Tag: macbook air

Chromebooks lead the notebook race

GoogleABI Research said that Chromebooks are leading growth for the notebook PC category, with Chrome OS systems expected to ship over eight million units by the end of the year.

And ABI analyst Jeff Orr said that growth for Chromebooks will show a 22 percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years.

Orr said: “Industry professionals can expect the notebook PC marker, including Chromebooks, laptops and ultraportable PCs to remain roughly flat year on year in 2015, with flat to slightly positive growth projected through 2020.”

He said that next year will see a sales surge for both Chromebooks and ultraportables with people adopting Chromebooks in schools and 2-in-1 ultraportables representing the future.

ABI estimates that 164 million notebooks will ship this year.

The ultraportables and laptop will show a decline of 14 percent compared to last year.

Orr said that’s mostly due to unit volume declines at Acer, Asus and Lenovo.

Apple will have 32 percent share of the ultraportable PC with various Macbook Air models.

Ultrabook prices set to drop in run up to Ivy Bridge

Despite the Ultrabook hype-machine still whirring, PC vendors are already set to slash prices ahead of the release of Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors.

Having succesfully managed to limbo under the initial target of $1,000, the first devices released under Intel’s Ultrabook banner are set to drop even further – and without a cheque from Intel this time round.

According to Digitimes, retail channel sources have indicated that vendors are clearing the way for current stock to make way for the upcoming Ivy Bridge processors.   But with the new, faster and fitter version on its way, who would want to stump up all that money for what’s about to be considered old hat?

With a move to a 22 nanometre process on the chips, you can expect even better performance from the lightweight laptops, and increases on the seven odd hours of battery life that many are currently shipping with.

Windows 8 is also on its way, so it is likely that Ultrabooks could really start to come into their own this year – even if Intel’s wildly optimistic claims of owning 40 percent of the laptop are likely to remain a marketing department fantasy.

In fact it seems that with such a step up in performance about to hit the Ultrabooks, picking one of the current generation – even at the expected knock down prices – seems a bit crazy.

Even AMD is shaping up to offer some competition with its own version of the MacBook Air, and is hoping to gets its prices around the $800 mark without a reduced sticker in sight.

So if vendors are gleefully slashing prices on expensive gear it was shouting at you to buy a few weeks ago, there is likely to be a reason.

While prices haven’t substantially dropped in the UK, the US is seeing some more action. Acer’s S3 , somewhat of an oddity with a hard disk drive, has seen price drops to $799, while Lenovo and HP have lowered prices by as much as 25 percent and 21 percent.

It is expected that eventually the majority of the current crop of Ultrabooks will be lowered not so carefully into the bin marked ‘bargain’, and offloaded for as little as $699.

As prices drop and a new wave of next generation Ultrabooks looms just over the horizon, it seems that Intel may be able to silence some of its doubters and finally begin to claw in the sales it has so energetically talked up.

SSD manufacturers fret over Ultrabook

More rumours which suggest the Ultrabook is facing some hiccups at launch. SSD manufacturers are worried that Intel’s prized new form factor could be detrimental to business.

Sources in the Taiwanese supply chain have been whispering to Digitimes. They say that at the moment, Intel’s products are just too expensive to warrant the consumer picking them over the rather similar Macbook Air. 

Citing the recently announced Zenbook, which has a 128GB SSD, a source said it must find a lower price point if consumers are going to pick it up. And if no one is buying, the SSD orders don’t roll in like manufacturers hoped.

The fault doesn’t lie just with Intel. SSDs themselves are at the high end of the market, and must absorb some of the cost, said the sources. They’ll need to find a way to produce them at a cheaper rate. One way could be NAND transitioning to a sub-20nm process, the sources said.

It’s too early to tell and these are just fears. But Otellini himself tried to reassure investors in an earnings call, saying that while Ultrabooks are expensive right now, the form factor will cost less over time. Intel’s $300 million war chest will do all it can to help. 

