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Adobe Testing Flash Player Optimized For MacBook Air


(Image courtesy of Endgadget)

We all know about the ongoing scuffaw between Apple and Adobe in regard to the effects of Flash Player in web browsing.  But today, Adobe’s CEO interestingly revealed that Adobe has a version of Flash Player in the works that’s actually being geared for the new MacBook Air.

A recent review of the MacBook Air from Ars Technica had made the note that the device’s battery takes a bit of a shellacking when one browses the Web with Flash Player installed on it.  This led Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch to come to the conclusion that it takes more power to display Flash content than it actually does not to display it, and also claimed that HTML5 content along similar lines would use just as much or more power.

That said, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen made the note yesterday that in order to conserve battery, the key is hardware acceleration, and that Adobe has a version of Flash player in the works for the MacBook Air.

“When we have access to hardware acceleration, we’ve proven that Flash has equal or better performance on every platform.” 

Back in mid-August, Adobe had released an updated version of Flash Player 10.1 to bring hardware acceleration to a variety of Mac models.

via MacRumors

Follow this article’s author, Matthew Tilmann on Twitter



Adobe CTO Defends Flash's MacBook Air Performance

You knew that the peace couldn’t last forever. When word hit the street last week that installing Adobe’s Flash software on the latest iteration of the MacBook Air could shave off upwards of two hours of battery life, Apple unwittingly awoke Adobe’s sleeping dogs of war… or at the very least restarted the Flash-or-no-Flash slap-fight anew.

Apple’s war on Flash was started earlier this year with a salvo launched by Steve Jobs. Adobe was left with little choice but to return fire with a few well-placed barbs of their own and well… it got ugly there for a while. Fortunately back in August, Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen opted to play the role of peace-maker, stating:

“Apple made some statements about the suitability of our technology for mobile devices… With the energy and innovation that our company has, we’d rather focus on people who want to deliver the best experience with Flash and there are so many of them.”

However, if a story posted today by Fast Company is any indication, it would appear that not everyone on Adobe’s board of directors wants to kiss and make up. Contrary to Narayen’s desire for Adobe to stop fussing and focus on working with partners who don’t trash their products, the company’s CTO Kevin Lynch told Fast Company that he felt that in terms of battery consumption, blaming Flash was a “false argument.”

“When you’re displaying content,” Lynch explained, “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.”

Not a bad argument.

Sadly, in the same breath, Lynch’s perfectly reasonable rebuttal to the accusations leveled again his company’s technology were nullified as he resorted to the same paranoid rhetoric that we’ve heard from Adobe many times before. Lynch declared that he felt that a negative campaign had been launched by Apple for some sinister end–a campaign against Flash that could result in a decade’s worth of content being rendered unviewable on the majority of Apple’s mobile devices.

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that vinyl records and reel-to-reel tapes don’t play on Apple’s mobile gear either. This doesn’t mean there was an Apple-fronted conspiracy against these formats. It just means that technology has marched forward leaving these once-loved, popular technologies behind. It happens.

It’s happening to Flash as we speak.


Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter



Toshiba Unleashes MacBook Air SSD to Mass Market

Toshiba SSD
(Image courtesy of MacRumors)

If you’ve held off buying a MacBook Air because you feared there was no way to increase the onboard storage, think again: Toshiba is now offering three sizes of blade-style SSD for those of you ready for more.

MacRumors is reporting that Toshiba is now making their “Blade X-gale” series solid-state storage available to all. Available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB sizes, these are the exact same sticks that the company supplies to Apple for the new MacBook Air, but now they are available to the mass market as well.

“Available now, the new drives are offered in capacities of 64-gigabyte (GB) (1), 128GB and 256GB, with a maximum sequential read speed of 220MB per second (MB/s) (2) and a maximum sequential write speed of 180MB/s,” the company announced via press release. “Ideally suited for integration into space-sensitive products, including tablet PCs, laptops, mini-mobile and netbook PCs, Toshiba’s latest SSD offering helps these devices achieve a super slim profile.”

MacRumors notes that the blade-style storage are the same sizes currently offered by Apple’s MacBook Air, right down to using the exact same part numbers. That means that early adopters who jumped on board the entry-level 9 11.6-inch model with only 64GB now have a potential upgrade path — although the website is quick to note that they have yet to confirm that a 256GB stick will fit in the smaller MacBook Air, particularly since Apple doesn’t offer that as an option either.

“We should note that we haven’t yet been able to confirm that the 256GB part will actually fit into the 11″ MacBook Air, as the 256GB part is slightly thicker than the 64GB and 128GB parts (3.7mm vs 2.2mm),” MacRumors noted.

