I/O Stories June 25, 2014

Tune in live to Google’s I/O press event live stream

Google I/O starts today, and as per usual, the company is kicking things off with a huge 2-hour press event set to start at 9 AM PT. The event is said to be bringing a multitude of new products and service announcements, rumored to include the “L” version of Android, Android Wear smartwatches, a new line of “Android Silver” smartphones, a second-generation Chromebook Pixel, an “Android TV” set-top box, Project Tango tablets, and Google Glass announcements.

I/O Stories May 15, 2013

Google just announced a new unified messaging service today that will be available across multiple platforms and now the iOS app is officially available to download on the App Store.

Google-Hangouts-app-iconThe free Hangouts app is available as a universal download for both iPhone and iPad and offers group conversations with photos or 850 emojis, Video calls for hanging out with up to 10 friends, alerts that are synced across devices and more.

More Hangouts awesomeness: — View and continue your Hangouts across devices. — Get notifications just once.  After you see an alert, it’ll be removed on other devices. — Snooze your notifications if you’d prefer to respond later. — See what you talked about in the past, including shared photos and your video call history. — Keep a record of any Hangout for just a short period of time by turning history off. — View collections of photos shared from each of your Hangouts. — Choose from over 850 emoji to express what’s on your mind.

The Hangouts feature will also be coming to Gmail users today: expand full story

Google today announced that it is revamping the Google voice search feature available in Chrome on the desktop. While users have always been able to search with their voice through Chrome, Google is attempting to make the service work more like it does through Google Search apps and Google Now on mobile devices.

Chrome will now include “conversational search” with a brand new interface that doesn’t require users to click in order to search with their voice. Like on mobile devices with Google Now, users will now be able to simple say “Google” in order to activate voice search.

Today, we previewed what this conversational experience will look like in Chrome on your desktops and laptops. Soon, you’ll be able to just say, hands-free, “OK Google, will it be sunny in Santa Cruz this weekend?” and get a spoken answer. Then, you’ll be able to continue the conversation and just follow up with “how far is it from here?” if you care about the drive or “how about Monterey?” if you want to check weather somewhere else, and get Google to tell you the answer.

The new interface, as pictured above from Google’s demo of the feature, is much like the voice search interface for Google Now on Android devices.

The new feature will be coming to Macs and PCs through Chrome soon.

Google also briefly showed off some new content coming to Google Now including new cards for Reminders, Music Albums, TV Shows, Books, Public Transit, and Video games rolling out today: expand full story

From 9to5Google:

Google just announced its much rumored new music service called Google Play Music “All Access” live on stage at its Google I/O event keynote presentation.

Google execs focused on showing off curated playlists but also made a note of pointing out a “radio” feature that will automatically create an endless radio station based on the song you’re currently listening to. The service will also allow users to search for a particular song or view the “playlist” of a radio station to remove unwanted songs.

Also included is a feature called “Listen Now” that will provide quick access to recently listened to songs, customized radio stations based on your preferences, and recommendations for new releases from artists you like.

The service will be available on the web, tablets, and phones through Google Play and cost users $9.99 per month with a 30 day free trial in the US. Those that sign up before the end of June will be able to get the subscription for just $7.99/month and Google said the service will land in other countries soon.

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From 9to5Google:

We knew from leaks in the weeks leading up to I/O that Google was planning some gaming related announcements and today the company has officially announced the service in a press release ahead of its Google I/O keynote taking place now. Not only will the service allow Android developers to build in real-time multiplayer, social features, achievements, and leaderboards while storing game saves and settings in the cloud, the SDK for Google Play game services will also be available to iOS and web developers.

Google noted a few titles for Android have already been updated with the feature including World of Goo, Super Stickman Golf 2, Beach Buggy Blitz, Kingdom Rush, Eternity Warriors 2, and Osmos.

Not surprisingly, the cross-platform gaming service will also build in Google+ integration to track high scores, achievements and more:

-Achievements that increase engagement and promote different styles of play.

-Social and public leaderboards that seamlessly use Google+ circles to track high scores across friends and across the world.

-Cloud saves that provide a simple and streamlined storage API to store game saves and settings. Now players never have to replay Level 1 again.

-Real-time multiplayer for easy addition of cooperative or competitive game play on Android devices. Using G+ Circles a game can have up to 4 simultaneous friends or auto-matched players in a game session together with support for additional players coming soon.

Google’s full press release below: expand full story

google-io-2013-registration.

Just a friendly reminder that 9to5Google will be covering Google’s yearly developer conference called Google I/O today. The 3 hour(!!) keynote starts at noon ET today and can be watched via live stream here.

9to5Google will be posting the announcements as they happen so check back often. expand full story

I/O Stories May 9, 2013

Apple releases Thunderbolt firmware update v1.2 with stability fixes

Apple today released Thunderbolt firmware update version 1.2 with small stability fixes for Target Disk Mode and Thunderbolt. The 1.22MB update is available for download from Apple’s website here.

