Like most browsers, Apple’s Safari has the option to try out developer version of the browser and it was noted that the latest of Safari’s “Technology Preview” lacked full support for the Adobe Flash plug in.
Apple have infamously being fairly against Adobe Flash, formerly Macromedia Flash, since back in 2010, ten years ago, when Steve Jobs published the “Thoughts on Flash“, which, at the time, was talking more in relation to the use of Flash on touch-based devices such as the, just announced, iPad, and the iPhone OS, in favour of the, also new at the time, HTML5 standard.
It wasn’t too difficult, beneath the usual smoke-and-mirrors, to see where Steve Jobs’ was coming from when it came to the post, Flash was built for a keyboard and mouse interface, something which mobile devices are just not built to support. The post, however, never affected the support for Adobe Flash on Mac OS X, now macOS, until this appearance of the technology being potentially dropped in the next version of Safari.
It’s worth mentioning a few things, however, about this. Safari Technology Preview, version 99, which is the first to stop support for Adobe Flash, cannot gain Flash in any way, whatsoever, so this would literally be a complete drop of support for the plug-in, something we haven’t seen since back in the mid 2000s with the drop of Windows Media support.
This is obviously something which will be affecting Safari primarily, other browser such as Google’s Chrome browser, which have their own embedded plug-ins for technologies such as Flash, will continue to be able to access the format and use it on those browsers. The decision as to whether drop the support on those browsers will lie with those developers, but with this big step by Apple, added to the continued problems Adobe Flash has allowed, it won’t be surprising to see everyone else beginning to follow.
What’s your impressions of the complete drop of Adobe Flash, for us it’s good riddance.
Whilst the rollout may have begun last year in the UK, 5G in the UK sure has a long way to go, however one of the biggest hurdles in getting the UK’s 5G coverage across the Country is based on who’s technology is going to allow this.
Of course it isn’t just 5G that’s having this same criticism, the rollout of higher speed Fibre networks, such as the Openreach FTTP network, also has been using technology provided by, you know who, Huawei. Whilst there’s alternative companies that provide the technology such as Nokia, the fact is that Huawei offer the best pricing for the same level of technology.
The UK Government is now under pressure from the US to ban the use of Huawei by UK Carrier Networks in their rollout of 5G, however the networks of Vodafone and EE are defending the decision to use Huawei.
Whilst the lead of EE, BT’s chief Marc Allera, and Vodafone’s Nick Read, have both provided a letter dismissing the ban, stating that Huawei’s technology is essential to the 5G rollout in the UK, the question certainly comes upon whether Huawei should be used at all.
The problem is, the Networks have a point, in that Huawei is the best option, from a business stand point, to use for the 5G rollout, however, their has to be the question of, almost, doing the right thing. As we mentioned earlier, their are alternative companies the Carriers could work with.
So, should Huawei be involved in the UK’s 5G Network? No. There’s no excuse other than financial gain to continue to use Huawei in the rollout. Huawei is already used in the UK’s 4G Network, and there’s undeniable evidence of the Chinese government using Huawei to spy. Whilst we are completely up for the rollout of the 5G network in the UK, especially as it’s slowly entering places remotely close to our doorsteps, it’s impossible to support the use of Huawei on these networks.
What do you think, do you agree with the appeal the Carriers are doing towards the Government, whilst it’s still expected the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will likely support the US pressure (UK typically does), so alternatives could have to be used, but we will see.
Whilst we had a big selection of coverage of CES 2019 last year, it’s not gone unnoticed that our coverage of CES 2020 is more or less inexistent, well, they’re just straight up isn’t any. The reason for this is simple, the direction where CES has gone over the last few years.
Whilst we cover technology, its clear that CES just is no longer the place to get the coverage that we are looking. for. In terms of Smartphone announcements, we have a mini, semi-pointless variant of Samsung’s S10 and Note, and that’s more or less about it. The event has focused on the advancements in TV technology, which is incredible, but there’s nothing really which has come out of it for the every day consumer.
One thing that has happened, more or less over the last 12 months especially, but was very noticeable at CES is the advancement in technology from AMD, especially comparatively versus Intel, which is getting insane to see. This is a direction that we’ve not normally gone down, in terms of technology that we cover, but this may be something we start to cover over 2020, as we have been fascinated to see the rise in AMD in the CPU space, we’d just like to see that in the GPU space. We may do a post on AMD with Lisa Su over the next few days.
Long story short, we’ve not covered CES this year for the same reason a lot of people haven’t, the focus has gone. But, we will be back covering technology really soon.
When Apple announced the Mac Pro, one thing that they said was it would be released “Fall 2019”, and in terms of cutting it short, Apple sure did that. releasing it literally at the end of Fall. What Apple have released though is a very controversially priced machine. However, whilst, sure, you can spec out a Mac Pro to the eye-watering stats of £43,000, the fact of the matter is, nobody will, and it’s not meant to be, and that’s the biggest point to make.
In terms of what Apple have delivered, and they have, what you have is one of the most ergonomic PC towers you can buy. One of the most surprising factors of the Mac Pro, is the fact that in terms of cooling, you pretty much only have 3 main fans at the front, but somehow you can run more or less everything on max and not even hear the thing doing anything, which is a massive testament to how Apple have controlled the air flow of this thing.
Where’s the Threadripper option…
As is typical with a Mac Pro, Apple have not opted for consumer grade chips, but gone with Intel’s Xeon line of CPUs, for which you can go all the way up to a 28-Core Processor, for which is of course overkill for what anyone would ever need to use, and that’s the main point in relation to price really, but there’s definitely an elephant in the room… where’s the AMD options.
Over the last couple of years, AMD has just being on a consistent run of incredible performance gains, and even before AMD announce their next generation Zen-based Ryzen CPUs, you can already get better performance out of AMD’s already existing 3rd gen Threadripper processors than what you can get on the Mac Pro’s highest option, and if you were looking at AMD’s Epyc Processor, it’s not even funny! This isn’t a fault of the Mac Pro, this is Intel, Intel have just been completely slacking, though it does beg the question why Apple wouldn’t allow AMD processors, considering the fact that Apple work heavily with AMD with their Metal framework for GPUs, but frustratingly Apple are sticking with Intel, but for the moment that’s not a major problem as these are still overkill CPUs.
