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Tech

Apple macOS Big Sur Public Beta Is Now Available For Download: Does Your MacBook Support It?

Apple has finally made a public beta version of its next operating system for the Mac computing devices, the macOS Big Sur, available for everyone to download. That is, if you are brave enough to use a software that is still being tested and is still under development. This follows the public beta versions of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, which have been around for some time now, for the iPhone and the iPad. The macOS Big Sur is expected to be the biggest update that macOS has received for many years, including a big visual overhaul and significant under-the-hood improvements as well as additional privacy tools. It is expected that macOS Big Sur will see a final release later this year, alongside the new iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates.

The macOS Big Sur update will be available for MacBook (2015 and later), MacBook Air (2013 and later), MacBook Pro (late 2013 and later, Mac mini (2014 and later), iMac (2014 and later), iMac Pro (2017 and later) and the Mac Pro (2013 and later). This means the 2012 MacBook Air line-up, the 2012 and early 2013 MacBook Pro (these were the first Retina Display versions) and the 2012 as well as 2013 iMacs will not get the new macOS Big Sur. Yet, this list makes it clear that even 7 year old machines will run the latest Apple macOS software, which is good news for those who are still persisting with their ageing MacBook devices. Be warned though, the macOS Big Sur Public Beta version is still representing an operating system that is being developed as we speak, and there may be some bugs or performance issues that you may encounter along the way. That is true for any software that is still in development. It is advised to not use this on your primary macOS computing device, unless you are sure that all your existing apps will work on this.

Here are the steps to install the macOS Big Sur Public Beta on your Mac computing device. First, you need to head to the Apple Beta Software Portal and sign in with your Apple ID. Then select “Enroll Your Devices” option and select macOS. You will then click on the “Download the macOS Public Beta Access Utility.” If you haven’t already ever enrolled that particular Mac computing device for beta software tests, you will be asked to download a beta test profile (it’ll be a .dmg file) which you need to run and install once on the Mac. It is a good idea to take a backup of your data at this point, just to be safe. Once this is done, head to Settings -> Software Update which will now show the latest macOS Big Sur Public Beta version for download. It may take a while for this to download and install depending on your internet speed and the generation of Mac you are using this on.


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Tech

Amazon Prime Day Sale: Best Deals on Smartphones, Laptops and Smart TVs

Amazon’s Prime Day sale has begun offering thousands of products on deals and offers. There are also a bunch of new launches under various categories. The 2020 edition of the Amazon Prime Day sale is scheduled for August 6 and 7 where you can expect a variety of discounts and deals on smartphones, smart TVs, laptops, gaming consoles and a bunch of other consumer electronics. Amazon has partnered with HDFC Bank to offer a 10-percent instant discount if you happen to use the bank’s credit card or debit card. Additionally, there will be no-cost EMI options as well as 5-percent reward point and 5-percent instant discount for Amazon Pay ICICI Bank credit card owners.

Here are some of the best deals:

SMARTPHONES

The most popular category when it comes to online sales, the Amazon Prime Day sale is offering special deals on a variety of smartphones. The iPhone 11 and 8 Plus models are on sale and are available at reduced prices. The OnePlus 7T and OnePlus 7T Pro (8GB + 256GB) are selling at reduced prices of Rs 35,999 and Rs 43,999 respectively. Notably the OnePlus 8 series, including the Pro variant, are also on sale. There are also deals and special sales on smartphones from Xiaomi, Samsung and Vivo. Samsung has launched the new Galaxy M31s, while Xiaomi is going to sell its new Redmi 9 Prime. Amazon will also offer mobile phone accessories starting at Rs 99, as well as no-cost EMI and exchange offers during the sale.

SMART TV

Smart TVs have been in high demand and the Prime Day sale is probably the best time to buy one for your home. Apart from Xiaomi’s Mi TV range, the new OnePlus TV range is also available for purchase. Brands like Vu, Thomson and TCL are also a part of the sale. Some of the offers listed by Amazon include a minimum discount of Rs 4,000 on Mi TV range, minimum Rs 30,000 off on LG smart TVs and Rs 9,000 off on Onida smart TVs. Samsung has confirmed that it will be offering a special discount of Rs 10,000 on all models of its ‘The Serif’ TV range. This means you can expect the 43-inch variant to be priced at Rs 69,990, and Rs 89,990 and Rs 1,09,990 for the 49-inch and 55-inch variants respectively.

