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Posts tagged with "macbook air"

Here’s to Another Five Years

Apple wasn’t a brand that my friends and I conversed about in high school, our infatuation being PCs that weren’t Dell and graphics cards and the latest processors and Counter Strike. Apple was a part of my life insofar that they were the guys who made the cool MP3 players. I had an iPod video, and later an iPod touch, but I knew nothing of Steve Jobs. Macs were also unknown to me, but later I would realize that I used an iMac G3 with the weird puck mouse a few times in middle school. In my junior and senior years one of my classmates had the first iPhone, but it was just an iPod with a phone[1].

It wasn’t until after I graduated that Apple became a thing. No one knew it at the time, but 2008 was the last year that Apple would offer the polycarbonate MacBook in black. I remember having this sort of sudden fascination with it: how simple[2] it was, how different it was. This would be my college laptop, despite being in a price range that was out of budget and running an operating system that I wasn’t familiar with.

When the sales tax holiday came around, I made the decision to go all-in. I purchased the fully loaded MacBook in black, complete with an incredible 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor[3], 4 GBs of memory, and 250 GBs of storage. Being my first laptop, I also purchased an AirPort Extreme so I could have Wi-Fi in the house. The Apple Store was accommodating between me and my overprotective bank, letting me use their phone behind the counter since my Nextel Motorola had no reception.

While the purchase itself was an experience, it wasn’t until I got home that I fully began to appreciate what I had in my hands. Out of the box the laptop was charged and ready to use. There was a prompt to sign up for MobileMe, but otherwise the laptop had no stickers or bloatware. Everything about it was perfect[4].

My MacBook, which I would come to call the BlackBook, had an unbelievable impact on how I thought about computers. It didn’t have the most powerful guts, but it had a great keyboard and trackpad, and the display was pretty good. I thought the MagSafe Power Adapter was brilliant, the magnetic connector certainly saving my bacon plenty of times in the classroom as the cord was sometimes yanked by a wild knee. The sleep indicator light became a reassuring delightful detail. All of those little details really added up.

The BlackBook would be the computer that soldiered on. A hard drive died, a replacement solid state drive died[5], and I upgraded the memory to an unrecommended six gigabytes, keeping it current. I replaced the battery in its third year and I’m probably due for another replacement. The fan started making noises in its fourth year but it never ceased to function so I tolerated it. It didn’t run Mountain Lion, but it did run Lion and that was good enough until Mavericks[6] was announced.

Thinking back, the black model was a good choice. Unlike the white MacBooks, cracks that developed in the surrounding bezel didn’t show as well. The black never did end up looking dirty, although fingerprints were constantly a problem. The oils from my wrists have stained the plastic making the black appear blacker and slick. It stood out from the crowd and it continues to look impressively modern. The keyboard, the trackpad, and the quality of the laptop itself far exceeded my expectations. The keys still feel just as good as they did when I first bought it. The trackpad’s button no longer has that new-click-feel, but it still works just as it always has.

I’ve repaired a lot of laptops of all shapes and sizes for spare cash in college. In 2013, no one else does two finger scrolling well. Apple was getting it right in 2008.

It was because of the BlackBook that I would eventually find myself watching Apple Keynotes in the back of the classroom while the professor was lecturing, and it was because of the BlackBook that I started creating my own WordPress site which eventually led to this one. Little did I know that I would end up using the laptop for an extended four years in college, and it was the machine I would continue to use for a year afterwards. Needless to say that it has been a significant part of my young adult life.

As much as I don’t want to give it up it’s finally showing its age. I will open up the case and blow the dust out and replace the fan. I’ll reapply thermal compound to the processor and reassemble the heat sink so that the laptop runs cooler. It still has life in it.

But it’s time to say goodbye. Five years is a long time to own a computer, and it’s impressive how well the BlackBook withstood the test of time. Apple is moving forward and I’m ready to embrace the latest they have to offer. Needless to say that Apple has made me a fan for life.

Today I’m using a new Mac, the latest MacBook Air, and it’s even more wonderful than the first. It has backlit keys that adjust to ambient lighting and new function keys I’m not used to and an even better display. There’s no button on the trackpad and my headphones finally work with the combination headphone + microphone port. It has USB3 and Thunderbolt, significantly faster interfaces than USB2 and FireWire. And the battery life is amazing[7]; I can use my laptop for two or three days without having to charge it. It’s never gotten hot, and I haven’t heard the fan even after watching hours of streaming video from my favorite websites. Being my first aluminum Mac, I can’t help but appreciate what a marvel of engineering this is.