But it’s £40odd thousand!!
You can make it £50,000 if you add the newly added 8TB option for SSD and software, but the fact of the matter is, even progressions should NOT buy these configs. These are the halo possibilities that the Mac Pro offers, the fact of the matter is, the realistic purchase is one far less than this, which gets built on as the machine goes forward. In fact the configuration most would be going for, would be more in line of being £10,000 – £18,000 rather than that amount.
One thing that is rather hilarious about the criticism of the price of the Mac Pro, is that it’s ironically a lot cheaper than workstation towers from Dell, HP, Lenovo etc … no really, go on their websites and try making comparable comparisons, and you’ll end up with a much uglier plastic shell as well.
There’s a few things to keep in mind, however, before you get configuring;
Apple’s SSD + T2 – Whilst Apple charge quite the hefty amount for their SSDs, and it’s still a joke that this starts with 256GB of it, one thing to keep in mind, whilst the Mac Pro can be configured with additional Storage, and Apple’s SSD is removable, it is configured to a Motherboard level with the SSD using Apple’s T2 Security Chip, meaning this simply will not boot if you use a replacement SSD (not supplied by Apple), so it’s recommended that you do consider this when configuring. Thankfully, Apple’s pricing aren’t too unreasonable for the performance speeds.
Do not buy Apple RAM – The opposite of the above point is true about the RAM options in the Mac Pro. The base model starts with 32GB of RAM, which, for many, is plenty, for the Pros it is certainly not, but do not pay Apple’s RAM pricing. You can buy the exact RAM Apple use, or comparable, and use that with the Mac Pro. This alone can save you literally THOUSANDS on the price, for no reason.
Just how good is the AMD Vega II? Expectedly overkill
Whilst AMD is now focused on Navi with their RDNA architecture in their GPUs, much has been questioned upon the performance of the AMD Vega II, though the question of the performance naturally enters the area that was never intended with the Mac Pro, gaming.
The important point to keep in mind, is that the AMD Vega II, alongside the Afterburner Card, is built for productivity, it’s built for outputting high grade Video, Imagery and Audio, as well as so much more, so asking whether it’s decent for Gaming, is a bit wrong. If you wish to Game on the Mac Pro, you’d probably be better just simply purchasing a Radeon RX 5700 XT and putting that in one of the PCI slots, rather than one of these, for the price.
For those wondering, however, performance of a single Vega II in Gaming, what they were not built for, perform better than an Nvidia RTX 2080, and a Duo, will be around a 2080Ti, or if you really spent out and bought the 4 GPU option, with the 2X Vega II Duo, you will then have what Apple and AMD can brand, the worlds most powerful GPU, but for a near £10,000 premium over the abysmal RX580 default, it should be.
Workstation variants of the 5700 XT coming soon
One thing that will allow a great saving when it comes to GPU performance on the Mac Pro, will be the finally introduction of Navi options for the Mac Pro. AMD’s 5700 series of GPUs have been very popular as a best bang for buck 1440p Gaming Card versus Nvidia’s 2060 and 2070 series of GPUs, but the variant Apple will be offering soon for the Mac Pro, will be one built for productivity, the W5700X with 16GB of GDRR6 or the option to buy 2 of them. Performance is not likely to be as good as the Vega II, likely due to not using the more expensive HMB2 memory, as well as having half the GB of VRAM too, but will be a massively lower amount for those who need it.
The wheels … just don’t.
The Mac Pro has some stupid configuration options, we’ve mentioned not touching Apple’s RAM prices, but when it comes to paying ~£400 for a pair of wheels is just stupid. Whilst it will make it easier to move, for sure, just lift the thing up, seriously.
Summary of the Mac Pro
The Mac Pro is Apple’s fastest Mac ever … shocker, right. However, it’s also Apple’s most misunderstood Mac, mostly because the media like to make headlines. Apple, of course like to be renowned as the luxury brand, but with the Mac Pro, it’s sure nice to see Apple finally make a Mac, which you can literally build up from purchase. Even if you bought the 8-Core base model, you could upgrade the CPU down the line, which is quite frankly unheard of in the Mac of recent times.
Of course, this brings up the question, the request, the want, for Apple to build a Mac Pro mini, but we highly doubt Apple will do this. The problem with the Mac Pro, almost, is how it is now so comparable to the iMac Pro, which we personally think is a much better buy for the 80% of people looking for a high end Mac. To be fair, if Apple updated the iMac Pro with Navi graphic options, let’s say replacing the Vega 56 base with the 5700, with an 5700 XT option, then maybe a custom AMD + Apple higher end option, or just AMD releases a 2080Ti style GPU, that iMac Pro would be perfect. But, for now, that’s a dream, but this Mac Pro sure ain’t bad, but you’ll probably need a loan … though, then again, if you do need a loan to get this, it’s probably not for you anyway.
It’s here, Apple’s infamous and very expected all-new MacBook Pro and, we’re not going to lie, it’s a lot better than we were expecting to be honest. Does it have the same divisive keyboard, no, does it still have the ancient Polaris AMD Graphics, no, all these improvements in a 15 inch form factor and price point, this is actually looking fairly decent!
Speaking of the looking like, in terms of design, you’d be hard pressed to tell much difference from the 15 inch it actually replaces, which means the same 4 USB-C ports but outside of that we’re actually fairly praised surrounding the improvements.
16 inch display
Supporting a 3072 x 1920 resolution, the 16 inch display on the new MacBook Pro is literally a slightly increased 15 inch one, with the same PPI to show for it, supporting P3 colour gamut and a very bright 500-nits of brightness.
This all from a form factor the same size as the 15 inch which means the display is far closer to the edge and looks incredible. What won’t look incredible is that Apple have decided to keep the quite-frankly abysmal 720p Webcam on the top.
AMD Navi makes it to a real Mac!
