The 'Book Review

Thinner 15" MacBook Pro May Be in Production, Battery Status App on Sale, and More

This Week's PowerBook and iBook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.03.23

General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in Mac News Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

Rumor Roundup

Tech Trends

Software

Bargain 'Books

Rumor Roundup

Thinner 15" MacBook Pro to Debut in April?

How To Arena's Faheem Saeed says he's received another tip from a reliable source in Far East Asian supply chain that Apple is planning to release a thinner 15" MacBook Pro by the end of next month, to be powered by Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

Saeed's source maintains that this new MacBook Pro would be thicker than currently available MacBook Airs but thinner than the current MacBook Pros.

He further notes that according to recent reports, Intel is set to announce its next-generation 22nm-based Ivy Bridge processors by the end of April with 11 models including Core i7-3770K, Core i7-3770, Core i7-3770S, Core i7-3770T and Core i5-3550, expected to appear in the initial launch, while several models including Core i5-3470, Core i5-3470S, Core i5-3475S, Core i5-3570 and Core i5-3570S delayed until early June

DigiTimes: Slimmer MacBook Pro in Production

DigiTimes' Aaron Lee and Jessie Shen, citing unnamed sources at Apple's supply chain partners, report that the MacBook Pro has been redesigned and given a slimmer form factor partly due to omitting the internal optical drive. While there's been quite a bit of speculation about a slimmed-down 15" MacBook in the works, little has been said about a replacement for the strong-selling 13" MacBook Pro, but Lee and Shen's sources say both 13" and 15" new MacBook Pro models are in production for initial monthly shipments of 100,000-150,000 units.

Some have suggested that Apple might drop the 13" and 15" MacBook Pros altogether and rationalize their laptop efforts to just the MacBook Airs, along with an Ivy Bridge upgrade of the current 17" MacBook Pro form factor for high-end users.

However, Lee and Shen say the new slimmer MacBook Pro models will feature more advanced specs than the MacBook Air in terms of CPU performance and storage capacity, with monthly shipments eventually climb to 900,000 units.

Tech Trends

Seagate Reaches 1 Terabit per Square Inch Milestone in Hard Drive Storage

PR: Seagate has become the first hard drive maker to achieve the milestone storage density of 1 terabit (1 trillion bits) per square inch, producing a demonstration of technology that promises to double the storage capacity of today's hard drives on its introduction later this decade and allow production of 3.5" hard drives with an extraordinary capacity of up to 60 terabytes over the 10 years that follow. The company notes that the bits within a square inch of disk space, at the new milestone, far outnumber stars in the Milky Way, which astronomers put between 200 billion and 400 billion.

Seagate reached the landmark data density with heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), the next- generation recording technology. The current hard drive technology, Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR), is used to record the spectrum of digitized data from music, photos, and video stored on home desktop and laptop PCs to business information housed in sprawling data centers on the spinning platters inside every hard drive. PMR technology was introduced in 2006 to replace longitudinal recording, a method in place since the advent of hard drives for computer storage in 1956, and is expected to reach its capacity limit near 1 terabit per square inch in the next few years.

"The growth of social media, search engines, cloud computing, rich media and other data-hungry applications continues to stoke demand for ever greater storage capacity," comments Mark Re, senior vice president of Heads and Media Research and Development at Seagate. "Hard disk drive innovations like HAMR will be a key enabler of the development of even more data-intense applications in the future, extending the ways businesses and consumers worldwide use, manage and store digital content."

Hard drive manufacturers increase areal density and capacity by shrinking a platters data bits to pack more within each square inch of disk space. They also tighten the data tracks, the concentric circles on the disks surface that anchor the bits. The key to areal density gains is to do both without disruptions to the bits magnetization, a phenomenon that can garble data. Using HAMR technology, Seagate has achieved a linear bit density of about 2 million bits per inch, once thought impossible, resulting in a data density of just over 1 trillion bits, or 1 terabit, per square inch 55 percent higher than today's areal density ceiling of 620 gigabits per square inch.

The maximum capacity of today's 3.5" hard drives is 3 terabytes (TB), at about 620 gigabits per square inch, while 2.5" drives top out at 750 gigabytes (GB), or roughly 500 gigabits per square inch. The first generation of HAMR drives, at just over 1 terabit per square inch, will likely more than double these capacities to 6 TB for 3.5" drives and 2 TB for 2.5" models. The technology offers a scale of capacity growth never before possible, with a theoretical areal density limit ranging from 5 to 10 terabits per square inch 30 TB to 60 TB for 3.5" drives and 10 TB to 20 TB for 2.5" drives.

