June 7, 2012

Watch out UltraBooks! Apple gets sweeping patent for general MacBook Air shape [Photos]

Apple got its hands on a new U.S. patent this week that loosely covers the entire form of its thinnest notebook.

According to The Verge, the patent [D661,296] is “clearly intended to broadly cover the distinctive wedge or teardrop profile” of the MacBook Air that is found in more and more “UltraBooks that Intel is pushing:

With design patents it’s all about the drawings. There isn’t much in terms of a written description to go by, so the nuances of the drawings define the enforceable protection of the patent. And as always, the coverage centers around the details of the solid lines in those drawings. The dashed lines provide context, but do not at all define what is patented. In determining infringement, courts look at whether the allegedly infringing device and the design patent are substantially similar in overall appearance to an “ordinary observer,” excluding minor differences. You can see […] how Apple has dashed out the unimportant details of the notebook, like the rear contour, hinge, side ports and feet, and instead focuses on the overall wedge shape and look of the device with solid lines. That’s the aesthetic Apple has patented here and a notebook with hinges, feet or a shaped back different than the MacBook Air could still be infringing as long as the rest — primarily the claimed wedge profile — is substantially similar. On the other hand, competitors can still rely on meaningful tweaks to the angles, shapes and proportions of their notebook designs to avoid the patent — that’s how patent design-arounds work.

Apple tends to uphold its design rights and go after competitors in the mobile space that infringe upon its patents. With this new notebook patent, which issued on Tuesday, rivals with contending unibody, aluminum-shaped laptops, such as Ultrabooks, may now be in the Cupertino, Calif.-based Company’s legal sights.

September 29, 2011

Acer: Ultrabooks will eat iPad’s lunch… Next year

Acer’s brand spanking new MacBook Air challenger: The Ultrabook Aspire S3. Acer vice president Scott Lin is drumming up Ultrabooks, low-powered, ultra-thin and ultra-portable Windows PCs akin to the MacBook Air based on Intel’s latest chips and reference designs. Lin estimated that Ultrabooks will account for nearly one-third (30 percent) of the worldwide consumer notebook […]

August 3, 2011

Asian trade publication DigiTimes reports this morning that next-gen notebooks built around Intel’s Ultrabook platform “may suffer defeat if not less expensive than MacBook Air”. The entry-level MacBook Air lowers the price barrier to just $999, which gets you up to an 11-inch screen, a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 chip and 64GB of flash storage in a beautifully designed package that turns heads. Market sources reason:

The sources pointed out that Intel’s ultrabook concept is not a brand new innovation, but a design to allow first-tier notebook players to quickly catch up with Apple’s advances in the ultra-thin segment and help the notebook industry recover from the impact of tablet PCs. The sources pointed out that the new MacBook Airs are priced at about US$999-1,599 with rather strong demand in the US; however, designing an ultrabook based on Intel’s technical suggestions will still be unable to reduce the machine’s price level to lower than the MacBook Air’s unless Intel is willing to reduce its prices, which already account for one-third of the total cost. If Intel does reduce its prices there is a chance for vendors to provide pricing below US$1,000.

This is despite Ultrabooks cutting down on features like the optical drive and the designs calling for flash chips soldered onto the motherboard and sealed batteries, just like the Air. Apple’s experience engineering really small devices just keeps on building and there are few – if at all – companies able to challenge the Cupertino, California consumer electronics powerhouse with the old pricing argument. Of course, seasoned watchers are anything but surprised…

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May 31, 2011

Forget about Chromebooks, here come the Ultrabooks. Ultra-what? Per Intel’s presser at the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan, Ultrabooks represent an entirely new class of notebooks that include the best features of tablets. If this sounds suspiciously familiar, look no further than the upcoming Mac OS X Lion operating system that is being pitched by Apple as “taking our best thinking from iPad and bringing it all to the Mac” or the MacBook Air’s iPad-like instant-on promise. Intel is playing exactly the same iPad card, their senior vice president Tom Kilroy telling Reuters:

We’re shooting for ultra responsive. You’ll have always-on, always-connected, much more responsive devices, similar to what you would see with a tablet today such as an iPad.