LAPTOPS

This is also a popular category when it comes to e-commerce sales. Apart from discounts on existing products, ASUS has launched the new and highly-acclaimed ROG Zephyrus G14 gaming notebook at a starting price of Rs 80,990. The newly launched Mi NoteBook range is also on sale, as well as the Surface Pro X and Dell’s XPS 2020 range. Expect discounts on Apple MacBooks and offerings from Dell, HP, Lenovo as well as some gaming notebooks.


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Tech

Dell XPS 15 (9500) Review: A Premium Windows Experience at the Expense of High Price

Dell’s XPS notebook lineup has often been considered one of the better options if you are looking to splurge on a premium Windows 10 laptop. Over the years, the XPS 13 in particular caught the attention for its modern designs, the slim build and well, carbon fibre. Carbon fibre looks good on pretty much anything. In a way, the Dell XPS machines provided a competent alternative to someone who didn’t want to buy the Apple MacBook Pro 13, for instance. Yet, the Dell XPS line did compete against some pretty solid rivals too, including the HP Spectre x360 line. The XPS 13 has been my favourite machine almost every year. However the company has finally brought some new changes to the larger XPS 15, which is finally gaining my interest. That being said, it will cost you a lot of money. The new XPS 15 prices start at Rs 1,86,073.

You see, the new XPS 15 was carrying the same design for years. Not that it’s a bad thing, but unlike its smaller sibling, it has pretty much looked the same. This year, Dell has gone for a universal approach, and the new XPS 15 9500 now looks a lot like the 13-inch version. It is slimmer thanks to the omission of USB Type-A ports, and the display now extends all the way down making it way more immersive. It is more modern.

SLEEK AND UNDERSTATED

Who wouldn’t mind a large screen laptop in an ever smaller footprint? The Dell XPS 15 notebook still continues to be a 15-inch laptop with a 14-inch footprint featuring an aluminum chassis, with a carbon fiber finish on the keyboard deck. The bottom chassis is said to be made from a single block of CNC machined aluminum. It just screams of premium-ness and Dell has given a lot of attention to the smallest of details. The one thing that I did however notice is that it is more on the heavy side, despite having a sleek design. I believe there are two reasons for it, first is all of that metal on the lid and bottom chassis, the second being the use of a larger battery rated at 86Whr.

Moving to the display, the lid opens nicely with just one hand and you are greeted with this large chunk of Gorilla Glass. Tucked underneath is a bright and colour rich 4K Ultra HD+ (3840 x 2400) resolution panel with 500-nits of peak brightness. According to Dell it is 40 times brighter and blacks are up to 10 times darker which I can totally vouch for. It is also a VESA certified DisplayHDR 400 display with over 16 million colors, 100% Adobe RGB and 94% DCI-P3 color gamut, and a 1650:1 contrast ratio. Most of these are for the high-end 4K panel which is what I tested and honestly, it is the best display panel I’ve seen on any notebook. The display looks immersive and I was impressed by how good HDR content looked on the panel. I am no creative professional, but I am pretty positive that if you are one, then you are going to love it. Now you do lose out a few features if you opt for the Full-HD+ version, but it still looks gorgeous.

OLED NO MORE?

What Dell doesn’t tell you is that it no longer offers a 4K OLED panel option which was available on the last-gen model. That’s because this year Dell has cut down on the bottom bezel. By doing so the display now offers a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 92.9% screen to body ratio. While that sounds good, standard OLED panels are only available in 16:9 ratio hence the move to a standard IPS panel. Also, despite the super slim bezels, Dell has managed to add an infrared camera with Windows Hello recognition, which in my opinion is the best way to unlock your notebook.

QUALITY SPEAKERS FOR YOUR EARS

Flanking on either side of the keyboard are the stereo speakers and they are just absolutely worth listening to. They fall just short of the speakers on the MacBook, which is obviously the gold standard, but honestly I haven’t heard anything this good on a Windows laptop. There is a nice thump of bass, vocals are crisp and they are loud enough to fill up an entire bedroom. This has been made possible by using a quad-speaker design with two 2.5W woofers and two 1.5W tweeters producing 8W of total peak output. These speakers have been tuned by Waves MaxxAudio Pro and Waves Nx 3D audio.

POWERHORSE FOR CREATIVE PROFESSIONALS

Dell has loaded the new XPS with the latest 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor which is a six-core 5GHz chip, enough to match most desktop PCs. Notably, this is the only processor option you get whether you go for the 1080p non-touch variant or the 4K touch version. There is 16GB of DDR4-2933MHz RAM or 32GB for the high-end variant with either 512GB or 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. For graphics, there is an Nvidia’s GeForce 1650 with 4GB memory.

