Apple’s M1 Is Exceeding Expectations

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Reviews are starting to pour in of Apple’s MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini featuring the new M1 ARM-based processor — and they’re overwhelmingly positive. “As with the Air, the Pro’s performance exceeds expectations,” writes Nilay Patel via The Verge.

“Apple’s next chapter offers strong performance gains, great battery and starts at $999,” says Brian Heater via TechCrunch.

“When Apple said it would start producing Macs with its own system-on-chip processors, custom CPU and GPU silicon (and a bunch of other stuff) to replace parts from Intel and AMD, we figured it would be good. I never expected it would be this good,” says Jason Cross in his review of the MacBook Air M1.

“The M1 is a serious, serious contender for one of the all-time most efficient and highest-performing architectures we’ve ever seen deploy,” says ExtremeTech’s Joel Hruska.

“Spending a few days with the 2020 Mac mini has shown me that it’s a barnburner of a miniature desktop PC,” writes Chris Welch via The Verge. “It outperforms most Intel Macs in several benchmarks, runs apps reliably, and offers a fantastic day-to-day experience whether you’re using it for web browsing and email or for creative editing and professional work. That potential will only grow when Apple inevitably raises the RAM ceiling and (hopefully) brings back those missing USB ports…”

“Quibbling about massively parallel workloads — which the M1 wasn’t designed for — aside, Apple has clearly broken the ice on high-performance ARM desktop and laptop designs,” writes Jim Salter via Ars Technica. “Yes, you can build an ARM system that competes strongly with x86, even at very high performance levels.”

“The M1-equipped MacBook Air now packs far better performance than its predecessors, rivaling at times the M1-based MacBook Pro. At $999, it’s the best value among macOS laptops,” concludes PCMag.

“For developers, the Apple Silicon Macs also represent the very first full-fledged Arm machines on the market that have few-to-no compromises. This is a massive boost not just for Apple, but for the larger Arm ecosystem and the growing Arm cloud-computing business,” writes Andrei Frumusanu via AnandTech. “Overall, Apple hit it out of the park with the M1.”

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Six Reasons Why Google Maps Is the Creepiest App On Your Phone

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VICE has highlighted six reasons why Google Maps is the creepiest app on your phone. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: 1. Google Maps Wants Your Search History: Google’s “Web & App Activity” settings describe how the company collects data, such as user location, to create a faster and “more personalized” experience. In plain English, this means that every single place you’ve looked up in the app — whether it’s a strip club, a kebab shop or your moped-riding drug dealer’s location — is saved and integrated into Google’s search engine algorithm for a period of 18 months. Google knows you probably find this creepy. That’s why the company uses so-called “dark patterns” — user interfaces crafted to coax us into choosing options we might not otherwise, for example by highlighting an option with certain fonts or brighter colors.

2. Google Maps Limits Its Features If You Don’t Share Your Search History: If you open your Google Maps app, you’ll see a circle in the top right corner that signifies you’re logged in with your Google account. That’s not necessary, and you can simply log out. Of course, the log out button is slightly hidden, but can be found like this: click on the circle > Settings > scroll down > Log out of Google Maps. Unfortunately, Google Maps won’t let you save frequently visited places if you’re not logged into your Google account. If you choose not to log in, when you click on the search bar you get a “Tired of typing?” button, suggesting you sign in, and coaxing you towards more data collection.

3. Google Maps Can Snitch On You: Another problematic feature is the “Google Maps Timeline,” which “shows an estimate of places you may have been and routes you may have taken based on your Location History.” With this feature, you can look at your personal travel routes on Google Maps, including the means of transport you probably used, such as a car or a bike. The obvious downside is that your every move is known to Google, and to anyone with access to your account. And that’s not just hackers — Google may also share data with government agencies such as the police. […] If your “Location History” is on, your phone “saves where you go with your devices, even when you aren’t using a specific Google service,” as is explained in more detail on this page. This feature is useful if you lose your phone, but also turns it into a bonafide tracking device.

