Category: MacBook Air

Future Retina Macs

MacBook Pro with Retina Display running Final Cut Pro

MacBook Pro with Retina Display running Final Cut Pro

In early May I wrote about how Apple was going to make use of Intel’s latest processors in this years generation of Macs. At the time no Macs had been updated during 2012 and the iMac amongst others was looking long in the tooth, although that was nothing compared to the Mac Pro. As WWDC approached it became clear that other than a focus on software Apple would give some significant attention to the Mac.

Notably missing in my piece on Ivy Bridge Macs was any discussion about the direction of the MacBook Pro and any predictions about Apple’s use of Retina displays in Macs.

Now WWDC has passed we can see how Apple’s Mac roadmap is shaping up and whilst Apple certainly surprised me with some of the the updates they delivered the majority of the news out of San Francisco earlier this month was in line with expectation. I wrote up the details of Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Retina Display after the keynote and the minor changes to the rest of the MacBook Pro lineup and the MacBook Air, I’ll cover that briefly and then move on.

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Apple Refreshes Notebooks, Desktops Lag Behind

MacBook Air (Mid 2012)

MacBook Air (Mid 2012)

In a demonstration of just how much more important notebooks are to Apple the company today took to the stage at WWDC to refresh all of their portable Macs. Apple gave the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air a minor speed bump as well as releasing a new model of MacBook Pro with a Retina display.

Apple quietly gave the Mac Pro a mild refresh including some newer Intel processors, although they’re still a couple of years old. Unlike the notebooks which gained USB 3.0 support the Mac Pro remains without Thunderbolt or USB 3.0. Neither the iMac nor Mac mini received an update today.

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Ivy Bridge Macs

As the fifth month of the year continues to progress the time is nearing for Apple to release a flurry of new Macs. Unlike the days of IBM’s PowerPC CPU architecture it’s now relatively easy to pinpoint when and what Macs are going to get refreshed at what point during the year and that is all down to Apple’s use of Intel’s architecture.

Last year Intel released Sandy Bridge and up to this point all Macs but the Mac Pro take advantage of the Sandy Bridge architecture. In addition Thunderbolt connectivity became a standard across Apple’s lineup of Macs, slowly pushing Firewire into the past.

In 2012 Intel’s new architecture is named Ivy Bridge, on a technical level the architecture marks a huge leap from the previous Sandy Bridge taking advantage of a 22 nm die shrink process. Some other headline improvements over Sandy Bridge include PCI Express 3.0 support, integrated USB 3.0 and the use of tri-gate transistors (sometimes known as 3D transistors) which offer the same performance as their “2D” counterparts but are said to offer up to 50% less power consumption. Apple may choose not to be cutting edge with all the technologies available in Ivy Bridge as the company tends to enjoy setting its own trends.

Outside of the real technicalities of Ivy Bridge the raw numbers look promising over Sandy Bridge; CPU performance is said to increase between 5% and 15% and integrated GPU performance between 20% and 50% (for the recored the integrated GPUs are HD 2500/4000).

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Battery Is Charged

iPad 3 Battery

iPad 3 Battery as shown by iFixit.com

There has been a lot of talk about batteries and power usage recently. It was all kicked off by the announcement and subsequent release of the third-generation iPad. When the iPad was originally released in 2010 many, including myself, were amazed that the iPad had such incredible battery life that it no longer became an issue. It was not something that was worried about.

Apple was obviously proud of the quoted battery life figures it presented with the first iPad because it maintained them with the iPad 2. But what that demonstrated was that Apple was pleased with the battery life and saw it as a major feature and therefore worked hard to produce a System-on-Chip (SoC) that could be powerful yet power efficient. With the iPad 2 Apple doubled the processing speed from the original iPad and delivered up to nine times the graphics performance whilst making the unit thinner and maintaining (in fact, increasing) battery capacity.

But that’s nothing compared to what happened on the iPad 3.

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MacBook Air Receives Update, MacBook Discontinued

MacBook Air family

MacBook Air family (Mid-2011)

Apple has alongside the release of OS X Lion also updated the MacBook Air and subsequently removed the polycarbonate MacBook from sale. Packing brand new Intel processors, Thunderbolt connectivity and a backlit keyboard the latest MacBook Air is said to pack “twice the performance of the previous generation”.

“Portable, affordable and powerful, MacBook Air is the ultimate everyday notebook,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “MacBook Air features our most advanced technology and is an ideal match for Lion, especially with its new Multi-Touch gestures, full-screen apps, Mission Control and Mac App Store.”

The latest MacBook Air uses Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors, the new MacBook Air is up to twice as fast as the previous generation and Intel HD Graphics 3000 and offers up to 4GB of faster 1333 MHz memory.

The MacBook Air is available in 11-inch and 13-inch models starting at $999 (£849) and $1299 (£1099) respectively.

Updated MacBook Airs to Drop Alongside Lion on Wednesday

Despite stepping right on the heels of Apple’s third fiscal quarter results it is looking increasingly likely that Apple will unveil the long-rumoured MacBook Air update alongside OS X Lion this coming Wednesday.

AppleInsider cites “people with proven track records” who point towards the two products being released at 8.30am eastern time (1.30pm London time).

As covered in our more detailed look at the MacBook Air rumours, the refresh is expected to change very little from an aesthetic point of view. Inside the new MacBook Air is expected to pack Intel’s ultra-low voltage Sandy Bridge processors. Consuming only 17 watts and running dual cores up to 1.8GHz the new processors from Intel are a perfect match for the MacBook Air.

