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iPhone X kicks off a new generation at a hefty cost

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, Oct 31st, 2017

Pros

  • All-new design is slick and seamless
  • Face ID doesn’t just work—it works well
  • TrueDepth camera makes way for interactive augmented reality

Cons

  • It’s expensive
  • No Home button means you have to learn a whole new set of gestures
  • You better put a case on it—or else

When Apple first announced the 10th-anniversary iPhone at their September event in Cupertino, Calif., analysts questioned the decision to stagger the launch of two premium smartphones—and whether a stray from their traditional annual launch strategy would do them more harm than good.

Many enthusiasts decided to wait and see how iPhone X stacked up to its recently-launched sibling. While lineups for iPhone 8 were shorter than previous releases, carriers are reporting record-breaking preorder demand for iPhone X. But is a smartphone really worth a whopping $1,300? We were among the first to put iPhone X through its paces.

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Redesigned from the inside out

The first thing you notice when picking up iPhone X is the gorgeous design. Everything has been reimagined. From the edge-to-edge 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display, to the glass front and back that Apple touts as the ‘most durable ever in a smartphone,’ the stunning curvature of the edges makes this design an engineering feat and resembles a piece of artwork.

 

image2iPhone X remains water- and dust-resistant, featuring speakers 35 per cent louder, and is compatible with Qi-enabled wireless chargers. The device will turn heads and start conversations—though you’re best to throw a case on it, especially if you’re prone to dropping things. You know who you are.

No more Home button

First the headphone jack, now the home button. They finally did it. iPhone X is the first iPhone to do away with the one button that does virtually everything. Instead, users will need to learn a new series of gestures in iOS 11—like swipe up to go to your home screen; double press on the side button to activate Apple Pay; and hold the side and volume button to power off.

There was a learning curve for the first while. You’ll be reaching for the Home button annoyed it’s no longer there, and then cycle through the gestures. You get used to it—and is the price you pay for an all-screen display.

If you’re the type who likes using your smartphone with one hand, the new gestures may complicate things.  There are more swipes from the top, bottom, and sides. Unless you have long thumbs, you may need two hands to perform certain actions.

 

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Facial recognition is the new fingerprint scan

For those who have become accustomed to the fingerprint authentication (known as Touch ID), iPhone X introduces a new facial recognition technology. I was blown away by how quick it learns your face and how effortless it is to use.

Face ID uses a new, front-facing TrueDepth camera that maps over 30,000 invisible dots to your face. It is stored securely on your device and is accurate to 1 in 1,000,000 that a random person can unlock your device. It also adapts to changes in appearance like facial hair growth, and cosmetic makeup.

It is used to do everything from unlock your device, authenticate into apps, and pay for purchases through Apple Pay. And none of the information is uploaded to the cloud, similar to Touch ID.

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Cameras and AR

Camera enthusiasts will see a step-up in quality through not one, but two 12-megapixel rear cameras with dual optical image stabilization. This includes an updated Quad-LED True Tone flash that lights images more evenly and gives you more vibrant and accurate colours.

 

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The popular portrait mode that was once for the rear cameras on iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus is now coming to iPhone X’s front-facing camera—something that will delight selfie takers and up their social media game.

The same TrueDepth camera that maps your face for security also unlocks a whole new world through augmented reality technology. Apple continues to double down on AR as a future way of interacting with the real world, and apps including Snapchat and IKEA are making use of ARKit. New Animojis in iMessage enable users to have 10-second clips of emojis mimicking your expressions and facial movements captured. A lot of fun to use and without a doubt going to be popular with the tweens—that is, if they can afford one.

Is it worth it?

And for the age-old question… The phone is expensive. Over $1,000 expensive. iPhone X will run you $1,319 and $1,529 for the 64GB and 256GB variants, respectively. So is it worth throwing down a month’s mortgage payment on a smartphone that is made of all-glass? It depends on which features are important to you.

iPhone X is without a doubt one of the slickest devices I’ve seen in a long time. The build quality is unlike many other smartphones on the market today. The iPhone changed the smartphone industry and paved way for a lucrative app market. It is the combination of well-built hardware, easy-to-use software, and the potential of apps to personalize the mobile computing experience that put iPhone on the map a decade ago. And the tech giant is hoping to do that all over again.

