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30
Dec

LG’s UltraFine 5K Display Is a Worthy Companion to the New MacBook Pro, Even Without Apple’s Looks


At Apple’s MacBook Pro media event back in October, the company unveiled a pair of LG-branded high-resolution displays it co-developed with the display manufacturer. The UltraFine 5K and 4K displays are optimized for the Mac with tight software integration, and the 5K model in particular with single-cable connection over Thunderbolt 3 has been highly anticipated.

Apple has just begun shipping the UltraFine 5K display, and while a handful of lucky customers received their deliveries late last week, availability is significantly increasing this week and we’ve had about 24 hours with ours to develop some initial impressions.

Setup

Unlike some other displays, LG’s UltraFine 5K comes fully assembled in the box, making setup a breeze. Once you pull the protective sleeve off the display itself and some foam wrap off of the display’s foot (and easily peel off an Energy Star sticker), it’s just a matter of finding a spot for it on your desk, plugging in the power cord, and connecting the Thunderbolt 3 cable to your MacBook Pro.

Also unlike some other displays, the power supply is built into the display itself, so there is no large external power brick to have to find a place for.

ultrafine_5k_back
While the display comes fully assembled, the stand can be easily removed for transport or if you wish to use a VESA arm or wall bracket for mounting the display. LG includes a separate rear cover in the box for use with VESA mounts to make it simple to convert from standing to mounted setups.

The UltraFine 5K includes smooth spring and friction height adjustment, making it easy to move the display up and down over a range of 110 mm to find just the right height, while the display can be angled up or down over a range of –5 to +25 degrees. Vertical orientation of the display is not supported, although it can be rotated slightly left or right to compensate for minor leveling issues. A Kensington lock slot is included if you need to secure the display to a desk or other fixed object.

With the LG UltraFine 5K able to supply up to 85 watts of power over USB-C, this truly is a one-cable solution even for the 15-inch MacBook Pro, at least for basic setups. The display includes a camera, speakers, and three downstream 5 Gbps USB-C ports that provide up to 1.5 amps to allow for additional peripherals to be connected hub-style.

There isn’t even a power button on this display, which keeps the look and functionality clean and simple as the display automatically sleeps and wakes depending on the state of the connected computer. While it’s a simple design, the fact that there’s a single cable for data and power means that if you want to charge your MacBook Pro through the display, the UltraFine 5K has to be on, which may be an issue for a few users.

Build Quality

Make no mistake, this doesn’t look like an Apple display, but it’s certainly not terrible. A metal foot provides solid stability, while the rest of the body is a matte black plastic. My desk setup includes a hutch and I tend to keep the lighting in my office fairly dim, so everything about this display except for the screen itself kind of disappears into the background and doesn’t bother me. But if you plan to have this display sitting prominently out in the open, you’ll probably notice it’s not the prettiest thing on the market. Bezels are a bit larger than many other displays, particularly on the top where the camera and microphone are housed.

To be honest though, when you set this display up you’re not going to be looking at the bezels. It’s the gorgeous 27-inch screen that catches your eye. The 218 ppi IPS display is likely an identical or very similar panel to the one used in Apple’s 27-inch Retina iMac, supporting 99 percent of the P3 spectrum for improved color display. The screen itself has a glossy finish, although it does generate considerably less glare than the Apple Thunderbolt Display users may be familiar with.

Ports

A Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port is the sole input available on the UltraFine 5K, which means you won’t be able to hook up multiple sources such as over HDMI or DisplayPort and switch between them. The MacBook Pro uses Thunderbolt 3 over the USB-C port to drive the full 5K resolution over a single cable, while older Thunderbolt Macs can use Apple’s adapter to drive the display at lower resolutions.

ultrafine_5k_ports
On the downstream side, the three 5 Gbps USB-C ports with 1.5 amp power delivery make for a decent connectivity hub, but the lack of USB-A ports also means you’ll likely need some adapters if you want to hook up your peripherals.