This is a big one! For the longest time, we’re talking nearly 10 years now, the Mac notebook line up has just had very small incremental upgrades to more or less the identical Graphics cards from AMD. We’d blame AMD if they didn’t already have better solutions out there, but they did. Apple did add support for some low power Vega cards if you had the money for it, but finally you can get a Mac and use AMD’s RDNA architecture with their Navi Graphics Cards.
RX 5300M and RX 5500M
These are a big step up from the Radeon Pro 555X you had from the previous MacBook Pro, in fact in terms of the 5500M, it’s worth mentioning this is being put in to gaming PCs for high performance 1080p gaming, so that should tell you in itself that these are worlds better. What’s also nice to see is that they’re not as costly as the older Graphics.
The base models 16 inch MacBook Pros come with either the 5300M or 5500M in their lower 4GB GDDR6 variants, but for not that much more you can top out at the 8GB GDDR6 variant of the 5500M which we would recommend you do, especially as it’s only £180 more on the base, or £90 more on the second base model.
These are a great step up, and definitely worth the extra buck.
That keyboard … is actually good again!
Whilst it may seem the last variant of the butterfly keyboards did fix the issues with the keyboards, Apple seem to have very much heard the call and have gone back to scissor keys on the new 16 inch MacBook Pro, a hallelujah we can already here for so many. This has resulted in the machine being slightly thicker and weighty than it could have been, but we expect this is a more than a perfectly fine trade off for practically everyone.
The keyboard isn’t the MacBook Pro keyboard of yore, it still has a reduced travel, but it will definitely be more reliable, you know, like other Computers.
The MacBook Pro 16 inch features the latest-ish Intel processors, latest AMD graphics, keyboard it shouldn’t of taken this long to get, and more, and starts at the same price as the 15 inch, but of course it goes further;
15 inch base model – £2,399
2.6GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i7
AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6
16GB 2666Mhz DDR4 memory
As far as Apple goes, the base spec isn’t actually that bad, as we mentioned earlier though we would tweak the Graphics, but we’re still very impressed with what you get here, this in every category nearly destroys the previous gen.
15 inch high tier – £2,799
2.4Ghz 8-core 9th-generation Intel Core i9
AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6
Whilst this spec does get you the Intel Core i9 and an SSD upgrade, this is really only for those who want to go all out, which is next, but when looking at upgrading the lower tier, it does work out worth it
15 inch maxed out – £5,769
2.4Ghz 8-core 9th-generation Intel Core i9
64GB DDR4 RAM
AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 8GB of GDDR6
Let’s be fair, that SSD is the majority of that price point, but that’s as far as you can chug it and with the added thickness, redesigned cooling, it should be able to deliver it!
Apple’s all new 16 inch MacBook Pro goes on sale in a couple weeks, will you be picking one up?
When Apple announced the original AirPods, which if you can believe it, is way back on the launch of the iPhone 7, which, whilst it was clear they had a ton of engineering surrounding them, the experience of Audio quality and generally the look definitely left most with a lot less to be desired, especially when you consider they sound (if not slightly better) a near-identical fit to Apple’s wired EarPods.
Not to mention the clear number of emissions that you would expect from a pair of Headphones in that price bracket, such as noise cancellation, being absent, the AirPods definitely were a tough sell for most. However, despite all these shortcomings, they are still currently the worlds most popular Bluetooth devices on the market today, reason why is fairly simple, everything else about AirPods is really good, such as reliability, integration with other Apple devices, the battery case and more.
But, you already knew this. The question now comes to how Apple are going to fix the lacking features with these. AirPods 2 may have made a minor improvement to audio and introduced Wireless Charging as an option, but where does that leave the future of AirPods…
In comes AirPods Pro
A slightly wider and larger case, now with Wireless Charging as a default, is what originally greets you with AirPods Pro, though, whilst they do still charge using Lightning, Apple now includes a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box matching the already included cable in the box of Apple’s newest iPhones … so, no, not fully adopting USB-C in this generation, we reckon this is a transitional period and we could see that from the next generation update to the AirPods, likely expect we will have to wait until the iPhone has USB-C for that to happen first.
Of course the inclusion of USB-C at the end of the Charging Port is useful for recent Mac purchases, especially on the Notebook side, as that’s more or less the only Port you have, but also as you can also use more traditional chargers that could come from Android or other devices, perhaps even iPad Pro devices as well. However, if you don’t have a USB-C device, you can of course use your iPhone charger as well with these.
Battery life is nearly the same as AirPods of old, 5 hours of listening in the buds, with a combined of ~24 hours when using the case, though Apple do state this goes down by around half an hour if you use the software level Noise Cancellation, or Transparency mode, more on that later, if both of those are Off, the same 5 hours applies from prior AirPods.
Design – Less stem, but more wider
If there’s one thing we certainly didn’t like about the original AirPods, or perhaps even the EarPods, it’s the one-size-fits-all approach to the way they fit in the ear, as well as the rather over-sized stem, which whilst that may give you that added bit of confidence when it comes to the microphone you will be using for phone calls or Siri, it does make them look like an eye-sore. With AirPods Pro, this is gone, now in favour of, granted, a more wider design, but least now they look a lot more conventional in the ear, but, whilst still maintaining that AirPods look.
Whilst we are still testing the AirPods Pro microphone quality, one thing we will say, is Siri has been very responsive and picked up everything we said, as for calling, we found that people on the other side couldn’t tell if we were using the iPhone microphone or the AirPods microphone, which to be fair, makes them a win for us just there alone.
As a result of the more wider, but far less narrow design of the AirPods Pro, this has resulted in a completely different shape for the Charging case, gone from the pack of Tic-tacs design of yore, now with a more wider design. This design is also a tad thicker, but to be fair both are still very pocketable and compact, and, still offer the same functionality for the AirPods they house, in fact identically if you have the AirPods with Wireless Charging case versus the new AirPods Pro.
As you can see from the picture on the side, the design of the AirPods Pro, being less stem and more wide, as an end result, just means they look far less obtrusive and just like someone who, sure, is wearing Apple earphones, but not someone who is wearing those silly looking AirPods. It is worth mentioning that some people never minded the original AirPods design, if you are one of them, just know you’re a minority in this one, which is why we’re very happy with the far less in your face look of them now.