I/O Stories June 19, 2012

Google accelerating development of Siri competitor for Android

The Wall Street Journal reported that Google is accelerating its plans to launch a competitor to Siri. 9to5Google has the full story:

We have heard several reports in the past that Google was working on various evolutions of its Voice Actions platform for Android. Back in December we heard of “Project Majel”, which according to reports is the codename for a new voice-controlled assistant app similar to Siri. In March TechCrunch reported on a similar project dubbed Google Assistant. According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Google is accelerating its plans to launch a competitor to Apple’s Siri…

I/O Stories September 27, 2011

Intel: Existing Thunderbolt Macs will support optical cables

Pictured above: Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt cable (copper). A representative for Intel, Dave Salvator, told Macworld that the current range of Macs with Thunderbolt I/O will support fiber optic cables which are due next year. This will ensure backwards compatibility of optical cables with existing Thunderbolt ports which work with copper cables. Circuitry will ensure compatibility […]

I/O Stories September 23, 2011

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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I/O Stories September 20, 2011

We told you late last night that LaCie Thunderbolt disks were arriving in Apple Retail Stores.  Today, LaCie officially announced the availability of its new products which hit the Apple online Store today for $399 (1TB) and $499 (2TB) earlier today.

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That is a $100+ premium over their Firewire drives and you’ll need a $49 Apple Thunderbolt Cable.

The LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series sets the new standard for the storage industry. Featuring a pair of 2.5″ drives in a Mac OS RAID configuration, the Little Big Disk delivers stunning read speeds more than 480MB/s in SSD and up to 190MB/s in HDD.

It appears that these drives are limited by the speed of the 2.5-inch drives, not by the bus as the faster SSD blows away the HDD version.  It is curious that they didn’t make a 3.5-inch variety which would have allowed for much greater speed and cost much less.

The SSD version will ship next month.

Promise sells their 4TB Thunderbolt RAID boxes for just over $1000, 8TB for $1500 and 12TB for $2000.

Full Press release follows: expand full story

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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I/O Stories September 16, 2011

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: expand full story

I/O Stories September 15, 2011

Apple’s 27-inch Thunderbolt Cinema Displays have begun arriving to customer’s homes. The display looks virtually identical to the previous generation of the giant 27-inch Cinema Display from Apple, and includes USB ports, a Thunderbolt port, a FireWire 800 port, and an Ethernet port.

More photos courtesy of reader Scott are after the break.

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Intel today released a couple tidbits to cast more light on Thunderbolt I/O and give folks some perspective concerning its road map. This is my next details some of the features which are outlined in greater detail over at the brand new Thunderbolt web site, which mostly covers branding and various technicalities. For example, we now have it in writing that all Thunderbolt-branded products are to interoperate across all vendors. Per official information, the maximum allowed length of electrical Thunderbolt cables is three meters. Plugs are compatible with Mini-DisplayPort, but DisplayPort cables won’t work as a Thunderbolt cable replacement.

The biggest takeaway is that active optical cables are coming “sometime next year.” Optics will extend Thunderbolt cables to “tens of meters”, but they’ll still provide the same 10 Gbps bidirectional data transfer speeds per channel (there are two channels per cable), much as today’s electrical cables that have circuitry in cable ends. In all, about twenty third-parties are backing Intel’s technology, which isn’t that much considering that Thunderbolt, after all, is a future-proof I/O technology from the world’s largest chip maker.

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…in New Zealand anyway.  One 9to5Mac reader said that the Thunderbolt Display he ordered on August 17th was now en route to his home.  If anyone else has a shipping display let us know in the comments or at tips@9to5mac.com.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this shipment information is that these displays aren’t shipping directly from China as most Apple products do. They are shipping from a holding spot in Australia (below) perhaps indicating that the wait on these displays isn’t because of hardware, but in fact software, which, incidentally was updated last night on Thunderbolt MacBook Pros and Mac Minis.

I/O Stories September 14, 2011

After releasing an EFI firmware update for the MacBook Air earlier this week, Apple has released an EFI update for both the MacBook Pro and Mac mini this afternoon. The MacBook Pro update is version 2.2 and Mac mini version 1.3, fixing compatibility issues for the upcoming Thunderbolt Display and bringing numerous Lion fixes — and adding Lion Internet Recovery on the MacBook Pro.

Hit up Software Update on your Mac to get downloading. (via The Next Web)

I/O Stories September 13, 2011

Belkin took a little bit of time today at IDF to show off their new Thunderbolt Express Dock that provides a selection of ports that mirror the new 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display, sans the $999 price point.

The accessory sports three USB ports, a Thunderbolt port, Firewire 800 port, and Gigabit Ethernet. Perhaps the dock could use some more of that Apple “mimimalism” – we’re sensing some wasted space being used here.

There is no word on pricing or availability as of yet, and Daily Tech reminds us we might still have to cough up $50 for a Thunderbolt cable. We’ll keep you updated when the device is officially announced. More Thunderbolt accessories here, another image after the break. expand full story

I/O Stories September 12, 2011

Apple’s Thunderbolt hardware pieces are coming together and to get ready, Apple is updating MacBook Air firmware. The 4 MB update promises to 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.

