New Apple Event for Mini?; Microsoft Surface RT info; iFixit says Retina MBP not EPEAT Gold

Much to write about today, so let’s get right into it.

Apple’s event on October 23 to introduce Mini?

There are also rumors that the company will introduce a 13-inch MacBook Pro with its highly regraded Retina display, the same one that debuted in June on the 15-inch model.

Apple Oct. 23 event invitation. Source: image from Apple Inc.

Apple today sent out invitations for an Oct. 23 press event that will likely include the launch of the iPad mini.

“We’ve got a little more to show you,” reads the invite, which also features the top of the Apple logo in white atop a multi-colored background.

The event will kick off at 10am Pacific at the California Center in San Jose.

Rumors about an iPad mini have been making the rounds for months – even before the launch of the new iPad. But Apple unveiled its Retina display iPad by itself earlier this year, and its smaller counterpart will apparently get the same treatment next week.

An August report from Digitimes claimed that the iPad’s smaller sibling would land at around 7.85 inches, with a thinner screen frame and bigger display, as well as resolution similar to the iPad 2. Newer reports suggest that the iPad mini will only include Wi-Fi connectivity, and that Apple has ordered 10 million of the new gadgets.

The introduction of the iPhone 5 was like going down a checklist…one of the reasons it might have been viewed as a disappointment was that the leaked reports hit almost every feature right on the nose, even how it looked. Apple is famously known for that “one more thing” surprise announcement that no one saw coming. There wasn’t one with the iPhone 5. It will be interesting to see how close those various reports are to being correct with this event.

More information released on Microsoft Surface RT tablets

It’s like they have spies at Apple! The Microsoft announcement about its Surface RT tablets came hours after Apple’s regarding its probable release of the smaller iPad.

The price is set to be about $100 less than the standard-sized iPad (weird that we might have to start calling it that now)…however, if you add the highly-touted Touch Cover, which is like the iPad’s Smart Cover but with a touch-sensitive (not real keys) keyboard, for $119 it effectively makes the price roughly equal to the iPad. It has a 1/2 inch-larger display screen, which also means it’s a bit heavier than Apple’s device. (There is a real keyboard available for $129.)

The waiting game is over. Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet makes the leap from hardware cipher to hardware reality. Today I can answer many of the questions the world has been asking since June 18, the day when Microsoft first announced Surface RT, the company’s bid to become a full-fledged provocateur of hardware lust in this age of fetishized iPads, Fires and Nexus 7s.

First up, pricing and availability: A “limited quantity” of Surface RT tablets will be available for pre-order Tuesday on Surface.com, starting at 9 a.m. Pacific time. The 32GB version costs $499, and if you want to bundle in the ballyhooed Touch Cover keyboard attachment (which I’ll describe in first-hand detail at the end of this report) you can get the tablet and a black Touch Cover together for $599. The 64GB version of Surface RT sells for $699 with the black Touch Cover included.

For another $119.99, you can purchase a standalone Touch Cover in either black, white, magenta, cyan or red. And if you want an integrated cover with real keyboard keys and key travel—as opposed to the Touch Cover, which relies on pressure sensors, but no physical keys—you can purchase the Type Cover separately for $129.99.

The Touch Cover, just 3mm thick, directly shares data with the Surface tablet, and attaches magnetically with a satisfying click. Image: Microsoft

So that’s the pre-order story. Surface will also be available for direct purchase on Oct. 26 (the same day Windows 8 launches) in all 27 Microsoft Stores strewn throughout the U.S. and Canada, plus 34 North American “pop up” stores that are pushing Surface RT sales for the holidays.

None of the Windows 7 apps will run on Windows 8 machines (at least, until someone figures out a hack for it), just as none of the Windows Phone 7 apps will run on Windows Phone 8.

This is a huge gamble for Microsoft…make no mistake, the stakes are VERY high for the company. if Windows 8 fails, don’t be surprised if the company isn’t eventually broken up into smaller businesses.

ifixit.com upset over 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s “green” high rating

Finally, we have an article by ifixit.com on why the recently-released 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro doesn’t deserve its Gold ranking by environmental group EPEAT:

Apple’s latest unsustainable design was just greenlighted by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool registry (EPEAT). And it’s a clear case of greenwashing.

Apple’s Retina MacBook Pro—the least repairable, least recyclable computer I have encountered in more than a decade of disassembling electronics—was just verified “Gold”, along with four other ultrabooks. This decision demonstrates that the EPEAT standard has been watered down to an alarming degree.

EPEAT is the most popular environmental rating for green electronics. Instead of legislating that manufacturers produce environmentally friendly products, the EPA tackles the problem indirectly. As the world’s largest purchaser of electronics, the federal government requires at least 95% of the products each agency purchases comply with the EPEAT standard. Used by procurement officials in large organizations, EPEAT is designed to encourage manufacturers to create environmentally preferable products.

At best, the interpretation of the EPEAT Gold standard is laughably out of touch: it claims proprietary Pentalobe screwdrivers are ‘commonly available tools’ and a USB thumb drive is an ‘upgrade.’ At worst, it may mean that recyclers a decade from now will be faced with a mountain of electronic waste they cannot affordably recycle without custom disassembly fixtures and secret manufacturer information.

Technology undoubtedly makes our lives better. But the social and environmental price of manufacturing electronics is high. If we’re going to pay that price, it’s critical that products last as long as possible. We need strong green electronics standards that encourage long lasting products; the future of our planet depends on it.

While I’m pretty sure that computing devices we can’t take apart and fix ourselves (those that are brave enough to go ahead with it, anyway) are not what we want to see, it’s equally disturbing that there are companies making close to the same machines, but doing it in a more environmentally friendly way by not requiring an engineering degree to disassemble them.

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4 thoughts on “New Apple Event for Mini?; Microsoft Surface RT info; iFixit says Retina MBP not EPEAT Gold

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