iPhone 6 release date: will Apple embrace Samsung’s Galaxy S5 plastic?

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The iPhone 6 release date marks a turning point in Apple’s smartphone lineup, forced by its own hand thanks to the introduction of the plastic based iPhone 5C alongside last year’s flagship iPhone 5S phone. For the first time, instead of merely sliding the previous model on down to a lower price point, Apple killed off the iPhone 5 and added a new mid-range model aimed at a younger audience – and for the first time Apple also attempted to tap into the plastics used mostly by rival Samsung on the Galaxy S5 and its other smartphones. The results have been a mixed bag. Now Apple must decide whether to continue the plastics experiment with an iPhone 6C alongside the new flagship iPhone 6, and it needs to decide fast, as the iPhone 6 release date countdown clock is ticking and fast.

Apple’s lesson for the iPhone 6 release date is that while the iPhone 5C sold fairly poorly, the more expensive iPhone 5S has set sales records – in fact it’s still the number one selling smartphone in the world according to Counterpoint, despite being about nine months old, outselling newer competing phones released just a couple months ago.

Is that because people are being lured into Apple Stores by the promise of the inexpensive 5C, only to upsell themselves to the 5S? Or are iPhone sales at an all time high in spite of the unappealing 5C? That’s the riddle Apple must solve when it comes to the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6C.

The iPhone 6 release date will deliver an all new design and styling for the first time in four years, as Apple’s last four smartphone generations all physically resembled each other, save for different color metals and ever thinner and taller bodies.

The path of least resistance for the iPhone 6 era is to slide the 5S to the mid range price point and the 5C to the free with contract realm, and call it day. The premise in which the 5C causes customers to talk themselves into the pricier iPhone 6 or 5S would then remain in play.

But if Apple is more serious about reaching low-budget customers, it could ditch the 5x models entirely and use the iPhone 6 release date to also introduce a more stripped down and colorful iPhone 6C model. The catch: the 5C colors didn’t appeal to anyone over the age of twenty-five, and the sales patterns suggest that even youthful buyers mostly leaned toward the 5S. So if Apple is to try again with a 6C, the colors will need to be toned down from their current neon “United Colors of Benetton” theme.

Assuming Apple ditches the long running black-white-silver-gold motif for the iPhone 6 in favor of something different, the 6C could in turn adopt those by now played-out color schemes. But some of them may be difficult to pull off in plastic – Samsung’s attempts at greyscale Galaxy S5 models reveal that plastic doesn’t work in all colors. In any case, we won’t have to wait long to find out what Apple has up its sleeve.

As for the iPhone 6 release date itself, Apple’s last three new iPhone generations have each arrived in September or October. Apple could bump that up to August if manufacturing and materials allow for it, but the continued strong sales of the 5S mean Apple isn’t in as much of a hurry as its ever-grumbling naysayers have suggested. That makes September the most obvious target for the iPhone 6 release date.

LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders MLS soccer game tonight TV time schedule

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The LA Galaxy soccer team heads north to take on the Seattle Sounders in an MLS game taking place in the stadium better known for a different kind of football. Tonight’s Major League Soccer game is being held at CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, whose regular season doesn’t begin for another month. The vacancy means the two soccer teams get not only a major venue for playing tonight’s match, but also major TV exposure to go with it – and, these being two west coast teams, a late start time.

The Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders are both hoping to see some spill over from the popularity of the World Cup, in which Team USA performed better than expected and created at least a temporary fervor for soccer in the United States. The first-place Sounders are also hoping CenturyLink is filled with enough people for tonight’s game to give the team the same kind of “12th man” home field advantage that the Seahawks regularly enjoy when they play there. Meanwhile the Galaxy is simply trying to make the playoffs, currently eleven points behind Seattle in the Western Conference standings. Whether MLS soccer can pick up where the World Cup left off, and become as mainstream popular as America’s other pro team sports, is an ongoing question, for which tonight’s high profile match may provide some answers.

Tonight’s LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders MLS soccer game has a start time schedule of 10pm eastern time, 7pm local pacific time, and airs on television on TV channel ESPN 2.

Michael Beasley losing spot to James Ennis on Miami Heat roster?

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Michael Beasley is still awaiting a contract offer from the Miami Heat, and he may not get one if James Ennis keeps playing the way he has in summer camp. Beasley signed with the Heat last season after a series of personal issues with his previous two teams. He was able to stick to the straight and narrow in Miami, but rarely saw meaningful playing time before vanishing in the postseason. The Heat might be inclined to offer him another veteran minimum contract despite an already clogged frontcourt roster. That is, at least, until Ennis emerged on the scene.