Resolutions

The UltraFine 5K can be managed alongside other displays within the Displays section of System Preferences, and it defaults to a Retina 2560×1440 display, taking full advantage of the massive 5120×2880 screen. Unsurprisingly, text and Retina-optimized images are extremely sharp in this mode.

ultrafine_5k_sysprefs
I’ve been testing the UltraFine 5K as part of a three-display setup, alongside an Apple Thunderbolt Display and the MacBook Pro’s own screen. The Retina 2560×1440 display offers the same desktop size as my Apple Thunderbolt Display, which makes for a natural layout and easy transitions between displays. With its Retina display, the UltraFine 5K is obviously much sharper than the Apple Thunderbolt Display, a fact that’s impossible to miss.

ultrafine_5k_setupMy current desk setup: Apple Thunderbolt Display on left, UltraFine 5K in the middle, and new 15-inch MacBook Pro on right
If you prefer a different resolution for the UltraFine 5K, you can select from several other resolution options in System Preferences, including 3200×1800, 2880×1620, 2048×1152, and 1600×900. Interestingly, Apple doesn’t offer anything higher than 3200×1800 as a recommended scaled option, although the full 5120×2880 (as well as 1440×810 and 1280×720 low-resolution options) is available if you hold down the option key while clicking the Scaled resolution option. Unsurprisingly, everything is really tiny at the full resolution, as this display packs a lot of pixels.

LG Screen Manager

The UltraFine 5K and its 4K sibling are supported by an LG Screen Manager app for Mac, which is very similar to the OnScreen Manager app users of some other LG displays might be familiar with. LG Screen Manager supports automatic splitting of a desktop, allowing you to divide your screen into up to four sections to allow multiple apps to be automatically displayed maximized to the size of the section and preventing them from overlapping. As you drag an app to a section, other apps are automatically moved to other sections of the display and everything is resized to fit their new locations if necessary.

ultrafine_5k_screen_managingExample of LG Screen Manager’s split view – Dragging Safari from bottom right section to left section will automatically arrange and resize the window to fit the desktop section
LG Screen Manager’s most handy implementation is through a menu bar app that allows quick access to the different screen splitting options, but it also includes a fully windowed app that allows access to the same options, as well as software updates for the display and links to Apple’s System Preferences for adjusting resolution and more.

lg_screen_managerLG Screen Manager menu bar app (left) and main app (right)

Bottom Line

If you’re in the market for a 5K display to use with your new MacBook Pro, you don’t really have any other options, as the Thunderbolt 3 standard is just hitting the market. Regardless, this is a very solid display. Image quality is terrific, as anyone with a Retina iMac can attest, with accurate color representation and sharp text and graphics. The physical design may not match Apple’s aesthetic, but it’s serviceable and relatively non-obtrusive, while the build quality is solid.

The $1299 list price is certain to give many pause given other Ultra HD and 4K options on the market for half the price or less, but with Apple’s 25 percent discount dropping the price to $974 through the end of March, it really makes this display worth considering. The jump to 5K truly does make a difference compared to displays in the 4K range and the quality of this display is fantastic. The included camera, microphone and speakers are also nice additions for keeping a clean setup if you don’t have high-end requirements, and many users upgrading from the Apple Thunderbolt Display would miss them if they hadn’t been included.

On the downside, the single input may be an issue for some, while only having three USB-C ports on the rear of the display for downstream connections isn’t ideal given the USB-A world we’re mostly still living in. But USB-C is the future, so the situation will only improve as more and more peripherals adopt the standard.

Apple is currently the only authorized retailer for the UltraFine 5K, with online orders currently being quoted shipping estimates of 2–4 weeks and in-store pickup dates listed as early February. Apple’s discounted pricing extends through March 31, so users considering placing an order should make sure to lock things in before then.

Related Roundup: Displays
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30
Dec

Android 7.0 Nougat comes to Xperia X in Canada


sony-xperia-x-16.jpg?itok=5EiwYRKQ

Get that sweetness.

Android 7.0 has come to Sony’s mid-range Xperia X in Canada, weeks after it began rolling out to international versions.

We’ve cooked up a treat for you!Nougat is now available on the Xperia X.Follow our channels to see when it will be available on your device. pic.twitter.com/gACNaVo7PT

— Sony Xperia Canada (@SonyXperiaCA) December 28, 2016

As noted in the review, the phone is a fairly successful incarnation of Sony’s design language, but given the insatiable cadence of the Japanese company’s release schedule, it and its more-expensive kin, the Xperia X Performance, were quickly supplanted by the Xperia XZ.

What are your impressions of Sony’s version of Nougat for the Xperia X series?

30
Dec

Don’t buy a 32GB Android phone in 2017


32gb-pixel.jpg?itok=eiV5HqDU

Changes to the way storage works in phones which ship with Nougat, combined with larger app sizes and more common 64GB models, means you should think twice before buying a 32GB flagship.

A new year brings with it the certainty of new high-end phones to get all hot and bothered about. And while we’re still a couple of months out from the first round of Android flagship announcements, it’s time to start the new year with an important resolution: In 2017, it’s time to stop buying flagship phones with 32 gigabytes of storage.

We have more stuff than ever, and our stuff is getting bigger.