Elsewhere inside the Air the internal SSD is expected to weigh in at a starting size of 128GB and of course the already present Mini DisplayPort will be changed to a ThunderBolt port.

Apple is also expected to drop OS X Lion alongside the MacBook Air refresh. As the OS will be released via the Mac App Store there is no channel inventory to be filled, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly when Apple will flick the switch.

Mac OS X Lion

Mac OS X Lion | Image courtesy of Apple

Available from the Mac App Store for $29.99 (£20.99) and packing over 250 new features some of those included are: new Multi-Touch gestures; system-wide support for full screen apps; Mission Control, an innovative view of everything running on your Mac; the Mac App Store, the best place to find and explore great software, built right into the OS; Launchpad, a new home for all your apps; and a completely redesigned Mail app.

MacBook Air Refresh Nears

Best Buy MacBook Air Listings

Best Buy MacBook Air Listings

The week has kicked off with reports that Best Buy has suspended the ordering of MacBook Airs from its online store. All MacBook Air models on the Best Buy site are now listed as “Not Available for Shipping”, Apple’s online store still lists the notebooks shipping in 24 hours.

The news today is just another nail in the coffin of the current MacBook Airs. Last week DigiTimes reported that “Makers in the upstream supply chain for Apple notebook products will run in full gear starting July preparing needed parts and components for the vendor’s new MacBook Air models”. The same sources estimate that Apple will take delivery of over eight million MacBook Airs in the third quarter, a very suspicious figure as Apple only shipped four million units across all its Macs in Q211.

As July nears, so of course does the release timeframe of Apple’s OS X Lion which will ship with over 250 new features and be a major part of Apple’s Mac sales strategy moving forward. It has been suggested from a number of sources that Apple could wait until a point where it can pre-load OS X Lion on any new Macs that it is shipping, so that the crucial upgrade comes pre-loaded on all new models.

13-inch MacBook Air (Late 2010)

13-inch MacBook Air (Late 2010)

The refreshed MacBook Airs are expected to move to Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors. Apple’s MacBook Pro models already make use of Intel’s Sandy Bridge product catalogue but they use the 25 to 25 watt variety, Intel has recently released ultra-low voltage processors that consume only 17 watts, something that is far more suitable to the ultra-thin and long battery life of the Air.

As listed by CNET earlier this month Intel’s new ULV Sandy Bridge processors come in three varieties, running at speeds from 1.7GHz to 1.8GHz and all featuring dual cores.

In addition to updating the processor speeds of the MacBook Air, Apple may also bump the size of the in-built SSD. Currently the MacBook Air’s internal storage ranges from 64GB to 256GB, it has been suggested that this could be pushed to 512GB. Apple is also likely to include ThunderBolt connectivity, the change would require very little work from Apple has the current range of MacBook Airs include a MiniDisplay Port connector.

MacBook Air Supplies Restricted, Refresh Expected Soon

13-inch MacBook Air (Late 2010)

13-inch MacBook Air (Late 2010)

In mid-May it was rumoured that Apple was preparing to recieve shipments of ThunderBolt equipped MacBook Airs for release in June or July, both CNET and DigiTimes indicated from their sources that the units would begin filling the supply chain “in late May”.

As noted the new MacBook Airs are rumoured to include ThunderBolt connectivity which was first introduced with the MacBook Pro refresh earlier this year, Apple is also expected to move the ultra-portable notebooks to Intel’s Sandy Bridge platform.

Now retail sources have suggested to 9 to 5 Mac that supplies of the MacBook Air are becoming constrained around the world, a sure sign of Apple preparing to fill the supply chain with new models.

On Monday, June 6 Apple will kick off its annual WorldWide Developers Conference in San Francisco. WWDC 2011 will run from June 6-10 and the opening keynote will be hosted by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The company has already outlined that it will discuss iOS 5, iCloud and Mac OS X Lion. A MacBook Air refresh could be quietly slipped into the announcements during the day.

Thunderbolt MacBook Airs Rumoured for June or July Release

Late 2010 MacBook Air

MacBook Air (Late 2010) family viewed from the side

Apple is said to be preparing to receive shipments of brand new Thunderbolt equipped MacBook Airs for release in either June or July. The MacBook Air models which are also said to include Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors will reportedly begin filling the supply chain “in late May”.

The report from DigiTimes reads that sources from the manufacturing partners of Apple who are producing the MacBook Air indicate that both 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch MacBook Air models will be available for sale in June or July.

“Main supply chain makers for the new models remain about the same as for the existing MacBook Air, with Quanta Computer solely responsible for assembly, Catcher Technology supplying casings, Auras Technology a main supplier of thermal modules, Shin Zu Shing supplying hinges, and Simplo Technology and Dynapack supplying batteries”

The report from DigiTimes corroborates a report from CNET earlier in the year that pointed towards a Sandy Bridge equipped MacBook Air in June.

Apple will host its annual Worldwide Developers Conference from June 6-10 in San Francisco, although the company has yet to announce an opening keynote it is likely that the company will announce a number of products at the show.

Software Update Addresses MacBook Air System Hanging

13-inch MacBook Air (Late 2010)

13-inch MacBook Air (Late 2010)

Apple has released a software update for the 13-inch MacBook Air (Late 2010) that addresses an issue with the system freezing when iTunes is in use.

Mac OS X v10.6.7 Supplemental Update for 13″ MacBook Air (Late 2010) – 461KB

This update addresses an issue that makes the system unresponsive when using iTunes.

It is recommended for all 13″ MacBook Air (Late 2010) users running Mac OS X v10.6.7.