The 'Book Review

OS X 10.8.2 Boosts Battery Life, Firmware Updates for Mid 2012 MacBooks, and More

This Week's Mac Notebook News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.10.01

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. Older Macs are covered in Vintage Mac News. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

Purchases made through links to Amazon.com and Apple's iTunes/iBook/App/Mac App Store support Low End Mac.

News & Opinion

Rumor Roundup

Apple Updates

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Bargain 'Books

News & Opinion

OS X 10.8.2 Dramatically Improves Battery Life

OS X Daily reports that reduced battery life in Mountain Lion has been largely fixed with the OS X 10.8.2 update, making it a must-have update for MacBook owners.

Anecdotal observations thus far with OS X 10.8.2 include dramatic improvements to battery life on three different MacBook Airs (2010, 2011, and 2012 models), each jumping by at least 2 hours to an average of 6 hours under normal use, with portable Macs running OS X 10.8.2 appearing to run at lower temperatures and feel noticeably cooler to the touch, and the largest boost found on a 2011 MacBook Air 11-inch" model, which jumped from 3.4 hours to 6 hours on a full charge.

Deep Inside Intel's Next Generation Haswell Processor

The Register's Rik Myslewski has posted an in-depth report on what was revealed at Intel's developer conference last month about the company's forth coming 4th-generation Core microprocessor architecture (code-named "Haswell") noting that the new CPUs were described by Intel's Architecture Group headman David Perlmutter as being "designed with mobility in mind." In pursuit of that goal, he said that Haswell will require just one-twentieth of the idle power that Intel's second-generation Sandy Bridge core processors did.

Two- and four-core versions of Haswell, which will be an evolutionary development beyond today's 22-nanometer, 3rd-generation Ivy Bridge processors, are destined to power "sleek tablets" and Ultrabooks, followed "eventually" by desktops, workstations, and data centers, and will be manufactured using a 22-nanometer process that will make them faster, more power-efficient, and more media-friendly than their predecessors and finally move Intel into the tablet and handset market that it thus far has failed to penetrate significantly.

If Intel can successfully execute, having full-powered Intel silicon available for tablets and smartphones would open the door to running full-fledged desktop operating systems on them, as Microsoft is planning to do with desktop Windows 8 in its new Surface tablet PC.

Clean Your MacBook Safely and Effectively

Mac.Tuts' Connor Turnbull notes that his MacBook is probably the thing many of us may use most in the run of a day, creating a need for relatively frequent cleaning, since research has revealed that a computer keyboard will often harbor more germs than a toilet seat.

In his tutorial, Turnbull takes a look at some techniques for cleaning a MacBook safely and properly, with a disclaimer that the process involves the use of liquids around electronics, so the information is offered on a proceed-at-your-own-risk basis and MacTuts+, is not liable for any damage you may do to your device during the cleaning process. He also seconds Apple's recommendation to not use aerosol sprays, solvents, or abrasives when cleaning your MacBook.

Rumor Roundup

Carbon Fiber MacBooks Coming?

<a href="http://www.macotakara.jp/blog/rumor/entry-17835.html">Japanese blogsite Macotakara's danbo reports</a> that a source tells him Apple and Foxconn Technology engineers approached a Japanese company that specializes in carbon fibre production in mid-March, and requested some development samples, although the source said the number of parts is too large to be called merely "sample".

danbo notes that Apple had already submitted a patent application for a "Reinforced Device Housing" product enclosure with layered matrix-fiber material like CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic), and hired Kevin Kenney who was instrumental in building carbon fiber bicycles at Kestral Bicycles a composite engineer.

Apple to Reduce Illuminated Keyboard Thickness

DigiTimes' Rebecca Kuo and Steve Shen report that Apple will reduce the thickness of light guide plates for the illuminated keyboards in its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models from 0.4mm currently to 0.25mm in 2013, according to sources in Apple's supply chain.

