2012 Technology Predictions

Around this time folk start trying to predict what the coming year holds. We also tend to think about any New Year Resolutions we might make. Already we are seeing predictions about Apple revamping its product line and introducing one or two product lines. Hot predictions seem to be an actual Apple Television and also a sort of iPad Air.

Now both of these are intriguing, for different reasons. let’s take the Apple TV first. For years there has been rampant speculation about if and when Apple would announce its own TV set (as averse to its existing Apple TV, which is nothing more than a set-top box with an Apple twist to it). Now its starting to look probable that Apple indeed will introduce its own TV, which some are already labelling the ‘iTV‘.

What it will look like is anyone’s guess (unless you are actually working on it right now of course deep in Apple’s labs!). SHARP and JVC are two companies that have been mentioned as being involved in bringing the iTV to market, SHARP  and JVC are big players in the Home Entertainment markets and so its not surprising that they might be involved.

Steve Jobs, before his untimely death recently, has been quoted as saying that he had ‘finally cracked it, when speaking about an integrated TV set. However, Apple may run int some problems in the UK if indeed it has settled on the ‘iTV’ moniker, as we have ITV already, a commercial broadcaster that has been around for decades.

My view is that Apple will indeed bring out some form of integrated TV set in 2012, probably with iCloud capability and maybe even a version of Siri so that everything can be voice-controlled. After all, I can’t see Apple wanting to let Microsoft have the market to itself with its Xbox Live Voice Control. If it succeeds, then it could well revolutionise the home entertainment field in a similar way it has the music, smartphone and tablet markets.

As for the iPad Air, this one is interesting in that I can’t quite see Apple wanting to eat into both its iPad and Macbook Air markets unless it feels that such a device could replace both; the best of both worlds so to speak. In theory, if Apple can time the release of the A6 quad-core chip just right then it could at a stroke replace the iPad, Macbook Air and Macbook Pro with one device. Don’t put it past them to do this as Steve Jobs was always one for reducing the number of models whenever possible.

I am going to let myself go wild here and suggest the following:

1. Apple replaces the iPad, Macbook Air and Macbook Pro with one device – the so-called iPad Air (or maybe Mac Air – light as a feather!)

2. The device will combine a Retina detachable display (so can use it like an iPad) and keyboard (like the forthcoming  Asus Transformer Prime)

3. The device will use only Flash Memory (goodbye to the old hard drive, finally) for storage and speed

4. The device will be lightweight (hence the ‘Air’ element to the name) an have great battery time (just like the iPad & Macbook Air), possibly due to the use of new materials

5. Fantastic graphics performance due to the use of the expected ARM quad-core A6 CPU and associated hardware

6. Possibly there will be a 4G version available for network connectivity (for uses such as Sat Nav)

7. There may even be an Near Field Communications chip so that you will be able to control nearby devices (such as your Mac or iPad)

8. I am almost certain I will have an SD card slot as this is a great way of getting photos and video onto your device, as well having additional storage options.

So, there you have it, my two predictions for what Apple may pull out of the bag in 2012.

Latest MacBook Air makes it debut

MacBook Air

Today (Wednesday 20th July) saw Apple announce its new line-up of MacBook Air portable computers. Both the 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air now feature the latest generation of Intel processors, the Core i5 and i7. With speeds up to 1.8GHz and faster memory, the new MacBook Air gains up to 2.5x the processing performance over the previous generation.

The new MacBook Air also features the Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor, which includes an on-chip engine for video encoding and decoding. It also comes with the new Thunderbolt port, transferring data up to 12 times faster than FireWire 800 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. You can also use it to connect the new Apple Thunderbolt Display.The new display (more of that later) offers over 4 million eye-popping pixels while coming with the following features:

  • Gigabit Ethernet,
  • FireWire 800,
  • an additional Thunderbolt port,
  • three USB ports,
  • a FaceTime HD camera,
  • 2.1 stereo sound and
  • a built-in microphone.

Instead of a traditional hard drive the MacBook Air is now all Flash memory storage (64GB, 128GB or 256GB), offering reliability, speed and efficiency, as well as up to 30 days on stand-by. It also comes with a full-size keyboard that is backlit, as well as a Multi-Touch Trackpad, making use of the new Multi-Touch gestures in Lion (also released today and available only on the App Store).

The display of the MacBook Air measures a mere 4.86 millimetres (0.19 inch) thin, yet the resolution is so high, you’ll feel like you’re looking at a much larger screen.  The 11-inch MacBook Air features a resolution equal to that of your typical 13-inch notebook, while the 13-inch MacBook Air wows with a resolution equivalent to a typical 15-inch notebook.

Supported resolutions:

11.6-inch (diagonal) model:

  • 1366×768 (native),
  • 1344×756 and 1280×720 pixels at 16:9 aspect ratio;
  • 1152×720 and 1024×640 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio;
  • 1024×768 and 800×600 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio

113.3-inch (diagonal) model:

  • 1440×900 (native),
  • 1280×800, 1152×720 and 1024×640 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio;
  • 1024×768, 800×600 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio

The new range is available now and ships with Lion OS X. UK pricing is as follows:

  • 11.6-inch model, 64GB Flash Storage – £849.00
  • 11.6-inch model, 128GB Flash Storage – £999.00
  • 13.3-inch model, 128GB Flash Storage – £1,099.00
  • 13.3-inch model, 256GB Flash Storage – £1,349.00

The UK Apple Store is quoting 24 hours free delivery.


Macbook Air – Intel’s new ULV chipset rumoured as CPU choice

Intel Core i7 logo as of 2009

Image via Wikipedia

As rumours hot up about the next refresh to the Macbook Air range, the question on everyone’s lips is which CPU will Apple go with; will it be Intel’s new ULV chipset?  Intel recently announced the specification and price fo the new ultra low voltage (hence the ULV moniker):

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

Certainly, with the Macbook Air, the ULV chipset would seem to be the way to go. There has been talk in the past of Apple choosing AMD over Intel. Whilst ARM processors have traditionally ran circles around Intel’s designs in power consumption, dominating the small mobile device market, it’s hard to see Apple jumping ship when its just refreshed other parts of its hardware portfolio with the latest Sandy Bridge processors. Certainly, AMD’s new Fusion processors are looking pretty good themselves, with strong integrated graphics than current Sandy Bridge offerings, equivalent power consumption, and a lower price tag. Could be a close call. DailyTech even mentions the possibility of an ARM-powered Mac notebook. Another possibility is that we could see a black anodized aluminum case version.

Whichever choice Apple makes (and for now I am going with Intel’s ULV chipset), the future of the Mac notebook market certainly looks brighter than ever.

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Apple’s next product announcement?

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Image via Wikipedia

Following on from WWDC attention has been turning to what we can expect from Apple next. How soon we get bored it would seem, as if the announcements around Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud weren’t enough to satisfy. Well, it seems like we may not have long to wait to get our next fix and learn what Apple has in store for us. Sources have told 9to5Mac that Apple will be holding one of their retail store overnights on Tuesday.

This could mean Apple is about to reveal the next update to the MacBook Air or possibly a revamp of the Mac Pro range.Other possibilities are an update to the Mac mini, Airport or something related to Apple’s Back to School campaign, due around now. It could even be related to software, with possibly an update to iWork.

My own feeling is that it will be related to the MacBook Airs or possibly the Mac Pro range. Both are due an upgrade so my money is on one or both of these.