The 1 terabit per square inch demonstration extends a line of technology firsts for Seagate, including:

  • 1980: ST-506, the first hard drive, at 5.25 inches, small enough to be widely deployed in early microcomputers, the precursor of the modern PC. The 5 megabyte drive cost $1,500.
  • 1992: The first 7200 RPM hard drive, a Barracuda drive
  • 1996: The first 10,000 RPM hard drive, a Cheetah drive
  • 2000: The first 15,000 RPM drive, also a Cheetah hard drive
  • 2006: Momentus 5400.3 drive, a 2.5" laptop drive and the worlds first drive to feature perpendicular magnetic recording technology
  • 2007: Momentus FDE (Full Disk Encryption) drive, the industry's first self-encrypting hard drive
  • 2010: Momentus XT drive, the first solid state hybrid hard drive, combining traditional spinning media with NAND flash, to deliver speeds rivaling solid state drives (SSDs)

Seagate achieved the 1 terabit per square inch breakthroughs in materials science and near-field optics at its heads and media research and development centers in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Fremont, California.

High-End Verix 2.5 Laptop Comes Loaded with Linux

Verix 2.5 laptopPR: ZaReason's Verix 2.5 is full HD 1080p 15.6" Ubuntu Linux laptop with Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GTX 580M dedicated graphics with 2 GB GDDR5 video RAM. The Hyper-threaded CPU provides up to 8 threads of processing power to rival desktop processing power.

Features:

  • Bright 15.6" LED backlit display @ 1920x1080 pixels
  • Nvidia GTX 580M dedicated graphics with 2 GB GDDR5 video ram
  • Speakers on both sides of the keyboard and a subwoofer for quality sound output
  • 802.11 B/G/N WiFi included
  • Bluetooth included
  • Combo CD-RW and dual-layer DVD-RW drive included
  • 3.0 megapixel webcam included

Verix 2.5 notebookPorts:

  • HDMI and VGA monitor ports
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Headphone and mic jacks
  • Kensington lock port
  • 4 USB ports: 2 USB 3.0 and 2 USB 2.0
  • eSATA port

Specs:

  • Your choice of a variety of Open Source operating systems
  • Multimedia keys for Rev/Stop/Play/FF
  • Dedicated number pad
  • Dimensions: 15.6" (w) x 10.5" (d) x 2.2" (h)
  • Weight: 6.0 lb.
  • Battery life: extended battery included provides up to 5 hours

Price: $1,799

Intel Tantalizes Consumers with Ultrabook Temptations

PR: What would you do for an Ultrabook computer? That's the question Intel Corporation asks in Ultrabook Temptations, a series of six lighthearted experiments filmed in four cities across three countries and posted to YouTube today.

"People are drawn to Ultrabooks. When you see one, you just want one," says Claudine Pache, digital marketing manager for Intel Australia and New Zealand. "We created the Ultrabook Temptations to see just how far people would go to get their hands on one."

The six experiments, filmed in Australia, Indonesia and Thailand, set out to explore the depth of human emotions that surround these objects of desire. The experiments were temptations for consumers, encouraging them to go a little beyond their everyday comfort zone to earn the chance to become the owner of an Ultrabook. The experiments were filmed spontaneously in an effort to introduce Ultrabooks and are available for viewing by an online audience.

In "Daring Temptation" for example, an Ultrabook is installed in a display case near a busy area with the simple instruction to Smash Glass to Win Ultrabook and a small hammer. Would commuters prove daring enough to smash the glass in public and claim the prize?

According to Jayant Murty, Intel's Asia Pacific director of brand strategy and integrated marketing, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes product stories are best told through the eyes of our prospective consumers. We hope that seeing the videos will stir up enough interest to go look for Ultrabooks at your nearest computer store."

The first Ultrabooks - from brands* such as Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung and Toshiba - are in stores now. By the end of the year, Intel expects more than 75 designs in market and that Ultrabooks will become mainstream devices.

Software

Battery Status Utility on Sale

PR: Taylor Marks' Battery Status utility is currently on sale for $1.99 (33% off). This handy little app lives on the right side of the menu bar and will tell you, for each supported wireless device connected to your computer,

  • What percent of the battery life is remaining.
  • When the last time you replaced the battery was.
  • When the battery is estimated to die.

Marks says what prompted him to make Battery Status was the magic Trackpad he got for his iMac last Christmas, noting that it's a great little device, except for the fact it eats batteries (and unlike the iPhone, you can't simply plug it in to the wall to recharge it.) Furthermore, it offers no indication of what its remaining battery life is.

Battery Status supported wireless devices include Apple's wireless mice, trackpads, and keyboards.

New in Version 1.1

  • New Option to Reveal Percent Charge Remaining in Menu Bar.
  • New Option to have the menu bar icon be displayed in black and white instead of colored.
  • New Option to choose a preferred reflected device. For example, set the menu bar icon so that it'll always show the charge remaining in your mouse, regardless of how low the charge remaining in your keyboard drops.
  • Mac OS X 10.6.8 is now supported.
  • Now provides info on internal laptop batteries including charge %, time remaining, number of cycles it has been through, and what percent of the design capacity is still usable.
  • Now quicker to notice new devices after you've connected them.

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later
  • 64-bit processor

$1.99

Bargain 'Books

For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

We also track iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.

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