4. Google Maps Wants to Know Your Habits: Google Maps often asks users to share a quick public rating. “How was Berlin Burger? Help others know what to expect,” suggests the app after you’ve picked up your dinner. This feels like a casual, lighthearted question and relies on the positive feeling we get when we help others. But all this info is collected in your Google profile, making it easier for someone to figure out if you’re visiting a place briefly and occasionally (like on holiday) or if you live nearby.

5. Google Maps Doesn’t Like It When You’re Offline: Remember GPS navigation? It might have been clunky and slow, but it’s a good reminder that you don’t need to be connected to the internet to be directed. In fact, other apps offer offline navigation. On Google, you can download maps, but offline navigation is only available for cars. It seems fairly unlikely the tech giant can’t figure out how to direct pedestrians and cyclists without internet.

6. Google Makes It Seem Like This Is All for Your Own Good: “Providing useful, meaningful experiences is at the core of what Google does,” the company says on its website, adding that knowing your location is important for this reason. They say they use this data for all kinds of useful things, like “security” and “language settings” — and, of course, selling ads. Google also sells advertisers the possibility to evaluate how well their campaigns reached their target (that’s you!) and how often people visited their physical shops “in an anonymized and aggregated manner”. But only if you opt in (or you forget to opt out).

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Apple Silicon M1 Chip In MacBook Air Outperforms High-End 16-Inch MacBook Pro

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The first benchmark of Apple’s M1 chip shows that the multi-core performance of the new MacBook Air with 8GB RAM beats out all of the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro models, including the 10th-generation high-end 2.4GHz Intel Core i9 model. “That high-end 16-inch MacBook Pro earned a single-core score of 1096 and a multi-core score of 6870,” reports MacRumors. The MacBook Air with M1 chip and 8GB RAM features a single-core score of 1687 and a multi-core score of 7433. From the report: Though the M1 chip is outperforming the 16-inch MacBook Pro models when it comes to raw CPU benchmarks, the 16-inch MacBook Pro likely offers better performance in other areas such as the GPU as those models have high-power discrete GPUs. It’s worth noting that there are likely to be some performance differences between the MacBook Pro and the “MacBook Air” even though they’re using the same M1 chip because the “MacBook Air” has a fanless design and the MacBook Pro has an new Apple-designed cooling system. There’s also a benchmark for the Mac mini, though, and it has about the same scores. The “Mac mini” with M1 chip that was benchmarked earned a single-core score of 1682 and a multi-core score of 7067.

There’s also a benchmark for the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 chip and 16GB RAM that has a single-core score of 1714 and a multi-core score of 6802. Like the “MacBook Air,” it has a 3.2GHz base frequency. A few other “MacBook Air” benchmarks have surfaced too with similar scores, and the full list is available on Geekbench. […] When compared to existing devices, the M1 chip in the “MacBook Air” outperforms all iOS devices. For comparison’s sake, the iPhone 12 Pro earned a single-core score of 1584 and a multi-core score of 3898, while the highest ranked iOS device on Geekbench’s charts, the A14 iPad Air, earned a single-core score of 1585 and a multi-core score of 4647.

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Apple Unveils New M1 Apple Silicon-powered MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and MacBook Pro

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Apple announced three Macs today that are powered by the company’s new M1 chip. They are: MacBook Air: The first Mac that will be powered by the M1 chip is the MacBook Air. According to Apple, the new Air is 3.5x faster with up to 5x graphics performance than the previous generation thanks to the M1 processor. The new MacBook Air doesn’t have a fan, so it’ll be completely quiet at all times. It has up to 18 hours of total battery life when watching videos or 15 hours when browsing the web. You can get it with up to 2TB of storage and 16GB of memory, with the price still starting at $999.

Mac Mini: Additionally, Apple will release an Apple Silicon-powered Mac Mini. It’s the same design Apple used for the DTK, but with the M1 processor. The new Mac Mini starts at $699, a drop in the price of $100, and supports up to a 6K display via USB-C Thunderbolt ports with USB-4 support.

MacBook Pro: Lastly, Apple is updating the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 chip. Again, Apple touted performance gains in the MacBook Pro with 2.8x CPU gains and 5x GPU gains thanks to the M1 in the MacBook Pro. It keeps its cooling system but now gets 17 hours of battery life when browsing the web, or 20 hours when watching video. Apple kept the price of the MacBook Pro at $1,299 starting price.