As preorder sales have proven already, enthusiasts who want to be part of that experience will line up overnight or wait upwards of six weeks to get hold of a device. But for many others, iPhone 8—even iPhone 7—will suffice, especially if the Home button is still of great value. Though, iPhone 8 will still make a dent in your wallet at just under $1,000, off contract.

Apple hopes that choice and category redefinition will help boost sales, after the wait-and-see approach of iPhone 8 resulted in shorter lineups at retail stores.

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Apple TV refresh brings 4K, City to streaming platform

Winston Sih | posted Thursday, Sep 21st, 2017

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Amidst the iPhone announcements in Apple’s annual September event in Cupertino, Calif., brings a few other surprises including an update to Apple TV—finally embracing 4K technology in the living room. But is the market finally ready, or is it a little too late?

4K HDR

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Physically, the device is the same in size. But it does pack a punch with new technology to bring your TV viewing experience to life. Leveraging the A10X Fusion chip—the previous-model chip in iPhone 7—the tech giant hopes that will provide the needed computing power to stream 4K-resolution content. Quadruple the pixels of high definition, quadruple the crispness, and you notice it from the get-go when you power the unit on. Caveat is, of course, that you need a 4K television—something many households don’t currently have.

If you are an owner one a 4K television set, the colours and depths of the pictures are stunning. Colours are more vibrant, blacks are deeper, and whites are brighter. This is all thanks to the high-definition range that adapts to your television set, finds the optimal performance, and scales the content up or down to fit your display environment. Apple TV 4K follows two leading formats on the market, Dolby Vision and HDR10, and the engineering shines through when streaming content.

From the previous-generation model, Apple says its 4K older sibling is two-times faster, and graphics performance is up to four times faster, though unless you’re streaming 12 things at once, you won’t notice a massive difference. However for 4K content, it will benefit from the spec bump.

Surfacing the TV content you want

Through the new tvOS update, Canadians now get access to the Apple TV app—one of a seven countries this is rolling out to outside of the United States.

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Canadian broadcasters, including City and FX, have joined onto this new platform to unify on-demand offerings in one easy-to-find location for binge-watchers. Users can subscribe and sign into their favourite services, and titles are synced and streamed across Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. HD movies from iTunes are upgraded to 4K HDR at no additional cost.

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There’s an app for that

Thousands of apps are being added on an on-going basis, allowing users to do everything from play games, control your smart home devices, to edit your family photos from iCloud. Selection isn’t as robust as the likes of App Store on iOS devices, and the remote experience simplifies what you can (and can’t) do on Apple TV.

Siri is integrated into the physical remote itself, and for those looking to type on a traditional keyboard, you can do so via the Remote app on your iOS device.

Final thoughts

For those looking to invest in a streaming player, Apple TV is a good choice. It won’t replace your cable subscription or PVR, but it’ll give you plenty of options to compliment your viewing experience—especially if you’re into streaming. The computing power will make using interactive apps a breeze, and while the selection of programs isn’t as robust as it could be, developers will take advantage as more users adopt.

The 4K HDR 32GB variant ($229) is a great option only if you have the display to go with it, otherwise the fourth-generation non-4K model ($199) will suffice—the price difference only being about $30.

iPhone 8: A taste of iPhone X with less sticker shock

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, Sep 19th, 2017

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When Apple announced three new smartphones at its new Cupertino, Calif. headquarters, Apple Park, I instantly got dozens of texts with the same question: Winston, which one is right for me?

The answer is—these devices are targeted at different people. iPhone 8 packs a lot of punch that makes it a significant upgrade from its iPhone 7 sibling, but it also jams in a lot of familiar that will leave enthusiasts waiting to compare with the 10th-anniversary iPhone X when it goes for sale in November.

Design

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At first glance, users will notice a vary familiar design. Yes, the headphone jack is still gone, but the tech giant’s classic Home Button remains, with TouchID functionality for fingerprint access and Apple Pay. Turn the phone around and you’ll find a new, all-glass back—admittedly making me very nervous at first—but makes way the much-welcomed wireless charging on iPhone.

Apple says iPhone 8 features the most durable glass in a smartphone—a 50 per cent deeper strengthening later—and aerospace-grade 7000 Series aluminum on the exterior for reinforcement. Despite my initial worries, our review unit has proven to be that, quite durable, though I’d still recommend using a case in the day-to-day. They remain water-resistant—not waterproof. So don’t go diving with iPhone 8.

