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Apple’s Pro Display XDR sets the bar for pro displays

If you want to see the future of Apple displays, then you don’t need to look far for reference as the company prepares to introduce its reference monitor for the rest of us, the Pro Display XDR.

Apple’s under-rated jewel

Introduced at WWDC I was fortunate enough to look at the Pro Display XDR in real world use, as a photography tool, for video editing, music creation and other professional workflow scenarios.

I was also given the chance to see the display in use beside a range of reference displays from other manufacturers, some of which cost almost ten times as much as Apple’s far more affordable $5,000 price tag for the system.

Anecdotally, I can confirm the viewing angle on the display is highly impressive – none of the other displays were able to match it.

I also felt that color consistency and color accuracy, brightness and contrast using Apple’s monitor at worst matched and at best exceeded what we saw coming out of competing systems.

That’s my anecdotal opinion.

All about the Pro Display XDR

The company has done a huge amount to deliver this kind of quality to its professional users.

Not only has it figured out how to populate the display with an array of 576 LEDs, but it has also developed its own graphics chip to analyse the image signal in order to optimize how those LEDs work. 

This is capable of making slight adjustments to color hundreds of times a second for better accuracy. The systems produce 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness.

Accuracy and quality is also boosted by the over one billion colors the display can handle, while these screens can deliver sustained levels of brightness more than three times as well as an average panel.

Apple states its:

“Pro Display XDR features a 32-inch Retina 6K display with P3 wide and 10-bit color, 1,600 nits of peak brightness, 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and a superwide viewing angle.”

It delivers  6,016-x-3,384 resolution and is also available in a glare-reducing matte version.

And clarity for all

What’s significant – at least for high-end Mac users in enterprise and business-critical scenarios at the cutting-edge of the creative, design, research and scientific industries is that you can pick up one of Apple’s displays, with a stand and a Mac Pro for less than the cost of a market-leading reference display from other manufacturers.

It’s actually cheaper.

But it also reflects a much deeper commitment that Apple holds to display technology. A commitment you can track right back to when it first began manufacturing its own displays in the ‘80’s.

Along with imaging enhancements on a system level (eg. Quartz, Metal, et al), in software (who else recalls when Photos and iMovie were tools Mac users got in the box that Windows users didn’t really have a good equivalent for?), the company also has a track record of display technology innovations in its systems.

That’s a track record Apple maintains in the Pro Display XDR, which proves that when the company puts its mind to it it is capable of delivering industry-leading image quality at a price no one else can match.

Some may note that introducing products at prices others cannot match is somewhat unusual for ‘the price is right but the price is high’ Apple.

That’s not an invalid point, but the new monitor also acts as a kind of desiderata for Apple’s future products.

apple wwdc19 pro display final cut Apple

Apple demonstrates the new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR at WWDC19.

As above, so below

Apple is offering a 6K display pro users can actually afford. Many pro users rent those $40k reference displays for about the same cost as an XDR when they are working on a project – now they’ll be able to buy them instead.

We know how the company operates.

It introduces things at the high end of its product matrix and then – over time – makes those solutions available across a wider range of systems before it either replaces the technology or finds something better.

This means that in an indeterminate time frame we can anticipate 6K iMacs, just as we already have 5K and 4K iMacs. It also hints at the next stages of the road map for display enhancements across notebooks, iPhones and iPads. 

And, of course, if Apple wants to deliver graphics capabilities to meet the needs of the high-end markets, it’s also going to be determined to give pro users and content consumers good reasons to want to use those screens.

There’s no point using the world’s most advanced displays in order to watch black-and-white movies, really, is there?

Up next:

With this in mind it is reasonable to expect Final Cut, Logic and Apple’s other imaging software products will also be enhanced with the tools they need to truly take advantage of the company’s best displays.

Apple is also working to evolve new industries – such as AR – in which content creators can exploit high-end displays when developing high-end experiences, and then offer those experiences to consumers across the Apple ecosystem.

And as the image quality of the content created improves, so too will the image quality of the systems we consume such content on.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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Best Smart Display for Your Kitchen or Living Room – Review Geek

Rating:
8.5/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $229

Two pictures of an adorable dog on the Nest Hub Max smart display.
Josh Hendrickson

The original Nest Hub (formerly Google Home Hub) is so fantastic, we called it the Product of the Year. Now, Google is back with the Nest Hub Max—a bigger and better take on the device.

