Monday, September 20, 2021

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    Ipad (2020) hands-on: An improved sort of basic

    Sponsored Links [embedded content] If there's one iPad people probably want to see right now, it's the new, Pro-inspired iPad Air. Sorry -- that one just isn't ready yet. I have, however, spent the last day with Apple's new, 8th-generation iPad. With its classic iPad looks and its lack of substantially new features, it's just about as unexciting a tablet update as you could hope for. What the 2020 iPad lacks in thrills, though, it makes up for with extra power.  If you want to know more about the design Apple ran with for this iPad, I strongly suggest you check out our review for the 2019 model since it goes into those changes in more detail. It’s all pretty easy to sum up, though: The iPad now packs a 10.2-inch display that's noticeably bigger than what Apple used to offer in its lowest-end models, and it plays nice with the first-generation Apple Pencil. And like some of its more expensive siblings, the 2020 iPad also has a side-mounted Smart Connector, so you can magnetically attach accessories like keyboards and screen covers. Put another way, Apple finally took some of the features that were once exclusive to its Pro-level tablets and made them available on the cheap. That added value is hard to argue with, but it's not exactly new, and it's worth noting that tricking this iPad out with first-party accessories gets expensive fast. The first-generation Apple Pencil and the company’s Smart Keyboard together cost $260 -- for $70 more, you could buy another iPad entirely. (Thankfully, Logitech has some cheaper alternatives, but that’s new nothing new either.) Gallery: Apple iPad (2020) hands-on photos | 6 Photos 6 +2 So, what is new here? Well, it mostly boils down to one thing: The A12 Bionic chipset, which we first saw in the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max. Yes, those chips are now two years old, but they're enough to give the cheapest iPad noticeably smoother performance. Multitasking on the 2019 model could feel a little choppy at times, but I haven't noticed any of that yet, even when running two apps side by side with a third in a floating window.  I've also tried a handful of games over the past day, including Redout and Oceanhorn 2 -- two titles that gave last year's model some trouble. Thankfully, none of the little hiccups I ran into with that earlier model have shown up here yet, but that’s not to say they won’t. The A12 packs a redesigned GPU alongside more raw compute power than the A10 Fusion found in last year's iPad, so it’s no surprise that this iPad runs with less fuss. (Remember: The A10 was first used in the iPhone 7, all the way back in 2016.) Apple's choice of chipset also means its cheapest iPad finally gets a Neural Engine, which should give this iPad a boost when it comes to tasks that rely on machine learning. With all that said, though, this year’s cheap iPad has the same relatively skimpy 3GB of RAM as last year’s model did, so we’ll have to see how performance really shakes out in our full review. For now, at least, I really don't have much to complain about.  If nothing else, all of this makes the new iPad a surprisingly solid canvas for the new iPadOS 14 update, which recently went live for all Apple tablets newer than the iPad Air 2. Chris Velazco/Engadget You want widgets? You got widgets. (Just note that they're only visible when you hold the iPad horizontally). The search experience is also somewhat more streamlined so you're not inundated with a long list of results, and in an apparent nod to its desktop cousin, it basically looks like Spotlight Search on a Mac. The design has been cleaned up and revamped a few other ways, too: Phone calls and Siri requests don't take up nearly as much space on the screen as they used to, and apps like Notes and Apple Music have been redesigned to make better use of an iPad's screen real estate.  What might be most notable for the iPad are the changes Apple made to the Pencil experience. Like I noted in our iPadOS 14 preview, a new feature called Scribble lets you physically write in any text field with impressive accuracy. If you spend a lot of your time in Notes, you'll notice that the app now converts your roughly drawn shapes into more geometrically accurate ones, and that you can copy your handwriting and paste it as pure text. We'll dig into the in and outs of iPadOS 14 in our review, but know that there's plenty to like here. Chris Velazco/Engadget With all that said, there were a few things I had hoped to see this year that just haven't materialized. For one, the entry-level iPad still only has 32GB of storage, which is maybe fine if you never plan to save any files or photos, but less than great for everyone else. To save money, the iPad's display isn't laminated, so you'll notice a sort of hollow thunk when you prod at the screen with your finger or an Apple Pencil. A USB-C port would've been nice too, though I get why Apple didn't do it here -- asking cost-conscious consumers to shell out for new accessories kind of takes the value out of a cheap iPad. It's worth noting though that you get a 20W charger in the box this time, which will refuel the iPad faster way faster than the 10W charger we used to get. After about a day's use, it's clear this year's iPad falls into the same category the last one did: It's a great entry point for people who don't have a tablet or people who haven't upgraded their iPad in years. It's also a potentially solid choice for students who are learning at a distance this year -- the A10 was already a decent chip, but I have a strong hunch the A12 could run circles around the pokey Celeron processors you see in Chromebooks that cost about the same. All told, we're off to a solid -- if not exactly thrilling -- start with the 2020 iPad, but stay tuned for our full, final verdict soon. In this article: iPad 2020, tablets, iPadOS, preview, tablet, iPadOS 14, iPad, apple, hands-on, 2020 iPad, news, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Comments 54 Shares Share Tweet Share

