Those looking for a powerful laptop alternative need look no further than this year's iPad Pros. Outfitted with Apple's M1 chipset, they're the most powerful tablets the company has ever made. Now you can get an 11-inch iPad Pro for less at Amazon thanks to a $100 discount that's dropped the prices of most available models. The base 128GB version is sold out right now, but the 256GB WiFi model is down to $800, which is a record low. The sale also includes the 512GB, 1TB and 2TB iPad Pros, which are on sale for $1,000, $1,400 and $1,799, respectively.
These iPad Pros don't look very different from their predecessors because Apple focused most of the updates on the internals. Inside is the company's M1 processor, which makes the tablets run similarly to the MacBook Air M1 — which is to say, remarkably fast and smooth. When we reviewed the larger of the two Pros, we were impressed by its ability to play laborious games and piece together 4K video without breaking a sweat. The latest iPad Pros also support 5G connectivity, along with a USB-C port for charging and a new ultra-wide camera that enables Center Stage. When paired with the right accessories, these iPads are the closest things Apple has made to laptop replacements or 2-in-1 machines.
The biggest difference between the 11-inch and the 12.9-inch iPad Pros is in the screen. In addition to being larger, the 12.9-inch's display is a Liquid Retina XDR panel, which will make a difference when doing things like watching videos and editing photos. And that comes with a higher price tag — the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $1,099, but it's been on sale for $999 on Amazon for a few months. You're still getting a lovely display on the 11-inch model, though — it's a 2,388 x 1668 resolution Liquid Retina display with ProMotion and True Tone technology, so don't think you're giving anything up by going with the slightly smaller tablet (and saving some money in the process).
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The popular iOS game Genshin Impact is taking advantage of the iPhone 13 Pro's higher-refresh ProMotion display with a new 120fps mode, 9to5Mac has reported. On top of the higher framerates, developer miHoYo introduced new areas, events, missions, character banners and more.
Apple previously wrote that all iOS developers must release updates to their apps or games to "unlock" the 120Hz mode by adding .plist file key. As with Android devices, use of the mode will drain your battery quicker, but allow for smoother gaming. 2nd-gen or higher iPad Pros don't necessarily need an update to support 120Hz refresh rates, but any game would likely require one anyway.
At the WWDC 2021 Apple Design Awards, Genshin Impact won the best game in the visual category, thanks to graphics and artwork that "push the frontier for mobile gaming," Apple wrote. While the game is also available on Android, PC and Playstation 5, iOS appears to be the first platform to support the higher framerates, according to the Brazilian site Technoblog.
Apple still dominates the world of wearables. Over the last year, research company Canalys noted that smartwatch sales have actually overtaken basic bands and now account for 62 percent of all wearable shipments. And Apple’s versions lays claim to just under a third of all smartwatches sold.
That’s interesting because you need an iOS device to setup and use an Apple Watch, so the company has discounted all the Android phone users that might be interested in an Apple smartwatch. I’ve played with Fitbits, Samsung Galaxy Watches and the occasional Garmin, even, but nothing quite offers the capabilities and premium build-quality of an Apple Watch. (And this comes from someone who was averse to — — the first Apple smartwatch.)
So here we are for round 7. goes on sale this Friday, and there seems to be a lot of interest in the bigger-screened watch, with pre-order screens soon showing early November delivery dates when Apple opened up orders. If you’ve already pre-ordered, well you probably don’t care about reviews! For the rest of us, Reviews Editor Cherlynn Low has put the wearable through its paces for the last week. We’ll take a closer look at her review below.
The Star Trek legend's Blue Origin flight went smoothly.
William Shatner has become the oldest person to fly to space. The 90-year-old Star Trek icon was one of four crew members aboard Blue Origin's NS-18 mission as it flew to an altitude of 66 miles. The sci-fi actor and random Engadget nemesis (there was a whole Twitter beef) edged out 82-year-old aviation pioneer , who set the previous age record just a few months ago.
It's also some good publicity for Blue Origin. Jeff Bezos' private spaceflight outfit is currently grappling with accusations of a toxic work environment, not to mention the fallout of its legal tussle with SpaceX over NASA's Moon mission contract.
According to Cherlynn Low, just a little bit more screen makes a huge difference on a device this small. Though it’s otherwise not a huge upgrade over its predecessor, the Apple Watch Series 7’s bigger screen makes it more user-friendly than ever. It’s a solid choice for anyone new to smartwatches or who's upgrading from a much older device. If you’re a Series 6 owner, however, you could probably wait until the next update. And if you’re looking for substantial sleep tracking, the Apple Watch still won’t be the right wearable for you.