Thunderbolt parts have already began shipping and new products include Docks, external PCI Card adapters, as well as storage.

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While we’ve yet to witness the abundance of Thunderbolt-enabled peripherals (they are coming, though), accessory makers have finally begun churning out interesting products for getting some mileage out of your Thunderbolt Mac. We spotted mLogic’s mLink this past weekend and love it a lot. The $399 box, SlashGear explains, hooks up with your Mac via a Thunderbolt port and acts as an external chassis that lets you connect PCIe cards to any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac, just like Magma’s ExpressionBox 3T. They also launched mDock and mBack accessories. The mDock, aimed at mid-2009 or later MacBook Pros, includes either a 2.5-inch Time Machine-friendly 500GB or 1TB SATA 5400 rpm hard drive, port extender and port blocker.

Of course, you can add additional storage by attaching your own external drive via a front-facing USB port. The accessory replicates all of the ports found on the side of your notebook, including MagSafe and mini DisplayPort for hooking up external monitors. Its dedicated front facing USB port provides 10 watts of power for charging the iPad and the box doubles as a standalone charger when not docked. Pity it lacks a pass-through Thunderbolt port. The mDock also neatly routes cables to the back, an important feat for the people in the never-ending pursue of the clutter-free desktop. And about that mBack gizmo…

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I/O Stories September 7, 2011

Usually, when a brand new industry standard debuts on Macs, there’s a period of shortage before compatible devices begin trickling in. Thunderbolt is no different. Intel partnered with Apple on Thunderbolt earlier this year and it took Apple several months to update its notebooks, iMac and Mac mini families with Thunderbolt I/O. The offering of supported peripherals was initially limited to Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt cable, LaCie and Promise RAIDs, Matrox gearBlackMagic’s solution for field video editing and a couple other devices.

Following Intel’s release of the Thunderbolt development kit, more companies are announcing Thunderbolt-ready products. By the way, 9to5Mac, MacRumors and other publications received tips that Apple began shipping its new $999 Apple Thunderbolt Display to stores. Now, among the upcoming Thunderbolt gadgets, Magma’s ExpressBox 3T, seen in the above image, caught our attention. Basically a three-slot expansion chassis allowing any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac to connect to PCIe 2.0 cards, the box also lets you power up your MacBook Air’s integrate Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with any PCIe graphics cards, useful if you’re going to do some serious video-related work or play latest games on your Air. The accessory is to be demoed at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum which runs September 13 – 15 in San Francisco.

Magma joins Sonnet, which also unveiled a similar Thunderbolt box last month. The $150 Sonnet ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt adapter accepts ExpressCard peripherals and also expands your Air’s connectivity with eSATA, USB 3, Firewire 800, Gigabit Ethernet and SDXC and CF cards. More product highlights after the break…

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I/O Stories September 6, 2011

We’re big fans of the Seagate GoFlex series of hard drives and, as of this evening, Seagate has pushed the size limit to an impressive 4TB on a single physical disk.

Currently the 4TB disk is only available in the form factor to the right for a significant $249 price tag. Obviously, the added density drives will filter down into other form factors including bare drives and RAID arrays in the coming weeks and months.

Seagate’ GoFlex enclosure got a facelift as well but alas, no Thunderbolt action for a few more months according to the press release.

As for the USB Desktop version pictured, we’re looking to get our hands on one for a review as soon as possible.  It is available for pre-order now for $229 at Amazon.

Full press release below: expand full story

I/O Stories August 25, 2011

If you aren’t interested in the $1000 Apple Thunderbolt display but still want to add some speedy data transfer to your new MacBook Air, Sonnet has a pretty good solution.  Shipping in October, Sonnet’s Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter [ECHO-E34] will set you back $150 but give you access via ExpressCard to the faster data transfers including eSATA, USB 3, Firewire 800, Gig Ethernet or even speedier access to SDXC and CF cards.

There will be more of these “Thunderbolt docks” coming before the holidays.

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I/O Stories August 18, 2011

Apple updated its Thunderbolt display delivery page today, indicating that Thunderbolt Displays would ship in 2-4 weeks. 9to5Mac readers who ordered on launch date got shipment estimates anywhere from September 14th – 26th.

Perhaps more enticing, 9to5Mac affiliate partner MacConnection takes $20 off (as well as Tax advantages in most states) and believes they will begin taking delivery on August 26th, just 8 short days away (below).

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I/O Stories July 29, 2011

The new MacBook Air is not on par with 2011 iMacs when it comes to Thunderbolt I/O performance because the notebook uses a scaled-down version of the Thunderbolt chip, AnandTech discovered having taken a peek under the Air’s hood. Due to space constraints on the ultra-thin notebook, Apple used a smaller Thunderbolt controller chip named Eagle Ridge which sports two Thunderbolt channels and supports just one external display.

