Microsoft Combines Laptop and Tablet with New Surface Pro 3

On Tuesday, Microsoft exec Panos Panay unveiled the Surface Pro 3, calling it a potential successor for laptop PCs. The device is not only lighter and thinner than previous versions of Surface tablet computers, but it is also larger. While previous versions measure at 10.6-inches diagonally, the Pro 3 screen measures 12-inches. Along with other Surface tablets, the Pro 3 is powered by Intel chips. Rather than comparing the tablet to others on the market, Panay discussed Apple’s MacBook Air as a competitor.

Continue reading Microsoft Combines Laptop and Tablet with New Surface Pro 3

New $1,300 LaCie Thunderbolt 2 External Drive is Lightning Fast

LaCie’s Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 is an external storage drive with four times the data transfer speed of USB 3. The $1,300 device is unique in its ability to handle two simultaneous streams through a single cable, making it ideal for transferring large 4K video files. It can support daisy chaining up to six peripherals, such as other hard drives, cameras and monitors. The chipsets for the technology are already built into the Mac Pro and the latest MacBook Pro with Retina display. Continue reading New $1,300 LaCie Thunderbolt 2 External Drive is Lightning Fast

Apple Takes New Direction by Offering Free Operating System

In addition to the new iPads unveiled yesterday, Apple made several announcements regarding its hardware and software products. The new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops will go on sale immediately, while the $2,999 Mac Pro desktop will ship before the end of the year. Apple’s iWork and iLife suites of office and creative software are now free with every hardware purchase. Another surprise is the company’s decision to offer its Mac operating system, OS X Mavericks, as a free download. Continue reading Apple Takes New Direction by Offering Free Operating System

Apple Expected to Unveil New Streaming Music Service Today

At its annual developers conference in San Francisco today, Apple is expected to unveil its ad-supported streaming music service. The company is also expected to introduce new Mac notebooks and a redesigned iOS featuring a simpler interface. Apple’s new Internet radio service will compete with online music services such as Pandora, Rdio and Spotify. The move into streaming music could also help it compete with rival Google, which has been successful with robust Internet services. Continue reading Apple Expected to Unveil New Streaming Music Service Today

Will Future Intel Chips Provide MacBooks with Infinite Battery Life?

  • Intel introduced its new Haswell architecture this week at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The Haswell technology is a few generations away, but is already impressing analysts.
  • John Brownlee, writing for Cult of Mac, explains that Haswell was created using a 22 nanometer 3D transistor process, which makes possible ARM-like power consumption on an x86 chip. “That means all day battery life, as well as ten days of connected standby,” writes Brownlee.
  • The architecture reportedly uses up to 20 times less power than current Intel chips, and can actually run on a solar cell, suggesting that future MacBooks would theoretically have no constraints on battery life.
  • According to Brownlee, the Haswell architecture has some serious potential: “You think those new Sandy Bridge MacBook Pros are beasts? Just wait a couple years. That’s when Apple will be able of releasing bleeding edge MacBooks capable of not only running for 24 hours on a single charge, but of recharging their cells as they run by sucking up the ambient light in the room around them. Wow.”

Review: Critics Chime In on New MacBook Air

  • Apple introduced its new MacBook Air last week (in 11.6 and 13.3-inch versions, starting at $999) and announced it would discontinue the iconic white MacBook. Gizmodo reports that critics across the board are enamored with the new ultra-thin device. This meta-review provides clips from six notable sources.
  • Laptop Mag (11-inch): “As an ultraportable, the Air is superior in almost every way.”
  • CNET (11-inch): “…if you’re looking for a small, fast MacBook and don’t mind paying a higher price for superior design and performance, the 2011 11-inch MacBook Air is flat-out the fastest ultraportable we’ve ever used.”
  • TIME (13-inch): “I keep trying to stumble across a task or two that will prove that an Air is just too wimpy for some folks, but I’ve failed so far.”
  • PC Mag (13-inch): “The Air 13-inch (Thunderbolt) is perfectly adept at running any video and photo editing software package, compiling a huge database, or watching a 1080p video clip.”
  • Engadget (13-inch): “Keys are more springy than before, more solid and responsive than the somewhat loose, flappy ones on the last generation… It continues to impress when it comes to contrast, brightness, and viewing angles… The 2011 MacBook Air addresses nearly every concern anyone could lob at its predecessor.”
  • TechCrunch (13-inch): “With just the right combination of portability and power, it is hands-down the best computer I’ve ever owned.”

Impact of The iPad Effect on Tablet and PC Industries

Rob Woodbridge of hosts a three-person online video panel for Episode 12 of his site’s program, The Week in Mobile. The informal 56-minute discussion provides an interesting take on how mobility is shaping content consumption — with a focus on “The iPad Effect” and its rapidly developing impact on the PC industry.

The panel cites a recent Fast Company article in which analysts anticipate 35 of the 45 million tablets expected to sell in the upcoming year will be iPads and that the only way for others such as Dell, Motorola, Samsung and RIM to compete with Apple is to dramatically undercut the price — begging the question, “Is the tablet PC industry really an industry yet at all?”

Additionally, as PC makers are being adversely impacted by the growing success of the iPad — not only with tablet sales, but in regards to laptops and desktops sales — another result may be the surprising “stealthy” success of MacBook Airs (for which the panel credits the proliferation of apps). According to Fast Company, the Air grabbed 15 percent of of the total notebook sales for the last quarter of 2010.

The discussion also addresses mobile privacy abuse in a new era of apps and Amazon’s concern regarding the consumer power enabled by NFC wireless technologies.