Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Said To Plan First Pro Laptop Overhaul in Four Years (bloomberg.com) 304

It's been a while since Apple upgraded most of its computer lineups. It has come to a point, where it's being advised that the Cupertino-based company should stop selling the dated inventories. But the wait will be over later this year, says Mark Gurman, the reporter with the best track record in Apple's ecosystem. Reporting for Bloomberg, Gurman says that the company will be overhauling its MacBook Pro laptop line for the first time in over four years, packing it with a range of interesting features. From the report: The updated notebooks will be thinner, include a touch screen strip for function keys, and will be offered with more powerful and efficient graphics processors for expert users such as video gamers, said the people, who asked not to be named. The most significant addition to the new MacBook Pro is a secondary display above the keyboard that replaces the standard function key row. Instead of physical keys, a strip-like screen will present functions on an as-needed basis that fit the current task or application. The smaller display will use Organic Light-Emitting Diodes, a thinner, lighter and sharper screen technology, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier this year. Apple's goal with the dedicated function display is to simplify keyboard shortcuts traditionally used by experienced users. The panel will theoretically display media playback controls when iTunes is open, while it could display editing commands like cut and paste during word processing tasks, the people said. The display also allows Apple to add new buttons via software updates rather than through more expensive, slower hardware refreshes. [...] Apple is using one of AMD's "Polaris" graphics chips because the design offers the power efficiency and thinness necessary to fit inside the slimmer Apple notebook, the person said.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Should Stop Selling Four-Year-Old Computers (theverge.com) 472

It's been a while since Apple upgraded its MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Pro models. Four years, one month, and twenty-four days, to be exact, in case of the MacBook Pro. Apple is inexplicably still selling the exact same models for its Mac line that it introduced in 2012. Pretty much every Windows OEM has had an Intel Skylake-powered processor in its laptops for more than a year now, but Apple's computing lineup is still shipping with the three-to-four years old processor, and graphics card. Things have gotten so bad, that MacRumors' Buying Guide, which is considered to be an "online institution" among Apple nerds, has flagged all of Apple laptops as "Don't Buy" In a column, The Verge's Sam Byford says that Apple should stop selling the old laptops. He writes: Apple iterates quickly and consistently in mobile because the rate of technological progress is so much more dramatic in that arena. The company does amazing work to keep its iPhones and iPads ahead of competitors, performance-wise. Simple Intel processor upgrades are less important to laptops these days, however, and I'm finding this 2012 MacBook Pro fine to work from right now -- faster than my 2015 MacBook, at least, which is enough for my needs. But that doesn't mean it isn't unconscionable for Apple to continue to sell outdated products to people who may not know any better. Is the company really saving that much money by using 2012 processors and 4GB of RAM as standard? Even an update to Intel's Haswell chips from 2013 would have brought huge battery life improvements. Apple is bound by the whims of its suppliers to a certain extent, and it may not always make sense for the company to upgrade its products with every single new chip or GPU that comes out. But there's a certain point at which it just starts to look like absent-mindedness, and many Mac computers are well past that point now. [...] If Apple doesn't want to keep its products reasonably current, that's its prerogative. But if that truly is the case, maybe it shouldn't sell them at all.It's also ironic, coming from a company whose executive not long ago made fun of people who had five years old computer. Folks at Accidental Tech Podcast also discussed the same recently.
Businesses

Apple's Electric Car Project To Be Led By Bob Mansfield (techcrunch.com) 143

An anonymous reader writes: Long-time Apple executive Bob Mansfield will lead Apple's electric car project, according to the Wall Street Journal. TechCrunch reports: "Mansfield stepped down from the Apple executive board in 2013, yet stayed around the company to work on, what Apple called, special projects. In this role he was reporting directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. One of Mansfield's projects turned out to be the Apple Watch. Now it seems he will head-up Apple's car ambitions -- a project Apple has yet to publicly confirm. During Mansfield's tenure he lead the engineering teams responsible for numerous products including the MacBook Air, iMac, and the iPad."
Games