Its full-size counterpart dubbed Light Ridge supports two external Thunderbolt displays plus four bidirectional 10Gbps channels for an aggregate bandwidth of 80Gbps. An Eagle Ridge chip measures half of a Light Ridge chip’s dimensions. The Air is the only machine from Apple that has the Eagle Ridge chip: The latest Thunderbolt-equipped Mac mini, iMac and MacBook Pro all use the faster Light Ridge controller.

This means, MacRumors notes, that the mid-2011 MacBook Airs can only drive one external display using the Thunderbolt port, “although the machine’s integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 would also preclude the use of two external monitors on the MacBook Air as it does on the 13-inch MacBook Pro”.

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I/O Stories July 20, 2011

The old Cinema Display (left) had three USB ports on the back and required a cable with separate power, USB and Mini DisplayPort connections. The new Thunderbolt  display (right) adds Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt, all fed to a computer via a single Thunderbolt cable (in addition to three USB ports, built-in microphone and FaceTime HD camera).

We take it you’re still digesting the new hardware Apple has released this morning. Before you grab that credit card, here are some observations you may wanna take into consideration.

MacBook Airs

• Built-in FaceTime camera has not been upgraded to high-definition. As a result, you are not able to FaceTime in HD with people who use the latest iMacs or MacBook Pros, which sport a FaceTime HD camera

•Based on the description from Apple  “And because we place the flash chips directly on the logic board, they take up much less space — about 90 percent less, in fact.” , it sounds like the SSD is probably no longer upgradable via OWC and others (thanks commenter)

• Just as previous, RAM is soldered directly on the motherboard so configure your machine carefully because you won’t be able to upgrade RAM yourself later • Just like with the previous generation, the 11.6-incher lacks an SD card slot found on the 13-inch model • Last year’s models got a significant discount today 

• New Airs sport Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility versus Bluetooth 3.0 in the previous generation, which gives you low-energy wireless Bluetooth transfer within a short range of up to 50 meters, per this Wikipedia articleNew MacBook Airs can use Firewire and Gig Ethernet! If you hook up your new MacBook Air to that latest Apple Thunderbolt Display, you will enjoy the ultimate simplicity because a single Thunderbolt cable is all you need to charge your notebook and transfer data from your monitor’s Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, an additional Thunderbolt port, three USB ports, a FaceTime HD camera, 2.1 stereo sound and a built-in microphone.  Perhaps Apple will release a Thunderbolt to GigE, Firewire, etc. standalone adapter.

• On the Thunderbolt Displays, the old MagSafe would have been a better match, because the new one has to be bent around (see the image below) for MacBook Pros

• Additionally, On MacBook Airs, the Thunderbolt port and MagSafe are on opposite sides of the keyboard meaning that cable is going to Y-Out behind the computer.

The new Thunderbolt Display comes with a new MagSafe adapter, which has to be bent around the computer rather than going straight on, like the old MafSafe adapter could have

Mac Minis:

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Apple today released its new Apple Thunderbolt Display with Gig Ethernet, Firewire 800, USB 2.0 and access to more Thunderbolt accessories, all over one cable.

Those ports are now on the rear of the Cinema display, much like an iMac…

All in one singe cable.  Full specs below: expand full story

Apple Store has been down since late yesterday and a lot of folks have been keeping their credit cards ready for new products. Well, Apple has just upgraded Mac minis and MacBook Airs featuring the latest Sandy Bridge processors and Intel’s speedy Thunderbolt I/O technology. As a bonus, Cinema Displays have been refreshed with Thunderbolt technology as well. In line with 9to5Mac’s report, the new MacBook Air family finally features backlit keyboard. Just like before, the new MacBook Airs come in 11.6-inch and 13-inch flavors, each is available in baseline, more powerful and build-to-order flavors.

The base line 11.6-incher includes a 1.6 GHz processor, 2GB RAM and 64GB of flash storage and the pricier model doubles RAM and storage. Note: Because the memory is soldered onto the motherboard, you must decide on RAM at purchase time. The same goes for storage, configurable only at the online Apple Store. The entry-level 13-incher sports a 1.7 GHz processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB of flash storage while the more expensive 13-inch MacBook Air doubles the storage to 256GB. Build-to-order options for both 11.6-inch and 13-inch models include a 1.8 GHz chip, 4GB RAM and 256 GB of flash storage for 13-inchers. Note that a 1.8 GHz processor and 256GB flash storage upgrades are the firsts for the 11.6-incher. All models run on Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 processor with either 256MB (11.6-inch machines) or 384MB (13-inchers) of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory. Another thing worth mention: The built-in FaceTime camera has not been upgraded to high-definition. Go past the break for information about the new Mac minis and nice press shots.

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I/O Stories July 19, 2011

And the Apple Store is down…

Later this week, Apple will officially launch their new MacBook Air line. We previously detailed that these new MacBook Airs will include Thunderbolt ports, i5 and i7 processor options, and a design with little to no changes from the current models. Now, thanks to our source Mr. X, we have all the specifications of the brand-new MacBook Air line.