Here’s What We Like

  • Bigger, better display
  • Bigger, better sound
  • Camera is useful

And What We Don’t

  • Still too hard to return to recipes
  • Hardware switch kills the camera and microphone

Here at Review Geek, we love the Nest Hub. The ambient screen is gorgeous, especially when combined with Google Photos. It perfectly integrates with your smarthome gadgets, and the voice assistant is also incredibly handy.

But at just seven inches, the screen is small. It’s perfect for your nightstand or office desk, but not so great for your living room if you sit across the room on a couch. At a distance, you lose some of its best screen-related features. The Nest Hub Max has solved this by adopting a bigger screen. While 10 inches might not seem like much, it makes a big difference, and it keeps everything we love about the Nest Hub (with one exception).

The Nest Hub Max also adds a camera, which brings in new features the original Nest Hub can’t match.

Hopefully, you don’t mind cameras in your home. Google takes an all-or-nothing approach to that, whether the camera and microphone are both on or off. But more on that later.

A Proactive Smart Display

One of the best features of any smarthome is voice commands. The ability to control your lights, plugs, thermostat, and more with your voice is something you don’t really need, but can’t live without once you have it.

A proactive smarthome is even better! When it anticipates your needs and turns lights on and off for you, it feels magical.

A dog in the main frame, and a profile photo of the author in the upper-right corner of the Nest Hub Max screen.
When the Nest Hub Max recognizes you, it displays your photo in the upper-right corner. Josh Hendrickson

The Nest Hub Max demonstrates that magic, in part. It includes an integrated camera and face-matching technology. After you train it to recognize you, it works for you and anticipates your needs. When I walk in the kitchen or living room in the morning, the Nest Hub Max sees me, greets me, and shows me my calendar, weather, and news. I don’t do or say anything beyond looking toward it.

I want to emphasize “toward it” as the camera uses a pretty wide angle. Often, if I’m making breakfast, the camera spots me and pulls up all that information, which is incredibly convenient. Other times, the photo slideshow continues, but a large banner notification appears with a few important bits of info, like my next calendar appointment.

The camera can also double as a security camera. This requires a Nest Aware camera subscription, which currently operates on a “per camera” basis. However, Google announced that starting in early 2020, one subscription will cover every Nest Cam you own, which will be helpful.

It Sounds Better, Too

The other benefit of moving to a bigger screen is it provides more room for the speakers. Thankfully, Google took advantage of this and upgraded the Nest Hub Max’s speakers in a major way.

The Nest Hub Max and Nest Hub side-by-side.
The Nest Hub Max is noticeably larger than the original Nest Hub. Josh Hendrickson

The Nest Hub Max is much louder than the original Nest Hub. The original is good enough to listen to when you’re right next to it, but the Max can fill your living room with music. It sounds good, too, with decent thumping bass and acceptable mix.

It won’t replace your surround system, nor will it stand up to dedicated smart speakers designed for the audiophiles (like Sonos or Echo Studio), but for the average person, it’s more than good enough.

Perfect for Your Living Room or Kitchen

Let’s address the elephant in the room. In many ways, one of our favorite features about the original Nest Hub was its distinct lack of a camera. This afforded you a sense of privacy and trust—something that doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with products from large corporations. You can safely put a Nest Hub in your bedroom and not worry about a camera hack.

A ReviewGeek YouTube video on the Nest Hub Max.
Watching YouTube is much better on the larger screen. Josh Hendrickson

The Nest Hub Max has a camera that does come with privacy concerns; however, it’s intended to be used differently. The Nest Hub is a smart display for your bedroom, but the Nest Hub Max is the smart display for your kitchen or living room. It’s the display you can see from across the room, and if you want to watch YouTube or get some recipe help, the larger screen is an immediate benefit

The recipe feature could use some help, though.

Room for Improvement

For a device so perfectly aimed at your kitchen, the Nest Hub Max is still a tiny bit lousy at recipe management. When you find a recipe you like, it works well. The steps are clear, concise, and you can navigate entirely by voice—after all, you don’t want to touch a screen with flour-covered hands.

The problem is, you can’t save recipes, nor can you easily go back to one. On one occasion, I chose a recipe I liked, started cooking, and had to stop in the middle. When I came back, I couldn’t find that recipe again; I had to use my iPad to find one that was similar enough to the original to continue.

The back of the Nest Hub Max, featuring a slider switch.
A single hardware switch controls both the cameras and the microphones. Josh Hendrickson

That’s a software issue, though, and Google can fix that. Unfortunately, my other major complaint is a hardware issue. You might like the Nest Hub Max’s size, but hate the camera. The good news is, you can flip a switch and disable it. The bad news? When you flip the switch, it also disables the microphone. It’s all or nothing, and, frankly, that’s frustrating.