Toshiba has yet to offer pricing for the new storage, but it’s good to know that choices exist at all, with Taiwanese company Photofast also offering their own SSD upgrade kit announced at the end of October.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


MacBook Air Bugs Getting You Down? Apple Says Deal With It

MacBook Air internal tech memo
(Image courtesy of BGR)

After being reported both here and many other places online, it appears that Apple is well aware of the bugs currently plaguing new owners of 2010 MacBook Air models. A software fix appears to be on the way — in the meantime, you’ll just have to put up with it.

9to5Mac is reporting that BGR is taking advantage of a new Apple Genius “ninja” this week, following up our earlier report about Cupertino’s internal policy on dead pixels with another aimed at the new 2010 MacBook Air models. As you may have heard, a number of new owners are complaining about display problems with their diminutive new friends, and while Apple has remained silent on the subject, it appears internally they have a policy in place, as seen above.

The internal memo is titled “MacBook Air (Late 2010): Internal display fades dark to light colors after waking from sleep” and provides Apple Store Geniuses with guidance on how to address any customer concerns. The important thing is that Apple has isolated the issue, which “will be fixed in an upcoming software update” — possibly even Mac OS X 10.6.5, which is expected to arrive as early as this week.

For now, you’ll have to deal with the problem since Apple is not issuing fixes or replacements at this time. The issue appears to be at least temporarily addressed by closing the lid on your MacBook Air, waiting 10 seconds and then opening it, which recycles the power to the display.

If you’re affected, give it a try and let us know how it works out for you!

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


MacBook Air Battery Life Drops Two Hours with Adobe Flash in Use

MacBook Air

Is it possible that Apple knew what it was doing when it excluded Adobe Flash from being preinstalled in the latest MacBook Air models? A new report claims that the controversial Flash technology can kill battery life on the slim new laptops by as much as two hours.

AppleInsider is reporting that leaving Adobe Flash off of your new MacBook Air can extend the battery life by as much as two hours. According to Ars Technica, one of the new models can happily surf the web via Safari for a full six hours without Adobe Flash installed — but once the same sites are visited with Flash active, the battery life drops by a full third, to only four hours.

“Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary,” wrote Chris Foreman after conducting the tests for Ars Technica. AppleInsider notes that without Flash installed, websites generally display static ads where the Flash content should be, “erasing the need for constant processing power demanded by the Flash plug-in’s rendering engine.”

The results likely come as no surprise to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who has remained adamant about keeping Adobe Flash technology off of the company’s iOS devices, citing security issues as well as performance and most importantly, battery life.

Apple wasn’t the first to unbundle Adobe Flash from their computers — Microsoft made that move with the launch of Windows Vista in 2007, although AppleInsider notes this “was likely due to the company’s efforts to push its rival Silverlight plug-in.”

As a result, the audience for Flash-based content has dwindled, a particularly disturbing trend for publisher Adobe since Apple is selling far more iOS devices than they are Macs. Currently, the only way to play Flash content on an iOS device is through a third-party app such as Skyfire, which uses its own servers to convert Flash on the fly to HTML5 using Mobile Safari — but that method precludes interactive uses for Flash such as games.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Want a $999 MacBook Air? Be Prepared to Wait

MacBook Air ship times
(Image courtesy of AppleInsider)

Barely a week old, and already Apple’s entry-level 9 11.6-inch MacBook Air ship times are slipping. The reviews have been great and the diminutive laptop is in demand, but can Apple keep up with the sales?

AppleInsider is reporting
that new orders for Apple’s 9 11.6-inch MacBook Air on the company’s website have slipped to “one to three business days,” which seems to indicate that the tiny laptop is in high demand for the first week since its October 20 debut.

Meanwhile, other versions of the new MacBook Air — including the more expensive 128GB version of the 11.6-inch model — show shipping times “within 24 hours.” The base model holds only 64GB of storage — equal to the highest-capacity iPod touch or iPad — but at 9, Apple appears to have hit the “sweet spot” as far as price, quality and form factor.

Only last week, at least one analyst predicted that all four new models of the MacBook Air would sell upwards of 700,000 units this holiday season, which would make up 17 percent of an estimated 4.1 million Macs shipped in the last quarter of this calendar year.

Mingchi Kuo with Concord Securities also predicted that the 9 base model will make up 60 percent of new MacBook Air sales — which would seem to be backed up by the longer ship time on Apple’s own web store.