I was pretty impressed with the machine’s ability to handle most of my daily workflow with ease which includes 10-15 Chrome tabs, a bit of Photoshop and some media consumption including YouTube videos and music on Spotify. Also, the included graphics processor is more than enough for some casual gaming and I would like to stress on the word ‘casual’ as this is strictly not a gaming machine. The GPU makes more sense when you are editing videos which helps the CPU to reduce rendering times.

By making the XPS 15 slimmer, Dell has sacrificed on the ports. You get a total of three USB-C ports all of which support power delivery and display out. Two of these also offer support for Thunderbolt 3.0. There is also a headphone jack combo and a SD card slot, which makes sense if you are a creative professional. Dell also ships a USB-C to USB-A and HDMI v2.0 adapter in the box. There is Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2×2) and Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless connectivity as well. Apart from face recognition, there is a fingerprint scanner as well which is oddly a black key on the top right corner. For some reason Dell didn’t even bother to put a power or a fingerprint scanner logo on the key.

The keyboard looks very XPS with a black finish and low-profile keys. Surprisingly the key travel is pretty good and I actually had a good time typing on it. The only thing that bugged me a little was the fact that the layout felt very centered, and I think I have a habit of tipping slightly to the left of my keyboard. But that’s just me. Also, there is a humongous trackpad, almost as big as the one on the MacBook Pro 16. It felt way too big to me but I am sure creative professionals and people who love using gestures are going to love this one.

AVERAGE BATTERY LIFE

As for battery life, Dell claims that one can get up to 8 hours and 27 minutes of Netflix streaming on the UHD+ panel with its 86Whr battery. I was able to get about 7 hours of battery life while video streaming and close to 6.5 hours with a mix of my daily work. If you pull down the resolution to 1080p or in this case 1200p, you could squeeze in at least a couple of more hours. Overall the battery is just about average and yes, you will need to charge this at the end of the day.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The new XPS 15 starts at Rs 1,86,073 and the one I reviewed costs Rs 2,14,048. That is a lot of money and honestly this is the most expensive XPS model we’ve seen in years. This puts it in direct competition with the MacBook Pro 16. And Apple offers you an Intel Core i9 option besides the six-core Core i7 processor.

This brings me to my second concern. I think it would have made sense if Dell introduced the Core i5 variant in India as well. I mean, I don’t mind running on a quad-core with a 1080p display if I could save some money. That way, they could have competed in a wider spectrum, but right now offering a single processor option, in just two variants is kind of putting the XPS 15 in a slightly uncomfortable place. Dell also has the larger XPS 17 in its arsenal which comes with a Core i9 option and could definitely make the MacBook Pro 16 run for its money. But, as of now, Dell hasn’t confirmed if or when they will bring it to India.

In my opinion, if someone needs a powerful portable workhorse, they might as well just invest in a slim gaming notebook or go for the Apple MacBook. Those choices make sense. Yet, somehow, nothing comes close if you need a pure premium feel for your Windows 10 usage experience.


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Categories
Tech

iPhone 12 May Feature Wireless Charging With Magnetic Attachment, Says New Report

Apple is reportedly planning to introduce iPhone 12 with magnetic positioning that will move the phone automatically to the optimal position on the charging pad. According to a report, the magnets may not only provide a “snap in” wireless charging system but might also be used for mounting purposes.

With this feature, iPhone 12 will provide modular upgrades fitted through magnetic connection, reports EverythingApplePro. The technology is also expected to work with the reverse charging feature for iPhone 12 that would certainly allow the upcoming iPhone to compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the Galaxy S20 series.

Apple is expected to launch four new iPhones under the iPhone 12 series which would include two premium variants, and presently it is not clear which model will come with this technology. iPhone 12 Pro will come in 6.1-inch or 6.7-inch sizes and may feature a high refresh-rate 120Hz ProMotion display, as presently seen on iPad Pro.

The rear camera module on the device will house four sensors with a LiDAR scanner which was introduced in the recently launched Apple iPad Pro. All four iPhone models are expected to feature OLED displays and 5G support, as famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously claimed.


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Tech

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and Tab S7+ Aim to Take on The Apple iPad Pro

Samsung hosted a special Galaxy Unpacked event where it unveiled a total of five new devices, well seven if you count the variants. These include the new Note 20 series, the Galaxy Buds Live true wireless earphones, the Galaxy Watch 3, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and of course new premium tablet options in the form of the Galaxy Tab S7 and the S7+. I wonder why Samsung didn’t use the ‘Ultra’ moniker?