Thanks to the 3 different size rubber tips you have in the box as well, these are no longer, what Apple defines as, “universal fit”, these are now earphones you can customise the fit for your ears. By default, out of the box, the AirPods Pro come preinstalled with the medium fit tips, which, naturally, for most, these will probably be the ones to use, though we will say that we actually find the larger tips to be far better for both quality, more on that later, and comfort, though then again, another person who tested these found they could only wear them with the smaller tip, but at the end of the day, it’s having that option that makes these a worlds better than the traditional AirPods design.
BIG SIDE-NOTE FROM US: The AirPods Pro sounded like absolute garbage when we first got them and I think it’s fair to say we were looking at all the reviews saying they’re a big step up, sound great, and wondering what people were smoking as ours sounded rubbish. Why was this? Well, comes down to how we were putting these on. Unlike most earphones with tips, the AirPods Pro are shaped oval, not circular, which means instead of what felt tips do, which essentially is mould to your ears, these are shaped in a way where they are designed to be placed in your ears aligned and correctly. This is something you get used to doing, but it is incredibly important to note, as these genuinely sounded like rubbish headphones for a fiver for a moment and we were getting braced to have a much less, let’s say, rosy review.
SIDE NOTE #2: This isn’t really a side-note, but for those wondering, the AirPods of course work with non-Apple devices, and can be paired using the built in button placed on the back of them under the metallic hinge when the AirPods are opened. By tapping the button they will enter a pairing mode, a light will begin to flash, this is when you can pair with them with any other devices by generally selecting Pair.
Whilst Apple didn’t adopt felt tips for the AirPods Pro, these are plastic/rubber texture tips, they more or less, by themselves, increase the quality of audio, just naturally by bouncing the audio around a seal within your ears, this also, as a result gives you a minor level of audio cancellation, which is to be expected, but of course Apple went one step further than this by adopting software level Passive noise cancellation.
Whilst this is nothing breakthrough, it’s probably the only “Pro” feature on these. The AirPods feature mics on the exterior, naturally for phone calls and Siri integration, but also mics on the inside, which together map the Audio outside and attempt to invert that using sound waves to essentially give you a blank sound. This even works whilst not playing anything, and it’s almost creepy to begin with and it does work pretty well in many instances, though it’s certainly not perfect.
One the other side of that, Apple also have a Transparency mode, which again uses the mics, but in a completely different way. This time, the external mics are projected internally to allow you to still hear all what’s happening around you, almost as if you weren’t wearing the AirPods at all. We find this more impressive than the passive noise cancellation as it really does allow you to hear everything externally, and we’ve used it whilst buying things in a shop, though naturally do be aware everyone will still think you’re being rude and thinking they’re not heard as much.
Noise Cancellation = The best feature we don’t use
The problem with the noise cancellation feature of the new AirPods Pro is it’s only good at very specific surroundings. If you have a consistent sound occurring in the background, a perfect example of this was being inside a parked bus, they work amazing, you literally can’t hear anything and it’s just you and the music, BUT, the second there’s loud noise that’s not consistent things begin to break up.
When you’re in a more inconsistent noisy background, we find the Audio quality of the AirPods Pro suffers quite dearly and many parts of the Audio you’re listening to almost get an interference sound, akin to a severe reduce bitrate, an almost watery effect in some highs which can be incredibly distracting when trying to enjoy your music.
Whilst it’s true this may not be a problem for everyone, for us it’s a dealbreaker for the majority of areas we would like the feature to work on, whilst traveling on a bus. We’ve full confidence this will work better on an Aeroplane as the sound in that is more consistent. As a result of this, we tend to have the Setting on majority time to Off, then Transparency when we need to hear the outside world.
When we are at home, however, walking the streets, noise cancellation certainly does it’s job, so it’s definitely situational.
Audio quality = Sure ain’t pro, but it’s decent
Original AirPods sounded the same as Apple’s EarPods, which was pretty much embarrassing, in our opinion, this slightly improved, and we mean slightly, with AirPods 2, but the difference with AirPods Pro is certainly noticeable. Bass is more richer and free, though we will say we think the Trebles are a bit too extreme in many areas and as a result the overall sound isn’t as good as we think the drivers are capable of delivering.
One of our biggest annoyances about Audio quality of the AirPods Pro is Apple’s DREADFUL EQs on iOS. We’ve found that, overall, generally speaking the best choice is the “Hip-Hop” preset, but the fact that Apple don’t just allow granular controls to the equaliser is just incredibly frustrating, as most AirPods Pro competitors do so within their own accommodating Application to make up for iOS sheer lack of it.
Overall though, we don’t think most people will be let down by the Audio quality of the AirPods Pro, but there’s one thing we will say about this; as we mentioned in Design, if you put these on as you would with “normal” earphones, they will sound like garbage, so you do need to put them on correctly, with the tip pointing towards what would be your lips.
The fundamentals = Where these things just shine
Whilst the whole “magic” of AirPods is something which is incredibly easy to mock, there’s something fairly undeniable about AirPods when it comes to the experience, not only out of the box, but just in general.
Software integration with Apple’s main operating systems is of course top of the line, and there’s no hiding that pairing just by opening them for the first time near your phone is nothing less than incredible. This also works if you choose to “Share Audio” with another none paired Apple device, you just watch it happen and it’s crazy.
The reliability history of AirPods is also hard to deny. We’ve experienced enough Bluetooth headphones to know that there’s A LOT of areas where they can just fall short, and whilst we can’t entirely comment on this much with the AirPods Pro, let’s not forget how old these things are, they were literally announced on Tuesday, what we can say is they’ve just done the job.
Battery life, sure there’s competing headphones with better battery life, but they have cases that are simply humongous, these are compact and will easily last you a working week. We’ve not had them for a week, no one has, but we can tell you based on what’s left and we’ve been using these far more than we would normally use them for, it would be an easy bet to suggest they would get you through a 5 day working week.
Tiny things such as music pausing when a single AirPod is removed is nice, especially when it instantly resumes once it’s placed back in. Sure, these are small things, but they’re small things that add up to such a good experience.