PC Gaming Is Still Way Too Hard (vice.com) 729

Motherboard has an article in which it argues that PC gaming is still way too hard. The author of the article claims that for one to build a gaming PC, they need an "unreasonable" amount of disposable income, and also have an unreasonable amount of time to "research, shop around, and assemble parts" for their computer. The author adds that a person looking into making one such gear also needs to always have to keep investing time and money in as long as they want to stay at the cutting edge or recommended specifications range for new PC games. The author has shared the experience he had building his own gaming PC. An excerpt from it: The process of physically building a PC is filled with little frustrations, and mistakes can be costly and time consuming. I have big, dumb, sausage fingers, so mounting the motherboard into the case, and screwing in nine (!) tiny screws to keep it in place in a cramped space, in weird angles, where dropping the screwdriver can easily break something expensive -- it's just not what I'd call "consumer-friendly." This is why people buy from Apple. It designs everything from the trackpad to the box the computer comes in, which unfolds neatly to reveal everything you need. Apple reduces friction to the point where even my mom could upgrade the RAM on her iMac, and it can do this because it controls everything that goes in that box.That's accurate. But it also means -- at least as of today -- that the current Apple computer -- MacBook Air, MacBook, iMac, Mac Mini you purchase packs in at least three-year-old components.
Chrome

Google Ponders About a Chromebook Pro (venturebeat.com) 138

Google is currently surveying people about what a Chromebook Pro should be like. VentureBeat's report cites two people who recently shared the development on a forum. One user was asked the question, "How would you think a Chromebook Pro is different than a Chromebook?" whereas the other user was asked, "what a Chromebook Pro should be like in [his/her] opinion and what type of people would want to use it." From the report:The word "Pro" would imply a high-end laptop running Chrome OS, just like, say, the MacBook Pro or the Surface Pro 4. But there are many other companies -- Asus, Dell, HP, and Samsung, among others -- that make Chromebooks, along with Google. It isn't clear from these survey questions if Google is thinking about making a Chromebook Pro itself, just as it has made high-end Chromebook Pixel laptops, or if Google is just wondering how consumers would perceive a Chromebook Pro made by a third party. Meanwhile, Google last month published a job posting entitled "Quality Engineer, Chromebook Pixel," suggesting that a third generation of that device could be on the way.Chromebooks are becoming increasingly popular. They outsold Mac for the first time in the United States earlier this year. The majority of the Chromebooks available today, however, pack in entry-level specifications, giving users very limited choice. Though we have seen devices like Chromebook Pixel, a range of high-end Chromebooks could entice even more customers.
Graphics

Apple Discontinues Thunderbolt Display (macrumors.com) 168

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has officially told several news sites that it plans to discontinue the Thunderbolt Display, which has been available online and in Apple retail stores since it was first introduced in 2011. "We're discontinuing the Apple Thunderbolt Display. It will be available through Apple.com, Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last. There are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users," said an Apple spokesperson. Rumors suggest that Apple will launch a new version of its Thunderbolt monitor later this year, featuring an upgraded 5K resolution and discrete GPU. The new Thunderbolt Display may even launch alongside next-generation Skylake Retina MacBook Pros, which too are rumored to be released later this year. fyngyrz writes: So, bought into the whole Thunderbolt monitor thing from Apple? Might want to collect a few right now, while you still can. It appears that the Thunderbolt monitor is going the way of the analog [headphone] jack over at Apple. Isn't it fun to be part of an unsuccessful experiment?
AI