This sounds a lot like a catch-up to the MacBook Air’s all-flash instantaneous performance, cynics would argue. Ultrabooks are about Intel’s latest chips and reference designs. Intel also took the wraps off of its new fanless netbook platform code-named “Cedar Trail” and proposed a “Medfield” tablet reference design for sub-9mm designs, weighing less than 1.5 pounds and supporting a choice of operating system, per press release. So when can we expect first Ultrabooks to challenge MacBook Air’s dominance?

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The best 4K & 5K displays for Mac

January 25, 2016

AAPL: 99.44

-1.98

With KGI suggesting that we could see new MacBook models as early as the first half of the year, I thought it would be a good time to expand on the suggestions we made in our 2016 roundup and speculate in a little more detail on what we might expect from those machines.

There is rather a lot of speculation involved, for a couple of reasons. First, while we tend to see a number of leaks and rumors for the iPhone – not least from our own Mark Gurman – there are notably fewer for Macs. We’ll likely see some nearer the time, but we could as yet still be six months out.

Second, it’s easier to predict what Apple is likely to do with regard to the MacBook range than when it might do it. I’ve argued before that we can at some point expect Apple to drop the MacBook Air label, leaving two ranges known as the MacBook and the MacBook Pro. But whether that will happen this year or next is, I think, harder to guess.

But let’s start with what we know about the technology available to Apple this time around …

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November 5, 2015

AAPL: 120.92

-0.56

When Zolt announced the Laptop Charger Plus ($100) at CES this year, I was skeptical that the accessory — a practical, logical power solution — would actually make it to market. Zolt promised that it would work with any laptop, including Macs with MagSafe connectors, and at that point, zero third-party MagSafe accessories were available to purchase. But a week ago, a company called Beaver sent us Quarter, the first MagSafe-based battery pack and car charger. And now Zolt is sending out review samples of the finished Laptop Charger Plus, complete with both MagSafe 1 and MagSafe 2 cables (the $20 “Optional MacBook Accessory Cable”), which will hit stores in less than two weeks. Are MagSafe accessories finally about to become a real thing?

The Laptop Charger Plus continues the concept Twelve South pioneered with the $35 PlugBug, leveraging a MacBook wall adapter to charge both your laptop and a USB-based device, such as an iPhone or iPad. But Zolt’s execution goes several steps further, as it fully replaces any 11″ or 13″ MacBook’s wall adapter with something smaller while adding two extra USB ports. Even if the price is a bit steep, the all-in-one functionality may justify the expenditure for travelers with limited bag space…

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March 5, 2014

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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 …  expand full story

January 14, 2014

The total number of Apple devices sold will equal the number of Windows PCs by some point this year, predicts Asymco’s Horace Dediu in an interesting piece of analysis.

The dark shaded area compares all Apple hardware – Mac plus iPad plus iPhone – with Windows PCs, and shows that by last year there were only 1.18 more Windows PCs than Apple devices. It’s of course a somewhat artificial comparison, as Dediu is including iPhones while excluding Windows Phones and tablets, but given the very limited success of Windows mobile devices to date, correcting that wouldn’t change the patterns too much.

What’s particularly interesting here, as John Gruber notes, is that the dramatic reversal kicked in well before the launch of the iPhone. Dediu and Gruber between them put forward a number of theories for this, and of these I think three are likely key …

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November 7, 2013

Airlines implement gate-to-gate handheld device rules faster than expected

United and American have joined Delta and Jet Blue in permitting gate-to-gate use of portable electronic devices, following the FAA ruling making it legal to do so.

The FAA had said at the time that airlines would need to perform individual tests to demonstrate that the use of electronic devices during all phases of flight would be safe, and had suggested that this might take some time. With the announcement expected as long ago as March, however, it appears that several airlines undertook this testing in advance of the formal ruling.

There has still been no clarification on what constitutes a ‘handheld’ device, but airlines so far appear to be saying yes to tablets and ebook readers and no to laptops. With many tablet and Bluetooth keyboard combos being visually indistinguishable from ultrabooks to non-technical cabin crews, we shall watch with interest to see how the rules are enforced.