Being able to check the battery life of your AirPods via the Apple Watch battery or your iPhone battery, is also incredibly useful, more so that the Apple Watch could do it, we almost wish Apple expanded that so it shows your iPhone battery life on the Watch, but that’s an entirely different conversation.
The Pros, the Cons and Summary
Improved audio quality versus the standard versions with deeper bass
Multiple sized tips so they’ll be one that fits great in your ear
The tip of the AirPods is so much smaller so they look far less silly
The integration between Apple devices is really neat
They instantly pair on and off without even thinking about it
Battery life is stellar and just as advertised
Connection has been far more reliable than a number of other Bluetooth headphones we have tested
Include a USB-C cable to charge using more conventional chargers, though also Apple’s newest Mac and iPad hardware
If noise cancellation is not important for you, the normal AirPods may still be a better buy
Maybe not for all, but there’s certainly a learning curve at putting them on
They’re not as seamless at going back in the case
There’s currently a UI bug on iOS that sometimes twitches between L or R when showing the AirPods battery life by opening the case with them in
For the price, if you’re looking for the best audio quality, these just simply aren’t for you
Whilst they do support Wireless Charging, we find it’s incredibly slow
One good thing about Apple’s AirPods Pro, is that they don’t actually replace the AirPods 2 Apple have been selling very well, and what that means is you now have a choice upon which AirPods you should buy. The AirPods Pro really do take everything most people critiqued about the AirPods and attempts to fix all of them, and they’ve certainly done a very solid almost at every one of them, but it is worth mentioning that for so many people, the normal AirPods will still suffice, and with how poor we find Wireless Charging on these, there’s a clear £90 difference between getting, sure, battery audio quality, but for most, just the noise cancellation, and if that’s not important for you and you just want the AirPods experience we would still recommend the £159 versions.
However, when it comes to us reviewing the AirPods Pro, these are literally the only AirPods we would ever consider. We’re listening to them during this review, and whilst we’re hardly in a noisy environment, they just sound good, nothing out of this world special and groundbreaking, but also not bad and disappointing, just they sound good, and we know for most people that’s what we’re looking for.
The biggest hurdle for the AirPods Pro will of course be the £249 asking price, which could go down slightly as we enter the holiday season, like the AirPods traditionally do, but as with all AirPods you’ve to ask yourself whether the naturally really good unique fundamentals that these things do offer is worth it enough for you to consider them. If you want them, and get them, we doubt you’ll be disappointed, but if you’re an audiophile who listens for every bit and channel, you should naturally step away now.
Update January 2020
Since the release of a number of software updates that Apple has released for the AirPods, we have noticed a number of things. For one, the Noise Cancelation is slightly less-so, which is a bit disappointing, but it appears that this is in response to once of our biggest complaints with the feature, being the weird noises that we were experiencing when using the feature in inconsistent noisy environments, such as travel. So, we can now confirm that we do use Noise Cancelation above the simple “Off” feature, which does still cancel a bit out, but obviously you still get more canceled out. The audio quality of the AirPods Pro, however, is exactly the same as we said from the start, which is to say they’re good, but sure ain’t pro.
For a product as popular as the AirPods, it’s certainly surprising that Apple went for a simple website refresh, but that’s what they did, and here’s what you get out of Apple’s new £250 variant of the AirPod experience.
Available on Wednesday, for, as we mentioned, £250, the AirPods Pro are certainly more expensive than the traditional AirPods, and, even the Wireless Charging version, so the natural question this begs, what do you get for that extra £90 or £50 instead of the old school AirPods?
Slimmer, more traditional design
Supporting rubber tips, having a far less longer trail, the AirPods Pro are certainly an improvement to the design of AirPods of yore, but they still have that striking, yes those are AirPods, look, but of course all of these put together, may explain the reason they’re proclaimed as “pro”, and, what will differentiate them from the traditional AirPods
Sound quality + noise cancellation = The biggest change
Who’d of thought Apple of all companies would be giving you a choice of rubber tip, crazy I know, but of course there’s a reason why so many companies use rubber tips in their headphones such as this, noise cancellation is a given, and, due to the way they fit in your ear, produce much better bass and sound quality in general.
Considering these are both the lacking features of the AirPods line before these were released, these are a pretty big deal, of course we will have to wait and see what the quality is like, as, traditional AirPods are quite frankly embarrassing quality for the price they’re asking for, we’re talking the same as EarPods here, so any improvement on that area is very much appreciated, but let’s not forget these are luxury devices, devices you want to be seen with, that are never the best ones, which is definitely the worst kind of product, but that’s the way it’s always been with AirPods.
Noise cancellation is also passive on the AirPods Pro, meaning that with software, you can temporarily hear your surroundings if you need to, which to be fair is a pretty advanced feature, though, still makes it a stretch to use the “Pro” branding, though this is Apple, remember.
The same Apple H1 + Wireless Charging
What makes AirPods better for iOS, as well as select other devices, is the way they can seamlessly connect without seeing a single Setting, other than that they’re fairly traditional Bluetooth headphones, but one thing we are impressed with, if you consider Apple pricing somewhat reasonable, is that compared to Apple’s older style AirPods with a Wireless Charging case, these are only £50 more for much better quality and sound cancelling.
The AirPods Pro improve in more or less every way versus the traditional AirPods, as well as building in the Wireless Charging functionality, though it is worth mentioning that battery life is ever so slightly worse than the normal AirPods, be it half an hour. Apple rate 4.5 hours of battery life, then naturally 24 hours using the case.
Probably the most disappointing thing about the AirPods Pro, based on the rumours which are never reliable, is that they only come in White, which still means they’re an eyesore, even if Apple offered them in just Black and White, it would be a start.
Other than that, the AirPods Pro are, be it a pricy, a big step forward for AirPods in general, though it will be up to you whether this price is worth it for you.
Google Stadia was announced back at Google’s I/O conference, but now we finally have a release date, this coming November and it’s looking incredible. Above is the exclusive pre-order Foundation Edition controller you can get to play all those Games, don’t worry though PC Gamers, you can still use Keyboard and Mouse if you insist.