The new devices are still available in two sizes—iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus—with 4.7- and 5.5-inch Retina HD screens, respectively, in three finishes—grey, silver, and gold.

Bionic performance

Replacing its A10 chip predecessor, Apple introduces A11 Bionic to its latest roster of smartphones—‘the most powerful and smartest chip ever in a smartphone.’  And that’s a big claim to make. Pushing the six-core CPU and three-core GPU to max simultaneously was difficult in my day-to-day use cases, making it easy for developers to integrate apps to take advantage of augmented reality.

The power in the new devices also makes way for TrueTone—the same technology in the latest iPad—that adaptively adjusts the hue of your screen to your environment realtime, minimizing eye strain. Users will notice louder audio through new stereo speakers, though minimal improvement from iPhone 7.

Similar with new sensors, ‘Portrait Lighting’

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I struggled when thinking about how a smartphone camera could see improvements. It basically does everything I need it to do today—Instagram, Facebook Live, the odd Boomerang, make funny faces on Snapchat. Oh, right, and the awe-worthy, photographer-of-the-year Portrait Mode pics that made anyone the star of a party.

The camera remains at 12 megapixels for both devices, but new sensors make room for better video stabilization, improved colour filter, calibrated cameras alongside the gyroscope for those augmented reality apps.

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On iPhone 8 Plus, a new feature called ‘Portrait Lighting’ is introduced, taking advantage of the dual cameras. You get the bokeh depth-of-field effect while the software gives users the options to digitally manipulate lighting to enhance facial contour, mimic studio conditions, and crop out the background. When it works well, it works well, but on testing, conditions need to be just right or it becomes a little finicky. Definitely a beta feature until it is refined.

Say goodbye to cord city

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Apple has introduced new charging technology in all three devices that follows the same Qi standard in many third-party accessories today. Paired with iPhone’s glass back, this allows users can ditch the Lightning cable and recharge by simply placing their device on a Qi-compatible mat, including Apple’s AirPower mat, not out until later this year.

But surprise, their charging mat will only work with the new iPhones, Apple Watch Series 3, and a new AirPods case. Older devices will not work.

Accessory makers like Mophie are making wireless mats, and expect many more restaurants and cafes to take advantage of wireless charging as more smartphone manufacturers are taking the lead on integrating it into their phones.

iOS 11

Through the latest operating system, iOS 11, brings many refinements to the user experience to new and existing devices, including Apple Pay in iMessages, Do Not Disturb mode when driving, a new Siri voice assistant, and central file storage. A large improvement for existing iPhone owners who don’t want to make the upgrade.

Pricing

iPhone 8 will be available in 64GB and 256GB capacities for $929 and $1,139 off-contract, respectively. iPhone 8 Plus will be available in the same capacities for $1,059 and $1,269 off-contract.

So, I make the upgrade?

iPhone 8 brings a lot of improvements to Apple’s flagship smartphone—the A11 Bionic processor, refinements in the 12-megapixel camera sensor, wireless charging, as well as iOS 11. But it also brings a lot of similar through its familiar design. If you have an iPhone 6s or iPhone 7, you’ll see minor improvements, but unless you’re going to be taking advantage of augmented reality or eager for wireless charging, the free upgrade to iOS 11 will suffice.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus is a good upgrade if you are an older-model iPhone user due for an upgrade. You’re looking to take better family photos, want to stay productive on a larger screen, and can’t let go of that Home Button—not yet anyway. You get a lot of the power from iPhone X with a little less of the sticker shock.

As for those still curious about iPhone X, the all-new device breaks tradition and will be the shiny new toy many are waiting out for—marketed as Apple’s flagship premium offering. It rings in at a whopping $1,300 to start, and features an edge-to-edge OLED display, no home button, and FaceID facial recognition technology, to be available Nov. 3 in Canada.  No doubt many will be waiting to compare the devices side-by-side before making their decision.

Apple iPhone 8 and X: 10 things you need to know

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, Sep 12th, 2017

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Apple unveiled the latest iterations of iPhone at their futuristic Apple Park campus in Cupertino, Calif., Tuesday morning. At the first event in the Steve Jobs Theater, the tech giant is hoping not one—but three—new devices will have consumers digging for their wallets to get their hands on a new smartphone.