The new Tab S7 and Tab S7+ are the company’s answer to Apple’s iPad Pro range. They come with the S-pen as well, that you can slap on the back using magnets. It is pretty much like the Tab S6 from last year only more refined and with slimmer bezels.

Both the Tab S7 and Tab S7+ feature 120Hz HDR10+ panels. While the larger one features a 12.4-inch AMOLED panel offering a WQXGA+ 2800 x 1752 pixels resolution, the smaller one comes with an 11-inch LTPS TFT panel with a WQXGA 2560 x 1600 pixels resolution. They are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865+ processor that provides the performance juice and you can get the tablets with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage with the option of adding a microSD card.

The batteries are rated at 8,000mAh on the Tab S7+ and a massive 10,090mAh on the bigger tablet. You also get 45W fast charging on these. If you care for cameras on a tablet, both come with a 13-megapixel primary sensor with an f/2.0 lens and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor with an f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle lens at the back. On the front you get an 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.0 lens for making video calls. You also get the optional two-piece keyboard accessory which is said to be improved for better typing and productivity.

Consumers will be given three colour options- Mystic Black, Mystic Bronze, and Mystic Silver. The Galaxy Tab S7 is priced at EUR 699 (~Rs 62,000) for the 6GB RAM + 128GB storage model and EUR 779 (~ Rs 69,000) for the 8GB RAM + 256GB storage variant. The 5G variants of the tablet with similar memory configurations are priced EUR 799 (~ Rs 71,000)and EUR 879 (~Rs 78,000).

The Galaxy Tab S7+ 6GB RAM + 128GB storage variant is priced at EUR 899 (~Rs 80,000) while the 8GB RAM + 256GB storage option comes at EUR 979 (~Rs 87,000). The Galaxy Tab S7+ 5G models start at EUR 1,099 (~Rs 97,500) for the base 6GB RAM + 128GB variant while the 8GB RAM + 256GB storage option is priced at EUR 1,179 (~Rs 1,05,000).


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Tech

Why Does Microsoft Want To Buy TikTok? The Answer Is You, The Consumer, And The Data You Create

Microsoft wants to buy TikTok. Donald Trump is not happy about it. Donald Trump is okay with it. Donald Trump has given his blessings. Donald Trump has set a deadline for the deal. Well, depending on which side of the bed you wake up and what day it is, the intersection of politics and technology is undoubtedly creating more confusion that it does good. At the time of writing this, it seems the political dispensation in the US is okay with Microsoft going ahead with the attempt to follow through on its interest in acquiring TikTok. At least the operations for certain parts of the world, including the US. Works out well for the tech giant, because TikTok is trying everything possible to remain present and active, in the US in particular, where it has a large and active user base. But the question still remains, why does Microsoft want to buy TikTok?

The way things have been over the past few years, Microsoft has focused on the enterprise space. The part consumer plays, that have included the Surface computing device line-up and the revamped Microsoft 365 subscriptions, in the end, do plug into the enterprise space very nicely. But Microsoft, for most intents and purposes, doesn’t really do consumer products. Except perhaps the Microsoft Xbox ecosystem. Let us look at some of Microsoft’s consumer products that no longer are around. Windows Phone, Groove Music, the Microsoft Band fitness accessory are some examples. Cortana, the virtual assistant, seems to be going down that path—the app for Android and iOS will be shut down next year, along with Cortana access for Harman Kardon Invoke smart speakers and the first-generation Microsoft Surface headphones. Cortana instead is getting deeper integration within the Outlook email app and Teams video meeting app, which have great enterprise significance. Gives you a sense of the demographic of users Microsoft is largely designing products and services for.

At this time, it is believed Microsoft wants to acquire TikTok’s operations for US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. “This is a unique deal of a decade opportunity with a price tag that could easily be consummated,” wrote Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush, to the investors earlier this week, as reported by CNN. It is believed TikTok’s value stands at $50 billion.

One of the primary reasons why Microsoft believes TikTok is an investment worth doing is it will get a readymade product in the social media space. The closest Microsoft right now is to that space is with LinkedIn, a professional network. Yet, it is no match for the might of Facebook, the Facebook owned Instagram and even Twitter and Snapchat. Maybe that LinkedIn acquisition holds a clue—Microsoft didn’t change the branding or the foundations of the network that made it successful in the space it operates. If the company does the same with TikTok, as in leave the branding and the app as is, it could simply be successful because of the numbers that drive TikTok engagement on a daily basis. The only change would be that the user data for US based accounts will be saved on servers in the US. As a consumer, that would make no difference, except you may perhaps have to again accept the new terms and conditions at some point when you open the app post the expected Microsoft acquisition.

