Weekly Digest - 2020.02


Cool tech at CES 2020

As always, the second week of January is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) week. I'm not going to cover in much details what has been shown, people on the site can do much better job. Instead, I've created a list of the most interesting gadgets & thing shown at CES 2020.

Mobile, portable & wearable devices

Laptops

Computers

TVs & Monitors

Headphones & speakers

Smart home devices

Cars & Vehicles

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Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

When Disney bought Lucasfilm I was really excited. Especially after seeing what they've done with Marvel franchise. In MCU every movie has its own plot, but ultimately it is a step forward into bigger, more important, story. Unfortunately the last Star Wars movies felt random. They lack of greater vision. It is especially visible with The Last Jedi. That movie is so much different from the rest of the saga, that JJ Abrams had to sacrifice a part of the Rise of the Skywalker to fix the wrongs of its predecessor. It is clearly visible by the incredible pace of the movie and some, still unanswered, plot holes.

Beside that, I enjoyed the Episode 9, and I think it is very good conclusion of the Skywalker Saga. It's not perfect, but it gives a closure to the story that started over 42 years ago.

The Witcher

Netflix has released the first season of The Witcher. And I really liked it, especially the role of Geralt. It looks like Henry Cavill  was born to play him.

I was a little worried about putting Yennefer and Ciri as the main characters so early in the story, but in the end I really liked it.

The only thing I didn't like, was mixing the events from the past with the current ones. There was no clear distinction between them. Past events felt like they were happening today, and in the end they are a little bit confusing.  

Overall, the first season of The Witcher is very good, and I can't wait for the next one.

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Mac Pro

Mac Pro is finally here. The base configuration has:

  • 8-Core 3.5GHz Intel Xeon W with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz
  • 32GB of DDR4 ECC RAM,
  • AMD Radeon Pro Vega 580X with 8GB GDDR5 memory
  • 256GB SSD,
  • 1.4 KW PSU,
  • Eight PCI Express expansion slots,
  • I/O card with 2 USB3 and 2 thunderbolt ports,
  • Two 10Gb Ethernet ports,
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0,
  • Built-in speaker and 3.5 mm headphone jack.

The base model cost "only" $5999. The top specification looks like this:

  • 28-Core 2.5GHz Intel Xeon W with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz
  • 1.5TB of DDR4 ECC RAM,
  • 2 AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo cards with total of 128GB of memory,
  • 4TB SSD,
  • 1.4 KW PSU,
  • Afterburner card for accelerating ProRes and ProRes RAW footage manipulation,
  • I/O card with 2 USB3 and 2 thunderbolt ports,
  • Two 10Gb Ethernet ports,
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0,
  • Built-in speaker and 3.5 mm headphone jack.

It is mind-blowing, and costs $52199.

Also, we can buy steel frame with wheels for additional $400. So far first impressions are positive, so it looks like Pro focused Apple is back.

Xbox Series X

During Game Awards Show, Microsoft has unveiled the name and design of the upcoming Xbox called Xbox Series X. The console itself looks more like a PC than we’ve seen from previous Xbox consoles, but I really like this design. What's important, it can be used in both vertical and horizontal orientations, which was not the case with original Xbox one. There is no more details about the hardware inside the console, but we know it will have:

  • Custom CPU based on AMD’s Zen 2 architecture,
  • Radeon RDNA GPU,
  • GDDR6 RAM,
  • SSD for storage,
  • Native 4K at 60 FPS, up to 120 FPS,
  • Support for 8K gaming,
  • Hardware accelerated ray tracing.

For the first time we also get a first glance at the new gamepad. To my relief, it has not been changed that much, but there is couple of improvements. It’s slightly smaller than current one.  Also, there is new, PS4 style, Share button, for uploading screenshots and video clips. The D-pad has also been redesigned, instead of cross shape, it has circle one, like in the Elite controller.

Regarding the name. At the first sight, it is awful, but there might be more to it than meets the eye. The name might suggest, to average consumer, this is continuation to Xbox One X lineup and all the games will we compatible (which has been confirmed by Microsoft). Or, which is more probable, Microsoft is going to release more than one next-gen console.

Game Awards 2019

Here is the list of new trailers presented during the show:


Image credits: Apple

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Apple's Best of 2019 awards

For the first time, Apple has held a special event to recognize the best apps and developers. Here are the winners:

Apple has also announced Apple Music‌ Awards with a dope trophy.

Best Android Apps of 2019

Google has also announced the most popular applications from Play Store. Unfortunately, there are only 2 categories:

MacBook Pro and iPad Pro with mini LED display

According to MIng-Chi Kuo, next year, Apple is going to release an iPad Pro and new 16' MacBook Pro with displays based on mini LED technology.

The new technology has couple of advantages:

  • more dense (thousands of light sources instead of hundreds),
  • higher brightness and  contrast ratio,
  • deeper blacks,
  • power-efficient,
  • Less prone to burn-in and won't degrade over time like OLED.

So basically the mini LED is improved equivalent of OLED. This is important because at the moment, Samsung has monopoly on production of OLED  screens. Leaning toward mini LED might mean that Apple is trying to become independent of Samsung.

16-inch MacBook Pro Popping Sound Issue

Some users of the newest 16-inch MacBook Pro started reporting issue with popping sound, when playback is stoped. Apple has acknowledge the problem and it working on fix that should be available in the future software update.

This is yet another issue with speakers in MacBook Pro lineup. In 2018, after Apple introduced refreshed model, users started reporting crackling speakers. That issue has also been solved with software update.

Future of iPhones

This week we had plenty of rumors regarding iPhones. Here is the tl;dr:

In 2020, Apple is going to release following phones:

  • 4.7-inch iPhone 9: LCD display, single-lens rear camera,
  • 5.4-inch iPhone 12: OLED display, dual-lens rear camera, with 5G support
  • 6.1-inch iPhone 12: OLED display, dual-lens rear camera, with 5G support
  • 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro: OLED display, triple-lens rear camera, 5G support
  • 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max: OLED display, triple-lens rear camera, 5G support.

In 2021, Apple will introduce:

  • 5.5 or 6.1-inch iPhone SE/9 Plus: full screen design with TouchID,
  • highest model without Lightning port, it will be completely wireless device.

It is worth noting that, iPhone SE 2 will be called iPhone 9.

In 2020, the iPhone Pro will get bigger screen, and I don't like that. The current 5.9-inch model is perfect for me, where 6.1-inch is a little bit too big 😞.

Regarding completely wireless iPhone, I'm not sure we are ready for this. This is big commitment, people will need wireless headphones, chargers and the rest of accessories. Although, I'm using wireless headphones for couple of years now, as a developer, I'm not ready to give up wired charging and debugging. I hope this will be just one "experimental" model, to see how people would react, and to allow the rest of manufacturers to create wireless accessories.


Image credits: Apple

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Image credits: Pro Church Media