ASUS Unveils $599 Home Robot 'Zenbo' (computerworld.com) 39

An anonymous reader writes: In addition to the razor thin ZenBook 3, Asus unveiled a cute talking robot for the home at this week's Computex trade show in Taipei. The robot, called Zenbo, is priced at $599 and is pitched as a personal assistant that can help look after elderly relatives or read stories to the kids. It's about two feet tall and rolls around on wheels, with a display that can show animated faces or be used for making video calls and streaming movies. When asked, "Hey Zenbo, is it true you can take pictures?" by ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih, the robot replied with, "Yes, I can take photographs." Zenbo took a photo of him on stage with the audience in the background when Shih told it to. The robot doesn't have an official release date yet, but developers can sign up for a software kit to build applications for it now.
Portables (Apple)

ASUS' ZenBook 3 Is Thinner, Lighter and Faster Than the MacBook (engadget.com) 209

At the ongoing Computex trade show in China, Asus unveiled the ZenBook 3 laptop. The ZenBook 3's chassis measures 11.9mm while the whole body weighs 910g. At the event, the company's executive said that ZenBook 3 is better than both MacBook Air and the 12-inch MacBook. As for the specifications, the ZenBook 3, which is crafted from aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, sports a 12.5-inch full-HD display (1920x1080 pixels), and offers up to Core i7 processor, 16GB of 2133MHz RAM, up to a 1TB PCIe Gen 3 x4 SSD, a next-gen USB Type-C port (for power and data transfer), powerful quad-speaker audio by Harman Kardon, and a fingerprint scanner. Do note that there is only one USB port on the device. The entry-level variant featuring Core i5 processor, 256GB of SSD and 4GB of RAM is priced at 999, while the top-of-the-line model will set you back by $1,999. Asus also had nice things to say about the keyboard, though Engadget's reporter was not impressed. More details here.
Apple

Apple To Launch Thinner, Lighter MacBook Pro Models With OLED Touch Bar, Touch ID In Fall (9to5mac.com) 238

Apple plans to refresh its MacBook Pro line later this year. The makeover will see both 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models replace their function keys atop laptop keyboards with an OLED touch bar, according to a report. Both the models will also have Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and will support Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port, multiple outlets are reporting citing ever-so-reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The refreshed MacBook Pro model will be thinner and lighter as well. There's no word on if -- and when -- the MacBook Air lineup will receive a refresh.
Google

Chromebooks Outsell Macs For the First Time In the US (theverge.com) 177

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Verge: Google's low-cost Chromebooks outsold Apple's range of Macs for the first time in the U.S. recently. IDC analyst Linn Huang confirmed the milestone to The Verge. "Chrome OS overtook Mac OS in the US in terms of shipments for the first time in 1Q16," says Huang. "Chromebooks are still largely a US K-12 story." IDC estimates Apple's U.S. Mac shipments to be around 1.76 million in the latest quarter, meaning Dell, HP, and Lenovo sold nearly 2 million Chromebooks in Q1 combined. Chromebooks have been extremely popular in US schools, and it's clear from IDC's comments the demand is driving US shipments. Outside of the US, it's still unclear exactly how well Google's low-cost laptops are doing. Most data from market research firms like IDC and Gartner focuses solely on Google's wins in the US.
OS X

Mac Users Reporting Widespread System Freezes With OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 Update (macrumors.com) 100

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mac Rumors: A large number of MacBook Pro owners running OS X El Capitan are reporting widespread system freezes since installing the 10.11.4 update to Apple's Mac OS. The problem appears to be concentrated on 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros (Early 2015) running 10.11.4. Users report that their system becomes totally unresponsive at seemingly random times, with no way to regain access to their Mac other than to force a hard reboot. The issue was initially reported by MacRumors forum member Antonnn on March 25, four days after Apple released what is the third update to the Mac OS. In Antonnn's case, the freezes have been occurring "about once a week," first when browsing in Safari, but then also during the use of other Mac apps, including Adobe Photoshop and several third-party browsers. The freeze seems to affect not only the screen and mouse cursor but also the Mac's Force Touch trackpad, which completely loses feedback. Apple Support is apparently aware of the issue but have so far offered no concrete solution. Meanwhile, some users have resorted to downgrading their system to 10.11.3 by restoring from a Time Machine backup or performing a clean install. Hundreds of others have posted to a dedicated thread discussing the issue. Bill Mattheis posted a video on YouTube of the freezing he has experienced on his MacBook Pro.
Data Storage