Here’s to another five years.

  1. But it was just an iPod with a phone. Oh my god how naive! ↩︎
  2. I dismissed the Powerbook because I thought the keyboard looked weird and because the lid wasn’t magnetic. Because latches were so passé in 2008. The other alternatives were PCs that were running Windows Vista and underpowered netbooks. ↩︎
  3. Apple then released the aluminum MacBook in October that had an Nvidia chipset instead of the basic Intel chipset. Thus I learned a hard lesson in Apple release cycles. ↩︎
  4. The computer I had throughout high school was a Compaq desktop that my uncle had picked out and my grandmother then purchased when she visited in the summer of 2004. It was also quite the beast, having a 2.5 GHz Celeron D processor, one gigabyte of memory, and 40 GBs of storage. This was when ribbon cables were still the norm. It’s fitting that a Compaq was my first computer as Tim Cook is now the CEO of Apple. What a coincidence. ↩︎
  5. The MacBook had a first revision Serial ATA interface for the hard drive, so I couldn’t take full advantage of a SSD. However, the read and write speeds are still so much faster than a mechanical drive that it was like breathing new life into the machine. And to think today’s MacBook Airs have PCIe-based flash storage. ↩︎
  6. OS X Mavericks fixes all of the things that didn’t work quite right in Lion. ↩︎
  7. I swear that the battery on this MacBook Air lasts longer than my iPad. I can’t wait for this to be the standard. ↩︎

Thoughts on the New AirPort Extreme

Thomas Brand of Egg Freckles thinking out loud about Apple’s latest AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule.

In the era of Post-PC computing I would like to see an AirPort Extreme of Time Capsule that do more than just desktop backup and wireless networking. A central household cache for iTunes streaming, App Store downloads, and iCloud backups would be a great start. Maybe next year we will see another vertically oriented white box that does just that.

When iCloud Backups became a thing that we started seeing on rumor blogs, I remember quite a few of us positing that our AirPort devices would become an important piece in that equation. We were wrong, but it’s not hard to imagine an iPhone or iPad syncing to a Time Capsule in the same manner that our Macs do with scheduled Time Machine backups.

You can come close to a proposed solution like this today. Take any old USB hard drive, copy your iTunes data to it, plug it in your AirPort Extreme or Time Capsule, and you’re off to the races. Although loading an iTunes library over a network is so slow there’s really no benefit.

The big con in doing any of this of course is what happens when the hard drive in that Time Capsule dies. If all of your music and mobile backups are on this thing you’re suddenly hosed unless Apple has some cloud storage or RAID solution in mind. This is why I think our Macs and iTunes continues to be the gateway for syncing and backing up our iOS devices — data is at least redundantly stored on both your Mac and Time Capsule.

Although Apple claims the vertical departure from the previous AirPort Extreme’s six-year-old design was choosen for better reception, I tend to think it was a cost cutting measure. The new AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule share the same enclosure along designed around the same 3.5 inch hard drive. The added price of the Time Capsule gets you nothing more than said drive, and the cables needed to connect it. Saving Apple millions on duplicate parts.

I forgot who said it, but the theory I like the most is that the new AirPort Extreme design keeps people from stacking crap on top it.


So What’s New With Apple’s MacBook Air?


Image credit: iFixit

Apple’s new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs now last 9 and 12 hours on battery respectively, a 4 and 5 hour improvement over the previous generation. Lots of sites have started poking and prodding at the new machines, including iFixit, known for their great do-it-yourself gadget repair manuals.

iFixit’s (mid 2013) 13-inch MacBook Air teardown

Last year’s 7.3V, 6700 mAh battery has been supplanted by a new 7.6V 7150 mAh battery. Apple noted that Flash storage was 45% faster in this revision, and that’s due to the move from a SATA based solid state drive to a PCI Express based SSD. The AirPort card has also been updated to support 802.11ac. It’s still a very proprietary machine: RAM is soldered onto the logic board and many components aren’t meant to be user replaceable or upgradeable, despite otherwise easy access to its insides.

 Wired on how Haswell saves so much power

The MacBook Air is packing a big battery, but those substantial energy savings are owned to Intel’s latest round of fourth-generation processors, known as Haswell. The new Haswell chips in today’s MBAs are part of a special low-voltage series of chips designed specifically for Ultrabooks, which Intel claims is twice as energy efficient as the previous generation.