    Apple Watch SE hands-on: The ‘greatest hits’ wearable

    Sponsored Links [embedded content] I've been wearing the new, 44mm Apple Watch SE for about a day, and I can't stop thinking of it as Apple's FrankenWatch. It's hard not to, honestly.  For one, the SE uses the same S5 system-in-package (or SIP) that we got in last year's Series 5, which in turn contains the same dual-core processor as the Series 4. Meanwhile, Apple has confirmed that the SE has the same compass and always-on altimeter as the Series 6, along with a very similar screen. From what I can tell, it's the same bigger display we got in the Series 5, just without the always-on functionality enabled. And while the Series 4 was the first Apple Watch to come with heart-sensing ECG support, you simply don't get that here. Ditto for the Series 6's new blood oxygen measurement features.  See what I mean? "FrankenWatch" feels like a pretty appropriate nickname -- the SE is a mixed bag of the best parts and features from the last few years of Apple Watch history. That means it, thematically at least, has quite a bit in common with this year's new iPad Air. Both new devices are surprisingly similar to Apple's highest-end models, and if you can afford it, the SE offers a lot more than the basic model — in this case, the $199 Apple Watch Series 3. Gallery: Apple Watch SE hands-on photos | 7 Photos 7 +3 Now, you're definitely going to want to wait for our full Apple Watch SE review, but as far as first impressions go, the SE leaves a pretty strong one. I've spent the last year or so wearing the Series 5 and really enjoying it -- it's only been in the past few years that the Apple Watch's processing power meant you didn't really have to worry about stops and starts and stutters. The whole experience feels pretty consistently smooth now, which you just couldn't say in the early days.  So far, the Apple Watch SE has felt just as fast, which of course makes sense since it shares its brain with the Series 5. In other words, you can expect performance that's in line with what was -- up until just recently -- Apple's flagship wearable. I haven't had the SE long enough to fully test its battery life, but I easily got a full day of use from the Series 5 when it launched, and the SE might last a little longer since it doesn't have an always-on display to worry about.  That's not bad for $280, though it's worth noting that last year’s Series 5 occasionally goes on sale for as low as $300. If you see one of those deals, you might want to jump on that instead. I'd personally opt for the Series 5 myself, but I'm perhaps a little biased: Earlier this year, before 2020 started going down the drain, I had an atrial flutter strike out of nowhere, and it was only thanks to the Series 5's mild concern via the ECG app that I went to an emergency room and got the all-clear. Since then, I’ve been glad to see new wearables like Samsung’s latest Galaxy Watch embrace similar features, and can’t help but be a little disappointed Apple had to cut it here. If you’re already dutifully keeping tabs on your heart (or just aren’t particularly fussed about it), then it's hard not to recommend the SE. It still has most of the health-focused features Apple has rolled out in the past few years, like fall detection, alerts for excessive ambient noise, and non-ECG-based heart rate monitoring. And if nothing else, the Watch SE is a great entry point for all of the new features available in watchOS 7.  