Slashdot Asks: What's Your View On Benchmark Apps? 50

There's no doubt that benchmark apps help you evaluate different aspects of a product, but do they paint a complete picture? Should we utterly rely on benchmark apps to assess the performance and quality of a product or service? Vlad Savov of The Verge makes an interesting point. He notes that DxOMark (a hugely popular benchmark app for testing a camera) rating of HTC 10's camera sensor is equal to that of Samsung's Galaxy S7, however, in real life shooting, the Galaxy S7's shooter offers a far superior result. "I've used both extensively and I can tell you that's simply not the case -- the S7 is outstanding whereas the 10 is merely good." He offers another example: If a laptop or a phone does well in a web-browsing battery benchmark, that only gives an indication that it would probably fare decently when handling bigger workloads too. But not always. My good friend Anand Shimpi, formerly of AnandTech, once articulated this very well by pointing out how the MacBook Pro had better battery life than the MacBook Air -- which was hailed as the endurance champ -- when the use changed to consistently heavy workloads. The Pro was more efficient in that scenario, but most battery tests aren't sophisticated or dynamic enough to account for that nuance. It takes a person running multiple tests, analyzing the data, and adding context and understanding to achieve the highest degree of certainty. The problem is -- more often than not -- gadget reviewers treat these values as the most important signal when judging a product, which in turn, also influences several readers' opinion. What's your take on this?
Google

HP Announces All-Metal Chromebook 13: Thinner Than MacBook Pro, Costs $800 Less 211

On Thursday, HP unveiled a new Chromebook 13. Designed in collaboration with Google, the Chromebook 13 sports an all-metal body and is merely 13mm thick while weighing 1.29kg. It sports a 13-inch display with 3200x1800 pixels resolution and is powered by Intel's sixth-gen Core M processor, which comes coupled with up to 16GB of RAM. There's a USB Type-C port as well, and the company is also promising up to 11.5 hours of battery life on a single charge. The retail price of the HP Chromebook starts at $499, and will launch in the US later this month.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Launches MacBook 2016 With Intel Skylake Processor, Longer Battery Life 179

Apple, on Tuesday, announced a refresh for its 12-inch MacBook laptop. The 2016 MacBook comes with an Intel Skylake processor -- sixth-generation dual-core Intel Core M model, offering up to 1.3 GHz clock speed with Turbo Boost speeds of up to 3.1 GHz, faster 1866 MHz memory, and a 'rose gold' color variant. Apple assures 10 hours of wireless Web browsing time, or 11 hours of movie playback on a single charge. The new model will hit retail stores on Wednesday. It starts at $1,299 for the 256GB SSD and 8GB (up from 4GB) version, and goes all the way up to $1,599 for the top-of-the-line model which offers 512GB SSD.

A couple of points: the first-generation MacBook didn't fare well with reviewers and plenty of users alike. Second, today's announcement also hints that the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro lineups won't be getting the Intel Skylake upgrade for at least a few more months -- which is really sad, because, at present, they come equipped with almost three-year-old processor and graphics chips. No wonder, Oculus executive made fun of Apple's computers.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Patent Filing Points To a Keyboard With No Keys (digitaltrends.com) 107

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Apple's patent, titled "Configurable Force-Sensitive Input Structure for Electronic Devices," was filed in September 2015 and was recently made available to the public on April 7th. It states that this all-in-one input interface consists of a metal contact layer, and a sense layer combined with a drive layer mounted underneath. According to the patent, the sense and drive layers detect a force exerted on the metal contact layer. This is accomplished by using an array of pixels on the sense and drive layers that determine an input location when active pixels are aligned on both layers. The user then gets a response to his or her action thanks to a haptic feedback module and a light guide layer that lights up the "keys" through extremely tiny holes in the metal surface. The components of the force-input sensitive "structure" are enclosed within the device's chassis; thus the only exposed portion is the contact surface itself. In a provided drawing, the illustrated notebook shows four distinct input areas on the surface. However, the patent states that the device can have any number of input areas defined on the contact portion.
HP

