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.
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.
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.”
The new MacBook Air is the best Mac I’ve ever owned. This machine is shaping the future of OS X, both as an operating system and a bridge between iOS and the desktop.
In October 2008, I bought my first Mac. I had been a Windows PC user for seven years, and I was accustomed to using a PC at home for my browsing and writing needs, and at work – where my boss demanded we used PCs as he said they were more “reliable” and “fast”. After months of reading and peeking through Apple’s FAQ pages and video tutorials, I decided to buy a MacBook Pro. It was a 15-inch Unibody model with glossy screen, 4 GB of RAM, multi-touch trackpad, and Core 2 Duo processor. Back then, it was my first Mac but also the best computer I ever had. The moment I took it out of the box – and I was immediately impressed by Apple’s attention to detail in packaging and overall presentation – I knew that machine was going to change the way I “did work” on a computer. And it did. A few months later my boss fired me, and I started MacStories.
That MacBook Pro has been with me until last week.
Last year, I bought an iMac. Being the kind of Mac user that travels back and forth every day between his office (where I spend most of my day writing and managing the site) and his home, I was tired of being constantly forced to pack my MacBook Pro inside a bag, carry it around, gently place it on the passenger seat of my car, and pray that the hard drive wouldn’t die because of the terrible roads we have here in Viterbo. In spite of the fact that the MacBook Pro was the best computer I ever had, I slowly came to a point where I couldn’t stand carrying it around anymore. I decided to buy an iMac and make it my “home computer” so that I could offload media on it, backup documents, and do all those other things you’re supposed to do on “a home computer”. I bought a 21.5-inch model – again with a glossy screen – as I thought I wouldn’t ever need anything bigger than that. I was right. I’m happy with my purchase – the iMac is the finest piece of desktop hardware Apple has come up with in the past decade. Sure, my 2009 iMac doesn’t feature a Thunderbolt port and won’t get the performance boost of a Sandy Bridge-enabled machine, but it’s a trusted companion that I plan to keep for at least the next two years (that is, unless something really bad happens to the hardware, or Apple comes out with a desktop computer so revolutionary that it’ll be impossible to say no and don’t buy it).
For me, an iMac is the perfect desktop computer. It sits there, it makes my desk more elegant and classy than it could ever be, and more importantly it never failed me.
But I still had a problem with the MacBook Pro being a clumsy machine I didn’t want to carry around with me all the time. Read more
I checked in at 11:35. Late for my 11:15 appointment, the Apple Store representative offered to fit me in at 13:00 for a brief MacBook repair. I could replace the fan myself — which unfortunately wasn’t rattling that morning as it had been in previous days — but there’s too many screws to remove and I wanted an excuse to test out the MacBook Air. For an hour I visited with the both 11“ and 13” MacBook models, getting a feel for the weight and size while opening every app I could, playing music or fullscreen videos, and getting to know whatever neighbors who casually stopped into the Apple Store to check out Apple’s latest machines. You could say the MacBook Air is pretty great (there’s no denying that), but I found the people to be much more interesting.
As noted by AnandTech, Apple is using smaller and cheaper Thunderbolt controllers in the new MacBook Airs released on July 20th alongside new Mac Minis, OS X Lion, and the Thunderbolt Cinema Display. The website notes, whereas the 2011 MacBook Pros, iMacs and Mac Minis use Thunderbolt controllers codenamed “Light Ridge” with four bi-directional channels at 10 Gbps (thus achieving 80 Gbps aggregate bandwidth), the smaller chip implemented in the MacBook Air, called Eagle Ridge, is a scaled-down version with access to two channels. Furthermore, whilst Light Ridge comes with up to two DisplayPort outputs, the MacBook Air’s Thunderbolt controller has only one DisplayPort output.
Eagle Ridge is available in two form factors (normal and SFF) and is effectively half of a Light Ridge chip. That means you only get two Thunderbolt channels and one DP output.
Presumably to cut down costs, save motherboard space and have a better impact on battery life, Apple decided to use a smaller version of the Thunderbolt controller that made its first appearance in February on the new MacBook Pros, first to feature the Thunderbolt technology co-developed by Apple and Intel and originally named Light Peak. It was previously reported high production costs of Thunderbolt ports could be the reason behind relatively slow adoption by third-party accessory makers. Currently only a series of high-end RAID configurations are available on the Apple online store and Apple’s own Thunderbolt Display is set to ship sometime next month. You can read more about Thunderbolt here.
[via AnandTech - image: iFixit]
With the release of OS X Lion and new MacBook Airs, Apple has made slight tweaks to the custom f-keys on their keyboard. The main change is that the Dashboard key (located on the F4) has now been replaced with a Launchpad key. The other change is that the Exposé button (located on the F3) key that is now used for Mission Control in Lion has seen a minor change to the icon.
Noticed by iSpazio the change has also propagated to Apple’s wired keyboards and one would presume it will soon make its way to the Apple wireless keyboard. Bundled keyboards with purchased iMac’s and Mac Pros should also soon ship with these slightly tweaked keyboards. Unfortunately these minor signage tweaks are about the extent of the changes to the Apple keyboards – no backlit keys or significant design changes.
[iSpazio via 9to5 Mac]
MacBook Air 13” Mid 2011 Teardown
Although today is an exciting day for consumers, it is a sad day for consumer repair. Apple decided that the “svelte and sexy” MacBook Air would replace the “simple and serviceable” white plastic MacBook (for consumers at least– the white plastic MacBook is still available for educational use). While this means that your book-bags will be significantly lighter, it will also mean that you won’t be upgrading or servicing your computer anytime soon.
As iFixit tears down the MacBook Air this afternoon, they’re equally sad to see the plastic MacBook leave Apple’s consumer lineup (it will still serve a purpose in the education sector for students around the world). I still have my old black MacBook, and I don’t plan on getting rid of it anytime soon. Thunderbolt machines are still young, Lion is new, and there’s still some shifts to be made in Apple’s product line before I’m willing to commit to a new machine. (I’m waiting for the optical drives to be removed from the MacBook Pros, which would likely happen with a redesign). That said, I’ve been keeping my MacBook alive thanks to the great folks at OWC. Already, they’re looking to support the new 2011 MacBook Airs. OWC Grant writes:
If I’m right about this, and the clues certainly make it appear so, then once again, OWC offers an upgrade path that offers up to four times more capacity (480GB) than the size of the typical choice stock drive (128GB) from the factory in the new machines.
If I’m wrong…and the flash storage is truly soldered in, there are two possible options. One, get your hands on a Refurbished 2010 model instead and drop an OWC Aura Pro Express in there for the capacity you truly need and want. Two, we always could (note that “could” term there!) offer a Turnkey Program where you would send your 2011 MBA to us and we’d send it back with higher capacity and likely faster flash storage.
According to iFixit’s update this afternoon, there should be no need for the Turnkey Program. Apple’s latest MacBook Air should accept the OWC Aura Pro Express so you may add more storage if needed to the lightweight machines.
It’s not just your normal Wednesday morning folks. Nope — coinciding with the launch of Lion that was only confirmed yesterday during Apple’s Q3 conference call, Apple has released a handful of new products including updated MacBook Airs, updated Mac Minis, and new Apple Thunderbolt Displays (a step up from the Apple Cinema Displays). In the chaos of four press releases and an updating Apple Store, there’s lots of new items to note alongside our major morning launches, so let’s run through the list!