11.6 inch models:

  • The base model will include a 1.6 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 64GB of flash storage.
  • The more expensive standard configuration also includes a 1.6 GHz processor but upgrades the RAM to 4GB and the storage space to 128 GB.
  • A built to order model will also be available from the online store. This option includes a 1.8 GHz processor (first for an 11.6 inch MacBook Air), 4GB of RAM, and for the first time in an 11.6 inch MacBook Air, 256 GB of flash storage.

13.3 inch models:

  • The base standard configuration includes a 1.7 GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128 GB of flash storage
  • The more expensive standard configuration also includes a 1.7 GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, but upgrades the storage to 256 GB.
  • A built to order option will also be available and this includes a 1.8 GHz chip, 4GB of RAM, and 256 GB of flash storage

These specifications put the unreliable reports of 4GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage as standard (across the line) options to rest. OS X Lion launches tomorrow, so it is possible that these new ultraportables will, too, but that is unconfirmed. Apple will also release a new Mac mini, as we just revealed, later this week.

Besides the new MacBook Air line, which we just revealed, Apple will also drop an upgraded Mac mini line. These new Mac minis will likely retain their currently aluminum unibody design but will pack faster processors and more hard drive space. In addition, the new LED Cinema Display – now called the “Apple Thunderbolt Display” – will debut this week. These new displays will have an optional VESA mount.

The new Mac minis:

  • The base model will include a 2.3 GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, and 500 GB of hard drive storage space
  • The more expensive model will include a 2.5 GHz processor with 4GB of RAM, and 500 GB of hard drive space.
  • Finally, the new Mac mini line will also include a new server model with a 2.0 GHz processor, 4 GB of RAM, and two 500GB hard drives of storage. This new server model should include OS X Lion server, but that’s just a reasonable assumption.

These new Mac minis will likely be powered by the new Intel Sandy Bridge chipsets and include Thunderbolt ports. These new computers should launch by the end of the week, possibly tomorrow – but that is unconfirmed. Thanks, Mr. X!

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ZDNet has benchmarked the latest Thunderbolt-equipped iMac with a Promise Pegasus RAID with Thunderbolt and came away pretty impressed. Because out-of-the-box Thunderbolt RAID experience on new iMacs leaves a lot to be desired due to constrained RAM, author Robin Harris set himself up with a 16GB iMac. This isn’t a common scenario for average consumers, of course, but heavy-duty apps like Final Cut Pro benefit from as much memory as possible.

Harris used Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test to pit a quad-core 2.66 GHz Mac Pro equipped with a 300GB 10k Velociraptor drive, 1GB ATI Radeon 5770 graphics card and 12GB RAM against a built-to-order 3.4 GHz Core i7 iMac with a 1TB hard drive, the standard 1 GB AMD Radeon HD 6970M video card and 16GB RAM. Both computers were benchmarked against a 4-drive Promise Pegasus Thunderbolt RAID that had both an empty array and more than a third full. The RAID performed pretty nice in both configurations…

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I/O Stories July 15, 2011

MacRumors noticed that Apple placed images of their new LED Cinema Display on their website yesterday. The leaked display looks identical to the current model, but will have a Thunderbolt port on the back to easily connect with Apple’s latest Thunderbolt machines: iMacs, MacBook Pros and Mac Pros, MacBook Airs, and Mac minis in the very near future. You can tell that these are new displays based on the unreleased model number, previously thought to be a new White MacBook that they are attached to and by the OS X Lion wallpaper.

The differentiation is important because, as Apple has warned in a previous KB article, the CD no longer has to be the end of a Thunderbolt chain of devices.  For instance, you could have an external hard drive array connected to your monitor permanently rather than having to plug into another device which would terminate at the monitor.  For MacBook Air/Pro users, this would allow the ‘power-USB-Thunderbolt’ cable to do everything, yet again.

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I/O Stories June 29, 2011

As with just about any new Apple product release, iFixit has torn apart the Thunderbolt cable. Why a boring cable?  iFixit has revealed that the new Thunderbolt cable actually has active chips inside, making transfers  faster.

We found two Gennum GN2033 chips in the connector, one on each side. They were flanked by other, much smaller chips that surely added to the cable’s cost: two chips labeled S6A 1JG on one side, and chips labeled 1102F SS8370 and 131 3S on the other. Of course, there were tons of little resistors (providing impedance as needed) all around the larger chips.

Thunderbolt’s release on MacBook Pros and iMacs should be followed by new Macs coming soon. Inside the cable chip housing below expand full story

I/O Stories June 28, 2011

Apple’s new MacBook Air line has been expected for weeks now, with evidence supporting a refresh coming by way of constraints at global retailers and most recently at major Apple reseller BestBuy.com. Although this refresh has been expected, a well-sourced and specific launch time frame is yet to emerge. Now, we’ve been told that Apple is gearing up to launch their upgraded line of ultra thin notebooks in mid-July.

The rumors regarding what the new laptops will feature have been conservative, and according to a person who has seen the new MacBook Air, exterior changes (if any) were so minute that they were not noticed. In other words, don’t expect to be able to tell this mid-2011 MacBook Air apart from the late-2010 model. That is, except for the Thunderbolt logo that sits in place of the Mini Display port logo.