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Sony Gives Your PS4 a Second Life: Slinging a PS5 To Another Room of Your House

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Sony confirmed today that the existing PS4 will soon let you access your other PlayStation consoles remotely, including the PS5: “We’re updating PS4’s Remote Play feature. Now, in addition to being able to access your PS4 from a PC or a mobile device, your PS4 can access other consoles via Remote Play too, right on your TV. This includes the ability to connect to your PS5 and stream a PS5 game to your PS4 so you can play it there.” The Verge reports: VGC and Eurogamer reported today that a “PS5 Remote Play” app has already popped up on the PS4, offering up to a 1080p stream from your new console to your existing one. Perhaps you’ll hook up your PS4 to the bedroom TV — or the living room if you keep your primary console in the den? You don’t necessarily need a PS4 to stream a PS5 to another room of your house, though, since the PS Remote Play app is getting updated on other platforms as well. The Windows version not only adds PS5 support at 1080p but also HDR. Sony’s PS Remote Play apps for Android and iOS have been updated for the PS5, and we’d be surprised if the Mac version wasn’t ready as well.

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Spaces or Tabs? Microsoft Developers Reveal Their Preferences

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In a new video, Microsoft’s principal cloud advocate and DevOps lead weighed in on that crucial and perennial developer question: which is better, indenting your code with spaces or with tabs?

“This is kind of a loaded question… However, I am very opinionated on this. I happen to be a huge fan of tabs, for a couple of reasons.

Number one, your file size is going to be much smaller, because a tab is just one character. Okay, okay, granted this isn’t a big deal any more, but I’m old as dirt, and I remember when hard drive space was at a premium.

But here’s the real reason: you can customize your indentation width. And this is actually a bigger deal than it sounds like. By using tabs, you now give each individual the ability to see the indentation widths that they want, or even in some cases need. That makes it so much more accessible than spaces, right?
So because of that, for accessibility reasons, use tabs.
Well, I guess that settles that, leaving no need for any further… Wait, there’s more responses from other Microsoft developers on this page, including program manager Craig Lowen. At the end of a video titled WSL2: Code faster on the Windows Subsystem for Linux! he says:
I prefer spaces to tabs, and that’s because tabs don’t actually have a denotation of how wide or short they have to be in indentations. That’s totally done by your IDE, so if you open it up in a different IDE, it might have a different level of indentation. If you use spaces, you’ll always have the same indentation level if you’re using a fixed-width font.

But however, I still use the tab key, and I just make my editor insert spaces for me.

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Are the Best Star Wars Stories Now in Games Like ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’?

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A game critic for the Los Angeles Times remembers his reaction to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. “What a disappointment — if only it had been built for video game consoles.” This leads to this epiphany:
For all the deserved attention “The Mandalorian” series on Disney+ has received, the just-released game “Star Wars: Squadrons” reminds us that some of the best “Star Wars” stories in recent years have been in the video game space…. This is a work, in fact, that doesn’t suffer from an action-focused, little-narrative approach — every second I’ve spent with this game has fulfilled the sort of personal “Star Wars” fantasy that’s enhanced by giving the audience a bit of autonomy. It’s also, for those privileged enough to own a virtual reality headset, the VR experience I’ve had at home that most represents what it’s like to be in a theme park.

Rather than throwing spectacle after spectacle at me, it lets me partake in them, to scratch the itch of being in the center of intergalactic, aerial dogfights. But less than emphasizing awe, “Squadrons” centers on the feel of controlling a ship, making me feel a part of something bigger. Sure, that’s just digital, fictional warfare, but “Squadrons” understands the appeal of “Star Wars” is that it’s open to everyone, and any of us can be ace pilots if given the chance. We don’t admire; we act.

There is nostalgia at play. The game recalls some of the LucasArts spaceflight simulators of yore that I obsessed with in my suburban Chicago basement, but there’s a sense of swiftness and polish that makes this game as appealing as a coin-op arcade machine. And yet it’s also in possession of confidence, a depth that I’ll need to master if I really want to go hard in multiplayer battles. As a solo player without many friends who play multiplayer games — OK, fine, none — I’m not so sure I’ll take the time to learn each individual ship and its advantages or disadvantages. But I’m not sure I need that because “Squadrons” has me smiling throughout, even if I accidentally turn my X-wing into an asteroid. While throwing me into larger-than-life moments — disable a giant, Imperial starship and help lead a capture of it — “Squadrons” succeeds in making them feel livable and conquerable.