Second, it is the oil of the modern world. Data. It all started with data, and the fears that data of US users was ending up with the Chinese government. After all, TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. In China, the National Intelligence Law of 2017 governs all tech companies that are based in China or are under Chinese ownership. The law mandates all businesses to share any and all information that the Chinese Government may ask for. This is something that is worrying governments around the world, including India.

Microsoft acknowledges the importance of the data that it’ll get from TikTok. “Among other measures, Microsoft would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States. To the extent that any such data is currently stored or backed-up outside the United States, Microsoft would ensure that this data is deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred,” says the company in an official statement confirming the talks.

As of January, TikTok had clocked 800 million users worldwide. The app saw more than 49 million downloads in the US just last year. On an average, TikTok users in the US open the app 8 times a day, with each session around 5 minutes—that works out to around 40 minutes of app usage in a day. This is the sort of ready-made platforms that don’t become available so easily for tech companies to acquire. Microsoft will finally have a product to take Facebook on with.

If you notice the list of countries that Microsoft wants to acquire TikTok in, these are all English-speaking. That would mean limited challenges when it comes to moderating content as well, without having to deal with complexities of localization.

TikTok is as consumer centric as it gets. In fact, this gives Microsoft a head-start in trying to understand a younger demographic of users, who will consume more services and apps in the years to come. While Microsoft fell behind with the previous generation with its much delayed attempts at battling with Google, Apple and Facebook in the past when it came to platforms such as Windows Phone, Outlook Mail, Bing Search and social networks in general, it’ll have an advantage over the rival big tech companies when it comes to understanding these users that it’ll adopt with TikTok.

Microsoft is also in a safe spot as far as regulators are concerned. While Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are all very much under scrutiny by the US Congress, Microsoft hasn’t been dragged into it just yet because of its business and enterprise focus.

Remember, TikTok is the one social media platform that has had Facebook worried for a while now. The popularity, the quick video format and the product itself has been some concern for Facebook, which is trying the same with Instagram Reels. With Microsoft’s might behind it, TikTok can logically stand to gain. The key for Microsoft will be to leave TikTok as is, and not make it a Microsoft product.


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Tech

Apple Has Updated The iMac Family And You Might Feel Like Splurging On The 27-inch iMac

Apple has announced updates for the 21.5-inch iMac and the 27-inch iMac with the new line of Intel processors as well as specification upgrades all round. The biggest change has to be the switch to the Intel’s 10th Gen Comet Lake processors for the entire iMac line now, which could perhaps make this the last iMac refresh on Intel before the expected switch to Apple’s own processors, the Apple Silicon, sometime next year. There are now SSDs that are standard across the line, the displays get some new capabilities and the FaceTime camera has finally been given an upgrade to 1080p resolution. There are three variants in the 21.5-inch iMac lineup and three in the 27-inch iMac line-up, with further configuration options available. The prices for iMac line-up in India start at Rs 99,900 for the entry spec 21.5-inch iMac with the Retina 4K display options priced at Rs 1,19,900 and Rs 1,39,900. The larger and more exciting 27-inch iMac is priced Rs 1,69,900 onwards.

With work from home very much a reality for many of us, at least for the foreseeable future, there are changed to the iMacs which should help in that regard. Apple has added a new nano-texture glass option to the iMac line, which is basically a less reflective matte glass. This should be good for those who may be working on the iMac in less than perfect ambient lighting at home. We may have never realized this, but the iMac didn’t have the True Tone ambient display capabilities till now—something that all MacBook options have had for a while now. That changes too, with the True Tone feature now standard on the new iMac, the 27-inch option. The FaceTime camera, the 720 affair that has been the same for many years now, has finally been swapped for a new 1080p camera, at least on the 27-inch iMac. That’s a demand we have had for a while now for MacBook line-up as well, and the change is happening. Apple says the new T2 chip will also improve tone mapping, exposure control, and face detection for video calls.