One thing’s for sure: If you want an 11.6-inch MacBook Air for only 9, buy sooner rather than later — we’re guessing ship times may get even later as the holiday season gets into full swing.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


Will Cloud-Based Services Bolster MacBook Air Storage Space?

Flash-based storage is expensive. The average user’s file collection is expansive. With this being the case, will the MacBook Air, a device that Steve Jobs has called the future of notebooks, be able to stand up to the hype Apple’s built around it? In a word, maybe. Much of the refreshed line of diminutive notebook’s success, as well as the success any other SSD-based hardware, may teeter upon whether or not Apple has an ace up their sleeve.

According to the thoughtful folks over at All Things Digital, the Cupertino-based company may be planning to tackle the issues surrounding the current high cost of Solid State Drive technology with the enormous 500,000 square foot data center they’ve been building in North Carolina. That amount of property represents one heck of a lot of storage space. Were Apple to make the data center’s storage space available to consumers through services similar to MobileMe or, perish the thought, set up a cloud-based streaming service for media-hungry iTunes users, the trouble of having limited hardware-bound storage would become moot.

With the runaway success of cloud-based storage services, such as Dropbox, it’s a pretty good bet that Apple is taking a long hard look at what All Things Digital is suggesting.


Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.







iFixit Tears Apart the 11-inch MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is thin, sleek and sexy, and we’re not just talking about its chassis. Inside, there’s a ton of metal and wires that make of the beefy innards of this relatively small notebook. iFixit did a tear down of the MacBook Air 11″ model, and dissected each and every component contained inside the system. Here’s a quick summary of what they discovered.

The large battery that fuels the Air is 35 watt-hours, which is relatively smaller than its predecessor, but since there isn’t a spinning hard drive and the display is smaller this shouldn’t present too much of a problem for battery life.

The 64GB flash storage board can be disconnected from the logic board, though this doesn’t mean that it’ll be easy for you to perform your own fixings–after all, you’ll still have to purchase this completely custom part from Apple HQ. Inside, there are six main chips: four 16GB flash chips and an SSD controller manufactured by Toshiba, and a Micron DDR DRAM cache. The small form factor of the flash storage helps give the air the super-slim profile that so many have already fallen in love with.

As for the WiFi and Bluetooth chips, not much has changed. The onboard fan has definitely gotten smaller, and the MagSafe, USB port and sound card are all a part of one smaller board that connects to the logic board.

The logic board itself houses the following: Intel Core 2 Duo 1.4GHz processor (red), NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics (orange), and 2GB of RAM (yellow).

For more on taking apart the MacBook Air, visit iFixit’s teardown website.

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.


Apple Offers Optional MacBook Pro 2.8HGHz Core i7 Update

MacBook Pro speed bump BTO
(Image courtesy of Engadget)

Apple was firing with all chambers on Wednesday, with the majority of the focus on its “Back to the Mac” media event. But the company also found time to unleash a few software updates and even quietly offer a speed bump on its MacBook Pro.

Engadget is reporting that the 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models can now be ordered with a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 processor for an extra 0. That’s a bump from the previous 2.66GHz cap, available for only 0 more.

While an extra 0 for a mere 140MHz speed boost may not sound like such a great deal, Engadget figures that “this is almost certainly the Core i7-640M that Intel owned up to just last month, which can turbo to a lap-scorching 3.4GHz under load.”

Ready to get our your credit card and find out for sure?

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter


First Look: 11.6-inch, 1.4GHz MacBook Air

The new MacBook Air instantly made friends with my 15-inch Core i7 MacBook Pro. Well, until they started to battle. (See the video below.)

We walked out of Apple’s “Back to the Mac” event today with a shiny new MacBook Air on loan from the mad scientists at Cupertino. In fact, I’m writing this on the new 11.6-inch, 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Air right now.

What’s it like? So glad you asked.

For starters, it’s hott. As in gorgeous, not that it heats up your lap. (It really doesn’t.) The president of our company and the chief executive of our parent company happened to stroll by my desk a few minutes after I’d set up the Air, and both these titans of industry stopped dead in their tracks, and then spent the next couple of minutes passing the Air back and forth and marveling over its svelte beauty. Measuring 11.8 inches wide, 7.56 inches deep, and merely 0.68 inches high at its thickest point, it tapers down to a practically-invisible 0.11 inches at the thinnest point, down near the thumbscoop.