The Miami Heat originally drafted Michael Beasley with the second overall pick in 2008, but he failed to develop and was shipped out for a second round pick when the roster was overhauled with the addition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, putting the team in win-now mode. With little salary cap room available last summer, Miami took a flyer on a washed up Beasley in the hopes of a career resurrection on the cheap. That never quite happened, and now he’s a free agent.

Miami drafted James Ennis last summer in the second round, but failed to secure him to a contract and he ended up playing overseas. He returned to the fold this year by playing in the Heat summer camp, where he has shined to the point that not only is he a lock for the Miami Heat roster, he’s also likely clawed his way into the rotation.

That means Ennis will be sharing frontcourt time with Bosh, holdovers Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem, and newcomers Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts, and Danny Granger. That makes Ennis the seventh man in the frontcourt (or the sixth if Granger plays primarily at shooting guard), and leaves almost no chance of Michael Beasley getting playing time barring injury.

Combine the rise of James Ennis with the fact that the team hasn’t offered Michael Beasley a contract yet, and it’s possible both sides have already read the tea leaves accordingly: the rise of Ennis means there’s not necessarily any room for Beasley on the Miami Heat roster – and even if he does make the roster, he’d likely be at the bottom of it.

Miami Heat roster 2014-2015 season: deeper, younger – and LeBronless

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The new Miami Heat roster for the 2014-2015 season is younger, deeper, and more talented at several positions – which would make the Heat a far better team this upcoming season if not for the fact that the roster is also LeBronless. The departure of LeBron James sent shockwaves through Miami and had the potential to send the remaining roster, nearly all of whom were free agents, fleeing. But instead most of the remaining core has remained intact, with a few key upgrades. From Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on down to the Birdman and the new free agents, here’s a detailed look at the Miami Heat roster.

Dwyane Wade: He’s older, slower, and more injury prone, but D-Wade is far from done. He started seventy percent of the regular season games last season and still averaged eighteen points per game in the playoffs, a far cry from the “He sat out all year and still couldn’t do anything in the postseason” storyline portrayed by the national media. With LeBron gone, Wade becomes one of the primary scoring options for the team. And with the backcourt offense built around him again instead of defaulting to passes to James, the Heat gets to find out if he still has his shot.

Chris Bosh: He’s now the centerpiece of the Miami Heat frontcourt roster. Unless Bosh is still asked to defend centers on a nightly basis, he should be able to go back to being the scoring machine he once was in Toronto. Chris Bosh never made sense on this roster as long as LeBron was on it, but now is talents fit perfectly. Bosh will have perhaps the best offensive year of his career – but will it be enough?

Luol Deng: On the one hand Deng is a clear downgrade from LeBron James, whom he’ll be replacing in the four-spot in the starting lineup. On the other hand, he’s the most talented free agent that the Miami Heat have added to their roster in the past three years.

Josh McRoberts: The newly signed free agent likely starts at center, splitting minutes with the Birdman.

Chris Birdman Andersen: He re-signed with the Heat for roughly the same five million dollars per year that McRoberts is getting, meaning Miami sees the two as equally important. Regardless of who starts on any given night, the minutes will likely be split evenly between them.

Mario Chalmers: Heat fans won’t want to hear this, but he’s the best option on the roster for starting point guard when the season begins. Whether he keeps the job all season is a different matter entirely.

Shabazz Napier: The rookie first round draft pick could be the starting point guard by the time the season ends, but his struggles in summer camp mean he’ll likely begin the season as the third point guard on the roster.

Norris Cole: He’s one of the few pieces of trade bait the Heat have on their roster between now and December, when players like Chalmers can be traded. But Cole comes cheap (two million per year) and has plenty of long term upside.

Danny Granger: He’s too old and injury prone to be a starter, but his multi-position talents mean he could see bench minutes behind both Wade and Deng.

Ray Allen: Unlikely to remain in the Miami Heat roster, as the team has already renounced his Bird rights. He’ll either end up in Cleveland or in retirement.

Udonis Haslem: Hometown hero has re-signed with the Miami Heat, but his minutes on any given night will remain uncertain.

Shane Battier: Retired, signed with ESPN as an analyst.

James Jones: Signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James Ennis, Justin Hamilton: Both have looked sharp in summer camp and will earn at least an invite to preseason camp, with both likely making the bottom of the Miami Heat roster for the regular season.