HP Says It Made the World's Thinnest Laptop (time.com) 166

An anonymous reader writes: HP claims that its Spectre laptop, unveiled April 5, is the world's thinnest laptop. It measures 10.4mm thick or 0.41 inches. That would mean that it's slimmer than the 12-inch MacBook (0.52), MacBook Air (0.68 inches) and Dell XPS 13 (0.59 inches) at their thickest points. It's also thinner than the 0.52-inch Razer Blade Stealth. The new notebook is equipped with an advertised nine-hour battery life, 13-inch HD 1920 x 1080 resolution display, and sixth generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. The Spectre will be available for pre-order on April 25 for $1,169.99 before it hits Best Buy stores on May 22 for $1,249.99.
Data Storage

Intel's Optane SSD Compatible With NVMe; Could Boost MacBook Storage Speeds By 1000x 76

More details have emerged about Intel's Optane, a new kind of memory and SSD that utilizes 3D Xpoint. The upcoming 3D Xpoint technology, which is supposedly 10 times denser than DRAM and 1,000 times faster than flash storage, will be compatible with NVMe, a storage protocol that allows an SSD to make effective use of a high-speed PCIe. Several MacBook Pro models already support NVMe technology. Apple is often among the first companies to adopt emerging standards and technologies, which has led many to believe that the Cupertino-based company might leverage Intel's Optane solid state drives for super fast performance speeds in its next batch of laptops. Apple is expected to announce the refreshed MacBook lineup sporting Intel Skylake processor later this year.
Iphone

Apple Announces 'Let Us Loop You In' Event For March 21st (theverge.com) 66

An anonymous reader writes: The official Apple Events page has been updated in advance of the newly announced media event. Invitations were sent out earlier Thursday inviting members of the press to "let us loop you in." The event will be streamed using Apple's HTTP Live Streaming technology and will require an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS 7.0 or later. The company is expected to announce a new, smaller iPhone SE, that will be the same size as the iPhone 5 but with improved specs like a A9 processor and 8-megapixel rear camera. In addition, Apple is expected to announce a new, smaller iPad Pro. It is rumored to feature a 9.7" display and a Smart Connector to support Smart Keyboard -- it may even be compatible with the Apple Pencil. We can expect some kind of update for the Apple Watch, most likely new Apple Watch bands. A black version of the Milanese Loop may be in the works to match the Space Black Apple Watch. Of course, Apple will talk encryption as the event is scheduled one day before the next hearing between Apple and the FBI on March 22. Apple may surprise us with new MacBooks or OS X updates but we will most likely have to wait until Apple's developer conference in June.
Desktops (Apple)

Kim Jong-Un Found To Be Mac User 195

jones_supa writes: He might hate the United States, but he sure digs those designed-in-California computers. You probably wouldn't take Kim Jong-un as a Mac user. Usually, in photos of him checking out military computers, we see the North Korean dictator in front of a PC with a Dell monitor. However, a handful of photos of the supreme leader at his own desk show him with Macs, leading to the assumption that while the military may use PCs, his personal preference is Mac. Reuters correspondent James Pearson, who covers both Koreas, tweeted out a fresh image of little Kim using a MacBook Pro inside an aircraft. There are other images, including a 2013 image of Kim Jong-un at his desk with an iMac. That same year, the South Korean newspaper Chosun published a photo from North Korean Central News Agency, which features an Apple iMac. This might also explain why the country's home-grown Linux distribution Red Star imitates OS X.

Slashdot Top Deals