Apple Still Planning for ARM-Powered MacBooks and iMacs

TG Daily's Trent Nouveau notes that while Apple's mobile iOS devices are powered by RISC-based ARM architecture, its iMac and MacBook PCs run on Intel x86 processors.

However, Nouveau cites a SemiAccurate.com piece from 2011 in which tech luminary Charlie Demerjian contends that Apple is planning a switch to ARM silicon in Macs too, with the holdup being primarily the lack of a viable 64-bit ARM CPU.

Maybe 2014....

Publisher's note: Today's A6 processor has a Geekbench score of 1573. The slowest MacBook Air, 5671. Between clock speed, additional cores, and more efficient design, Apple would have to at east quadruple current A6 performance to be in the same ballpark as Intel's current Ivy Bridge CPUs, let alone where things will be in 2014. dk

Apple Updates

Coinciding with the release of OS X 10.8.2 and 10.7.5 updates, Apple also released firmware updates for recent MacBook models running OS X Lion and Mountain Lion.

EFI Firmware Update 2.5 for Mid 2012 MacBook Air

This update is recommended for Mid 2012 MacBook Air models, fixes an issue where Turbo Boost does not activate when using Boot Camp, and resolves an issue where NetBoot does not function properly when using an Ethernet adapter.

File Size: 4.76 MB

System Requirements

  • OS X Lion 10.7.4 or later
  • OS X 10.8. or later

EFI Firmware Update 2.9 for Mid 2012 MacBook Pro

This update is recommended for Mid 2012 MacBook Pro (13" and 15") models and resolves an issue that can cause the system to hang during heavy processor loads.

File Size: 4.29 MB

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later
  • OS X 10.8.2 and later

EFI Firmware Update for MacBook Pro with Retina Display

This update is recommended for MacBook Pro with Retina Display models and resolves an issue which can cause the system to hang during heavy processor loads, and resolves an issue where NetBoot does not function properly when using an Ethernet adapter.

File Size: 4.97 MB

System Requirements

  • OS X 10.7.4 or later
  • OS X 10.8 or later

SMC Update 1.7 for Late 2010 MacBook Air Enables Power Nap

This update enables Power Nap support on Late 2010 MacBook Air computers and is recommended for all users running OS X v10.8.2 or later.

File Size: 658 KB

System Requirements

  • OS X 10.8.2 or later

Tech Trends

Toshiba Hybrid Drives Combine 8 GB NAND Flash with Hard Drive Expertise

Toshiba MQ01ABDH hybrid hard drivePR: Toshiba's Storage Products Business Unit has announced customer shipments of its first Hybrid Drive, the MQ01ABDH series. The series provides the ideal combination of performance found in solid state disks (SSDs) and the capacity and cost-effectiveness of hard disk drives (HDDs) with capacities up to 1 terabyte (TB).

Developed to enhance the PC user experience, the new 2.5" 9.5mm high SATA Hybrid Drive series features self-learning caching algorithms that learn the system users data access patterns to optimize performance. The self-learning caching algorithms also manage which user data is stored to the NAND Flash for quick response to the near future access from the host, as well as how the data in the NAND Flash is updated based on intelligent access pattern learning.

specs for Toshiba MQ01ABDH"Hybrid Drives represent a significant innovative technology for Toshiba in combining the high-performance features of NAND Flash, with the key HDD attributes of large capacity and cost-effective data storage," says Joel Hagberg, vice president of marketing at Toshiba's Storage Products Business Unit. "As the only storage company which designs and manufactures HDDs as well as NAND flash, Toshiba is in a unique position to capitalize on these benefits because the expertise on how these technologies function resides within Toshiba."

Toshiba's MQ01ABDH series transforms the user experience with extreme responsiveness and breakthrough performance enabling faster system bootup times and data access. Available in 1 TB and 750 GB capacities, the MQ01ABDH 100 and MQ01ABDH 075 drives are ideally suited for ultrathin and standard-sized notebooks, gaming PCs, all-in-one and slimline desktops and other digital computing applications where a no-compromise approach to system performance and storage capacity is desired.