In other words, by focusing so intently on the act of spaceflight, I don’t feel like a tourist in the “Star Wars” universe, thrown a litany of “greatest hits” moments. Instead, “Squadron’s” single-focus obsession allows my imagination to run free rather than have to wonder where I am, who I am or what I’m supposed to do now. I can just fly. And shoot. And it feels great.

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PS5 Teardown Video Confirms Faster Wi-Fi and USB Ports Than Xbox Series X

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Sony’s recently-released PS5 teardown video gives us a closer look at the PS5, and confirms that the speed of the console’s Wi-Fi antenna and USB ports are faster than those available in the Xbox Series X. GamesRadar+ reports: As spotted by VG247, the teardown confirms a few new hardware details about PS5. For starters, we know the console’s Wi-Fi antenna supports the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, which allows for a new maximum speed of 9.6 Gbps — more than twice the 3.5 Gbps ceiling for Wi-Fi 5. This doesn’t mean your PS5 will be able to use all of that to send your download speeds through the roof. The practical benefit is that Wi-Fi 6 routers can better distribute all that speed to a bunch of devices at once, and to maintain their performance over time. So if you have a Wi-Fi 6 router and a home full of connected devices, there’s a good chance you will notice the improvement. For reference, the Xbox Series X Wi-Fi antenna supports Wi-Fi 5.

As for the USB ports, we already knew that PS5 has a USB-C port and a USB-A port on the front. The teardown video confirms the type-C port will support 10Gbps transfer speeds, and it confirms that the two USB-A ports on the back will as well. The type-A port on the front isn’t as quick, so if you plan to plug in an external PS5 SSD make sure you use one of the ports on the back. Xbox Series X doesn’t include any type-C ports, and all of its type-A ports run at the standard 5gbps speed. If you know that fast connection speeds will make a big difference to your play experience, you may want to lean toward PS5 — but as always, the biggest deciding factor should be what games you want to play and how well each console plays them. The Verge also notes the PS5 includes removable sides, dust catchers, and storage expansion.

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A New Google Assistant Feature, ‘Hold For Me,’ Waits On Hold So You Don’t Have To

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“In previous years, [Google] launched Call Screen to vet your incoming calls, Duplex for restaurant reservations, and just this month, a feature called Verified Calls that will tell you who is calling and why,” reports TechCrunch. Today, Google introduced a feature called “Hold For Me,” which will make the Google Assistant stay on the line for you when you’re placed on hold, then alert you when someone picks up. From the report: In the short demo of “Hold for Me,” Google showed how a Pixel device owner is able to activate the new feature after they’ve been placed on hold. This is done by tapping a new button that appears on the phone screen above the buttons for muting the call, turning on speakerphone, and the other in-call phone controls. Once activated, you’re alerted with a message that says “Don’t hand up,” where you’re advised that Google Assistant is listening to the call for you, so you can do other things.

A button is also available on this screen that lets you tap to return to the call at any time, and below that an on-screen message says “music playing” to indicate if the Google Assistant is still hearing the hold music. You can also choose to press the red hang up button to end the call from this screen. When a person comes on the line, the device will alert you it’s time to return to the call. Google says the new feature will come to its new Pixel 5 devices, which will soon be followed by its older-generation Pixel phones via the next “Pixel feature drop” roll out.