The most obvious reason to insist on 64GB or more is that the stuff on your phone is getting bigger, and not all of this can be offloaded to an SD card (if that option is even available). Including data, system-level apps like Google Play Services can hog 500MB or more just by themselves. For the Google app, you’re looking at around 250MB. And staple third-party offerings like Snapchat and Facebook Messenger are storage hogs too, weighing in at between 100 and 200MB. Others, like WhatspApp, come with a massive archive of what could be years of your personal chat history, photos and video, which can’t be offloaded to an SD card. App caches for the likes of Instagram, Twitter and Chrome can also number in the hundreds of megabytes, even on a phone that’s only a few months old.

And that trend is only going to continue as apps become more complex, better cameras and 4K-capable handsets have us taking more photos and shooting gigabytes of ultra-high quality video. You’re going to be using much more, not less storage in future, even with the ubiquity of cloud storage, and backup tools like Google Photos. What’s more, if you’re buying on a two-year contract, consider how much larger apps will be, and how much extra stuff you’ll have by the start of 2019.

Phones with Nougat out of the box need more space for duplicate partitions.

Maybe you’re getting by just fine on a 32GB phone that shipped with Marshmallow. That’s all well and good, but devices shipping on Android Nougat (and eventually Android O and beyond) put more internal storage out of your reach, because of the way seamless updates work.

In order to be able to quickly upgrade to a new version, a phone with Nougat out of the box duplicates many of Android’s OS partitions, like the system partition and the vendor partition. To put it in less nerdy terms, that means the space taken up by the OS on a Nougat-shipping phone could be double that of a comparable model on Marshmallow. It’s important to note that this only applies to phones that ship with Android 7.0 and up — upgrading from Marshmallow to Nougat won’t suddenly make you lose a bunch of extra space.

More: What are seamless updates and how do they work?

Bottom line: Consider that the firmware and related stuff takes up a little over 7GB on a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. In the Nougat world that could double to around 14GB — almost half of the phone’s marketed 32GB of storage. The 32GB Google Pixel is actually pretty reasonable in this respect, with all the OS partitions combined taking up just 5.4GB of space. But consider how much extra stuff other manufacturers add to Android, and how much space it takes up. It’s easy to see how 2017’s flagships could lose more than 10GB of space to the OS before you’ve loaded a single app. That’s less space than ever for your own apps and media.

For this reason alone, we’d expect 64GB to become the standard for Android flagships in the new year. Phone makers know that selling a 32GB phone where half of that allowance is unavailable is a recipe for unhappy customers and bad press. Sony learned that lesson in 2015 when it tried to sell an 8GB phone which, after setup, actually left users with just 1.3GB.

Should we see any flagships, or even mid-to-high-end models with “32GB” of advertised space, you’ll want to steer clear of them. Or at least dig into the settings before you buy and find out how much space you really get. But really, it’s time to insist on 64GB if you’re forking out a chunk of cash for a new phone with Nougat. You’ll thank us when you don’t run out of space.

(And in case you were wondering, definitely don’t buy a 16GB phone either.)

Android Nougat

  • Android 7.0 Nougat: Everything you need to know
  • Will my phone get Android Nougat?
  • Google Pixel + Pixel XL review
  • All Android Nougat news
  • How to manually update your Nexus or Pixel
  • Join the Discussion

30
Dec

Amazon will sell you a 200GB microSD card today for just $63


Amazon has once again dropped the price of the 200GB SanDisk microSD card to $63, which is a pretty great deal. While not the lowest price the card has ever hit, this is pretty close to it. Whether you need some additional storage in your phone, camera, drone, or even computer, you’ll be thankful to have 200GB that is so portable. Load up your favorite pictures, movies, music and more to carry around with you all the time!

sandisk-200gb-microsd-card.jpg?itok=h7d8

This deal is only good for today, December 30, so be sure to grab one now if you are interested!

See at Amazon

30
Dec

The Engadget Podcast Ep 20: I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down


It’s the last episode of the year and host Terrence O’Brien is closing things out with managing editor Dana Wollman and reviews editor Cherlynn Low. After looking at the biggest winners of 2016 last week, the crew is taking on the biggest losers. That means exploding phones, shady medical startups and trolls galore. Plus the standings for Flame Wars are finalized ahead of CES, so get ready ’cause things might get real weird next week.