The incredible thing about Google Stadia is what it delivers, AAA gaming without a Gaming PC or Console, just an Internet connection and access to a Google Chrome browser, that’s it! Google promises 60fps on not only 720p and 1080p, but also in 4K resolution on selected titles, which for what you’d require to get that, is pretty insane.
Call us the odd ones out, but we actually prefer the White controller, but those are the base controller options for Stadia, though we personally expect they’ll be much more options as the service continues.
To power the service all you need is the following based on these platforms;
Mac, PC, Linux, Chrome OS = Google Chrome browser
Smartphone = Pixel 4 and Pixel 3 range of devices only *at the moment*
TV = Chromecast Ultra
As far as Internet connectivity, Google claim you shouldn’t need any more than you would need to stream Netflix in the same quality, which in itself is pretty incredible.
Whilst Google will show off Stadia with the Stadia controller, which looks and feels almost like an Xbox controller, should you be playing on a PC (whether Windows, macOS or Linux) you can also Game using your Keyboard and Mouse as well, if you choose.
For free you can experience Google Stadia, offered at the max of 1080p at 60fps on all your devices. The only expense comes with which Games you want, which you will have to individually purchase.
PAID AT £8.99 PER MONTH
If you pay for a Stadia Pro Subscription, you too can purchase any Game and play whenever, but you now can play those titles at 4K 60fps as an option, but you will also get per month free titles to play as well.
FOUNDATION EDITION CONTROLLER
For £119, you can get everything you need, a Stadia controller, for a limited time that nice dark looking one will be available, as well as a Chromecast Ultra to play your titles on your TV.
Google Stadia will be available November 14th, this will include US, Canada and the UK. Though, it’s worth noting that this will only include the Pro Subscription. The free Subscription will be available early 2020.
Alongside the Pixel 4 devices and the Pixelbook Go, Google have also announced a team of Nest devices, one of which may look slightly familiar, as Google have now added Nest branding to the former Google Home Mini with some improvements. Google also announced a Router and a Smart Speaker device, which we’ll get to now.
Google Nest Mini
Design and functionality wise, it’s literally the same as the former Google Home Mini, as well as the £49 launch asking price, but, now with Nest branding, the Mini now has some improvements in both Audio and with the microphones, which should help the device from picking up your commands when Audio is being played, and, that audio that is being played, will sound that much more better.
Outside of an improvement to Speaker quality, as well as additional mics, this is basically a Google Home Mini, though expect some consumer confusion when the Nest branding is brought towards them as not many people have even heard of the Nest branding outside of the US.
Google Nest Hub
Another device getting the Nest branding, is the Nest Hub, a Google Assistant powered Speaker with Display. Difference of course with having a regular Assistant device and this, is naturally you can see the results of the searches you have done, as well as watch Videos and more.
The device will set you back £119, which for the category of devices, this certainly isn’t the only device of its kind, that’s actually a fairly decent device. It’s not the most popular way to use the Google Assistant, but for those looking for an official choice, this is Google’s own.
Google Nest WiFi
The final Google branded device to go Nest branding, is the former Google WiFi, now Nest WiFi. These are Google’s mesh Routers which now have built in Google Assistant on the main device.
Price of the device starts at £129, but there’s more to it than that, as that will get you just the base unit, so a single Router, but Google naturally offer, the above, one Router and an extra station, or one Router and three extra stations, the choice you make naturally will depend on the size of the are you wish to boost. For a standard home, there’s no reason to get more than the 2 set up.
The devices are powered by the 802.11s standard, which the S is the standard for mesh Routers to co-operate with, however as a Router themselves we have talk suggesting it will be supporting the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, which would make sense.
Unfortunately, other than the base £129 price, Google are yet to provide pricing for the devices as a whole, but we will update this post the second we can with the full pricing for the 1 to 1 and 3 to 1 options.
As far as pointless products are concerned, the previous, still available, Pixelbook was really up there, however, Google are hoping to correct that slightly with the announcement of the Pixelbook Go. Typically, when Google add Go to a product, it’s the more budget functioned variant of the same device, which, whilst it is sort of the case with this, this is a MadebyGoogle device, so don’t expect much.
Available in a curvy, and rubbery formation, the Pixelbook Go is certainly an interestingly designed device, as are most MadebyGoogle devices, but it’s also a device which still, like it’s more expensive brother, makes little to no sense for the majority.
Thankfully it’s also available in a Black finish, and so not as garish, but the reason question we’ve got to answer of course is, should you actually buy it, and, what’s actually inside of there.
As expected, this is a Chrome OS device, so essentially you’re running the Chrome browser, but let’s not forget you can also use some select Android apps which will work as well, which may be a slight way to defend some of the more expensive options, but let’s have a look at those.
The base configuration of the Pixelbook Go starts with an Intel Core m3, which is useful as those processors are fan-less and so completely silent, but also reveals the price starting point, £629, which, for a Chromebook might be still quite pricy.
But of course, you can configure the device away from it’s Full HD all the way to a 4K Ultra Display, which at 13.3 inch might be a bit pointless expense and either a Core i5 or Core i7, all of which are Intel’s 8th gen dual-core mobile variants. As far as storage is concerned, the 64GB base configuration is, yes, rather stingy, but unlike Windows or macOS, ChromeOS is near all online, so storage isn’t too important. We think the Core i7 £1,329 option is absolutely pointless.
The device doesn’t look too bad to be fair, and it is nice to finally have a halo Chrome OS which doesn’t start at a four figure price point, and has a decent 1080p webcam which will be decent for video calls as well.
The keyboard is backlit, which is nice for the price point, and features Google’s Titen security chip, which we’re not entirely sure how that will help Chrome OS, an OS which is already fairly secure, but it’s nice to have that extra piece of mind we guess.
The device also features a unique rubber bottom, which will not only increase the devices grip and hold on your lap, but also has a unique look.
Google rate 12 hours of battery life, and, being a Chromebook, we’re fairly reliant on that being accurate. Question is, however, is it worth getting a device like this that may look a bit more premium, when you can still get decent (enough) Chromebooks for barely £200.