As far as the processor options go, you can have the 21.5-inch iMac with up to an Intel Core i7 processor with up to 32GB RAM, while the larger 27-inch iMac can be configured with an Intel Core i9 processor with as much as 128GB RAM. With SSD storage now standard across the options, performance will get a significant boost as well—these will be much faster than Fusion Drives and can be configured for your storage needs. That’s up to 1TB for the smaller iMac and up to 8TB for the 27-inch iMac. As standard, the 21.5-inch iMac is configured with Intel Core i3 and Intel Core i5 processor options with with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSDs. The 27-inch iMac standard configurations can be had with the Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors, with 8GB RAM and 256GB or 512GB SSDs.

The 21.5-inch iMac is available in the Full HD display option as the entry-spec variant, with the Retina 4K display available for the more powerful configurations. The larger iMac gets the 27-inch Retina 5K display with the 5120×2880 resolution.


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Tech

Dell XPS 15 (9500) Review: At This Price, You Will Consider Gaming Laptops & The Apple MacBook Pro

Dell’s XPS notebook lineup has often been considered one of the better options if you are looking to splurge on a premium Windows 10 laptop. Over the years, the XPS 13 in particular caught the attention for its modern designs, the slim build and well, carbon fibre. Carbon fibre looks good on pretty much anything. In a way, the Dell XPS machines provided a competent alternative to someone who didn’t want to buy the Apple MacBook Pro 13, for instance. Yet, the Dell XPS line did compete against some pretty solid rivals too, including the HP Spectre x360 line. The XPS 13 has been my favourite machine almost every year. However the company has finally brought some new changes to the larger XPS 15, which is finally gaining my interest. That being said, it will cost you a lot of money. The new XPS 15 prices start at Rs 1,86,073.

You see, the new XPS 15 was carrying the same design for years. Not that it’s a bad thing, but unlike its smaller sibling, it has pretty much looked the same. This year, Dell has gone for a universal approach, and the new XPS 15 9500 now looks a lot like the 13-inch version. It is slimmer thanks to the omission of USB Type-A ports, and the display now extends all the way down making it way more immersive. It is more modern.

SLEEK AND UNDERSTATED

Who wouldn’t mind a large screen laptop in an ever smaller footprint? The Dell XPS 15 notebook still continues to be a 15-inch laptop with a 14-inch footprint featuring an aluminum chassis, with a carbon fiber finish on the keyboard deck. The bottom chassis is said to be made from a single block of CNC machined aluminum. It just screams of premium-ness and Dell has given a lot of attention to the smallest of details. The one thing that I did however notice is that it is more on the heavy side, despite having a sleek design. I believe there are two reasons for it, first is all of that metal on the lid and bottom chassis, the second being the use of a larger battery rated at 86Whr.

Moving to the display, the lid opens nicely with just one hand and you are greeted with this large chunk of Gorilla Glass. Tucked underneath is a bright and colour rich 4K Ultra HD+ (3840 x 2400) resolution panel with 500-nits of peak brightness. According to Dell it is 40 times brighter and blacks are up to 10 times darker which I can totally vouch for. It is also a VESA certified DisplayHDR 400 display with over 16 million colors, 100% Adobe RGB and 94% DCI-P3 color gamut, and a 1650:1 contrast ratio. Most of these are for the high-end 4K panel which is what I tested and honestly, it is the best display panel I’ve seen on any notebook. The display looks immersive and I was impressed by how good HDR content looked on the panel. I am no creative professional, but I am pretty positive that if you are one, then you are going to love it. Now you do lose out a few features if you opt for the Full-HD+ version, but it still looks gorgeous.

OLED NO MORE?

What Dell doesn’t tell you is that it no longer offers a 4K OLED panel option which was available on the last-gen model. That’s because this year Dell has cut down on the bottom bezel. By doing so the display now offers a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 92.9% screen to body ratio. While that sounds good, standard OLED panels are only available in 16:9 ratio hence the move to a standard IPS panel. Also, despite the super slim bezels, Dell has managed to add an infrared camera with Windows Hello recognition, which in my opinion is the best way to unlock your notebook.

QUALITY SPEAKERS FOR YOUR EARS

Flanking on either side of the keyboard are the stereo speakers and they are just absolutely worth listening to. They fall just short of the speakers on the MacBook, which is obviously the gold standard, but honestly I haven’t heard anything this good on a Windows laptop. There is a nice thump of bass, vocals are crisp and they are loud enough to fill up an entire bedroom. This has been made possible by using a quad-speaker design with two 2.5W woofers and two 1.5W tweeters producing 8W of total peak output. These speakers have been tuned by Waves MaxxAudio Pro and Waves Nx 3D audio.