They could potentially take your temperature and even check your posture.
Oh, the other wearable. Wall Street Journal sources claim Apple is exploring multiple ways it can use AirPods as health devices. It might use the buds as hearing aids, but it could also use the motion sensors to correct your posture. A prototype would even include a thermometer to check your core body temperature.
The device will set you back $499, according to the leaked images.
HTC is expected to launch a new VR headset within the week, but some leaked images have spoiled the party. A collection of Vive Flow images made its way online, courtesy of Evleaksover on Twitter, before the launch event. Looking like a lightweight steampunk VR fantasy, the goggles appear to be more for media viewing and light gaming than more substantial (or business-centric) capabilities. The images suggest the Vive Flow will be available for pre-order starting on October 15th, with shipments going out in early November.
The social network is trying to lock down access to sensitive info.
Facebook is ramping up its fight against leakers following the disclosures of whistleblower Frances Haugen. According to a report from The New York Times, Facebook is limiting access to some internal groups that deal with “sensitive” issues like safety and elections. The change, which was made to prevent further leaks, immediately leaked. Which is hilarious.
Bowers & Wilkins has launched a new version of its iconic Zeppelin speaker, and the company says it was reimagined for the streaming age. It describes the new Zeppelin as "smarter and more flexible" than its predecessors, with built-in support for Amazon's Alexa.
B&W plans to give it multi-room capability in early 2022 through a software update. Once that arrives, users will be able to link several Zeppelins together or link a Zeppelin with other B&W speakers in a multi-room environment. A chain of Zeppelin speakers isn’t a cheap endeavor, however. Each new speaker will cost $799.
Print Polaroid-like snapshots from your smartphone.
Fujifilm has revealed a new Instax printer that supports its wider, more Polaroid-like film. The Instax Link Wide Smartphone printer connects to your smartphone and prints out camera roll photos twice as wide as the credit-card-sized images from the original Instax mini Link printer. You can also directly transfer and print images from Fujifilm's X-S10 mirrorless camera.
NBA 2K22 Arcade Edition is one of several games that's bound for in the coming weeks. The follow-up to NBA 2K21, which is also available on Apple's game subscription service, includes a new mode called The Association. You can become the general manager or head coach of an NBA franchise and put together your own team by scouting rookies, making trades and scooping up free agents while managing the budget.
The game features current NBA rosters and modes including quick match, online multiplayer and Blacktop, a 3v3 street basketball option. In MyCAREER mode, you can create your own player with a custom look, position, jersey number and play style. You can run drills on a custom court to practice and level up your player in the MyCOURT mode. NBA 2K22 Arcade Edition will debut on the same date as the NBA's 75th season tips off: October 19th.
Elsewhere, a classic iPhone title is coming to Apple Arcade this Friday. first made waves back in 2011 as a one-button game in which you control a bird that slides down hills and launches into the air. It's one of those simple-in-concept, great-in-execution games that works so well on a mobile device. It'll be a solid addition to Apple Arcade.
Looking further ahead, Apple has announced the sequel to tower defense game Kingdom Rush is on the way to the service too. You'll protect your domain from dragons, human-snaffling plants and other deadly enemies in Kingdom Rush Frontiers TD, which . It's coming to Apple Arcade soon.
Years ago, I wrote this piece about how I really wanted the iPhone to adopt USB-C and retire its Lightning connector. This was just after the advent of the company’s first iPhone Pro models with pro level features, like surgical-grade stainless steel and, er, three cameras. Fast-forward to now, just after the launch of the iPhone 13 series, and I still don’t have my USB-C iPhone. Fortunately, there are engineers that like a challenge.
On his YouTube channel, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology student Ken Pillonel teased an iPhone X with a USB-C port, promising a full video later on how it was done. In an earlier video, he also explained how he reverse-engineered the Lightning connector, pulling out an integrated circuit from a third-party cable and hooking it all up to a USB-C connector. Yes, this is not something most of us should attempt.
It’s certainly possible for Apple to do the same, given the iPad Pro and new mini have USB-C ports. Europe recently proposed USB-C charging as standard for all phones and electronic devices — which may speed up Apple’s adoption.
It said the company ‘willfully breached’ its Play Store developer agreement.