Greg Oden, Michael Beasley: Both are still free agents. The Heat can only offer them the veteran minimum. May come down to how much interest and dollars other teams offer.

MacBook Air & Pro ship times slip to 1-3 days; release date imminent?

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Are the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro as close as the online Apple Store is now subtly hinting? The release date of Apple’s new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 2014 models will be preceded by at least a blip in the inventory and availability of the current models, and at first blush it appears there’s no sign of evidence pointing in that direction. But dig a little deeper by configuring a MacBook with anything other than the standard hardware options, for intense bumping it up from 256GB of solid state storage to 512GB, and suddenly the shipping date slips to one to three days instead of the usual twenty-four hours. So what does it mean?

Apple goes to great lengths to ensure that it has as little inventory on hand as possible, both because it doesn’t want to have to waste resources on storing excess product, and because it doesn’t want to get stuck with stockpiles of suddenly outdated product once it decides to flip the switch on a new model. That sometimes causes the availability of various Mac models to slip in Apple’s online store. occasionally it’s a mere blip which corrects itself within days as new inventory arrives. But with the new Broadwell processor coming from Intel within weeks or months, this shift in ship times is enough to raise the question of whether it means that the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air release date is imminent.

Intel has stated that Broadwell will be ready by the end of 2014 for sure, but that no promises can be made regarding earlier arrival. Working in favor of an imminent release date for the new MacBook Air & Pro is the fact that Apple tends to get first dibs on new Intel chips. Working against it is the fact that Apple just revved the MacBook Air a few months ago with minor speed bumps. Was this a sign that Apple initially plans to put the Broadwell only in the MacBook Pro, or was Apple hedging its bets due to the fact that the Broadwell release date was unknown at the time?

The best way to determine whether the 1-3 day ship times are a sign of inventory-draw down, or just a sign that too many people ordered that particular model in too short of a time, is to keep watching the Apple Store to see which direction it goes in over the next week or two.

LeBron James chooses 23 jersey number for his Cleveland villain cape

Lebron James in his previous stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James continues to be celebrated as a hero across America thanks to his decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s back with his old franchise, working with his old team owner, and now he says he’ll even go back to wearing his old number 23 jersey. That all sounds great, in a vacuum. But step back and look at the big picture of LeBron’s return to Cleveland, and a very different pattern appears. One of regression. One in which, with each passing day, the best and most important player in the NBA is descending into something closer to villainy, while sports fans are too busy praising him to notice.

“My ultimate goal is to win championships,” LeBron James said during his tenure with the Miami Heat. He had just quit a lousy job with a terrible boss and mostly inept co-workers in Cleveland, and taken a far better job in Miami with a great boss and talented co-workers. It’s a move that almost any employee in America would take, without having to think about it for very long. He even took less money than he could have commanded, instead opting to spread the money around the rest of the roster, just to help ensure that his goal of championships was more attainable. And for that, he was inexplicably transformed by the media into one of the biggest villains in all of sports. He didn’t help himself with that foolish “Decision” romp on television. But there was just no way that anyone outside of Ohio could have rightly seen his move to Miami as anything other than a smart and necessary job change. Instead, LeBron was burned in effigy across the sports landscape for daring to want a better job than the one he had.

No one seems to have noticed that LeBron’s stated goal of winning championships, which he accomplished in spades with two NBA Finals rings in four years, has now been all but completely abandoned. The Heat made the finals four straight times, and would have for a fifth and sixth straight time if he had stuck around. Cleveland is now a playoff team simply because he’s on it, just as almost any team in the league would be, but the Cavs are essentially a well stocked expansion team with LeBron on it. By the time the other pieces of the roster may be ready to contend, he’ll likely be past his prime. In other words, LeBron James more or less just changed his mind and decided he no longer cares about winning. Apologists may argue that he was simply that homesick. But that’s not the only manner in which he is suddenly regressing.

LeBron James was the first and most vocal NBA player to stand up against the anti-labor, anti-player, anti-minority stances of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. In fact it’s easy to draw a straight line between LeBron’s public stand and the league’s subsequent decision to ban Sterling for life. No one is accusing Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert of being a racist, but as with Sterling, he’s been one of the most blatantly anti-labor owners in the league. So within a period of three months LeBron has gone from insisting the league deal with its worst owners, to suddenly deciding to go play for one of them. Again, the apologists will point to the fact that returning the Cleveland Cavs meant dealing with its crappy owner. But again, there’s more regression at work here.