POWERHORSE FOR CREATIVE PROFESSIONALS

Dell has loaded the new XPS with the latest 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor which is a six-core 5GHz chip, enough to match most desktop PCs. Notably, this is the only processor option you get whether you go for the 1080p non-touch variant or the 4K touch version. There is 16GB of DDR4-2933MHz RAM or 32GB for the high-end variant with either 512GB or 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. For graphics, there is an Nvidia’s GeForce 1650 with 4GB memory.

I was pretty impressed with the machine’s ability to handle most of my daily workflow with ease which includes 10-15 Chrome tabs, a bit of Photoshop and some media consumption including YouTube videos and music on Spotify. Also, the included graphics processor is more than enough for some casual gaming and I would like to stress on the word ‘casual’ as this is strictly not a gaming machine. The GPU makes more sense when you are editing videos which helps the CPU to reduce rendering times.

By making the XPS 15 slimmer, Dell has sacrificed on the ports. You get a total of three USB-C ports all of which support power delivery and display out. Two of these also offer support for Thunderbolt 3.0. There is also a headphone jack combo and a SD card slot, which makes sense if you are a creative professional. Dell also ships a USB-C to USB-A and HDMI v2.0 adapter in the box. There is Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2×2) and Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless connectivity as well. Apart from face recognition, there is a fingerprint scanner as well which is oddly a black key on the top right corner. For some reason Dell didn’t even bother to put a power or a fingerprint scanner logo on the key.

The keyboard looks very XPS with a black finish and low-profile keys. Surprisingly the key travel is pretty good and I actually had a good time typing on it. The only thing that bugged me a little was the fact that the layout felt very centered, and I think I have a habit of tipping slightly to the left of my keyboard. But that’s just me. Also, there is a humongous trackpad, almost as big as the one on the MacBook Pro 16. It felt way too big to me but I am sure creative professionals and people who love using gestures are going to love this one.

AVERAGE BATTERY LIFE

As for battery life, Dell claims that one can get up to 8 hours and 27 minutes of Netflix streaming on the UHD+ panel with its 86Whr battery. I was able to get about 7 hours of battery life while video streaming and close to 6.5 hours with a mix of my daily work. If you pull down the resolution to 1080p or in this case 1200p, you could squeeze in at least a couple of more hours. Overall the battery is just about average and yes, you will need to charge this at the end of the day.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The new XPS 15 starts at Rs 1,86,073 and the one I reviewed costs Rs 2,14,048. That is a lot of money and honestly this is the most expensive XPS model we’ve seen in years. This puts it in direct competition with the MacBook Pro 16. And Apple offers you an Intel Core i9 option besides the six-core Core i7 processor.

This brings me to my second concern. I think it would have made sense if Dell introduced the Core i5 variant in India as well. I mean, I don’t mind running on a quad-core with a 1080p display if I could save some money. That way, they could have competed in a wider spectrum, but right now offering a single processor option, in just two variants is kind of putting the XPS 15 in a slightly uncomfortable place. Dell also has the larger XPS 17 in its arsenal which comes with a Core i9 option and could definitely make the MacBook Pro 16 run for its money. But, as of now, Dell hasn’t confirmed if or when they will bring it to India.

In my opinion, if someone needs a powerful portable workhorse, they might as well just invest in a slim gaming notebook or go for the Apple MacBook. Those choices make sense. Yet, somehow, nothing comes close if you need a pure premium feel for your Windows 10 usage experience.


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Categories
Tech

Apple iPhone 12 Series Unveiling Could Happen in Two Stages Due to Supply Chain Hurdles

While it is no longer a secret that Apple is going to defer the launch of the iPhone 12 series from its usual September time-frame due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, a new report has now claimed that the tech giant is reportedly planning to roll out its upcoming smartphones in two stages. The report points to the fact that it is the supply chain issues that have reportedly prompted Apple to take such a call. However, as always, there is no official word from the company itself.

As per a report by Digitimes, the roll-out of the new iPhone 12 series will see the 6.1-inch iPhone to be delivered first followed by the 6.7-inch and 5.4-inch devices. The report also states Apple suppliers have already begun shipping SLP (substrate-like PCB) mainboards for the 6.1-inch iPhone. Supplies, however, will start shipping the SLP for the other two models from later this month.

The latest report on the phased launch of the Apple iPhone 12 series smartphones is not the only to come out of the rumour mill so far. Previous reports have suggested that Apple will launch four smartphones in the iPhone 12 series family. For instance, the 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch models will be lower-end iPhones that will pack dual-lens and an affordable price tag. The higher-end models will consist of a 6.1-inch and 6.4-inch iPhones which will come with triple-lens cameras. All the iPhones will also reportedly use 5G technology as well.