Also, as expected, these new models will pack Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors and are likely the models that Intel recently made available for thinner notebook lines:

  • Core i7-2677M: 2 cores, 1.8GHz (turbos to 2.9GHz), 4MB cache, 17 watts, $317
  • Core i7-2637M: 2 cores, 1.7GHz (turbos to 2.8GHz), 4MB cache, 17 watts, $289
  • Core i5-2557M: 2 cores, 1.7GHz (turbos to 2.7GHz), 3MB cache, 17 watts, $250

In addition, the new notebooks, launching in mid-July, come with OS X Lion pre-installed. Apple shipping out their next-generation operating system with these new Macs would also mean a mid-July launch for 10.7 Lion. An exact release date for both products is yet to be pinpointed, but we’ve been hearing rumblings about July 14th, which is a Thursday.

Also, Apple is holding their financial results conference call on Tuesday, July 19th. Apple typically releases products during the days leading up to the financial results announcement (so they have something interesting to talk about). iPhones and iPads often are released the Friday before earnings, which would be the 15th.

Of course, Apple’s traditional product launch day is Tuesday, which would be the 12th or the 19th. In any case, we’re looking at Lion and new MacBook Airs in about 2-3 weeks. We are also looking, according to recent reports, at new Mac minis and Mac Pros soon after these upgraded MacBook Airs.

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Following the Thunderbolt firmware update for Macs, Apple has published three new support documents pertaining to the new $49 Thunderbolt-to-Thunderbolt cable released Monday, using Thunderbolt with Boot Camp and Windows 7 and some tricks to get the best performance from Thunderbolt. Here’s what you need to know… expand full story

As we broke last night, Apple is now carrying Thunderbolt parts. The Pegasus RAID units just showed up but we noticed something a little odd:

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Interesting combo.  Currently the Mac Pro doesn’t have a Thunderbolt port.

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So yeah, Apple art team either jumped the gun, used the wrong equipment, or pre-announced the new Mac Pros.  We were hoping for a slight redesign which doesn’t look to be the case (see what I did there?)… expand full story

I/O Stories June 27, 2011

Apple is set to release their own accessory for data transfers and display connections between Thunderbolt Macs. The accessory is coming in the form of a cable with both ends featuring connectors for the Thunderbolt I/O port. As we already know, this port is the same size as the Mini Display ports on current and past generation Macs.

These Thunderbolt cables are perfect for data migration between Thunderbolt Macs (currently the iMac and MacBook Pro) as well as for display connections. Although Apple’s LED Display supports Thunderbolt Macs, this new cable might be a hint at a new Apple LED Display with a Thunderbolt port. Perhaps today’s Thunderbolt update has something to do with the new cord.

Additionally, this new cable comes ahead of new MacBook Airs, Mac minis, and Mac Pro with Thunderbolt I/O in the coming weeks.

Thanks, Mr. X!

Update: Apple has officially released the new cable. It’s $55 AU, £3,9.00 in the UK, and… $49 in the U.S.

Thunderbolt technology supports blazing-fast data transfer with two independent channels of 10Gbit/s each. Use the Apple Thunderbolt cable to connect your Thunderbolt-equipped peripherals to your new iMac or new MacBook Pro.

Apple Thunderbolt cable can also be used for Target Disk Mode between two Macs that support Thunderbolt, or to use a new iMac as a display for a MacBook Pro equipped with Thunderbolt.

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It looks like the report that Apple has a lock on Light Peak technology for a year was wrong.  Sony has gone ahead and announced their first Light Peak product in Europe and perhaps most interestingly, it contains an External GPU.  TIMN summerizes:

The vertically standing peripheral (pictured above) uses Intel’s Light Peak (yes, the same thing as Apple’s Thunderbolt) via a proprietary port and USB 3.0 socket to connect to the laptop. And not only does it provide an AMD Radeon HD 6650M with 1GB of VRAM, but also allows you to connect up to three additional displays via its HDMI and VGA ports.

One of the promises of Thunderbolt was External GPU video cards.  Imagine hooking your Thunderbolt-equipped, Sandy Bridge MacBook Air (with crappy integrated Intel GPU) to an external Thunderbolt GPU which drives a few 27-inch screens?

I like where this is going.

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If you have a Thunderbolt Mac, you’ve got an update waiting for you in Software Update.  We’ve done some rummaging around in the update files (thanks Pacifist!) and as you can see below, only 3 machines get update.  Nothing from the future just yet. expand full story

I/O Stories June 19, 2011

CNET’s Brian Tong claims that Apple is gearing up to launch a revamped Mac Pro and an upgraded Mac mini in either late July or early August – more likely in August. Details are scarce on what this “next-gen” Mac Pro holds, but if what 9to5Mac has previously been told is showing up in these 2011 models, we’ll be seeing a smaller, rackmountable design that can hold multiple solid-state-drives. Lending credence to the report are shortages of the Mac Pro server model.