Celebrating the 10th-anniversary of iPhone, here are 10 things you need to know about the newly announced devices:

1. Three new iPhones to choose from

Unveiled were iPhone 8 and 8 Plus—an upgrade from their iPhone 7 sibling on the market today. It features an all-new glass and aluminum design, single- and dual-lens cameras on the devices, respectively, and an A11 Bionic chip that runs 30 per cent faster than the previous A10 chip. Also announced was iPhone X—pronounced ‘ten’— featuring an all-glass design and an OLED Super Retina display.

2. There’s still no headphone jack, and they ditched the home button, too

Yes, the headphone jack is gone—likely for good—and while iPhone 8 preserves the button that seemingly does almost everything, iPhone X ditches the home button, too. It is replaced by swipe gestures to unlock, multitask, and a new side button allows you to activate the Siri voice assistant and Apple Pay.

3. Your face will unlock your phone

Through a new feature on iPhone X, FaceID will replace the biometric TouchID fingerprint reader. It uses a unique camera system to map a user’s face on the fly, and depth-sensing technology allows you to unlock your device, use Apple Pay, and gain access to secure apps.

4. The screen that changes everything

If you’re looking for an immersive experience, iPhone X is worth waiting for. The device features an all-new, edge-to-edge, 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display. This means you’ll get truer blacks, vivid colours, and a wider gamut through high-definition resolution. The OLED display is a first-of-its-kind in an iPhone, and features a 2436×1125 resolution.

5. Say goodbye to cord city

Apple is doubling down in wireless charging technology, through the all-glass backs on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. Through third-party accessories that support the Qi charging standard and their own AirPower mat accessory, users will now be able to charge their iPhone, Apple Watch Series 3, and AirPods without plugging in individual cables—a challenge many users have been hoping for a solution to for a long time.

6. Augmented reality is in

Coupled with the new A11 Bionic chip and new cameras on iPhone 8 Plus, the company believes augmented reality technology is in. Cameras are designed to work with built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers to track motion, and with graphics supported at 60 frames per second, developers will be able to tailor apps to enable users to star gaze, read live player stats at baseball games, and more, right from an app on your phone.

7. All-new cameras

All three devices feature improved cameras—12 megapixel rear cameras to be exact. iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X feature a dual rear camera, and that brings new functionality like the Portrait Lighting mode that can digitally modify lighting to users’ specific preferences—all in real time.

8. Animojis to make you laugh

One of my faves—emojis have become part of our everyday vernacular, and Apple is bringing them alive by way of an ‘Animoji.’ An animated emoji that will use the front-facing camera to measure your face, animate your favourite emojis into life-like characters, and record a short clip for text messaging. This will no doubt be addictive to not just your everyday millennial, but grandparents alike.

9. Yes, it’s pricey

It’s a steep price point, but no doubt many will be lining up overnight to be the first to get their hands on a device. In Canada, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will be available in 64GB and 256GB capacities starting at $929, and iPhone X will retail for over $1,300. Wireless carriers will have individual pricing on contract.

10. Is it worth the upgrade?

If you’ve been waiting out for a new iPhone—this is a good time to upgrade. iPhone 7 users will see improvements through the free iOS upgrade.  Whether it’s iPhone 8 or iPhone X, you’re sure to see many improvements on both software and hardware fronts. iPhone X—a special-edition device in itself, celebrating 10 years of iPhone—will be a high-demand smartphone, but you’ll have to wait out until Nov. 3 to get your hands on one. You can pre-order iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus on Sep. 15, in stores on Sep. 22.

New 10.5-inch iPad Pro brings a lot of familiar with a bigger display, more power

Winston Sih | posted Monday, Jun 12th, 2017

Apple iPad Pro unveiled at Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif.

As computers become thinner and lighter, and tablets grow larger and more powerful, the line of whether you need one or the other is continuing to blur. Apple’s new productivity-focused tablet, iPad Pro is no exception.

If I had to choose between my MacBook Pro or iPad Pro, nine times out of 10, I’m still going to choose the laptop. I find I’m generally more comfortable and don’t get anxious about the limitations of using a tablet. The tech giant continues to market these devices to two very different crowds—but is it working?

Let’s get to the basics

Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro is just 6.1mm thick and less than one pound.

Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro is just 6.1mm thick and less than one pound.

iPad Pro now comes in 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models, the former replacing the previous 9.7-inch tablet. The 10.5-inch version rings in at 6.1 millimetres in thickness, while still giving you nearly 20 per cent larger screen surface.