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Google Announces the Pixel 5 for $699

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Google has officially taken the wraps off of the $699 Pixel 5, its latest Android flagship. From a report: Compared to last year’s Pixel 4, Google is focusing less on dramatic new technology — like the much-hyped Motion Sense gestures on last year’s model — and emphasizing instead the unique features that already help set the Pixel apart, like its stand-out camera software. The Pixel 5 will feature a Snapdragon 765G processor — notably not the top-tier Snapdragon 865 or 865 Plus — complete with Qualcomm’s integrated X52 modem for 5G support (a benefit of the slightly less powerful chipset.) It’s a break from the usual Pixel strategy, which has sought to offer comparable flagship specs to other top Android devices from companies like Samsung or OnePlus — but it also means that Google can offer the new phone at a lower price. Google is calling out a few things that separate out the Pixel 5 from the newly announced Pixel 4A, including IPX8 water-resistance, reverse wireless charging, more RAM, and a stronger Corning Gorilla Glass 6 panel. Notably, it lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack, though, something that its cheaper siblings offer. The display is a 6-inch 2340 x 1080 OLED panel in a 19.5:9 aspect ratio with a 90Hz refresh rate, which features a hole-punch selfie camera. Thanks to the removal of the Motion Sense camera — and the hefty top bezel it required for its radar array — there’s now a full edge-to-edge display this time, with no notch or bezels.

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Google’s Chromecast with Google TV is Its First Real Streaming Contender

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An anonymous reader shares a report: For the better part of the last decade, Google’s Chromecast dongles were the company’s primary homegrown solution for streaming video to your TV. But with the recent explosion in streaming services, even the most sophisticated Chromecast wasn’t really cutting it anymore, which is something the new Chromecast with Google TV is hoping to change in a big way, but bringing an actual streaming device OS to a Chromecast dongle. The big change for this new $50 Chromecast is that it’s not your typical Chromecast at all. Sure, it still plugs in via HDMI and you can still use it to stream videos and content to your TV from your phone. However, instead of being based around the very basic Chromecast interface, this new Chromecast runs on Android TV platform which Google has improved with an enhanced UI and a few new features, which is where the Google TV part of Chromecast with Google TV comes in.

And when you factor in the Chromecast with Google TV’s new dedicated remote these upgrades could completely change how you watch and interact with content. Starting with the hardware, the Chromecast with Google TV consists of two parts: there’s the dongle that plugs into your TV and Google’s included remote. For the Chromecast with Google TV, Google is going with a simple ovular puck that comes in three different colors (Snow, Sunrise, and Sky) and features an attached HDMI cable that plugs into your TV along with a USB-C port and bundled cable that you’ll need to plug in for power. The Chromecast with Google TV comes with support for 4K video at 60 fps with HDR via Dolby Vision, which ticks all the major boxes when it comes to streaming video quality.

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The World’s First Foldable PC Is Now Available To Order From Lenovo

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Last year at its Accelerate 2019 event in Orlando, Lenovo teased “the world’s first foldable PC.” They didn’t unveil the name, price tag, or ship date — just that it would be part of Lenovo’s flagship ThinkPad X1 line and that it would arrive in 2020. Today, the company formally unveiled the device it’s calling the ThinkPad X1 Fold, which is available for preorder now, starting at $2,499. The Verge reports: The idea is that you can use the Fold like a large tablet when it’s fully unfolded (or divide the screen into two adjacent displays). You can prop the Fold up horizontally to use it like a full 13-inch notebook, with an optional detachable keyboard and easel stand. You can fold the thing up 90 degrees, turn it vertically, and use it like a miniature laptop (a touchscreen keyboard pops up on the bottom half). You can turn it horizontally and use it like a book, with an optional stylus. Or you can fold the whole thing up, and easily carry it around without it taking up much space in your bag. In terms of other specs, the production Fold comes with Intel’s Lakefield processors, two USB-C ports and a SIM-card slot, 8GB of RAM, up to 1TB of storage, and a 50Wh battery. It weighs 2.2 pounds and can come with 5G support. Lenovo also announced a bunch of Linux ThinkPads and ThinkStation PCs.

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A Week With the Xbox Series X: Load Times, Game Performance, and More

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The Verge’s Tom Warren spent the past week with an Xbox Series X, playing a variety of games on the preview unit, testing load times, performance, and some of the new Series X features. Here’s an excerpt from each section of his report: Load Times: The most significant and obvious improvement with existing games on the Xbox Series X is the massive changes to load times. I noticed load times drop in pretty much every single game I’ve tested over the past week. Games like Sea of Thieves, Warframe, and Destiny 2 have their load times cut by up to a minute or more on the Series X. In Destiny 2, for example, I can now load into a planet in the game in around 30 seconds, compared to over a minute later on an Xbox One X and nearly two minutes in total on a standard Xbox One. These improved load times are identical to my custom-built PC that includes a fast NVMe SSD, and they genuinely transform how you play the game — you can get more quests and tasks done instead of sitting and looking at a planet loading. […] None of these games have been fully optimized for the Xbox Series X either. This is simply Microsoft’s backward compatibility support in action. I switched back to my Xbox One X regularly throughout the week, and it was painful to witness these old load times that added a minute or more to games.

