There is no shortage of iPad stands. Search for one on Amazon, for instance, and you’ll be met with page after page of results. Most stands are unremarkable, with little that distinguishes one from another.
Twelve South’s HoverBar Duo is different, though. The black aluminum and plastic stand has two articulating hinges with a clamp for your iPad that connects to the stand’s arm with a ball joint. The stand also rotates side-to-side at its base. The design, which is reminiscent of an attractive, modern desk lamp, provides a broader range of motion than most stands, making it useful in more scenarios. As a result, I’ve found myself using the HoverBar Duo far more than any stand I’ve tried before.
It’s been just over two months since the first M1 Macs were delivered to customers. I purchased an M1 MacBook Air to replace my aging 2016 MacBook Pro, and not long after, Apple sent me an M1 Mac mini to try. In the ten weeks or so since then, I’ve used both almost exclusively for a wide variety of tasks, and although both computers are somewhat limited by their lack of ports, that has been less of an issue than I anticipated. What’s been far more notable, remarkable in fact, is the performance of the new MacBook Air and Mac mini.
Benchmarks don’t do these Macs justice. There are plenty of CPU-intensive tasks that are faster than before, which I expected would be the case. However, living with both of these Macs for as long as I have has given me a much greater appreciation for the impact that the M1 has on ordinary, day-to-day tasks. The differences are less pronounced for individual tasks that require less computing power, but the aggregate impact has still been significant for both computers, especially the MacBook Air.
Performance increases quickly become the ‘new normal.’ They tend to fade into the background. What starts as startling soon becomes ordinary and expected. The M1 Macs are no different in this respect and perhaps even more so because they look like the machines that came before them.
Still, if you step back and consider these new Macs in the context of those that immediately preceded them and account for the fact that these are entry-level models, the future of the Mac is bright. The M1 update makes these Macs substantially better deals than the versions they replace with computing power to spare for most users. The new machines also bode well for the remainder of the Mac lineup that hasn’t been updated yet.
I’m excited to see what the M1 means for the rest of the product line, and I’m sure I’ll be tempted to try them, but I’ve also never been more content with new Macs than these. I’m sure there are things I do that future M1 Macs will do even faster, but the M1 MacBook Air and Mac mini have introduced a fluidity in my daily computing that I haven’t experienced since I first tried the iPad Pro. It’s the sort of subtle, qualitative shift that can’t be captured by benchmarks but has rekindled my fondness for the platform by improving the experience across the board. Here’s what I mean.
My coverage of CES has always been virtual. This year the show itself is virtual too, which left me wondering whether there would be much to cover. Although there are fewer vendors participating than in the past, the event continues to provide a steady stream of news about new products planned for the coming months.
Some of what is announced each year will never see the light of day, and other gadgets will never look as good as they did in the hands of expert marketers. Still, CES always provides a useful snapshot of tech industry hardware trends, a handful of unexpected gems, like last year’s Eve Cam that I reviewed over the summer and Samsung’s T7 external SSD, which ended up powering my Big Sur beta testing, plus a healthy dose of the truly strange.
After pouring over hundreds of headlines and press releases, I’ve compiled a roundup of some of this week’s most intriguing announcements. Feel free to skip around to the categories that you find most interesting using the table of contents below.
In anticipation of Pride month in June, Apple today has announced the release of two new Pride Edition bands for the Apple Watch, and new Pride watch faces that will be available soon as part of the watchOS 6.2.5 release.
It’s become an annual tradition for Apple to debut a new Pride band for Apple Watch and an accompanying watch face, but this is the first time there have been two new options launching. The Pride Edition Sport Band features the traditional rainbow pattern similar to last year’s offering, though that previous band was a Sport Loop, rather than the first-time Sport Band option available this year. The Nike Pride Edition Sport Band follows the unique design style of Nike’s other bands, but with its rainbow colors adorning the white band’s holes. The Nike Pride face arriving in the next watchOS update is unique as well, with colored dots representing the face’s hour markings.