EXCLUSIVE: My sources tell me ALL NEW Next-Gen Mac Pros and Mac Minis will launch either end of July first week of August.

The Mac minis are said to be receiving the Thunderbolt I/O and Sandy Bridge Processor treatment, which the MacBook Pro and iMac families received earlier this year. Summer 2010 was the scene of a major Mac mini redesign, so those hoping for an all new Mac mini should wait a couple of refreshes. Mac minis (and Mac mini servers – on Amazon as well) are currently short on supply (thanks, Mr. X!). Separately, we’ve been hearing independently that Apple is gearing up to release upgraded MacBook Airs – we should have our own details on that soon.

August more likely, Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt on both. NO details for specs or configurations given. DO NOT BUY! WAIT for the new Macs!

Tong’s tweets also say that these upgraded Macs will be packed with Lion at first boot. Tong says that the source of the new Mac Pro and Mac mini information is the same source that correctly predicted an early May launch for the new iMacs. The iMac ended up being updated on May 3rd with Thunderbolt ports and faster Sandy Bridge processors from Intel.

Also in the pipeline are new AirPort Extremes and Time Capsules.

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I/O Stories June 17, 2011

Third-parties are prepping new Thunderbolt products ahead of the upcoming Final Cut Pro X release. Japanese site Macotakara.jp got a chance to play with Blackmagic Design’s UltraStudio 3D, a Thunderbolt-enabled 3D capture and playback for SD, HDMI and analog. Although BlackMagic’s site lists the device as having one Thunderbolt port, the unit on display has two ports. Engineers apparently haven’t yet made the final decision on that. The above clip shows a cool portable editing solution consisting of an early-2011 17-inch MacBook Pro, an UltraStudio 3D box, a Promise R6 Pegasus RAID and a Video-422 deck controller.

The rig works in perfect harmony, allowing for video recording to the Pegasus RAID with real-time previews on an external display and real-time video effects in 2K and 3D. The same site noted Tuesday that Final Cut Pro X would be available next week. Apple announced the video editing suite revision back in April at the NAB show, confirming that the software would be available in July via the Mac App Store at a reduced price of just $299.

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I/O Stories June 11, 2011

Sources have told 9to5Mac that Apple will be holding one of their retail store overnights on Tuesday. Since Apple has a flurry of upcoming product releases, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what Apple will be releasing – if anything, on Wednesday, June 15th. We first heard about this last week and figured it was OS X Lion related, but now that new chatter has arisen and now that we know Lion is coming in July, we feel it is the right to time to rundown Wednesday’s new possibilities.

The first item on the list would be new MacBook Airs with Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt I/O. Digitimes and CNET have said that the new Airs are coming in either June or July and ChronicWire says they are coming this Wednesday. We have since heard from a source that there are still some current generation MacBook Airs shipping to retail stores across the world into the next couple of weeks. Because of our own independent information, we doubt a new MacBook Air launch for Wednesday. It does make sense though based on the scheduled retail overnight.

Next would be servers. We were first to report that Mac Pro and Mac mini server models are at the constraint stage for supplies, and since then we have been told that supplies have diminished even more with no more current generation models coming through to retail channels. Also, Time Capsules and Airport Extremes are showing the constraint status.

Additionally, sources tell 9to5Mac that Tuesday’s overnight may be related to Apple removing parts of their rumored-be-disappearing software wall. At this point, we are unsure of what is exactly going down Wednesday. It could be new MacBook Airs, Mac minis, Mac Pros, Servers, AirPorts, Time Capsules, or absolutely nothing related to a major product release. We’ll let you know when we hear more.

Update: Wednesday could be related to Apple’s annual Back to School promotion.

Update 2: Another source says that some of the new visuals pertain to the Teach for America Foundation. This is the same foundation that Apple is promoting the donation of iPads toward. This “teaching” theme may or may not confirm the start of the Back to School promotion on Wednesday.

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I/O Stories June 1, 2011

If you thought linking an external storage to a Cinema Display over a single Thunderbolt cable was cool, check out Thunderbolt edition of LaCie’s Little Big Disk. This nice-looking drive would pass as an everyday external storage if it weren’t for its Thunderbolt interface that Apple and Intel jointly developed. You can daisy-chain five of these via Thunderbolt, link them to a high-end display and still move data in and out at breakneck-speeds. Slashgear reports about a little demo LaCie showed off at Computex:

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I/O Stories May 27, 2011

Apple’s custom-built A5 chip currently powers iPad 2 and is expected to make its way into next-gen iPhone, iPod touch and Apple TV

Japanese blog Macotakara, which accurately outlined some of the iPad 2 features, in its latest story claims that an A5-powered MacBook Air with Thunderbolt I/O is being tested in Apple’s labs. The machine could be manufactured by Quanta Computer, the story has it. The article quotes a source who allegedly saw an early prototype:

According to this source who saw live A5 MacBook Air actually, this test machine performed better than expected. Though it’s not clear which Mac OS X or iOS is pre-installed on this A5 MacBook Air, iOS seems to have difficulty to use features of Thunderbolt without Finder. And even if Mac OS X is installed, developer should spend time to support A5 on Universal Binary Applications. As considering these situation, this A5 MacBook Air seems to be made just for experiment.