Game Performance: Not only do games load faster, but in many cases they also feel a lot smoother. Destiny 2 is a great example of a game that was held back by the weaker CPU and slow HDD in the Xbox One X. It’s a title that hit native 4K previously, but the 6 teraflops of GPU performance in the One X was bottlenecked by a laptop-like CPU and an old spinning hard disk. This meant the game was stuck on 30fps. While Bungie has committed to enhancing Destiny 2 for the Xbox Series X and PS5 with 60fps support, it already feels faster without the patch. I would regularly notice frame rate drops in Destiny 2 on the Xbox One X when things got a little hectic on screen during a public event or in a raid with mobs of enemies coming at you. I haven’t seen a single stutter running Destiny 2 on the Xbox Series X. This console has also improved other parts of Destiny 2 that were slow on the Xbox One. Loading into the character menu sometimes takes a few seconds on the Xbox One X, but on the Series X it feels like I’m playing on my PC as it’s near instant. These are minor improvements, but they’re the small things that add up and make a game more enjoyable to play.

Quick Resume: The Xbox One had a fast resume feature to let you swap between games, but it felt like it never really worked properly or games didn’t support it. It couldn’t be more different on the Xbox Series X. Quick Resume utilizes the SSD inside the Series X to let you swap between multiple games freely. It takes around five seconds to resume games where you left off, and I was able to switch between five games easily. I even rebooted the Xbox Series X for an update and all of the games still quickly resumed. Most games I tested worked flawlessly with Quick Resume, but some aren’t supported. Titles like Sea of Thieves, that feature a big multiplayer arena, don’t work with the new feature. It makes sense, though, since these games can’t quickly resume a live and evolving environment that changes every second. “What I will say is that the Xbox Series X felt like I was playing on a familiar Xbox that’s a lot faster and more capable,” writes Warren in closing. “The experience of switching back to an Xbox One was genuinely dispiriting.”

“The true next generation of games is still a mystery, but what I’ve seen from backward-compatible games over the past week is encouraging. I’m hoping that game developers will have a lot fewer bottlenecks with both the Xbox Series X and PS5, enabling them to deliver some game improvements we’re only used to seeing over on the PC side.”

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Gateway is Back, And It’s Selling AMD-Powered Budget Laptops at Walmart

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Gateway, the major PC brand of the 1990s with the iconic cow-spotted logo, is back — well, kind of. Acer now owns the company and has decided to start selling Gateway-branded laptops again, exclusively at Walmart. From a report: As is often the case with Walmart-exclusive laptops, the main attraction is the price. On the most affordable end is the Gateway Ultra Thin series, which starts with a $179 11.6-inch laptop with an AMD A4, and spans up to a $499 15.6-inch model with a Core i5. There’s also a $199 11.6-inch touchscreen 2-in-1 available, powered by an Intel Celeron processor. The names aren’t very interesting, but they do come in a variety of fun colors, including purple, blue, green, and rose gold, as well as black. On the higher end is the Gateway Creators series, two 15.6-inch laptops meant for media editing and gaming. No funky colors on these — they only come in black — but they do seem to have some decent specs. You can choose the $799 rig with a Ryzen 5 4600H and an Nvidia GTX 1650 GPU or a $999 model with a Core i5 and an RTX 2060. That puts them a step above the Ultra Thin series in price, but they’re still fairly inexpensive as creator-focused machines go. I would guess thatâ(TM)s at least partially because they don’t seem to have a lot of storage — only 256GB each.