The screen measures 11.6 inches diagonally, but it’s a true 16:9 widescreen, a little shorter than the iPad’s 4:3, 9.7-inch diagonal screen when the iPad is in landscape mode. I wish Apple had followed the design precedence set by the current MacBooks, Cinema Displays, and the iPad by surrounding the MacBook Air’s screen with a glossy black bezel instead of the regular aluminum unibody bezel, but Apple most likely opted for a unibody with no extra parts stuck onto it to keep the Air thin and light as possible. The iPad weighs 1.5 pounds (Wi-Fi only; the Wi-Fi + 3G model is 1.6 pounds), and this 11.6-inch Air is only a little heavier, at 2.3 pounds.

The full-size keyboard is a pleasure to type on, although we already miss the backlit keys of the MacBook Pro. Apple positioned the internal stereo speakers directly underneath the Air’s keyboard, with no visible grill or perforation. An Apple rep explained that the sound comes up from below the keyboard through the tiny bits of space around each key. That’s a super-cool idea, although when we blasted some music through iTunes, it sounded a little on the tinny side. Still better than the last MacBook Air, though. The glass Multi-Touch trackpad is a little shorter than on the larger MacBooks — it’s 4.1 inches across by 2.5 inches high, for about 4.7 diagonal inches total. But it’s a breeze to use, with all the one-, two-, three-, and four-finger Multi-Touch gestures working like a dream.

The LED-backlit display is plenty bright, a high-res 1366×768 pixels natively, and visible from a wide angle. Apple put the MagSafe port, one USB 2.0 port, the audio in/out (Apple’s Earphones with Remote and Mic are supported), and the integrated mic on the left side of the Air, and the Mini DisplayPort and a second USB 2.0 port on the right side. Our 11.6-inch Air doesn’t have the SD card slot that’s on the 13.3-inch Air, but other than that the ports are the same. We were able to connect the Air to our new 27-inch Cinema Display, where it ran great in lid-closed mode at a maximum resolution of 2560×1440. But in mirrored-display mode, the 27-inch display could only show 1366×768 pixels, which made things look big and blurry. So stick to extended or lid-closed mode for the best experience.

The 27-inch Cinema Display’s three-headed cable has Mini DisplayPort and USB connectors that go in these ports, and a MagSafe power tip that stretches around to the left side of the Air. But it fits.

There’s no optical drive, so Apple included a tiny USB stick with your software on it in case you need to reinstall any included applications or the Mac OS itself. (Yes, this runs the full Mac OS, not some watered-down version or iOS hybrid.) You can also borrow the optical drive of another nearby Mac — just insert your disc, then launch a Finder window on the Air and select Remote Disc from the sidebar. There’s no Ethernet port, just 802.11n Wi-Fi, but Apple sells an USB Ethernet Adapter for .

And there’s also no hard drive. Apple instead opted for flash memory sticks, the same kind of memory in its iPod line (except the hard-drive-equipped iPod classic), the iPhones, and the iPad. But to save space and weight, they didn’t even use a true SSD, or solid-state drive, which is made up of flash memory but in a traditional hard drive shape. Instead, Apple put the flash chips right on the logic board, saving space in the enclosure for more and bigger batteries. Apple claims this 11.6-inch Air will get 5 hours of productivity and a whopping 30 days of standby time. We can’t wait to test that spec out, but so far so good…

The flash memory also provides an incredibly speedy experience. The Air comes to life virtually instantly when you press the Power button or open the case. And even with its 2GB of RAM and 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo, this Air launches all of Apple’s packed-in applications in, well, in a flash. We did a side-by-side app-launching test to compare launch times for Mail, Safari, iChat, Address Book, iCal, iTunes, Preview, and the iLife 11 applications on the Air and on my brand-new work machine, a 2.66GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro with 4GB of RAM. With that kind of processor speed and double the RAM, you’d think the Pro would smoke the Air, huh? Not so. Thanks to the flash memory, the Air’s applications launched almost instantly, while the Pro’s apps are stored on a regular hard drive with spinning platters, and took longer to launch. Check out the video below:

We’ll have a full review of the MacBook Air in an upcoming issue of Mac|Life, as well as here on, of course. But even after having it for just a few hours, we can say with confidence that it’s more compelling than the original (and more expensive) MacBook Air released in 2008, and quite a fun little machine to use.

We still don’t know if users can upgrade the RAM (Apple will let you upgrade to 4GB of RAM at the time of purchase for a fairly reasonable 0) or the memory (this 11.6-inch model comes in 64GB and 128GB flavors) after buying the Air. It doesn’t seem likely — there are no seams or doors to access the insides; it’s all sealed up like an iPad. But we’re still checking with Apple to be sure, and will update this when we hear back. Anything else you’d like to know about the new MacBook Air? Let us know in the comments.