The MQ01ABDH series will be featured in various notebook PCs, with the first systems shipping in time for the holiday season.

WD Expected to Start Production of 5mm Hard Drives by Year End

DigiTimes' Ocean Chen and Adam Hwang report that Western Digital (WD) has unveiled 5mm thick hard disk drives and hybrid drives. WD originally planned to begin volume production in early 2013, but says that due to positive response from notebook vendors and ODMs, volume production is expected to begin at the end of 2012, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers.

Hard drives used in conventional notebooks in recent years have typically been 9.5mm thick, but drive vendors have already developed 7.5mm models to suit slim Ultrabook models, and as Intel specifies reduced thicknesses for Ultrabooks, WD has been focusing R&D efforts on further reducing thickness from 7.5mm to 5mm, according to Chen and Hwang's sources. The report notes that Taiwan-based vendors Acer and Asustek Computer have adopted WD's 5mm drives and started design-in.

Nearly 50% smaller than 9.5mm hard drives, 5mm ones necessarily involve technological breakthroughs in components and manufacturing processes as well as modifications testing and specification certification, and thus are expected to cost more than 7.5mm models, according to the report.

Products & Services

mDock Docking Station for MacBook Pro

mDock docking stationPR: mLogic LLC is now shipping its new mDock docking station and backup solution for 13" and 15" unibody MacBook Pro (MBP) computers (mid-2009 to current models).

mDock eliminates the daily hassle of plugging/unplugging peripherals connected to these notebooks while significantly reducing desktop cable clutter.

mDock docking stationmDock's built-in hard drive backs up the MBP system drive and features convenient front-facing USB and headphone ports.

mDock Highlights

  • Replicates the ports located on the side of unibody 13" and 15" MBP computers
  • Peripheral devices (monitors, speakers, printers, etc.) are attached to mDock eliminating the need to plug and unplug these devices whenever the user goes mobile
  • Eliminates desktop cable clutter
  • Built-in hard drive (500 GB or 1 TB) backs up the MBP system disk via Time Machine
  • Convenient front-facing USB and headphone jacks
  • Front-facing, high-power (10W) charge port powers up iOS devices fast
  • Sleek, fanless design and aluminum enclosure complements the MBP's styling

mDock for 13" or 15" unibody MBP: 500 GB - $279, 1 TB - $339

Kensington's Colorful New Wireless Mice

Kensington Pro Fit Mid-Size Wireless MousePR: Kensington has expanded its Pro Fit collection of products with four colorful new additions of wireless mice built for comfort and lasting performance. Constructed for daily use in any workplace, the midsize mice make ideal pointing devices for either desktop or laptop computers. It provides users with clutter-free productivity for a desktop PC, and complements mobile laptop usage for travel with a storable nano receiver. The ergonomic, right-handed design with a high-definition optical sensor offers precise and responsive control.

The Kensington Pro Fit mice provide the reliability to survive drops, spills and years of hard use, while their simple design means there's no learning curve to Kensington Pro Fit Mid-Size Wireless Mousehold back productivity. Additionally, four new colors to choose from allow business professionals to personalize their workspace in style.

Kensington's Pro Fit Mid-Size Wireless Mouse comes in Emerald Green, Graphite Gray, Ruby Red, and Sapphire Blue. The SRP for all colors is $24.99.

These products are available now for purchase online at Kensington.com and Amazon.com.

The Kensington Pro Fit Mid-Size Wireless Mouse

  • Compact size for travel convenience
  • Clutter-free wireless technology and storable nano receiver
  • Ergonomic right-handed design
  • 2.4 GHz wireless for long range with minimal interference
  • Scroll wheel with middle button and pointer speed quick-select
  • High-definition optical sensor (1750 DPI) for responsive control
  • Extended battery life up to 12 months
  • Built to last with a limited lifetime warranty

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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