Recently, famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that the iPhone 12 series models are not likely to come with wired EarPods and standard Type-C USB wall chargers inside the retail box. Kuo said that this could be a strategic move by the company to drive demand for the wireless AirPods and also sell the charger separately.


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Categories
Tech

China Hits Back at USA Over 'Smash and Grab' TikTok Strategy, AI Lawsuit Against Apple

The logo of the much-controversial TikTok app is seen on a smartphone, against the backdrop of the national flag of the United States of America. (Image: Reuters)

The logo of the much-controversial TikTok app is seen on a smartphone, against the backdrop of the national flag of the United States of America. (Image: Reuters)

The unofficial cold war between the two economic powers is now seeing China hit back at USA, accusing the Trump administration of trying to abuse its power, and American companies sidelining Chinese technologies.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: August 4, 2020, 2:15 PM IST

Over the past week, reports emerged about Bytedance looking to sell its USA operations of viral social media app TikTok to an American company, with Microsoft emerging as frontrunners. The app, which rose to viral fame across the world, has faced considerable setbacks in recent times, with the service being banned in India following a government directive. While it is seemingly staring at a potential ban in USA as well, the Chinese government is taking an offensive approach to combat American strong-arming, as per a recent editorial published by Global Times, the English newspaper of China’s government-backed publication, People’s Daily.

‘Submission or mortal combat’

The international mouthpiece of the Chinese government has accused USA of “theft”, describing the TikTok deal as an act of “bullying”. It went on to state that China will have “plenty of ways to respond”, should it see the US government force its hand in what it has described as a “smash and grab” strategy to manipulate a Chinese company operating in America. The narrative also appears to have ruffled sentiments in China, with Bytedance founder-CEO Zhang Yiming facing public backlash for being “too accommodating and yielding” to America’s demands.

The TikTok-USA saga, and the recent Global Times editorial in particular, signifies what may become the start of the Chinese government hitting back at international pressures. The Chinese government has stated that USA is using its technological superiority and its relations with its allies to create an unfavourable and biased environment of business for Chinese companies. However, while it cries foul over the Trump administration’s tactics, word from China indicate a direct response to USA’s threats. A Reuters report said that the China government has accused USA of creating an atmosphere, where the only two options left were “submission or mortal combat in the tech realm”. It isn’t a threat, but a subliminal warning for sure.

A billion-dollar lawsuit

China’s recent trend of hitting back at USA further continued with Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Company, commonly known as Xiao-i. The latter has filed yet another lawsuit against Apple, one of the biggest American (and global) companies, accusing it of stealing bits from its patents on voice recognition technologies and using them with Apple’s digital assistant, Siri.

The move coincides with China’s continued conflict with USA, where Huawei – arguably one of China’s biggest electronics companies – is already blacklisted, and Bytedance is close to selling off its operations to a US firm. Even though Apple’s statement expressing “disappointment” at a lawsuit filed by Xiao-i “again” suggests that it is fairly confident of defending itself in court, the $1.4 billion patent infringement claim suggests China is attempting to make inroads into US technology dominance, and prove that it is not going to take things quietly.

No longer dependent

Also important to note here is a recent report by market research firm Canalys, which suggested that for the first time ever, Huawei’s disclosed shipment numbers were higher than that of Samsung’s. According to the report, Samsung saw a 30 percent global shipment decline due to the Covid-19 pandemic to clock 53.7 million units shipped in the latest quarter. Huawei, meanwhile, exhibited only a 5 percent drop to clock 55.8 million units shipped in the same quarter. What’s important to note here is the distribution of nations for units shipped – while Samsung is a uniform, global player, over 70 percent of Huawei’s shipments come from China only.

While this means that Huawei will likely drop back in ranking once the pandemic normalises, it also goes on to show China’s might in the global technology industry – in turn hitting back at USA that even after being banned from conducting business with US companies, China is threatening to emerge as a potential global strength that can be large enough without bowing down to the dominant market players.

Even as US president Donald Trump makes a perplexing demand that the US government treasury should receive “a very substantial portion” of whatever price Microsoft pays to acquire TikTok’s USA business, China’s plans are different. It is on a trajectory to fight out the eyeballing episode, and state that it is no longer standing at a juncture where its businesses would fall if US or global coordination does not come through.


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