“Stop us if you’ve seen this before”, was the famous quote by Steve Jobs before announcing the then leaked iPhone 4, however, when it comes to the Pixel 4, it certainly takes that to the next level. Never before, have we being in a situation where the manufacturer themselves is the one mostly responsible for not only leaking, but essentially telling you everything about a device, before it’s very announcement, and maybe it’s that reason why this will go down as one of the worst Google events so far.
Because we obviously know so much about it, it’s very hard to be surprised about anything, or impressed based on its appearance.
I mean, it’s not the worse looking phone on the planet, but it certainly makes an iPhone 11 Pro, a device many made an exaggerated complaint about its appearance, look like the winner of a beauty contest, but that’s obviously subjective opinion. The striking design choice, in our opinion, is the odd decision to have black plastic sides, regardless on which colour option you choose, more on those later, which might be good for grip, but as an end result it just looks cheap.
Whilst the Pixel 4, or 4 XL, won’t feature any kind of notch design, in a way that’s a step back as the screen to body has gone down, and a massively noticeable top is left over. Add to the fact that, once again, Google has chosen to announce this device when its Snapdragon 855 is becoming outdated in just over 3 months, it just doesn’t add up, in our opinion as a great buy.
Speaking of buy, the device is actually, at least in the UK, slightly less than the Pixel 3 it replaces, starting at £669 or £829 for the Pixel 4 XL, of course that is with the measly 64GB of storage, then for an extra £100 you can upgrade it to the maximum 128GB of storage, something we still don’t understand. Google fans can’t even defend that and state you get unlimited original quality photo uploads on Google Photos as Google has (for whatever reason) dropped that, though you will get 3 months free of Google One cloud storage, but again, limited.
The colour choices for the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL include Clearly White, Just Black and an all new Oh So Orange … yeah, that’s the name they’ve given for it. The Orange variant is garish and quite frankly disgusting as far as we’re concerned, but we’re sure someone must like it.
One useful improvement in relation to the Pixel 4 is that the devices now feature a more conventional 6GB of RAM, a feature very in need on last years Pixel 3, although ironically based on the Android operating systems still rather poor RAM management, maybe even that might not be enough in some cases, but time will tell.
Camera wise, Google haven’t changed much to the main 12MP shooter, but they have added a 16MP telephoto Camera to the Rear Camera, although the Camera count is still at three as they’ve also removed the secondary Wide Angle lens from last years Pixel 3 devices … Google just seems to be against Wide Angle lenses. The latter point is a shame, as it’s not hard to work out that it would be far more useful to have a Wide Angle lens than a Telephoto, especially considering it was only last year Google claimed they didn’t need a Telephoto lens as they could do all that with Software, oh the irony.
Of course the bigger story surrounding the Google Pixel is the Android operating system in all its stock glory. The Pixel 4 runs the latest Android 10 operating system, with promise of getting the latest and greatest for years to come, and be first to do so, regardless of Carrier partner, something which has also increased upon the Pixel 4 launch.
Overall, the Pixel 4 is nothing to get too excited about. It’s a high end flagship for about 3 months, which lacks in too many areas to be too impressed. The decision of whether the Android operating system being stock and constantly updated is important enough for you, will decide the decision upon getting a Pixel 4, as unfortunately this is the first year we’re looking at a new Pixel and telling you that, even in the Camera department, it’s no longer number 1.
The Pixel 4 will go on sale soon starting at £669 for the Pixel 4 and £829 for the Pixel 4 XL in Black, White and a limited edition (thankfully) Orange colour.
Whilst we had a slightly lower level of excitement about two of the announcements from Microsoft’s recent Surface Event, for more or less everything else, we’re actually really impressed. Whilst most of what Microsoft announced other than those were generally spec bumps, Microsoft also pulled a few surprises and some very welcome changes to the devices, which in our opinion make them even more appealing!
Surface Pro X
We’ll kick things off with the all-new Surface Pro X. We don’t know why, but it seems ever since Apple announced the iPhone X, when companies decide to essential reinvent a category, you better add an X for … reasons? Unlike Apple though, this is the letter X and not a Roman numeral, but what Microsoft is essentially showing with the Surface Pro X, is where they see the Surface line going on in to the future.
One thing immediately noticeable about the new Surface Pro X is the design. Bezels are massively reduced, and the thinness is incredible, this is also reflected in the new Pen, which is now more flat than fully rounded, but there’s a pretty neat reason for that, which we’ll get to in a second. The display has the same PPI as the Surface Pro but at a 13 inch size, with a resolution of 2880 x 1920 with Microsoft’s usual 3:2 aspect ratio.
The design is pure Black, which has it’s benefits, but most definitely it’s negatives, just ask any earlier Surface owners. It does mean it’s a Fingerprint magnet, and getting those Fingerprints off is going to be a challenge, it’s bad but we almost wish they chose Glass for this reason.
One of the more interesting things about the Surface Pro X is actually what it’s running on, a special Microsoft SQ1 Chip which was designed in partnership with Qualcomm. It’s unclear whether this is one of the chips that Qualcomm showed off at a recent Event, though we do expect some custom touches by Microsoft, which is also the case for the AMD Processors in another Surface we’ll get to soon.
One thing we’re really happy to see with the Surface Pro X is that Microsoft have priced it for £999, which sure it doesn’t make it necessarily cheap, but for what Microsoft have pushed in to this isn’t too bad of a price point, and it puts it right there with a decent spec 12 inch iPad Pro, and do remember Microsoft has 128GB on the base model. Now, it is worth mentioning the Type Cover is not included, will set you back an extra $149 or more if you want the dodgy Alcantara material Microsoft just loves to promo, but then again it’s same with the iPad Pro.
Whilst the Type Cover on the Surface Pro X remains fairly unchanged in terms of the Keyboard, which is a great Keyboard to type on, the Trackpad area is ever-so slightly increased, but as you can see it is now hiding a new feature, a new place to put your Surface Pro Slim Pen! (Yes, it will only fit the flatter Slim Pen)
One thing that’s pretty awesome about the new Surface Pro X Pen is of course that it is Wirelessly charged, and done so via that same Keyboard area, which we think is perfect! Not only does this prevent you from losing it, it prevents you from finding it with little to no power … we say little to as Microsoft’s Pens tend to have pretty good Battery and Standby.