AnandTech quick and dirty benchmarks

Something to keep in mind is that the new Haswell chips in Apple’s MacBook Airs are officially Intel HD 5000 based and not Iris.

Macworld puts the new MacBook Air through read and write paces

Macworld has the most comprehensive benchmarks at the moment, showing that the new MacBook Airs get substantially better read and write speeds with their new PCIe based SSDs. However, Haswell is pretty much in line performance-wise with the last generation of processors.

Apple Tweaks Prices and CPUs of MacBook Pro, MacBook Air Lines

Apple Tweaks Prices and CPUs of MacBook Pro, MacBook Air Lines

With a press release published this morning, Apple has announced they have updated the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines with new prices and faster processors.

Apple is making the MacBook Pro with Retina display faster and more affordable with updated processors and lower starting prices. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display now starts at $1,499 for 128GB of flash, and $1,699 for a new 2.6 GHz processor and 256GB of flash. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display now features a faster 2.4 GHz quad-core processor, and the top-of-the-line 15-inch notebook comes with a new 2.7 GHz quad-core processor and 16GB of memory. Apple today also announced that the 13-inch MacBook Air® with 256GB of flash has a new lower price of $1,399.

Thanks to @setteBIT, here’s a quick rundown of the changes: the 13” MacBook Pro with Retina Display is now $200 and $300 cheaper for the 128 GB and 256 GB (with SSD) models, respectively; the CPU has been bumped from 2.5 GHz to 2.6 GHz. The price difference in Euros is €250 and €350. The 13” MacBook Air with 256 GB SSD is now $100 cheaper (€150).

The 13” MacBook Pro with Retina Display was announced on October 23, 2012 – 113 days ago; the 15” MacBook Pro with Retina display was announced at WWDC ‘12 – 247 days ago.

In the first fiscal quarter of 2013, Apple sold 4.1 million Macs. It’s unclear whether Apple might have been able to lower the prices of Retina MacBook Pro (while offering faster performances) due to possible reductions of component prices (i.e. high-resolution displays), but the timing is interesting: just a few days ago, Apple and other tech companies (such as Adobe) were summoned to appear before the Federal Australian Parliamentary Committee that has been investigating IT pricing in Australia. In response to the inquiry, Adobe promptly dropped the price of its Creative Cloud service.


Apple Announces New MacBook Airs: Ivy Bridge, USB 3, and More

Today at Apple’s WWDC 2012 Keynote, Phil Schiller announced the updated MacBook Air, featuring Intel Ivy Bridge processors, more RAM, a pair of USB 3 ports, faster flash storage for high speed performance (500 MBps read speed), 60% faster graphics, and an updated FaceTime camera that can record up to 720p.

The 11-inch base model MacBook Air starts with a 1366x768 display, 1.7 GHz dual-core i5 processor, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB of flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 4000, and 5 hours of battery life, starting at $999.

The larger 13-inch base configuration features a 1440x900 display, 1.8 GHz dual-core i5 processor, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB of flash storage, Intel HD Graphics 4000, and 7 hours of battery life, starting at $1199.

The MacBook Airs can be updated with a 2 GHz core-i7 processor (with Turbo Boost up to 3.2 GHz), 8 GB of RAM, and 512 GBs of flash storage.

The updated MacBook Airs start shipping today. Customers who purchase a MacBook Air will be eligible for a free upgrade to Mountain Lion when it’s released. You’ll find the full press release after the break.

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The 15-inch MacBook Air Appears on the Horizon

MacBook Air

MacBook Air

Rumor has it that Apple’s current lineup is going to be refreshed early next year with a new addition to the Air family. Digitimes reports that panel suppliers are currently pumping out 11.6-inch, 13.3-inch, and 15-inch displays for inclusion in the next lineup of MacBook Airs.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple added a big brother to the MacBook Air family. Morgan Stanely and NPD figures are estimating that the MacBook Air now accounts for 28% of Apple’s notebook shipments as of October. MacBook Airs are selling in volumes.

The latest 15-inch rumor comes just two weeks after Digitimes reported a new 15-inch model was slated for March, as upstream suppliers started moving components.

Estimated by the product planning, mass shipments of the notebook device will start in March and could be cataloged in either the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro line and could be cataloged in either the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro line.