Google has countersued Epic Games over in-app purchases on Fortnite, saying it "willfully breached" its Play Store developer agreement. Epic originally sued Google in August, shortly after it filed a complaint against, and was countersued by, Apple. "Epic has alternatively been unjustly enriched at Google's expense," the company said in its complaint.
In case you forgot, Epic sued Google when it removed Fortnite from its Play Store after a Mega Drop update gave players a way to bypass Play and get discounted items.
Apple will hold a second fall product event on October 18th at 1 PM ET. The invitation for the virtual Unleashed presentation doesn't provide many clues, but we’re expecting to see 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, powered by souped-up M1X processors.
Apple might also introduce third-generation 'basic' AirPods — headphones we thought we’d see at the iPhone just months ago.
Motorola’s Edge, updated for 2021, still makes compromises but in adding a fast 144Hz display, a more consistent fingerprint sensor and better software support, it addresses many of the shortcomings of its predecessor. If you can forgive the middling camera and its missing wireless charging, there’s a lot to like about this phone. For now, the unlocked 256GB model is $600, but it will eventually cost $700. Another strong midrange phone is here.
The company has also upgraded its existing lineup.
Tile is making a tracker that uses both ultra-wideband (UWB) and Bluetooth and will work across both Android and iOS. UWB devices can transmit directional and spatial data to narrow down their location more accurately than over Bluetooth alone.
The Tile Ultra tracker's Point and Locate feature lets you use augmented reality to find the item with turn-by-turn directions and a visual indicator of where the tracker is. Tile's working with Google to refine the feature for Android 12 and UWB-capable phones. It’s set to arrive in early 2022.
Until then, the company has announced the new Tile Pro, as well as revamped versions of Sticker, Slim and Mate trackers. The Pro is the company's most powerful tag to date, with a finding range of 400 feet.
The company plans to start shipping its first hyperbike in late 2022.
E-bike maker VanMoof wants to get riders from A to B more swiftly with its first high-speed model. The VanMoof V is the company’s first hyperbike, which will be able to hit a top speed of 31MPH (50KMH).
VanMoof is pitching this as a car replacement for city life and longer commutes, but as speed limits for e-bikes vary across cities and counties, the e-bike will have matching integrated speed settings. As it develops the VanMoof V, the company plans to work with lawmakers and governments on e-bike rules, including geofencing and speed regulations.
Motorola launched a pair of Edge phones in 2020 that stood out for their “waterfall” displays. But it wasn’t the flagship that we preferred of the two. Instead, we were impressed by the more modest Edge. It wasn’t perfect, but you got a lot of phone for the price. So it’s not surprising to see Motorola seemingly skip the Edge+ this year and focus instead on the more affordable model. But what comes as a pleasant surprise is just how much of an improvement the 2021 Edge is. Most important among the updates is a 144Hz screen, a feature normally reserved for top-tier phones. When you add a better fingerprint sensor, superior cameras, and the promise of longer software support, the 2021 Moto Edge is a phone well worth checking out.
The 2020 Edge was defined by the fact it featured the same 6.7-inch curved “Endless Edge” OLED display as the more expensive Edge+. This year, Motorola has gone with a flat 6.8-inch LCD that makes this new model easier to use. With no rounded edges for your palm to touch, you don’t have to worry about accidentally tapping on an icon or swiping to another part of your home screen.
Besides a more practical design, the panel is faster than the one on last year’s model. It can refresh at up to 144Hz, up from 90Hz on the 2020 Edge. Like phones from Samsung and Apple, the panel defaults to an adaptive mode, which limits the refresh rate to 120Hz. Two additional options lock the display to 144Hz and 60Hz, allowing you to prioritize either performance or battery life. I preferred pushing the panel to 144Hz, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment.
On paper, the 144Hz panel is an impressive spec that sets the new Moto Edge apart from phones in its price range like the OnePlus Nord 2 and even more expensive devices like the iPhone 13 Pro. The tradeoff is that it’s a phone with an LCD screen, so you’re missing out on the advantages OLED displays offer, including deep blacks and better power efficiency.
The Moto Edge’s 144Hz screen also presents some issues I haven’t seen on other devices. With the default adaptive mode enabled, it didn’t always render animations at the same speed. For example, sometimes I would scroll through Instagram and my timeline would breeze by as expected. Other times, it felt like that same action would play out at 60Hz. I suspect this is an issue with the software Motorola wrote to dynamically adjust the refresh rate between 60Hz and 120Hz. We have asked Motorola for comment.