Other than that the device is fairly standard, the performance of the SQ1 Chip is allegedly the same power as the previous Surface Pro devices when running executable applications. Whilst we wish it was a tad more powerful, the Surface Pro 6 is hardly a slow machine, plus it’s worth remembering the advantages of the efficiency you naturally get with ARM, plus it’s always-on LTE (via NANO-SIM) as well as WiFi. It will also be interesting to see how well the SQ1’s variant of Qualcomm’s Adreno 685 Graphics play out in Windows 10.
As we touched on earlier the base model has 128GB SSD, which can be upped to 256GB and 512GB with 8 or 16GB of RAM, naturally you can imagine the 512GB / 16GB RAM is a pricey one.
The Surface Pro X goes on sale in November and will start at £999.
Surface Laptop 3
Design is always personal opinion and it’s impossible for everyone to like the same thing, but we’ve been seeing nothing but agreement with this opinion, but with the new aluminium finish which is available in multiple colours, we’re just gonna say it; the Surface Laptop 3 is the best looking Laptop on the market today! It’s sleek, consistent and just looks clean, especially in the new Matte Black finish, which we’re not going to lie, we are looking at that, then looking at Apple’s MacBook lineup and it doesn’t take us long to close the Tab on the Apple site! Obviously, it’s not running macOS, but on a design level this just makes Apple almost look amateur.
It’s ironic really, as one of the first things we thought of with the Matte Black Surface Laptop 3, shown above, is the Black option for the old plastic MacBook Apple used to sell, how times change eh. Black isn’t the only colour you can get the Surface Laptop 3, in fact you can get it 5 colours with 2 finishes; Sandstone (Gold Metal), Platinum (Silver, Alcantara), Black (Metal shown above), Cobalt Blue (Alcantara) and Platinum (Silver, Metal).
The Surface Laptop 3 features Intel’s all new 10th Generation Processors configurable with a Core i5 up to a Core i7 with RAM ranging from 8GB to 16GB and SSD Storage from 128GB to 512GB. Base model starts at £999, though you can more than double that for top spec at £2,349 model for a 13 inch with a Core i7, 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD.
Full configurations are below;
Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD = £999
Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD = £1469
Core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD = £1,549
Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD = £1,949
Core i7, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD = £2,349
It’s not just colour options for the Surface Laptop 3 though, it’s also, for the first time ever, size options. Whilst the 13 inch has always been the configuration for the Surface Laptop it now has a 15 inch option, which is actually a lot more interesting!
All-new 15 inch Surface Laptop 3 with AMD Ryzen!
Cue the zero people disappointed this is not available with Alcantara, but this is the all-new 15 inch Surface Laptop 3. On paper it’s the same thing made bigger, ports are the same (Single USB-A, USB-C, Surface Connector), Screen is the same with resolution boosted for size, but of course there’s an extra secret lying beneath the 15 inch version of the Surface Laptop 3 and that is the inclusion of a first for the Surface line, AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 Processors, which include the in-built Vega 7 and Vega 11 Graphics.
Surprisingly the price for the 15 inch model isn’t actually that different to the 13 inch, starting at £1199 which gets you an AMD Ryzen 5 3580U, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD. You can configure the Surface Laptop 3 15 inch all the way up to £2,599 which gets you an AMD Ryzen 7 3780U, 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD. It’s really awesome to see AMD CPUs make it to Surface, AMD has been killing it in CPUs versus Intel, though they have yet to prove themselves with Ryzen on a Notebook so this will be interesting, especially as this is Ryzen 5/7 Surface Edition.
Full configurations are below;
Ryzen 5, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD = £1,199
Ryzen 5, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD = £1,469
Ryzen 7, 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD = £1,699
Ryzen 7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD = £2,049
Ryzen 7, 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD = £2,599
Whilst the Surface Laptop 3 isn’t the best bang for the buck, it’s still great to see there’s not much difference between the 15 inch and the 13 inch in terms of price, and the addition of a custom AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 Surface Edition is a great bonus as well with Vega graphics.
Surface Pro 7
Whilst their may not be any magical new variant of the Surface Pro, Microsoft have naturally given the Surface Pro a pretty welcome spec bump as well as some slight design touches which is nice to see. For starters, USB-C is now a Port on the Surface Pro 7, finally, replacing the Mini Display Port, and now the Surface connector, like the Laptop 3, can now Fast Charge.
Other than that the Surface Pro 7 is getting a spec bump, but they’re certainly decent Spec bumps, and the price is fairly competitive, but do keep in mind, one thing we always say about Surface Pro devices, they don’t come with a Type Cover, so you have to consider that addition when you look at them.
Full configurations are below;
Core i3, 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD = £799
Core i5, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD = £899
Core i5, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD = £1,169
Core i5, 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD = £1,399
Core i7, 16GB RAM and 256GB SSD = £1,449
Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD = £1,849
Core i7, 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD = £2,249
For those wondering, a Type Cover, which is necessary for these is a penny shy of £150, so do bare that in mind! Plus, we do not recommend the Core i3 variant, so for that reason the base level would realistically be the i5 with Type Cover which would be £1049, which is a very interesting price point when you consider that makes this more than the Surface Laptop 3, but you do lose that 2-in-1 aspect naturally.
We’ve always had a soft spot for the Surface line and Microsoft have certainly announced some great products, you’re probably wondering why we never covered the Surface Buds, and it’s the same reason we barely covered the AirPods, but the added issue to the the Buds is they look worse, if you want overpriced PowerPoint presentation not noise cancelling earphones, go for it. As for the Surface Pro X Pro 7 and Laptop 3, Microsoft have knocked it out of the park with these and they’re right up there with the best Ultrabooks and 2-in-1 you can get for Windows.
What do you think of the Surface announcements?
Microsoft also announced two devices which won’t be released this year, but, if you’re interested, our coverage on the Surface Neo and Duo you can find right here!