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Giant Gundam Robot In Japan Makes Its First Moves

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A giant Gundam in Japan’s Port of Yokohama is now able to “pick up its legs to walk, bend its knees, turn its head, and contort its fingers to mime hand signals,” reports Popular Mechanics. The 60-foot robot is the largest in the world. From the report: Inspired by the fictional Japanese robot of the same name — which has appeared in over 50 TV series and movies since 1979, as well as many manga comics and video games — this Gundam features a staggering 24 degrees of freedom. People in Japan have caught and shared a few glimpses of the engineering marvel. Considering the Gundam weighs about 25 tons, it’s pretty insane to watch it raise both arms in the air and pick itself back up after kneeling.

Those efficiencies are thanks to precise engineering and design work, as outlined in a series of YouTube videos from Gundam Factory Yokohama. In one installment, the engineers give a tour of where they designed, built, and assembled the Gundam. The videos are a great way to really contextualize the size of this monster; from the metal fingertip to where the wrist will connect, for example, the hand is about 6.5 feet wide.

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The Fairphone 3+ Is a Repairable Dream That Takes Beautiful Photos

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The Fairphone 3+ is a $550 phone with modular parts that can easily be swapped out by users themselves. “In many ways, a Fairphone is the antithesis of the iPhone,” writes Catie Keck via Gizmodo. “It doesn’t benefit most retailers to allow you to easily repair your own stuff, meaning that a lot of gizmos these days — particularly higher-end electronics — are packed with proprietary parts and sometimes even software locks to dissuade consumers from attempting to perform repairs themselves.” While it is a “repairable dream” and features two big camera upgrades over the Fairphone 3 (which does support the new upgraded camera modules), it’s, sadly, only available overseas. Keck writes: Fairphone 3+ has 64GB of memory but can be upgraded to 400GB with a MicroSD card. It has a Qualcomm 632 processor, a 5.65-inch display, Bluetooth 5, a 3000mAh battery that supports Qualcomm QuickCharge, and six total modules to swap out for easy repair. A thing I didn’t expect to love as much as I did was fingerprint ID on the backside of the phone — particularly as Face ID on my iPhone 11 has become a massive pain in the butt in these mask-on times. At present, Fairphone doesn’t support 4G connectivity in the U.S., my biggest gripe with the phone second only to the fact that the phones only ship within Europe. […] Fairphone runs on Android — the Fairphone 3+ comes with Android 10 pre-installed and ready to go.

As for its camera, I was happy enough with the photograph with the newer lens. Photo nerds may be more sensitive to the trade-offs when compared with, say, the iPhone 11 Pro, but for the average person, I think Fairphone’s cameras would work beautifully. I especially loved the portrait mode on the front camera, which worked in even exceptionally low-light environments for me. Software likely isn’t the primary reason that anyone is looking at getting a Fairphone device, but shipping pre-installed with a lot of familiar apps means making the switch will likely be relatively painless, though so far my iPhone is a bit snappier overall in terms of performance. Again, the tradeoff is a commitment to repairability that you simply won’t get with an Apple device unless the company radically overhauls its entire business model or unless it’s forced, neither of which seems remotely likely for the foreseeable future.

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You Can Microwave This Notebook When It’s Full – Then Reuse It Again

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A new product wants to upgrade the act of taking notes in a spiral-bound notebook — with the resuable “Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook”:

You can write on it using any Pilot Frixion pen, marker, or highlighter, and once you’re done, you can scan the notes, doodles, and drawings into the Rocketbook app to store them in a cloud. Used up all of its pages? No problem. Make sure you’ve scanned all your notes, and then throw your notebook into the microwave. Yes, the microwave. Throwing it into the microwave will erase everything you’ve written from the notebook.

To avoid getting into the science of it, let’s just call it magic.

The notebook’s pages are designed with grids, so it’s perfect for either writing or drawing, and they actually feel like real paper, so you’ll still feel the joy of handwriting. That’s really a thing. Ask anyone who journals. Inside the app, you can use the smart search to quickly find something in your notes, according to date or a search term.

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Oculus Quest 2 Offers a More Powerful Standalone VR Headset For $299

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Facebook has unveiled the Oculus Quest 2, including its release date and price, and it promises to be a big leap over the original. Android Authority reports: The second-generation standalone, Android-powered virtual reality headset will be available on October 13 starting at $299 for a model with 64GB of storage, a full $100 below the price of the first Quest. Pre-orders are open now. The Oculus Quest 2 is much more powerful than its predecessor, with a Snapdragon XR2 chip and 6GB of RAM instead of the aging Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM. That should lead to more advanced games and an overall smoother VR experience, although you’ll need to wait for titles that take full advantage of the added power.