Wins

Loses

Winning %

Christopher Trout
7
2
.777
Mona Lalwani
3
1
.750
Dana Wollman
12
9
.571
Devindra Hardawar
15
12
.555
Chris Velazco
3
3
.500
Cherlynn Low
8
11
.421
Nathan Ingraham
4
6
.400
Michael Gorman
1
5
.167

Relevant links:

  • Twitter spent 2016 pouring gasoline on its fires
  • Samsung’s 2016 went up in smoke
  • Theranos had an awful year, and it only has itself to blame
  • 2016 was a hard year to be an Apple fan
  • The year of Yahoo’s undoing
  • Smartwatches failed to excite in 2016
  • The worst gadgets of 2016
  • The year’s biggest loser was the American public

You can check out every episode on The Engadget Podcast page in audio, video and text form for the hearing impaired.

Watch on YouTube

Watch on Facebook

Subscribe on Google Play Music

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe on Stitcher

Subscribe on Pocket Casts

30
Dec

Microsoft thinks AR could help you find your lost keys


You may think RFID tags are a pretty decent way to track your property, but Microsoft is trying to patent a much higher-tech system. A Hololens-like augmented reality device would scan your surroundings and keep tabs on objects like keys, wallets or other things. Then, if misplace something, it would guide you straight to where it saw it last.

To set up tracking, you could scan specific objects by holding them up to the display so that it doesn’t track flowerpots, books and everything else in the room. A mobile device or headset like Microsoft’s Hololens (above) could then store its last location, position, state or other characteristics. In one example (below), if the system notices that your keys were covered by a newspaper, it’ll “highlight [them] on the see-through display” when you ask where they are.

In other cases, the device “may adaptively learn which objects to track” by determining their importance, presumably by some kind of AI scheme. It could also do things like remember how much milk you have and remind you to get some when you’re at the store. So in sum, Microsoft is throwing motion tracking, object recognition, and possibly artificial intelligence at the problem of … lost keys.

While I do mislay objects and enjoy augmented reality, I feel that Microsoft is throwing wayyy too much tech at this. There are plenty of other lost object solutions that work just fine, like RFID tags or Bluetooth trackers, for one thing. Mainly, I’d like to see Microsoft’s engineers spend time on more important Hololens features, so that I can start playing IRL first-person shooter games in the office like I was promised.

Via: CNET

Source: USPTO

30
Dec

Foxconn Details Three-Phase Plan to Eventually ‘Automate Entire Factories’ in China


Foxconn is deploying a plan broken down into three phases that will eventually “automate entire factories” in China (via DigiTimes). According to the general manager of Foxconn’s Automation Technology Development Committee, Dai Jia-peng, the company’s first phase of the plan is “to set up individual automated work stations for work that workers are unwilling to do or is dangerous.”

The second phase will see entire production lines automated along with a decrease of the number of robots used by the manufacturer. This will lead into the third phase, which is aimed to be fully automated factories “with only a minimal number” of human workers.

Image via the South China Morning Post

In the third phase, entire factories will be automated with only a minimal number of workers assigned for production, logistics, testing and inspection processes, Dai indicated.

Currently, factories in Chengdu, Shenzhen, and Zhengzhou have been brought to the second and even third phase, with as many as 10 “lights-out,” or fully automated, production lines at some of the locations. One of these facilities is located in Chengdu, where all-in-one PCs are being manufactured on automated assembly lines.

Foxconn’s lines are deployed with “Foxbots,” which it develops and produces in house at a rate of around 10,000 each year. Besides technology manufacturing, the company is also said to be creating robots for use in medical care as well. Human workers are still integral to the process, according to Dai, “because humans have the flexibility to quickly switch from one task to another.”

Yesterday, an article by The New York Times looked more deeply behind the scenes of Foxconn and its major iPhone manufacturing plant in Zhengzhou, China. The “iPhone City” has become one of Apple’s major global manufacturing plants over the past decade, and is one of the spots where Foxconn is now looking to deploy its three-phase automation plan.

Tag: Foxconn
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30
Dec

NASA’s chief scientist Ellen Stofan leaves the agency


NASA’s chief scientist Ellen Stofan is “departing for new adventures” after more than three years in the top advisory position. The planetary geologist, academic and researcher worked with NASA throughout much of the 1990s, returning to the agency in August 2013 for the chief scientist role. In an online exit interview, Stofan said the search for extraterrestrial life is the most exciting scientific endeavor NASA is currently undertaking, whether that eventually be found on Mars, an ocean world like Jupiter’s moon Europa, or perhaps one of the many alien planets spotted by the Kepler telescope — though she admits the geology of Saturn’s moon Titan, where it rains methane, fascinates her also.

Stofan has been involved in all manner of exciting projects, such as figuring out how to put humans on Mars, but she’s most proud of introducing a system whereby NASA collects voluntary demographic data on all grant proposals. “Implicit or unconscious bias is all around us; we may act on deep-seated biases that we don’t even know we have. The first step in dealing with bias is seeing if you have a problem, and that is what the data collection will tell us,” she said.