The rumor aligns well with a recent SemiAccurate speculation that Apple will transition their portables lineup to custom-built chips with ARM-based processing cores. Not that Macotakara’s hit-and-miss record is anything to go by, but we have to ask ourselves what benefits – if any – the iPad 2’s A5 chip would bring to Apple’s ultra-thin notebook. Here’s the big picture…

Pictured above: a clamcase iPad case

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I/O Stories May 20, 2011

Chip maker Intel had stressed they, not Apple, own all Thundebolt trademarks. Even though Apple and Intel collaborated on this high-speed I/O technology featured on the 2011 MacBook Pro and iMac families, the confusion arose when Patently Apple discovered that Apple filed for the Thunderbolt brand name trademark, their third since the technology debuted on the new MacBook Pro family in February of 2011. Few were convinced Apple owns the trademark, including Cult of Mac’s Ed Sutherland who asked, “Who the heck owns Thunderbolt, Intel or Apple?”

Deciding enough is enough, Intel has now made claims it owns the Thunderbolt trademark. Responding to an inquiry from Theo Valich over at Bright side of news, Intel’s senior communications manager Dave Salvator provided this statement:

As part of our collaboration with Apple, they did some of the initial trademark filings.  Intel has full rights to the Thunderbolt trademark now and into the future. The Thunderbolt name will be used going forward on all platforms, irrespective of operating system.

[UPDATE May 20, 2011 3:15am Pacific] Intel’s representative has contacted the publication with additional clarification. To make a long story short, Intel and Apple have agreed that the iPhone maker will transfer their Thunderbolt trademark to the semiconductor giant. Valich explains:

Apple filed for the original trademark and is now transferring that trademark to Intel. At the same time, Apple will continue to have unrestricted use of the technology. 3rd party implementations such as Sony’s desire to use USB Connector instead of DisplayPort and the eventual change of technology branding (Sony’s IEEE1394 a.k.a. Firewire implementation was named i.LINK) will have to be ironed out as the time passes by.

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I/O Stories May 17, 2011

As expected, new MacBooks Airs are going into production later this month for a June or July launch month. The news from Digitimes says that Apple’s updated ultra-thin notebooks will pack Sandy Bridge processors – that recently launched in the new MacBook Pros and iMacs – in addition to Apple and Intel’s new Thunderbolt I/O platform. Apple’s current line of MacBooks Airs include both 11.6 and 13.3 inch models. Because the current design was released late last year, we believe that the new models will simply be an internal specification upgrade and nothing more.

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Computer maker Hewlett-Packard isn’t impressed with Thunderbolt, a high-speed I/O technology Apple and Intel co-developed as a new industry standard meant to replace a plethora of slow and incompatible connection standards in use today. Speaking to PCWorld yesterday, HP’s worldwide marketing manager for desktops Xavier Lauwaert said the company did look into the technology but walked away unimpressed.

We did look at Thunderbolt. Were still looking into it. Haven’t found a value proposition yet. On the PC side, everybody seems to be content with the expansion of USB 3.0. Do we need to go into more fancy solutions? Not convinced yet.

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I/O Stories May 3, 2011

Previous-generation iMacs were able to drive both the internal and an external display at the same time, but the newly released iMacs are capable of driving two external displays simultaneously – in addition to the built-in display – thanks to the inclusion of Thunderbolt ports. Apple confirmed to GigaOM’s Darrell Etherington that the new 27-inchers’ two Thunderbolt ports (21.5-inch models only have one) can drive a dual external display setup.

Now, using two Mini DisplayPort adapters plugged in to the 27-inch iMacs Thunderbolt ports, users can simultaneously output to two monitors in addition to the main built-in screen of the iMac. It won’t necessarily clog up your Thunderbolt ports, either, since the tech supports daisy-chaining. That means you should be able to connect to Thunderbolt-compatible storage and then on to a display after that, too, without any loss of quality.

Macrumors was able to verify that the Thunderbolt ports can still make the iMac an external display for Blu-ray or video gaming or a cable box.

 

An Apple sales representative has confirmed to us that the new 27-inch models do continue to support the feature through the new Thunderbolt ports.

Engadget tested out a dual external monitor setup, seen below.

Apple also offers touchpad options allowing you to replace the included MagicMouse with either a Magic Trackpad or a wired Apple Mouse or go with both wireless MagicMouse and Magic Trackpad for $69 extra.

Also, MacStories explain that you can order a solid state drive in the second drive bay that will boot your operating system.

If you configure your iMac with both the solid-state drive and a Serial ATA hard drive, it will come preformatted with Mac OS X and all your applications on the solid-state drive. Then you can use the hard drive for videos, photos, and other files.

(we’re doubting Apple is supporting symbolic links to the hard drive for media – but maybe in Lion?)

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