August 28, 2013

Logitech announces Ultrathin multi-touch Bluetooth mouse made to match your MacBook

Logitech is announcing a line of new super slim, touch enabled Bluetooth mice today that might finally give Mac users a great alternative to Apple’s own multi-touch Magic Mouse. While both mouses feature the same specs and multi-touch enabled surface, Logitech is marketing the black version for Windows Ultrabook users, while the white version has been made specifically for OS X users to match the all-aluminum body of MacBooks.

“Whether it’s a computer, tablet, smartphone or touch-navigation device, people are looking for thin, modern design that works fluidly,” said Charlotte Johs, Logitech global vice president of brand development. “We created the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse to give people an ultraportable mouse that complements today’s MacBook and Ultrabook computers.”

The Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T631 for Mac (as well as the T630 for Ultrabooks) features a brushed metallic body, “feather-light” design at 70g, and comes in at 85 mm x 59mm x 18 mm. It also includes USB charging, Logitech’s Easy-Switch Bluetooth technology for switching between devices, and optimizations for OS X touch gestures. The company says you can expect to get around 1 hour of use from 1 minute of charge time.  Logitech clarified that the mouse gets around 10 hours max battery life on a full charge:

the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse is much longer than one hour — it can last up to 10 days on a full charge, based on typical user experiences. It charges very quickly, and just one minute of charge time will give you up to one hour of power.

The Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T631 for Mac in white  will be available in the US and Europe in November, while the Ultrathin Touch Mouse T630 in black will be available in both markets starting in next month. Both will sell for $69.99 and are available to preorder now through Logitech’s website starting today.

June 19, 2013

Apple, Samsung & HTC considering liquid-cooled phones (rumor)

Digitimes is not a source noted for its hit-rate, but its claim that Apple, Samsung and HTC are all considering liquid-cooled phones isn’t quite as far-fetched as it sounds: NEC has already launched one.

Smartphone players such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and High Tech Computer (HTC) have started showing interest in adopting ultra-thin heat pipes for their smartphones and are expected to release heat pipe-adopted models in the fourth quarter, at the earliest, according to sources from cooling module player.

The NEC Medias X 06 E launched last month in Japan was nicknamed the ladyphone, as it was designed to appeal to women who apparently complained about the heat generated by smartphones. The phone itself was nothing special – a 1.7Ghz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 4.7-inch display – it is the cooling that made it stand out … 

Most of today’s smartphones use a graphite ‘radiator’ and foil to transmit heat to the outer casing, where it can dissipate. The NEC uses the same liquid cooling system used in some ultrabooks: a pipe filled with coolant which carries the heat away from the CPU and wireless chips. The difference is the size of the pipe. While ultrabooks have pipes with a typical diameter of around 1.1mm (0.04 inches), the NEC uses pipes almost half the size.

Digitimes’ claim that we can expect Apple to adopt liquid cooling by the end of the year seems unlikely: while several companies are working on the technology for smartphones, current yield rates are said to be just 30%. But with smartphone processors becoming ever beefier, and 4G chips generating more heat, we probably can expect liquid cooling to become a mainstream technology for smartphones in the not too distant future.

June 4, 2013

We’ve told you several times in recent months about Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors that are largely expected to replace Apple’s current Ivy Bridge offerings in the next round of Macs. Now, ahead of Apple’s expected WWDC announcements, Intel has just officially launched its next-gen processors. The company confirmed that quad-core versions of the chips are available now with availability of ultrabooks, all-in-ones, laptops and desktops planned for this summer.

Intel says the processors provide up to a 50 percent improvement in battery life (the biggest gain in the history of Intel’s processors), and double the graphics performance of previous generation chips thanks to its ‘Iris’ technology.

Delivering Intel’s largest generation-over-generation gain in battery life enablement in company history, 4th generation Intel Core processors can bring an 50 percent improvement in battery life over the previous generation in active workloads when watching movies or surfing the Internet, and two to three times improvement in standby battery life. For some systems coming to market this year, over 9 hours of active use battery life or 10 to 13 days of standby with fresh data on a single charge is expected.

Earlier this year we saw stats from early performance tests showing Haswell will provide some notable performance boosts for MacBooks, and we’ve also heard reports that the 4th-gen Intel processors will be headed to iMacs and Mac minis towards the end of the year.