AMD can make Ultrabooks too

The revelation that is the Ultrabook is all Intel’s – but in name only.

Yesterday at the Asus Ultrabook launch, Dan Belton, Intel UK and Ireland’s Director of Consumer and Retail confirmed to an audience of journalists and the Intel-intrigued that there’s nothing stopping AMD from making ultra-thin laptops. 

“The Ultrabook is an Intel platform,” Belton said. But the form factor – a miniscule and light laptop with an aluminium chassis, long battery life and instant-on as its main selling points – is not. “There’s nothing stopping them at all, no,” Belton said. 

A BBC journalist then inquired about Apple. As its Macbook Air uses Intel processors, would Intel classify the Macbook Air as an Ultrabook? Despite certain glaring similarities, the answer is no: It’s a “fantastic product from Apple,” but “it does not qualify as an Ultrabook, because of the specifications.”

We asked how it would qualify as an Ultrabook, to which Intel replied: “To answer that question you’d need to go through the specifications of the Ultrabook, which we’d be delighted to do, but as far as Apple is concerned we’re here to talk about Asus today.”

What’s in a name?

Intel everywhere in Apple product refresh

The elusive Apple has sent its standard “low cost” go-to, the traditional MacBook, to the knacker’s yard. Here comes the MacBook Air to replace it, along with Intel’s Thunderbolt and a refresh for the Lion OS.

The new models of the MacBook Air start at $999 and are available now. While you’re still paying the, er, same low price, Macworld reports it’s for a smaller display. 

Instead you will get a 11 inch display available with 2GB of memory and 64 GB flash storage. If you want a bigger screen expect to pay $1,199. The extra price also covers 4GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage.

There’s also a 13 inch, 1.7 GHz flavour which comes in two flavours. 4GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage will cost $1,299, while 4GB and 256GB of flash will cost $1,599. 
Intel’s much whispered about Thunderbolt makes an appearance. Stripped down to basics bordering on absurdity, it’s a way to transfer and connect stuff to and from the MacBook Air. 

Meanwhile, the OS X Lion has made an appearance. Apple’s charging $29.99 to upgrade. Included is stuff like multi-touch, support for full screen apps, redesigned mail, etc. 
Lion comes with innovative features invented by the forward-thinking Apple team such as……….. auto save.

Then there’s resume. So you can go back into an app as it was when you left it.

Then there’s what Apple calls Versions, which lets you “even copy and paste from previous versions” of a document you are working on. 

Then there’s AirDrop. It uses a wireless connection to tell you how many other people nearby you have spent a lot of money on Apple products. You can then transfer files to them. 

Apple suggests its users with slow broadband head down to an Apple store if they want the 4GB download. Of course, you are locked in with Intel, requiring as it does a Core 2 Duo, i3, i5, i7 or Xeon processor. 

Apple kills replacement SSD which makes it look bad

An Asian technology company which released faster replacement SSD for Apple’s new MacBook Air has been told to kill the product off.

PhotoFast announced one of the first replacement SSDs for Apple’s new, slimmer MacBook Airs. The spec was much better than the one that Apple shipped with and would make the MacBook Airs go like the clappers.

But according to Ars Technica, Jobs’ Mob ordered the company to stop all production of the upgrades.

The new Airs ran on SSD drive modules based on Toshiba drive controllers. PhotoFast announced its own reverse-engineered replacement SSD modules just seven days after the new MacBook Airs dropped.

The company design used SandForce controllers, known to be the fastest available. The SSD in a MacBook Pro could manage 60MB/s, PhotoFast’s replacement module can do 200MB/s.

It is not clear why Apple is being so heavy handed. PhotoFast could have fallen foul of  an agreement between Apple and Toshiba, but Tosh could have moaned to Jobs’ Mob that the hardware infringes on its IP. If it was the latter then that should not really have involved Apple.

But lately we have been seeing Jobs’ Mob cracking down on suppliers who make nice products to run on Apple gear.