According to Space.com, NASA has yet to come up with any formal succession plan. But, whoever ends up taking the top scientician spot, hopefully they share Stofan’s drive to find “definitive evidence” of extraterrestrial life within the next decade or two.

Thanks and 🚀🚀@NASA_Langley @NASAStennis @NASA_Marshall @NASA_Johnson @NASAKennedy @NASAAmes @NASAglenn @NASAGoddard @NASAJPL @NASAArmstrong

— Ellen Stofan (@EllenStofan) December 23, 2016

Via: Space.com

Source: NASA, Ellen Stofan (Twitter)

30
Dec

Twitter boss says edit tweet feature is ‘definitely needed’


CEO Jack Dorsey asked Twitter users what improvements they most wanted to see, and as you’d expect, he got an avalanche of replies — over 5,700 so far. The most requested feature was the ability to edit tweets after you’ve sent them, rather than having to delete and start again. Dorsey agreed that “a form of edit is def needed,” and that the company is “thinking a lot about it.” However, he thinks anything beyond quick edits would require a changelog, and some users suggested any edits would worsen trust issues with the site.

Dorsey suggested that there are two types of edits Twitter could implement. The first would allow a window, say five minutes, to fix any typos, bad links and other user errors. The other would allow you to make edits anytime, much as you can on Facebook. However, as with Facebook, Twitter would be forced to implement a revision history in that case so that edits don’t go “off the public record,” Dorsey said.

@howardlindzon not sure why you’re quoting this tweet but yes, a form of edit is def needed. But for everyone, not just those w badges

— jack (@jack) December 29, 2016

It might even allow a short window to edit that could further damage trust in the network. By altering tweets, news sites or prominent individuals could slightly changing their context and meaning, for instance. President-elect Trump, for one, considers the site as his own personal “newspaper — without the losses,” he once tweeted. While it’s clear when he deletes tweets, many users might not notice if one has been slightly altered.

“Delete is enough. Context changing post-fact is dangerous,” user Justyn Howard replied to Dorsey. He added that even short edit windows between 30 seconds and five minutes aren’t really needed, since you can just delete and repost a tweet. As for a revision history, he points out that “80 people liked [your tweet]. Which version?”

@JBoorman I say “do you like to eat pizza”, you reply “yes” 3 minutes later. I change pizza to babies. Wouldn’t you rather I deleted it?

— Justyn Howard (@Justyn) December 29, 2016

Other top suggestions were to introduce bookmarks so you could find favorite tweets easier, rather than just using the “like” button, which also effectively endorses the tweet. The other main demand, of course, was to improve safety and reporting options for bullies, something Twitter has been taken to task for many times. In replying to many of those requests, Dorsey called it the company’s “top priority.”

Twitter is already looking or has previously looked at a lot of the ideas, Dorsey said, and that’s the rub of the problem with Twitter in general. It’s stuck between pleasing its existing users and trying to attract new ones to a site that’s notoriously difficult to grok and potentially dangerous once you get popular. Dorsey was perhaps hoping to see a genius idea that could solve all those problems and finally help make the site profitable — or saleable.

Source: Jack Dorsey (Twitter)

30
Dec

AirPods Supplier Increasing Production Capacity Due to Strong Demand


AirPods manufacturer Inventec is planning to expand production capacity for the wireless headphones in the wake of high consumer demand during the holiday season. In a new report by China’s Economic Daily News (via DigiTimes), the supplier is rumored to have begun expanding capacity in a few of its Shanghai plants.

The report noted that Inventec has recently started expanding capacity at its Shanghai plants in order to satisfy increasing demand for the earphones and the plants are currently working overtime to deliver orders.

After the AirPods went on sale on December 13, the headphones quickly slipped to shipping estimates from 4 weeks and then to 6 weeks. Thanks to positive initial impressions from the first group of customers, and increased fervor to purchase the AirPods for the holidays, many users began seeking ways to buy the headphones before Christmas, including third-party retailers like Best Buy and Target.

Estimated arrival dates have improved for many customers who were placed with lengthy month-long shipping estimates at first, and it appears that Inventec intends to continue to meet customer demand by “working overtime to deliver orders.”

This week, Apple CEO Tim Cook called the AirPods “a runaway success,” commenting on the fact that “we’re making them just as fast as we can” so as many of its fans can get a pair of the headphones as soon as possible. Overall, Cook said that Apple has had “a great holiday.”

Tags: digitimes.com, AirPods
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