In a more recent report, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed Apple will introduce new MacBook Pro and Air updates next week at WWDC that will include an upgrade to Haswell. Yesterday, we posted even more evidence with SKUs showing that Apple is likely planning a MacBook refresh. expand full story

May 2, 2013

intel-4th-gen-core-graphics-1367448380

The next generation Intel CPUs, named Haswell, offer support for 4k displays even in the lowest-power version likely to be used in the MacBook Air – making a Retina MBA a feasible option for the first time.

Intel has announced that its Haswell processors will offer a choice of three different levels of integrated graphics, one aimed at long battery-life, the other two aimed at performance (via AnandTech).

If terms like ‘integrated graphics’ leave you scratching your head, let’s start with some background … expand full story

January 7, 2013

Seagate shows off Wireless Plus, Central, and Backup Plus external storage at CES 2013

Seagate Technology is at CES 2013 and displaying its portfolio of storage solutions at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which includes the Wireless Plus, Central, and Backup Plus.

Seagate’s Wireless Plus offers mobile storage for smart devices without wires or the Web, and it can connect up to eight mobile devices to Wi-Fi network. It can also now hold up to 500 HD movies and deliver over 10 hours of continuous streaming. The Wireless Plus only comes in a 1TB capacity. More features include:

  • Wirelessly stream your media and files to tablets, smartphones, Mac® computers and PCs
  • Carry 500+ movies or thousands of songs, photos and documents
  • Free Seagate Media app for iPad®, iPhone®, Kindle Fire and Android® devices
  • Stream up to 3 different HD movies to three devices at the same time
  • Up to 10-hour battery life*

Seagate’s Central is “the first networked home storage solution to feature a Smart TV app for enjoyment of files from the big screen,” said the company in a press release. It offers automatic backup for the entire home, as well as local and remote access to movies, music, and photos from networked devices. The Central comes with an Ethernet cable, power supply, quick start guide, Seagate Central install CD, and a two-year limited warranty. More features include:

  • Automatically back up multiple PC and Mac® computers
  • Wirelessly stream your centralized media library to gaming consoles, media players and smart TVs
  • Access content on-the-go with a Web browser or the free app for tablets and smartphones
  • Enjoy a unique Samsung® Smart TV app featuring enhanced media navigation

Lastly, the Backup Plus, which first unveiled in June 2012, is the first drive to include the Seagate Dashboard. It allows one-click backup of a system and automatic backup of Facebook and Flickr albums. It is available in 500 GB, 750 GB, and 1TB capacities in black, red, silver, or blue product colors. More features include:

  • Protect your stuff with easy, flexible backups
  • Automatically save photos from your social networks
  • Share photos and videos to social networks with a click
  • Easily increase transfer speeds by upgrading to Thunderbolt™ technology or FireWire® 800

Pricing and availability for the above devices is not yet clear, but 9to5Mac is live at CES 2013 and hopes to get live demos of Seagate’s new offerings soon.

Get more details in the full press release below.

August 1, 2012

Apple leads global PC shipments with 19 percent share, primarily due to the new iPad

Global client PC shipments rose 12 percent year-on-year in Q2 2012, with the new iPad recognized as the primary influence on growth rates, according to the latest data report from Canalys, who treat the iPad as a PC (and with the ability to operate without being tethered and to use external keyboards and monitors and the like, why wouldn’t you?)

Apple lead the overall charge, boosted by strong iPad sales, with an estimated 19 percent share of global PC shipments. Canalys explained: 

Growth in pads more than compensated for disappointing sales of Ultrabooks. The new iPad had the biggest single impact on growth rates in the quarter, but Asus and Samsung made progress with their Transformer and Galaxy Tab product lines. Total pad shipments increased 75% to 24 million units, representing 22% of all PCs.

“There is now a large base of replacement buyers that simply must have the latest Apple product, and the decision to continue shipping the iPad 2 at lower price points has opened up new customers, for example in education,” added Canalys Research Analyst Tom Evans.

Samsung lead as the “Android pad vendor” in Q2. It more than doubled its Galaxy Tab shipments compared to Q2 2011, and Canalys said the company is “Apple’s chief challenger” in the tablet sector.

Get the full report at Canalys.