Apple recently sued accessory maker HyperMac over unlicensed backup batteries that used Apple’s MagSafe and Dock connectors to power MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones.

It is possible that Apple does not like the idea of people making gear which might be superior to the original spec.

PhotoFast has said that it only complied with Apple’s request because it did not want to jeopardise its current licence to make official accessories for Macs and iPads. In the meantime it will be users who miss out on faster SSDs for their expensive toys.   Not  that they will ever complain.  If Steve says they should not have faster SSDs, then that is good enough for most Apple fanboys.

Adobe responds bitterly to Apple's "negative campaign"

The petty war of words between Adobe and Apple is going strong, with Adobe responding angrily to Apple’s attempts to destroy its business by discrediting Flash.

Apple continued its campaign against Flash last week with a report revealing that the MacBook Air lost several hours of battery life when using Flash, which ultimately was never included on the laptop. Adobe claims that Apple is deceiving people, however.

“It’s a false argument to make, of the power usage,” said Kevin Lynch, CTO of Adobe, in an interview with Fast Company. “When you’re displaying content, any technology will use more power to display, versus not displaying content. If you used HTML5, for example, to display advertisements, that would use as much or more processing power than what Flash uses.”

He said that a number of studies have confirmed that Flash has higher battery life than the Apple report on the MacBook Air. He also said that HTML5, which Apple is touting as Flash’s replacement, has less reliable playback. It’s funny to think that what began as a bitter battle over having Flash on Apple products has degenerated to both sides squabbling over battery life.

“I just think there’s this negative campaigning going on, and, for whatever reason, Apple is really choosing to incite it, and condone it,” said Lynch. “I think that’s unfortunate. We don’t think it’s good for the web to have aspects closed off – a blockade of certain types of expression. There’s a decade of content out there that you just can’t view on Apple’s device, and I think that’s not only hurtful to Adobe, but hurtful to everyone that created that content.”

Adobe has gained a lot of allies in the process, however, as many of Apple’s big rivals, such as Google, have lent the software firm their support. Frequently people will see Flash receive a prominent place in an advertisement for a new product, showcasing what users can get in comparison to an Apple product.

“No, that’s good news for Adobe,” Lynch said in response to being asked if Adobe feels threatened by HTML5. “We support HTML. We’re making tools for HTML5. It’s a great opportunity for us. Flash and HTML have co-existed, and they’re going to continue to to co-exist.”

Intel i5 shortage stuffs up Apple's Air

WHILE IT LOOKS like the rumours that Apple’s Macbook Air are set to be delayed because of a shortage of Intel i5 chips are true, no one is going on record to say it.

Fudzilla started the rumour but was unable to name his sources as they only have ketchup in Bosnia.

However the allegations of the ultra-thin 18W TDP processor arriving “a bit later” were stood up by another source that talked to the French Mac Web site Hardmac claimed that an update to Apple’s ultralight MacBook Air may come later than the hardware maker would like. However the French, who are famous for their sources were also unable to find a single person to go on record that will confirm that the Air would be late.

“It is still possible that Intel ships first samples to Apple, in small quantities, at a premium price,” the site claimed.

Apple Insider asked Intel and it was told that the chips have left the factory.

Apple insider claimed that if the Core i5 UM delays are true, they may not impact Apple, because in the past, Intel has provided special early access to the Mac maker for its newest chips. The “UM” distinction represents the ultra-low-voltage version of the mobile processor, which is not used in the current model.

The Core i5-520UM has a maximum processor speed of 1.86GHz, and an integrated GPU with 500MHz of processing power. The 32nm dual-core chip also includes 3MB of L3 cache.

Jobs’ Mob last updated the MacBook Air in June 2009 and it is now looking a bit old hat. The upgrade to i5 were seen as a dramatic improvement for the expensive thin laptop with no connections. If it is delayed we suspect that Jobs’ Mob will be ever so cross.