Various reports strongly suggest that LeBron made his decision to return to Cleveland before this past season even ended. If so, that means he went into an offseason meeting with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and convinced them to opt out of their lucrative contracts under the false presence that he was returning. It also means he pushed the Miami Heat into drafting his “favorite player” in college, Shabazz Napier in the first round under the false premise that he was staying. Was LeBron so embarrassed by his decision to leave that he couldn’t bring himself to tell his boss or his coworkers about it? Or is it possible that he was purposely trying to wreak havoc on the Heat’s free agency and draft plans, in the hopes of making it harder for Miami to compete against his Cavs next season? And yet none of these issues were raised by anyone in the sports media outside of Miami, presumably because it didn’t fit with their narrative of LeBron-as-hero-again. But the most clear cut sign of LeBron’s regression may be a symbolic one instead.

Early in his career, LeBron James wore the jersey number 23 in honor of his basketball hero, Michael Jordan. But right around the time LeBron decided he wanted a good job instead of a bad one, and he wanted to win championships instead wasting his career working for lousy boss where he couldn’t succeed, he also made the remarkable leap in maturity of changing his jersey number out of respect for Jordan. He even went so far as to state that no one else in the league should ever wear 23 again, for the same reason. This week? LeBron just changed his jersey number back to 23, which he had said no other player should do.

Giving up on winning, going back to Cleveland, playing for Dan Gilbert, these are all head scratching moves which don’t at all fit with the maturity that LeBron James had put on display over the past four years – but they’re at least all explainable if he really did miss home that much. However, changing his jersey number to 23 is a completely needless symbolic gesture which suggests that LeBron’s recent moves aren’t about wanting to go home; they’re about wanting to cast off every bit of maturity that he had gained while he was in Miami.

If LeBron has suddenly and willfully lost that much of himself as a person, it’s enough to make one wonder if he’s now going to lose something of himself as an athlete as well. Or has he simply become so dominant on the court that he no longer feels he needs to adhere to anything as silly as maturity or staying true to his words? In any case, LeBron donning the 23 jersey number again is the point at which American sports fans should realize something is amiss here, and that this may not be the feel-good story that the media has painted. In fact, that 23 jersey feels an awful lot like he’s finally donning that villain cape that he he’s long been burdened with but never did deserve. Then again, in an age in which the most popular television shows and movies are centered around irredeemable protagonist villains who get away with whatever they want, perhaps America does recognize that LeBron is shifting into villain mode, and they look forward to rooting for him again for just that reason.

Galaxy S6 and Samsung Z release date vital after Galaxy S5 mini-flop

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The release date for the Galaxy S6 and the Samsung Z smartphones just became a whole lot more important to Samsung after it was revealed that its current headlining phone, the Galaxy S5, is something of a flop out of the gate. Released in early April of 2014, the first full month on the market for the Galaxy S5 was the month of May. And new data reveals that during that month, the Galaxy S5 was outsold by Apple’s nearly-year-old iPhone 5S. The Galaxy S5 still handily outsold competitors like the HTC M8, but by Samsung standards, the new Galaxy phone is a flop, or perhaps something of a mini-flop. If Samsung wants to continue growing at a rapid pace, it’ll need a home run from either the Galaxy S6 or the more mysterious Z phone.

Part of the problem with the Galaxy S5 is that it’s largely just more of the same: it has newer tech specs and a slightly larger screen, but offers the same old cheap-feeling plastic body which feels inferior to most of its name brand Android competitors. Samsung has largely relied on a heavy push from store salesmen, but even that can be a tough sell when it keeps releasing new products that look and feel almost exactly like the old ones. That puts Samsung in the position of needing to completely overhaul its flagship smartphone when it launches the Galaxy S6, giving even the most pedestrian of consumers a clear indication that it’s an entirely new phone from the ground up. At the same time, Samsung’s foray into non-Android phones is a wildcard which may help broaden sales or may simply tarnish the brand.

Samsung has spent considerable time touting its new Z phone, which runs an operating system called Tizen instead of Android. The pros to Tizen: it’s controlled entirely by Samsung itself, meaning full compatibility with software updates, and greater integration between hardware and software. The cons to Tizen: it’ll initially have virtually no apps beyond the ones Samsung writes itself, and those accustomed to the Android interface may find it foreign.

Bets have been split as to whether the Samsung Z and Tizen are intended to be a viable product, or merely an attempt at leverage over Google when it comes to control over the Android platform. The fact that Samsung keeps delaying the supposed release date of the Z phone could mean that it’s not a real product, or it could simply mean that Samsung is having a more difficult time producing an operating system than it thought it would. That in turn puts more pressure back onto the Galaxy S6.