July 25, 2012

Broadcom just announced its next round of portable device wireless chip, the BCM4335, which includes the ability to connect to the superfast 802.11ac networks. Apple exclusively uses Broadcom chips in this family for its iOS devices (and a different family for its Macs). The current iPad and iPhone use the Broadcom BCM4330 802.11a/b/g/n baseband/radio with integrated Bluetooth 4.0+HS and an FM transceiver—and the xxx5 is just a minor step up.

We found some code that indicates the next iPhone will use the Broadcom BCM4334, which adds the 40nm process and Wi-Fi Direct capabilities (perhaps opening some Airdrop capabilities too).

The 40nm chip will continue to deliver Bluetooth 4.0 and FM, but its 802.11ac networking could save some power using the new standard. It also features the “industry’s most advanced idle power consumption performance, which significantly extends a mobile device’s battery life.”

Sample chips are already available with a full production expected to be delivered in Q1 2013, just in time for next year’s iPads.

The press release follows: expand full story

June 3, 2012

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Do you remember all of those ports you used to see on Macs? DVI, Gig Ethernet (har), and separate analog stereo for in and out? Matrox, a company that used to make mad graphics cards and other video devices, is coming to DubDub with a new $249 piece of kit called the “DS-1.” This box brings you all of those old school ports and even throws in a “superspeed” USB 3.0 port, so you can match the speed of the new MacBooks.

Matrox makes a bunch of other highly rated, high-end Thunderbolt breakout boxes that retail for much more. If you are looking for a (relatively) cheap Thunderbolt dock to hide away from sight and hook up to an old DVI monitor, this may be a good pick up. We should have a review unit to play with next week.

The press release follows: expand full story

May 7, 2012

Digitimes today says Apple is planning a $799 MacBook Air for Q3 based on “sources from the upstream supply chain.”

Clearly, no one in Apple’s Asian supply chain knows Cupertino’s pricing strategies. Digitimes is— at best—working off Apple, perhaps building a spec-reduced model. From the context, it seems that it is making the assumption based on falling prices of surrounding Ultrabooks, which we know is a mistake.

Nevertheless, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt:

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April 26, 2012

Netgear announces 5G 802.11ac Wi-Fi router, speeds to 1.3Gbps!

We’ve talked about next-generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi that will be able to deliver Gigabyte Ethernet type speeds to your wireless devices.

The chips, also called “5G Wi-Fi” by Broadcom, do not correlate with 3G and 4G cellphone networks. The BCM4360, BCM4352, BCM43526 and BCM43516 chips improve Wi-Fi’s range and are significantly more efficient. Perhaps, the most tantalizing aspect is that the 5GHz-based technology has speeds beyond 1Gbps and is currently in the high-end range of consumer Ethernet.

Apple currently uses Broadcom Wi-Fi Chips in its Mac line and in its iOS devices, including iPad and iPods.  The latest MacBook Airs have the Broadcom BCM4322 Intensi-fi® Single-Chip 802.11n Wi-Fi Transceiver.  Maybe we will see something a little faster later this year…

Broadcom, the supplier of the first chips to support 5G Gig Wi-Fi, is not just the chip supplier for all of Apple’s iOS devices and Macs, it also provides chips to outfits like Netgear, which today announced the first 802.11AC Wi-Fi router that will be sold next month for a retail price of $199.

The R6300 will be backwardly compatible with N Wi-Fi and will be as future proof as you can get when it goes on sale next month. One has to wonder exactly how long Apple fans will have to wait in order to get this tech in their Macs. Remember…Apple was one of the first to the Wi-Fi Party with its AirPort, released in the late 1990s, and it is always near the front when it comes to Wi-Fi technology.

Press release follows:

April 23, 2012

Ivy Bridge tested, significantly faster and more power efficient

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Laptop Mag’s Michael A. Prospero put Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge through a battery of Benchmark tests and revealed the processor is certainly robust at a “mere” 22 nanometers:

It’s not a huge leap, but the performance gains we saw in our Ivy Bridge test system–with comparable battery life–makes this a strong follow-up to the previous generation of Intel Core processors. We’re really looking forward to testng slimmer and sleeker Ultrabooks with Intel’s powerful third-generation Core chip inside.

Check out the full breakdown here.  Other Ivy Bridge reviews AnandTechBit-TechTechSpotTech ReportHot Hardware

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