Locking the display to 144Hz helped address this issue, but there were still moments where I witnessed slight hitching. The faster panel does make the Moto Edge feel smooth and responsive, but don’t expect the same seamless experience you can find on more expensive devices like the Galaxy S21 and iPhone 13 Pro.
One other thing I want to note is that the Edge’s 144Hz display does not necessarily make it great for gaming. Unless a developer goes out of its way to update a game for the Moto Edge’s display, as Epic Games did with Fortnite on the OnePlus and Samsung devices, you won’t see a benefit from the faster panel.
Beyond the fast refresh rate, there’s a lot to like about the Moto Edge’s display. It’s vibrant, bright and supports HDR10, but there are a couple of things that may irk some people. Out of the box, the screen is set to a saturated color mode that overbakes sRGB content. You can switch it to a “Natural” color setting to make images and videos look more realistic. I also recommend playing with the color temperature settings since my unit came with the display too warm.
You’ll also either love or hate the Moto Edge’s 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The extra real estate is great for scrolling through Instagram, Twitter and other vertical apps but unwieldy when it comes to video content. I’ve been watching a lot of guides and gameplay videos of Diablo II: Resurrected on YouTube, and it quickly becomes evident that there’s no ideal way to consume 16:9 content on a 19.5:9 display: You either leave the image as is and accept the fact that there’s about a thumb’s worth of wasted space on each end of the screen, or you use YouTube’s pinch-to-zoom functionality to crop into the image. The 19.5:9 aspect ratio may also be too tall for some people to use in one hand.
If you don’t mind that, the Moto Edge is a great media consumption device. That said, you’ll want to use Bluetooth headphones for watching movies or TV. This year’s model only has a single speaker that sounds tinny and unsatisfying. Oh, and there’s no longer a headphone jack here, one of the few steps down from last year’s model.
Motorola has made two other notable changes. First, it replaced the finicky in-display fingerprint sensor found in last year’s model with a capacitive scanner that’s integrated into the new phone’s side-mounted power button. The company also moved the camera cutout to the center of the screen, which makes taking selfies and video calls feel more natural. But it’s the transition to a traditional fingerprint scanner that makes the most impact.
Where I live, masks are still mandatory on public transit as well as in stores and restaurants. Coming from inputting my passcode every time I unlock my iPhone or pay for something, the Moto Edge made doing things like buying a croissant at a coffee shop feel, well, normal. The sensor also works well; It’s fast and accurate and I didn’t have to register the same fingerprint multiple times to get it working efficiently, which was a problem we ran into with last year’s model. If companies learn nothing else from the pandemic, I hope it’s that the humble fingerprint sensor has a place on every phone.
Another highlight of the Moto Edge is battery life. Motorola says you can get up to two days from the phone’s 5,000mAh battery. I found that was possible when I limited the display to 60Hz. On our video rundown battery test, it lasted 19 hours and 45 minutes, which puts it in good company among the phones we’ve tested. Only the Pixel 5a put up a better result, but it’s worth noting it features a more power-efficient OLED display.
Motorola has also managed to improve the camera system on this year’s Edge, but not in the same meaningful way as the display. The 2021 model features three rear sensors: a 108-megapixel primary system with f/1.9 aperture, an ultra wide-angle and a depth sensor.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the primary camera that’s the highlight. It can take stunning shots during the day and Motorola’s HDR mode does a commendable job of preserving detail. In particularly challenging scenes, the camera tends to blow out highlights while brightening shadows to the point of making them look unrealistic. But when it properly exposes a scene, the results can be eye-catching. Colors appear vibrant and life-like, and there’s almost a physical texture to small details. Unfortunately, Motorola didn’t add OIS to the main camera, which means it can sometimes struggle when there isn’t as much light.
The 32-megapixel selfie camera is also great. It takes vibrant shots that are sharp and pop with detail. But again, the issue here is when you try to use the camera in a dark room or at night. Without OIS, I found most selfies I took in those situations ended up blurry.
Lastly, there’s the 119-degree wide-angle camera that still feels mostly like an afterthought. It offers plenty of horizontal and vertical space but is almost unusable when there isn’t plenty of light. I used the camera extensively on a dark and cloudy morning, and most of the shots I took that day looked smeared.
I ended up using the wide-angle camera more for macro photography. Unfortunately, that mode has some useability issues too. Focus hunting is a problem; it often took multiple attempts for the camera to lock onto my subject.
The camera app can be slow to launch and switch between lenses, which is one of the few areas where the Edge’s Snapdragon 778G didn’t have a great showing. My review unit came with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, though you can buy it with up to 8GB of RAM. Besides the issue I noted around the refresh rate, I didn’t run into any other notable performance issues.