The new Watch bands will be available today from the Apple Store, and watchOS 6.2.5 is anticipated to release some time in the next month leading up to WWDC.
Today following Apple’s debut of the new iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard, and cursor support coming to all iPad models that can run iPadOS 13.4, Logitech has announced a brand new accessory coming in May: the Combo Touch, which brings a keyboard case with trackpad to the iPad (7th generation), iPad Air, and 10.5-inch iPad Pro. From the product listing on Apple’s online store:
Logitech’s Combo Touch for iPad combines a precision trackpad with a full-size backlit keyboard…Enjoy comfortable typing on a full-size keyboard with backlit keys that are perfect for working in dark environments like on an airplane or late at night. And the flexible design supports four use modes for extra versatility.
Despite all modern iPads gaining full cursor support, Apple currently only offers a first-party keyboard with built-in trackpad for the iPad Pro, not any other iPad model. Filling that gap, Logitech’s Combo Touch will be available for $149.95 as a great solution for users of other modern iPads. The Combo Touch covers the front and back of the iPad, includes a full keyboard and trackpad, and even offers a dedicated holder for the Apple Pencil. Notably, the device’s trackpad will also support all the same multitouch gestures that Apple’s Magic Keyboard offers.
Between Apple’s Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro, and Logitech’s Combo Touch covering the iPad, iPad Air, and 10.5-inch iPad Pro, the only modern iPad where a keyboard case with trackpad isn’t being offered is the iPad mini.
With a press release published earlier today, Apple officially announced the fourth generation of its iPad Pro line. The new iPad Pro models – available, as with the current generation, in 11-inch and 12.9-inch flavors – feature the all-new A12Z Bionic chip, a new camera system that includes an ultra-wide camera and LiDAR scanner for augmented reality, and integration with a long-awaited accessory, which will become available starting in May: the new Magic Keyboard with trackpad.
Apple has debuted a new lineup of colors today for iPhone and iPad cases, alongside a lot of new Apple Watch bands. A spring launch of new accessory designs is common practice for the company, but this year that was less than certain due to the state of the world amid a pandemic. These releases bring with them a semblance of normalcy, which I find comforting.
The Gnarbox 2.0 is ruggedized, portable SSD storage designed with photographers and videographers in mind. I’ve tried lots of different portable storage solutions in the past, and what distinguishes the Gnarbox is its ability to operate as a standalone device and as an accessory to a computing device. The mix of fast, rugged storage, an onboard operating system, wired and wireless connectivity, and complimentary software isn’t cheap. The entry-level Gnarbox is $499. However, the Gnarbox offers both the peace of mind of in-the-field backups and image and video pre-processing, making it a compelling choice for anyone who captures lots of photos and video while away from their main computing device.
Versatility and reliability are what you’re buying when you get a Gnarbox. I’ve tried other WiFi-enabled backup solutions, including Western Digital’s My Passport Wireless SSD, but in the weeks that I’ve been using a 256GB Gnarbox 2.0 that the company sent for testing, I’ve found that it’s built better, is more capable, and is easier to use than any other portable storage I’ve tried.
For years, I had a traditional security system in my home that cost hundreds of dollars each year for the monitoring service that went with it. I ditched that system about two years ago in hopes of finding a cheaper, smarter solution, but I’ve had mixed success.
The products I’ve tried in the past have been plagued by unreliable hardware and limited functionality. That’s why I was interested in trying abode’s HomeKit-compatible iota Security Kit when they offered to send me a test unit. After several weeks with the kit, which is available in the US and Canada, I’ve been impressed with both the reliability and flexibility of the hardware.
The iOS app doesn’t match the quality of abode’s hardware, but the issues with the app are mitigated by a solid web app and HomeKit compatibility that provide alternative ways to control the system. I’d certainly prefer a better iOS app. Still, even as is, the combination of abode’s hardware and the services offer a flexibility that other systems I’ve tried just can’t match.