Apple’s claiming iPad Pro to have the most advanced display, featuring their ProMotion technology—essentially a doubled refresh rate at 120Hz to give you enhanced responsiveness. And I would consider it a success. The screen looks more vivid, snappier, and interacts well with the Apple Pencil—an accessory sold at an additional $129 CAD.

You can tell this device is built for productivity. I launched almost every one of my over 50 apps, and iPad Pro barely slowed down. Apple has integrated their new 64-bit A10X Fusion chip that handles the most demanding of heavy apps, giving this up to 30 per cent faster CPU and 40 per cent graphics than the previous A9X chip. I successfully streamed multiple 4K videos with no lag whatsoever.

Software brings new features, but you’ll have to wait

iOS 11, the next iteration of the mobile operating system coming to iPad Pro, will bring a lot of familiar from its Mac counterpart. But you won’t get it until later this fall. Some of these features include an application dock that is reminiscent of macOS, but drastically increases multitasking, as well as improved file management and inter-app content flows like drag-and-drop photos.

It’s just too bad the hardware and software changes weren’t timed together, however very clear that Apple is saving the release to work with the launch of their flagship phone—iPhone—typically in the fall, too.

For those who like to hold their iPads up in big crowds and take photos

Yes, you know who you are—you’ll find a 12-megapixel camera capable of shooting 4K HD video, a front-facing 7-megapixel camera for video calls, as well as a four-speaker audio setup.

This device is great for content consumption. There is no doubt about that. I’d much rather have my iPad Pro out at the airport or on a flight than my MacBook. Be it magazines or movies, everything from visual to audio will be pristine.

Gorgeous accessories, but it’ll cost you

Apple iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil accessories.

Apple iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil accessories.

This is where I think Apple’s signature design aesthetic wins. Yes, you can buy third-party accessories, but nothing compares to the Smart Keyboard. The larger size now enables a full-sized keyboard, both software and hardware, and the Smart Connector allows for connectivity without charging or Bluetooth.

Apple iPad Pro’s Smart Connector, designed to work with their keyboard add-on.

Apple iPad Pro’s Smart Connector, designed to work with their keyboard add-on.

Coupled with the interactive Apple Pencil for annotations and note taking, the keyboard and pencil combo will set you back just under $350 CAD, before you even buy the device!

Other accessories include a leather sleeve, Apple Pencil case, and a Smart Cover that doubles as a stand.

The verdict

When I go back to the MacBook Pro vs. iPad Pro debate, if I had to pick one product, I’d still go back to the MacBook Pro. That is, if I’m strictly thinking productivity. You get the benefits of a full macOS with the thin and portable design of iPad with the keyboard and travelling case. Plus, the 12-inch iPad Pro is still really weighty. If you’re making your tablet look and perform like a laptop—just go get one.

10.5-inch iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard pictured above 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

10.5-inch iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard pictured above 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

iPad Pro is beautiful, but for it to be a true workhorse, you need the accessories. Add it to the starting-at pricing of $869 and $1,049 for the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models, respectively, you’re pricing out to be near a MacBook or MacBook Pro, not to mention competitors out there like Microsoft’s Surface.

For big content consumers who value the Apple ecosystem and the extensive App Store, alongside the improved, vibrant display, and expanded keyboard size, iPad Pro could bring over more folks who want to shed the full computer experience for a simplified and user-friendly mobile design—made even better with iOS 11.

Apple updates iMac, MacBook lines; doubles down on performance

Winston Sih | posted Wednesday, Jun 7th, 2017

The new 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

 

Apple refreshed its line of Mac computers at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, including the iMac desktop – a device the tech giant hasn’t updated in almost two years. Manufacturers typically renew computers at least yearly to stay relevant.

iMac reimagined on the inside, not out

Not much has changed on the exterior, but the first thing you do notice when powering on is the vibrancy of the display – boasting a beautiful 4K display and 5K display in the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs, respectively. These displays are 43 per cent brighter than its predecessor at 500 nits with support for one billion colours. Essentially, you’re guaranteeing yourself a vivid picture with whatever you’re doing.