A Motorola spokesperson told Engadget the company plans to support the 2021 Edge with two OS upgrades and two years of security updates. That’s a significant change from its predecessor, which only got one Android update.
When you add that to all the hardware updates the 2021 Edge features, it’s a far more compelling phone than its predecessor and an easier recommendation. For the time being, you can get the unlocked 256GB model for $600. It will eventually cost $700. On October 14th, Verizon will also start selling a 5G UW variant that will go for $550.
At $600, the Moto Edge is a good option if you don’t mind sacrificing on camera quality and can live without wireless charging. It’s $150 more than a device like the Pixel 5a, but you’re getting a phone with a better display, faster processor and bigger battery. Even at $700, it still represents good value with specs comparable to devices like the OnePlus 9. It’s not without its flaws, but it’s still one of the best mid-range phones on the market.
Apple promised that Siri would reach third-party devices back at WWDC, and now it's clear just what that will look like. Ecobee has started rolling out an update that brings Siri to the SmartThermostat. You'll need a HomePod mini to serve as a hub, but you'll otherwise get to talk to Ecobee's device like you would your iPhone or Apple Watch — helpful if you want to set the temperature without reaching for another device first.
The update should reach all SmartThermostat users within the "next few weeks." The thermostat by itself costs $250, although you'll need to factor in another $99 if you don't have the HomePod.
There's a clear strategy here: Apple is using integrations like this to boost HomePod sales and expand Siri's competition with rival voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. However, this might still be appealing if you're either deeply invested in Apple's ecosystem or prefer its more privacy-oriented take on smart home control.
The humble USB-C port has been in the news because Europe wants to make it a standard for all mobile devices to reduce e-waste — and Apple is the only manufacturer still not using the standard for its smartphones. Now, a robotics engineering student has proved that its possible to replace the iPhone's Lightning connector with a USB-C port, Apple Insider has reported.
On his YouTube channel, EFPL master's student Ken Pillonel teased an iPhone X with a USB-C port, promising a full video later on how it was done. In an earlier blog post and video, he explained how he reverse-engineered the Lightning connector, then built a prototype PCB connector to prove the concept.
Pillonel discovered that Apple sells a Lightning connector to certified partners that build USB-C to Lightning cables. He managed to get one out of a third-party cable, then remove the metallic part and expose the PCB. With that done, he pulled the female Lightning port from an iPhone and soldered wires from the bare C94 board to a PCB with USB-C connectors. "Once that was done I had my first working prototype," he said. "Lightning is gone and only USB-C is left."
The next step was to "fully reverse engineer the C94" board so that everything can be shrunk down to fit into a phone, he said. That part has apparently been done, judging by the video above, and will be fully explained in a second video.
An iPhone with a USB-C port is the dream for many users, as it would allow for faster PD charging and the use of standard, non-proprietary cables. It's also clearly feasible for Apple, given that the iPad Pro has a USB-C port. Europe has proposed a rule that would require USB-C charging for all phones and electronic devices, with the aim of reducing e-waste and consumer inconvenience.
It's not clear if this has been done before, but most folks shouldn't try a project like this at home. Pillonel has an electronics background and is working on a Master's degree in Robotics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). That's without mentioning that it would obviously void your iPhone's warranty.
Are you ready for another Pixel phone? After Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy devices (both folding and, er, static), Google’s homegrown phones are probably the third most interesting family of smartphones.
Maybe it’s because Google has typically leaned into software and processing tricks rather than spec wars, both to offer features not found elsewhere (like its AI phone assistant) and to amp up its camera skills.
Now the company has shown us what the Pixel 6 looks like, and a little of what to expect, but leaks have offered a few more tidbits over the last few days.
One leak suggests a new subscription bundle could appear, which will combine a new Pixel phone — not necessarily the new flagship — with a bunch of Google subscription services including YouTube premium, Google One and Play Pass. This would all roll into a single monthly payment, although the leak doesn’t offer a price.
It means Google could offer an array of services all together, similar to Apple’s One bundle — with the cost of your smartphone lumped in. Let’s wait and see how Google prices it.
The fast-food chain will add an eight-piece order of Impossible Nuggets to the menu at select restaurants in Des Moines, Iowa; Boston, Massachusetts, and Miami, Florida. They’ll be only available for a limited time.
