Display

Anand, as per usual, does one of the more in-depth reviews we’ve seen of the Thunderbolt Displays. Some interesting notes:

  • The Thunderbolt Display uses less power than the previous Cinema Display at its dimmest setting (likely just panel efficiency variance) and draws a bit more at max brightness.
  • Pegasus hardware seems to cause serious audio issues which corrupts sound while large file transfers are happening. Expect a fix.
  • There are some nuances with display daisy chaining. For instance, in one configuration Anand had to put a Promise RAID array between the two displays in a daisy chain to get them to work.
  • Next year’s Ivy Bridge will bring more Display options to Macs (and likely USB 3 since the controller is built into the Intel chipset). The future may also hold displays with GPUs built in.
  • For a $1000 display, the speakers “were OK, but not great”. The Camera and Mic were both good.

If you are considering getting one of these displays, check out the full review which was very favorable overall. MacConnection also has the lowest price we could find on the new Thunderbolt display at $979.

Update: Macworld put up a review this morning as well. 4/5 Stars.

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Review: Western Digital My Passport Studio portable hard drives go high class

We’ve been messing around with a damn fine looking set of portable hard drives for the past few days from Western Digital called My Passport Studio and My Passport Mac. They are encased in an all-aluminum shell, the My Passport Studio comes with two FireWire 800 ports as well as a Mini USB port around back; the latter only has a Mini USB port. The speed tests on these guys (see results below) was pretty average for 2.5-inch Firewire hard drives at just under 80MB/sec read, making the slight premium Western Digital is asking for these mostly “an aesthetic upgrade”.

…not that there is anything wrong with that. You can feel the quality in these drive enclosures. The aluminum shell is going to protect these from more drops than a plastic casing and these drives look the part of a high quality Mac setup. These drives are also so whisper quiet that the only way to know if they are running is the white LED on the back (much better than the front). As you can see from the pictures, both the Studio (formatted Windows) and Mac go well with a Unibody MacBook.

On the downside, these are slightly heavier than your typical hard drive at half a pound. Still though, that’s a small price to pay for quality. They are available now for $189.99 from Amazon for the Studio and $159 for the 1TB Mac

Press release follows:

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LaCie’s anticipated Thunderbolt-equipped Little Big Disk arrives at the Apple Store, along with Thunderbolt updates

Since Apple and Intel’s joint announcement of the Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology, one of the most anticipated products to make use of the technology has been the Thunderbolt-compatible Little Big Disk from LaCie. The drive – which comes in both HDD and SSD flavors – was announced all the way back in February for a “summer” launch, and is now finally arriving at Apple Stores in both the United States and internationally. LaCie’s description of Thunderbolt and why it is important for a product like the Little Big Disk:

This new high-speed cable technology connects computers and electronic devices together like never before. Thunderbolt technology supports two 10Gb/s bi-directional channels from a single port, the fastest data connection available on a personal computer. At 10Gb/s, a full-length HD movie can be transferred in less than 30 seconds.

Since the drive carries two ports, it can be daisy chained. The drives have already arrived at Apple Stores, which suggest immediate availability, and we are expecting an official announcement from LaCie in the coming days. The hard disk drive variant with 1TB of storage will reportedly cost $399.

Update: here they are.

Apple also announced Thunderbolt updates, another firmware update and a software update for Snow Leopard…

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Amazon selling lots of iContraband

Remember that cool iHub USB device that was briefly selling on M.I.C. Gadget, but then was pulled by Apple’s lawyers? It is back, and at a place you’ll probably feel a bit more familiar with: Amazon. Amazon has a few sellers selling that iHub again for prices (white, black) as low as $12.40. Interestingly, Amazon is fulfilling these orders (free shipping) which indicates that they might be complicit.

The iHub isn’t the only Apple branded device making its way through Amazon’s fulfillment centers. the iAccessory Store has a new look “silver” iHub for $9 (black too) and some questionable iPhone HDD enclosures as well as external speakers that bear the Apple logo.

An unboxing video from Nowhereelse.fr of the iHDD and iAudio below:

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Apple outlines some limitations of Thunderbolt displays

Following the first shipments of Apple’s new 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, a new support document reveals some limitations regarding multiple display support that we weren’t exactly expecting.

Nearly every current Mac model is able to support two Thunderbolt displays. The exceptions are the 13-inch MacBook Air (mid 2011), which only supports one, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro which supports two, but disables the device’s main display to do so. Also of note, the $800 Mac mini can support three Thunderbolt displays thanks to the AMD graphics and its HDMI port.

One other somewhat surprising limitation of the new displays is the inability to daisy chain a Mini DisplayPort screen off the new Thunderbolt display. The support document explains:
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