The catch there: with the Galaxy S5 having been released just a few months ago, the calendar says the Galaxy S6 release date shouldn’t come until the first half of 2015 at the earliest. There’s nothing to say Samsung can’t move it up to the fall of this year instead. But in the short term, Samsung appears to be stuck trying to incrementally boost disappointing Galaxy S5 sales by releasing niche variants such as the S5 Mini and Active.

NASCAR race winner, results, standings Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 Indy

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NASCAR race at Indy Car track for Brickyard 400 sees the points leader lap the field in the standings: the Sprint Cup NASCAR racing circuit shook things up by heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400 race, which saw its drivers attempting to make the adjustment to lower banked corners, a longer track, and less flexible passing lanes. That made the pole position more important than usual, but in the end that didn’t matter. The race is officially named the John Wayne Walding 400 this time around, in honor of the American war hero of the same name. In the end, the results saw the best get better in the standings.

The Brickyard 400 race came as the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings are as tight as ever, but they opened up a bit today as racing veteran Jeff Gordon won the Brickyard 400 and added to his narrow lead in the standings. Kevin Harvick had won the pole position, but Gordon outpaced him. The victory gives Gordon a wider lead over Dale Earnhardt Jr and the other drivers still chasing him. John Wayne Walding fought in the Battle of Shok Valley in the Afghanistan War, and won the Crown Royal contest to have the 2014 Indy NASCAR race named after him.

With the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the books, the next race on the NASCAR schedule is the GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono on August 3rd.

Who plays Mad Max in new 2015 Fury Road movie? You’ll never guess…

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The first trailer for the new movie Mad Max: Fury Road has surfaced, even though the film itself doesn’t arrive until 2015. It’s full of desert carnage and chases between beaten down vehicles, as expected – but it looks more modern than the originals, or should we say more post-modern. And unlike the new Star Trek films, there won’t be a sixty-ish year old Mel Gibson running around portraying Mad Max as in the original three films. Instead there’s a new, younger actor in the role, and you’ll never guess who…

Here’s a hint: the new Mad Max actor once played Jean-Luc Picard in a Star Trek movie. Sort of. No, it’s not Patrick Stewart, either, though that would be an oddly fascinating thing to watch. Many movie fans were first introduced to Tom Hardy when he played Picard’s clone in Star Trek Nemesis, after which the actor sort of disappeared from what should have been a promising career. But he’s made a major resurgence of late, most notably as the villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. This time he’s graduating from larger-than-life villain to larger-than-life anti-hero, as he portrays the title character in Mad Max: Fury Road. So who else is in the 2015 film?

Charlize Theron is set to portray Imperator Furiosa, while Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is playing a character named Splendid. Zoe Kravitz, daughter of Lenny Kravitz, is playing someone named Toast. Based on that alone (the actors and the names of their characters), we can’t wait to see how the new Mad Max: Fury Road turns out. It’s being made by George Miller, the creator of the original three films, so that means it should be pretty faithful to the original concept. But we suspect this film will either work, or it won’t, based on how well Tom Hardy can pull off the role.

LPGA Tour leaderboard International Crown 2014 winner results schedule

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On the final day of the 2014 International Crown, the LPGA Tour Leaderboard turned out to be anything but what was expected heading into the nation vs nation event. The United States and Korea, which combine to dominate LPGA golf throughout the season, were expected to do the same in the first annual Crown, and end up facing each other in the finals. Sure enough, they were seeded number one and number two respectively heading into the event. But the results after three days have been a shocker.

Spain found oreads atop the LPGA leaderboard in the end, winning the International Crown 2014, with Sweden coming in second place. The results were a far cry from the expected final matchup between the USA and Korea.

One day after losing both its opening matches against bottom seeded Taiwan, the top seeded United States team switched pairings and found itself with vastly different results. Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson teamed up to defeat Spain in the second round by a score of three with two holes remaining, while the team of Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer defeated the other half of the Spain team by a score of two. That added up to four points total, meaning that the USA is was one point behind Thailand on the LPGA leaderboard heading into Day 3. But after splitting its matches again in the third round, the United States was bounced out of the International Crown entirely as Thailand and Spain advanced out of Pool A instead. South Korea managed to escape into Day 4 by the skin of its teeth, edging in via the fifth place wildcard.

With the LPGA Tour International Crown 2014 now finished, the next stop on the schedule is the LPGA Classic starting August 7th in Grand Rapids, Michigan.