The nuggets themselves are made mostly of soy protein and sunflower oil, but, as the company notes, they won’t be technically vegan, as they’ll be fried in the same oil used to cook non-vegan foods.
Options for grilling, chilling and a whole lot more.
But if you’re less about the plant protein and the king of burgers, we’ve got our 2021 outdoor gear guide, covering BBQs, pizza ovens and even a few meat thermometer options to ensure you’re cooking things just right.
One of the in the gaming world has been confirmed: Rockstar Games is re-releasing Grand Theft Auto III, GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas.
is coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC later this year. The bundle will also land on iOS and Android in the first half of 2022, though we’d suggest getting a Bluetooth controller if the mobile versions are tempting you.
Expect major graphical upgrades — and hopefully some quality-of-life improvements when the updates land. Rockstar plans to remove the original versions of GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas from digital storefronts starting next week.
Smartphones have made it easier than ever to tune your guitar. There are myriad tuning apps or you could even ask Google Assistant to tune your instrument. Now Google has made the process even more painless by launching a chromatic tuner right in Search — no need for an app or voice commands.
A joint factory could help produce more cameras and cars.
Global chip shortages may soon create some unexpected team-ups. According to Nikkei sources, Sony and TSMC are "considering" the joint creation of a semiconductor factory. While TSMC would have majority control, the plant would operate on Sony land near its image sensor factory. The Japanese government would reportedly cover up to half of the $7 billion investment.
A joint plant wouldn't be surprising. Some analysts expect the worldwide chip shortage to last until 2023. It could help Sony, TSMC and the larger Japanese tech industry bounce back from the shortage, not to mention add greater stability — and less worry about China–US tensions threatening production in Taiwan.
It has been a busy couple of weeks at Engadget and we have many reviews to recap. Nathan Ingraham reviewed the newest base iPad as well as the Microsoft Surface Go 3, the latter of which he says lacks the processing power to be more than a secondary machine. Devindra Hardawar reviewed Windows 11, which he called both refined and frustrating, and the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, which he enjoyed but found it to be underpowered for the price. Also, Dana Wollman checked out the Surface Pro 8 two-in-one, which solved some problems but created others with its new, higher price tag.
Dana Wollman was pleased to see that the Surface Pro 8 addressed some of our complaints about the previous version. It has a redesigned, larger display with skinnier bezels, improved resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate, along with 11th-gen Core i5 and i7 processors and a slightly higher-res rear camera. But the detachable keyboard is still sold separately for $180, and the two-in-one starts off more expensive at $1,100. It’s also 15 percent heavier at 1.96 pounds without the keyboard. Dana says that’s lighter than her MacBook Pro, but that doesn’t make it an ideal mobile device.
The built-in kickstand seems to indicate the machine is best used when docked, not held. Dana said the kickstand is premium, albeit a bit awkward to pull out due to the narrow divots. She was underwhelmed by the images from the 10-megapixel rear camera, though it can record in 4K, and she was more impressed by the webcam that proved to be capable even in mixed lighting. The 120Hz refresh rate is a major improvement and she says you won’t want to revert back to 60Hz even if it helps save a bit of battery life. She also appreciated the Slim Pen 2, which has a haptic motor that made it fun to use. However, she admits that the higher price point makes the Surface Pro 8 even more of a niche item.
Nathan Ingraham likes many of the features of the Surface Go 3: it’s well-built, has a lovely and responsive touchscreen, a strong kickstand and is extremely light and portable. However, like the Surface Pro 8, it doesn’t come with a keyboard and you’ll definitely need one as Windows 11 still doesn’t offer up a stellar tablet experience. The bigger issue for him was the underpowered specs and average battery life. The model he reviewed came with a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
That makes for a mostly capable machine for basic tasks, but Nathan experienced occasional music stutters and had to reload tabs during his workday. He noticed lag while working in Adobe Lightroom, and had issues during video calls while jumping into other programs. During his normal work routine, the battery lasted five hours, which detracts from the device’s portability. However, he liked the 10.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 touchscreen and the 3:2 aspect ratio as well as the infinitely adjustable kickstand. While Nathan says he can see the Surface Go 3 working as a secondary machine for travel, it’s hard to recommend as a daily driver because of its performance and battery life issues.
One of the first Windows 11 PCs, the Surface Laptop Studio has a 14.4-inch screen with a speedy 120Hz refresh rate and weighs around four pounds. Devindra Hardawar says while it’s clearly not trying to be an ultraportable, it is ultra-adjustable thanks to the display that tilts it into various angles. The display itself entranced him with its flexible hinge, fantastic Dolby Vision support and refresh rate, though it is surrounded by chunkier bezels. He said the speakers are surprisingly powerful thanks to the two subwoofers on the sides and the tweeters blasting through the keyboard.