Chris Velazco/Engadget That update just recently launched and is now available for the Watch Series 3 and newer. Naturally, we'll dig into what's new in watchOS in our full review, but I just want to quickly run through a couple of the highlights. There is a bevy of new watch faces here, from the whimsical (Geoff McFetridge's cute, clean "Artist" faces),  to practical options like the lap-tracking "Count Up" face for your next run o. Meanwhile, Apple really gets a kick out of showing off its new Typograph face, and with good reason: It looks fantastic. The problem is, without any kind of dial markers, it's kind of hard for me to tell what time it is.  Oh, and if you’re really in the mood — or if you give a Watch you’re managing through Family Setup to a kid without an iPhone — watchOS 7 lets you create Memoji right on your wrist. The process features almost the same level of depth as you’d find if you created a Memoji on your phone, just with a bit more lag. Beyond that, you'll also find the automatic handwashing feature, which indeed works as advertised once you enable it in settings. Just keep in mind that it doesn't seem to recognize back-to-back hand washes, you'll have to wait about 20 seconds before the timer kicks in again. Perhaps the biggest additions to watchOS 7 are Apple's sleep tracking tools, which I haven't been to test yet since power naps just aren’t in the cards these days.  Chris Velazco/Engadget And speaking of things I haven't spent much time with yet, there’s support for more workouts this year, like core training and dance. The only dancing I do is playing Dance Dance Revolution. In my living room. In the dark. So if you want to see that... I guess let us know? (And also, what’s wrong with you?) Since I have them, I might as well talk about Apple's new Watch bands, too. The silicone Solo Loop feels a lot like Apple's classic Sport Band, but the material actually seems quite a bit thinner. Personally, I don't find it nearly as comfortable as the classic Sport Band, but if nothing else, it looks cleaner. On the flip side, the woven loop looks and feels surprisingly nice — and it should for $99. I'm a little concerned about how this material will hold up over time — at risk of venturing into TMI territory, I am an incredibly sweaty man — though I appreciate the amount of stretch this material has.  Chris Velazco/Engadget I would caution you to be mindful of these bands, though, since they're the first ones you actually need to know your size for. Apple offers a print-out sizing tool on their website, which helps, but the sizing doesn't feel completely consistent between the two loop types. I wear a size 7 woven loop, for example, but the same size Solo Loop feels just a little too snug for comfort.  And that's about it for my first day with the Apple Watch SE. It doesn't offer everything I hoped for, but considering its price and the strength of what it does offer, the SE just might be the ideal entry point to Apple's wearables. Stay tuned for our full review to find out for sure. Apple Watch Series 6 Apple Watch SE Apple Watch Series 3 Price $399 and up $279 and up $199 and up Display LTPO OLED Retina, always-on LTPO OLED Retina LTPO OLED Retina Processor Apple S6 Apple S5 Apple S3 Storage 32 GB 32 GB 8 GB Sizes 40mm, 44mm 40mm, 44mm 38mm, 42mm WiFi 802.11b/g/n, dual-band 802.11b/g/n, 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz Optional LTE Yes Yes No Bluetooth v5.0 v5.0 v4.2 U1 chip Yes No No NFC Yes Yes Yes GPS GPS, GNSS, compass GPS, GNSS, compass GPS, GNSS Health sensors Heart rate, blood oxygen, ECG Heart rate Heart rate Always-on altimeter Yes Yes No Fall detection Yes Yes No Water resistance 5 ATM 5 ATM 5 ATM Battery Up to 18 hours Up to 18 hours Up to 18 hours Operating System watchOS 7 watchOS 7 watchOS 7 In this article: watchOS, preview, apple watch, wearables, watchOS 7, Apple Watch SE, apple, hands-on, news, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Comments 74 Shares Share Tweet Share

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