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The thin bezel of the new Apple iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

From a performance perspective, Apple has heavily invested in the Intel Kaby Lake seventh-generation Core i5 processor as standard, with an option to upgrade to Core i7. Measured against the previous-generation model, the new iMac will allow for three-times-faster gaming on the 21.5-inch model.

iMac pushes the envelope in storage with the evolution of the Fusion Drive across the 27-inch line and on the high-end 21.5-inch 4K computer, adding higher-capacity memory. Fusion Drives allow users to access frequently used documents, photos, videos, on a flash drive, eliminating spinning disks of the traditional hard drive. It means fewer parts to break down. I’d like to see a move to this being standard on all desktops.

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Available ports on the 27-inch iMac. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

Users will find plenty of connectivity on the 27-inch iMac, and unlike iPhone 7, there’s still a headphone jack, alongside four USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 (a.k.a. USB-C for everyone else), a Gigabit Ethernet, and an SD card port. This allows for added displays, high-speed hard drive connectivity, and other third-party accessories.

Among the updates from the conference include a peek at the next iteration of the Mac platform – macOS High Sierra – chock-a-block full of new toys for developers to create immersive experiences for users, like virtual reality. However, the upgrade won’t be available until the fall.

MacBook Pro: Building on its success

The previous generation of MacBook Pro made the laptop much thinner and lighter. Plus, the integration of a fluid and interactive Touch Bar and Touch ID fingerprint reader has been surprisingly useful — not just a gimmick — and the 2017 version builds on that.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The upgrades bring a routine processor and hard drive boost. Machines will see the same Intel Kaby Lake processor as its desktop counterparts, as well as faster solid-state drives, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro will have snappier graphics out of the gate.

The notebook could benefit from an added USB 3.0 port for so many existing devices while still offering flexibility in the increasingly popular USB-C port. I also miss the SD card reader. Can there be a balance struck with ports, or lack thereof?

 

The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The OLED-lit Touch Bar on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

As for the OLED-lit Touch Bar that offers virtual buttons that react to the specific program you’re in, the technology continues to be unique in its class. I’d like to see exponential growth of adoption by third-party developers for it to be a real hit. But for the apps that currently utilize this, it’s fantastic.

 

The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The Force Touch trackpad on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

 

With the last MacBook Pro, I had some issues with the shallow-but-tactile butterfly keyboard sticking. Apple has made some improvements to address reported problems with switch keys.

Other standard updates include increased speed and longer battery life. A larger Force Touch trackpad that reacts to the amount of pressure given to surface different actions remains.

MacBook receives a minor—but needed—spec bump

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The new entry-level MacBook. CITYNEWS/Winston Sih

The entry-level MacBook remains one of Apple most popular laptops. It’s small in form and packs a punch as an ultraportable device, though it’s not as powerful as its sibling MacBook Pro. It gets the job done if you’re a parent just looking to surf the web and answer emails.

The entry-level laptop will get a boost in processor gigahertz, albeit minor at 1.2GHz dual-core, but when you’re working with less than 1.5 GHz to start with, every bit counts — even when you simply have a handful of web browser windows open.

In addition, the new solid-state drives are 50 per cent faster than its predecessor — rounding out a machine many students will no doubt adopt come September.

Availability

The new MacBook and MacBook Pro machines are available now.

A pro version of the iMac—aptly named iMac Pro—was announced Monday, but will not be available for sale until December. The updated classic line is available today.

 

What you need in your Emergency Preparedness Kit

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

home-emergency-preparedness-kit

Basic emergency kit checklist:

Consider these additional emergency kit supplies:

Courtesy Government of Canada

5 household items you need to replace right now

Winston Sih | posted Wednesday, Jan 18th, 2017

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Pillow

Replace a pillow every 18 months. Your pillow collects a ton of bacteria through sweat, mould, and dust mites. The average pillow collects up to 350,000 bacteria.

 

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Dish cloth

Replace a dirty dish cloth every week. People typically place a dish cloth on a kitchen counter when damp – perfect for germs to multiply. 89 per cent of dish towels are contaminated with E. coli, according to a study.  Wash them at 60 C to extend their life, but remember to replace them regularly.

 

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Sponge

Replace sponges weekly. More than 10 million germs per square inch are on a used sponge.

 

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Contact lens case

Replace every three months. Studies have shown that cases collect bacteria through the moisture in the solution – not good as your eyes are the most sensitive part of your body.

 

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Razor

Replace every two weeks. Moisture, hair residue, foam encourage mould and bacteria to multiply. Instead, replace regularly, store them in a container, and wash with alcohol after every use.

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