While Devindra found the Laptop Studio to be a solid performer for everyday computing tasks — and fast enough to play Overwatch at 90 and 100fps — it has only a quad-core chip, and that makes it hard to recommend when so many similar machines feature more powerful six- or eight-core CPUs. He was also annoyed by the anemic port situation: two USB-C ports, which support ThunderBolt 4, and a proprietary Surface Connect slot, but there’s no longer an SD card slot, which would have been an opportunity to outdo the competition. At least Microsoft included the excellent keyboard from the Book 3 and the new Surface Slim Pen 2. While Devindra genuinely liked using the Surface Laptop Studio, he said he still wanted more power overall.
Devindra Hardawar doesn’t think that Microsoft is trying to fix much with Windows 11. Although the new operating system is more of a coat of paint over Windows 10, he doesn’t feel that’s a problem. Devindra says the more he uses the OS, the easier it is to see how far the small design tweaks have taken the software. The taskbar now has centered icons, the Start menu has a redesigned look with pinned apps, windows have rounded corners and the icons, Explorer and Settings apps look sharp making for a more refined feel overall.
The system requirements are a bit more rigid: compatible Intel, AMD or Qualcomm processor, 4GB RAM, at least 64GB storage and you’ll have to enable Secure Boot and Trust Platform Module 2.0 which make it harder for spyware and malware to attack. This means there are some additional complications if you’ve got older hardware or if you’ve built your own PC. Windows 11 will also be the only way to use Microsoft’s DirectStorage technology, which Devindra says should dramatically speed up load times when it’s available. He says that the combination of a refreshed look, additional security and faster performance is a step forward — just not a momentous one.
The 2021 refreshed iPad isn’t for early adopters like Nathan Ingraham. The updated tablet now includes a 12-megapixel front camera with Center Stage support, double the base amount of storage, the new A13 Bionic chip and iPad OS 15. However, the hardware is largely unchanged from the previous two versions. It has basically the same size and weight and still includes a 10.2-inch, 2,160 x 1,620 touchscreen, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a Lightning port for charging.
That means that this is an iPad meant for those who want a tablet that’s fast, lightweight, easy to carry around and (relatively) cheap. For most standard iPad users — those who use a tablet primarily for things like playing games or browsing the web — the new chipset will provide more than enough power. Nathan didn’t notice any slowdowns while multitasking with several open apps, though he did notice that some apps needed to refresh more frequently during those periods. Also, while the screen was serviceable for watching videos and playing games, it can’t compare to the screens on the other iPads in the lineup. But for $330, as Nathan says, who cares? If your iPad is more than a few years old, you'll find some significant improvements in this one.
Though the first thing you’ll notice about the new Fitbit Charge 5 is the 1.04-inch color AMOLED touchscreen. Valentina Palladino says that the changes made to the wearable — rounded edges and a 10-percent thinner body — made it more comfortable to wear as well. The fitness band also now has some more advanced features like ECG measurements and EDA monitoring for stress levels. The ECG measuring is coming soon and Valentina said that the EDA monitoring wasn’t intuitive and left her frustrated. She had better luck with the built-in GPS, which immediately picked up her location and accurately mapped her running route.
Valentina also liked the alarm and timer apps, which she found helpful throughout the day. However, she was disappointed that Fitbit removed some of the music-focused features, which meant she had to pull out her phone to skip a track or control playback. She was also a bit irked to see that some of the Charge 5’s more advanced metrics, like select sleep and exercise data, were part of Fitbit’s subscription service that costs $10 per month. But she did applaud the battery life and the inclusion of Fitbit Pay with NFC. She says if what you’re looking for is a low-profile wearable with a focus on fitness and a multi-day battery life, then the Charge 5 will fit the bill.
Devindra Hardawar says there was plenty to like about the first-gen Sonos Beam. When it comes to the Beam Gen 2, he says the addition of Dolby Atmos means the device can deliver a wider, more immersive soundscape. With largely the same hardware — a center tweeter, four mid-woofers and three passive radiators — this soundbar relies on more processing power to simulate the Dolby Atmos experience. Devindra says it worked surprisingly well during his testing, but wasn’t a replacement for having actual speakers dedicated to blasting height channels.