Apple’s 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs were last updated in July with Sandy Bridge processors and the inclusion of Thunderbolt.

It wasn’t known at the time if the 15-inch model was for a slimmer MacBook Pro or an updated MacBook Air. It looks like the rumors are pointing towards the latter, and it would make sense given the popularity of Apple’s ultralight laptops. It’s previously been suggest thated Apple’s line of MacBook Pros would get thinner sooner than later, but it’s possible Apple’s going to offer a bigger Air before the Pros are reinvented. [Digitimes via Macgasm]

Kickstarter: LandingZone is the Docking Station you Need for the MacBook Air

Everybody loves their MacBook Airs until they have to connect their Apple Thunderbolt Displays or external monitors, no thanks to the required connections on opposite sides of the chassis. I find it funny Apple would launch a MacBook that requires one to stretch the ATD cable around both sides of a laptop. Surely someone would come along and fix it.

InfiniWing’s LandingZone is a docking station for the MacBook Air thas aims to practically solve the hassle of connecting multiple cords and cables as you sit down at your desk. LandingZone adds two additional USB ports to the Air, includes an ethernet port and Mini DisplayPort for connecting to office equipment, has a port compatible with Kensington Locks, and includes a housing to secure your MagSafe adapter for charging the MacBook Air while it’s seated (power is still supplied via Apple’s MagSafe Power Adapter). As cables are routed out the back, you’ll have a cleaner desk to work on and more ports to connect USB drives, wired keyboards, and other peripherals to.

LandingZone is brilliantly simple, featuring a latch mechanism that clamps the hub to the required ports on either side of the MacBook. As the video on Kickstarter (which is one of the best Kickstarter videos I’ve seen to date) will show off, you simply lock and unlock the MacBook Air with an elegant lever at the backside. LandingZone is everything you’d likely want in a docking station without the bulk of traditional laptop docks. It’s small, smartly designed, and looks good.

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Apple Releases MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.1

Earlier today Apple released an EFI Firmware Update for the MacBook Air, which reaches version 2.1 and adds a number of fixes for Thunderbolt Displays and Target Disk Mode. Too, the update enhances performances of Lion Recovery when used through an Internet connection (to re-download Lion from Apple’s servers).

This update includes fixes that enhance the stability of Lion Recovery from an Internet connection, and resolve issues with Apple Thunderbolt Display compatibility and Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode performance on MacBook Air (mid 2011) models.

The MacBook Air EFI Update will update the EFI firmware on your notebook computer. Your computer’s power cord must be connected and plugged into a working power source. When your MacBookAir restarts, a gray screen will appear with a status bar to indicate the progress of the update. It will take several minutes for the update to complete. Do not disturb or shut off the power on your MacBookAir during this update.

The new MacBook Airs were released on July 20, alongside the announcement of the new Apple Thunderbolt Display (the renamed Cinema Display), which packs Thunderbolt alongside an Ethernet port to allow for easy daisy-chaining of peripherals and network access. The Thunderbolt Display, priced at $999, is shipping in 2-3 weeks from Apple’s website, though the company announced the product in July with a 60 day shipping estimate. MacRumors reported last week Thunderbolt Displays were shipping to retail stores ahead of upcoming availability.

Launch Of Refreshed MacBook Air and Lion Boosts Recent Mac Sales Numbers

Last month’s release of new MacBook Airs and OS X Lion seems to have given Apple a significant boost in sales for the first month of the September quarter. The latest statistics from NPD reveal that year-over-year, Mac sales were up by 26% - to put that into context it means that Mac growth outpaces the growth of the PC market six-fold.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes that if that kind of growth continues Apple will easily make the estimates of 4.5 million total Mac sales for the quarter. He noted to his clients that the Lion, MacBook Air and Mac Mini launches in mid-July helped inflate Mac sales for the month. However, he did caution them that “these tailwinds will fade throughout the September quarter and year-over-year compares get slightly tougher in the last two months of the quarter”.

The rapid Mac sales growth has seen the platform outpace the growth of the PC market for 21 consecutive quarters and most believe that trend will continue for some time yet. Ben Reitzes of Barclays notes that they expect Apple to continue to gain share in Macs in the long term, despite the iPad’s presence. He adds that their “estimate for Mac growth of 18 percent year-over-year for Apple’s C3Q, may turn out to be conservative even though the global economy appears to be slowing quite a bit.”

[Via AllThingsD]