You may notice the improved display technology right away, however. The Quest 2 boasts the company’s sharpest visuals yet, with a single LCD screen providing 1,832 x 1,920 resolution for each eye — 50% more pixels than the 1,400 x 1,600 displays in the first Quest. It’s the highest-resolution Oculus headset to date. The Oculus Quest 2 also supports much more natural-feeling 90Hz refresh rates, although it won’t be available upon release. You’ll have to settle for 72Hz at first. It could also be the most comfortable. The Quest 2 is both smaller and 10% lighter than before, with a soft head strap that should make for an easier fit. The Touch controllers are improved, too, with upgraded haptic feedback, better hand tracking, and a thumb rest. Add-ons will help, for that matter. A Fit Pack will adapt to different-sized heads, while a $49 Elite Strap and a $129 Elite Strap with Battery Pack offer both more comfort and longer VR sessions.

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Apple Introduces Redesigned iPad Air With A14 Chip, All-Screen Design, TouchID and USB-C

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Apple today introduced a redesigned iPad Air that looks more like an iPad Pro, as well as an updated 8th-generation, entry-level iPad. MacRumors reports on the new iPad Air: Apple today introduced a redesigned iPad Air with slimmer bezels, paving the way for an all-screen design similar to recent iPad Pro models. In addition, the new iPad Air is the first Apple device with Touch ID built into the power button. The new iPad Air is powered by the new 5nm-based, six-core A14 Bionic chip for up to 40 percent faster performance and up to 30 percent faster graphics than the previous-generation iPad Air.

The device features a fully laminated 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone, P3 wide color support, and an anti-reflective coating. Following in the footsteps of the iPad Pro, the new iPad Air features a USB-C port instead of a Lightning connector. The device also features the same 12-megapixel rear camera used in the iPad Pro for higher-resolution photos and 4K video recording. The new iPad Air will be available starting in October on Apple.com and the Apple Store app in 30 countries and regions. Wi-Fi models will start at $599, while cellular models will start at $729, with 64GB and 256GB storage capacities available. There will be five colors to choose from, including silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and sky blue. 9to5Mac reports on the 8th-generation iPad: Apple today announced the 8th-generation iPad, featuring an A12 chip compared to the previous-generation’s A10 processor. The design of the new entry-level iPad is largely the same as its predecessor. The jump from A10 to A12 means Apple’s cheapest iPad will feature the Neural Engine for the first time. Apple says the A12 chip offers more than twice the performance of the top selling Windows laptop, 6x faster than the top-selling Android tablet and 6x faster than the best-selling Chromebook. The 8th-generation iPad keeps the same price as the 7th-gen: that’s $329 for general sale and $299 for education.

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The LG Wing’s Twisting Screen Offers a New Spin on the Dual-Screen Smartphone

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LG is no stranger to two-screen smartphones in recent years, but the company has just officially announced its boldest foray into a dual-screen device in recent memory: the LG Wing. It’s a wild-looking, swiveling-display smartphone that looks to — quite literally — offer a new spin on what a phone can do. From a report: The new phone is inspired by LG’s current trends of dual-screen smartphones like the G8X ThinQ and the Velvet, along with the company’s classic swiveling LG VX9400 feature phone released over a decade ago. The Wing is set to be the first device under LG’s new “Explorer Project” branding, aimed at exploring ways to “breathe new life into what makes a smartphone.” Wing’s most interesting feature, of course, is the two OLED panels. The first is a standard 6.8-inch main screen without any bezels or notches (instead, LG has chosen to go with a pop-up lens, since apparently the Wing didn’t have enough moving parts to worry about). But it’s the second 3.9-inch panel that’s underneath the main display that makes the Wing 2020’s most unique-looking phone. Instead of folding out for two full-size (or one flexible) panels side by side, the Wing’s main display twists around and up to reveal the second screen, in a shape that looks a lot like a Tetris T-block.

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