He liked that the Beam Gen 2 was still surprisingly compact at 25.6 inches wide and weighing six pounds, and that it has the same Ethernet, HDMI and power ports on the rear. And he appreciated how easy the set up was via Sonos’s app. In testing, the new Beam excelled during action movies: while watching Baby Driver, Devindra said it was a richer experience and even the dialog sounded clearer, too. However, music playback wasn’t as dramatically different and Dolby Atmos support for Amazon Music will come later this year. Sonos also makes it easy to synchronize audio throughout your home and the Alexa integration works well. Devindra says it’s a solid sub-$500 soundbar to take your movie-watching up a notch.
With three oscillators, two envelopes, two LFOs, two filters, an analog overdrive and twelve digital effects, the Uno Synth Pro offers plenty of options for sound design. Terrence O’Brien tested the smaller $400 Desktop model, which features a set of touch keys and an all-plastic body (the synth also comes in a standard $650 Pro model with a 37-key Fatar keybed and a partially metal chassis). He said that the overall construction feels solid enough, the buttons are decent, the knobs offer good resistance and the screen, while small, provides all the information you need.
However, the gray, black and red color scheme made it difficult to quickly spot the controls, especially in darker environments. He also didn’t like the four top knobs that change all the parameters. But Terrence said his biggest issue was with the touch keys and strips — they felt unresponsive and would occasionally fail to detect touches, which was worse in three-voice paraphone mode. The pitch and mod strips behaved similarly. But his frustrations were largely forgotten once the synth started making noise: Terrence said the oscillators have body and grit and the saw wave just rips. Overall, he was impressed enough with the wealth of sound design tools and the quality of the oscillators and filters to call himself a convert.
After using both the second- and third-generation Smart Socks on my twins, I’d grown accustomed to being able to check in on their stats anytime from my phone. When they aged out of their socks, it was an uncomfortable transition — for me. Owlet says I’m not alone: 72 percent of the users they polled indicated they’d like to keep using the device to measure their children’s heart rate and pulse ox levels. In response the company updated its algorithm and made the Smart Sock Plus, which can accommodate children up to five years old or 55 pounds.
Aside from the larger sock and better algorithm, the Smart Sock Plus is much the same as the standard, third-gen device. In testing, the Plus seemed to fit better but I had to employ work-arounds to keep my kids from taking them off. I also noticed fewer alerts about a misaligned sock, which was a welcome update. At $359 the Smart Sock Plus is pretty pricey for new users, but the $69 expansion pack available for existing customers is likely to do well as it extends the life time of the sock considerably.
Kris Naudus is plain: the new Nintendo Switch OLED, while lovely, isn’t a must-have. Though the refreshed handheld system features a brighter, 7-inch OLED screen, a new stand ideal for tabletop mode, an Ethernet port and a new coating which feels good in hand, not much has changed under the hood. The CPU and GPU remain the same, ensuring the future game titles will be compatible with existing Switch and Switch Light devices, and the infamous Joy-Cons haven’t been redesigned (though hopefully the drift issues have been solved).
Kris was impressed by the new stand, which is a Surface-style panel that stretches the length of the entire unit and can be left in any angle you prefer. However, because the USB-C port is still on the bottom which means it can’t be charged while set in tabletop mode. She also liked the slimmer bezels and coating on the frame and said the new buttons look sleeker and feel better. It’s the same height and width as the original Switch, too, so it will fit with all existing accessories. And though the battery is the same, it appears to be more power-efficient thanks to the new OLED screen. Despite that, Kris says unless you’ve given up your original or really need the OLED screen, you’ll be fine sticking with your current system.
Daniel Cooper would tell you that he enjoyed his time with the pricey Carol smart exercise bike, a machine intended to be used in short workouts of eight minutes and 40 seconds. Using the methods employed by Reduced Exertion, High Intensity Interval Training (REHIIT), the bike features exercise videos that you can follow via the 10.1-inch color touchscreen if you subscribe to the company’s service. Because the screen is a Lenovo tablet, you can run third-party apps through it like Peloton’s so you could take classes from there, to. Daniel says the Carol app is clean and colorful: the UI flashes when you hit a high intensity phase and power output visualizations were particularly great.
The bike itself looks like any at-home exercise bike with a large, real-slung flywheel and a drive unit to house the system to electronically control the resistance. The short handles contain heart rate-monitoring electrodes and the height of the handlebars and seat height and distance are all adjustable. After spending time with it, Daniel admits he feels like his fitness and mood both improved, but the $2,400 price tag is especially hard to swallow.