Google could have (and should have) added a slide cover for the camera, and a dedicated switch to disable the microphone. If this concerns you, my recommendation is to stick with the original Nest Hub—it doesn’t have a camera, so problem solved!

For everyone else, the Nest Hub Max is a great choice for a smart display in your living room, kitchen, or any other larger room. It’s bigger and better than the original Nest Hub, which was already a fantastic device that outclassed Amazon’s devices, like the Echo Show.

If you want a smart display for the “communal rooms” of your home, this is the one to get—nothing else can compete.

Rating: 8.5/10

Price: $229

Here’s What We Like

  • Bigger, better display
  • Bigger, better sound
  • Camera is useful

And What We Don’t

  • Still too hard to return to recipes
  • Hardware switch kills the camera and microphone





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5 Ways to Display a Ruler on Your Computer Screen

You might think of a ruler as something only kids in school or carpenters use. But occasionally, everyone has a need for an old-fashioned ruler. If you don’t have a real ruler handy, why not use a computer ruler?

While they won’t help you draw a straight line, you can use these on-screen rulers to make small measurements. Let’s look at some useful options you can use on your desktop and phone.

A Quick Note on Using Computer Screen Rulers

Though these sites are simple, the rulers will look different depending on your device’s screen size and resolution. They attempt to calibrate themselves automatically, but this won’t always work out right.

Thus, while screen rulers are convenient when you have no other options, there’s no guarantee that they’re perfectly accurate. We therefore don’t recommend using these tools for any kind of precision jobs. Use a real measuring tool that you trust for more serious work.

You may wish to double-check these rulers for accuracy before you use them. It’s easy to do this using a common object with a standard measurement, like a dollar bill. A US bill is 2.61 inches tall, which you can use to test the ruler.

iRuler

iRuler is a classic PC ruler site that’s still around today. Visiting the site grants you access to a simple ruler right on your screen. It displays both inches and centimeters.

The site automatically detects your monitor size and resolution in order to display the ruler at the right dimensions. If it doesn’t get it right, click the select your monitor dimension text to fix this.

That’s all there is to using this easy tool, as it doesn’t offer much in the way of extras.

PiliApp Ruler

This alternative monitor ruler offers a few additional tools compared to iRuler.

When you first visit the page, it will ask you to confirm your detected monitor size. If it’s not correct, you can pick a different option or specify your own value. It also lets you choose I don’t know what monitor size is for a calibration tool.

With this, you can match up the size of a dollar bill, credit card, or iPhone with one on the screen to figure out your monitor size.

Once you’re done, you’ll have another ruler to utilize. This site has the centimeter and inch rulers on different pages, which makes it a little cleaner. You can also click the drag it button to put the ruler image in its own window and move it wherever you like on the screen.

FreeOnlineRuler

You might think that all rulers on your computer would be the same, but this one offers a few features that the above don’t.

First, you can click and drag to move the ruler around wherever you want it. This site also lets you hold Ctrl and drag the ruler to rotate it, which is handy if you want to measure an irregular object.

At the bottom of the page, you can uncheck centimeters or inches if you only want to show one of them. And the flipped option reverses the ruler, so you can measure from right to left.

FreeOnlineRuler also has a calibration tool. Click Please calibrate your ruler (or Calibrate if you’ve opened this before) at the bottom of the screen to open it. Here you can pick to measure a credit card, dollar bill, or sheet of paper to calibrate the ruler.

If you don’t have any of these, the site also helpfully lets you specify your own object measurement for calibration.

4. Ruler by Xalpha Lab

The above tools are great for desktop use, but they don’t work too well on a mobile device. If you need a ruler on your phone, perhaps to visualize one inch on the screen, then you should use a dedicated app.

For Android, we like the aptly titled Ruler. It’s a highly rated app that lets you make small measurements on your phone. Drag the height and width lines to display the dimensions of the object you’re measuring.

Tap anywhere on the screen to open the menu at the top. Here you can swap to the dark theme, change units, adjust the subdivisions, or calibrate it using a coin or credit card.

Of course, since your phone’s display isn’t as large as a computer monitor, you can’t measure objects as long. But as a quick electronic ruler, it’s handy to have. Even better, the app features no ads or in-app purchases.

If you need to measure larger objects, you should check out Google’s Measure app, which is one of the best toolbox apps on Android.

Download: Ruler for Android (Free)

5. Ruler by Tue Nguyen Minh

iPhone Ruler App

If you use an iPhone, you’ll find plenty of ruler apps available as well. This one goes by 3-in-1 Ruler, and offers a basic ruler as well as an AR measuring tool and option to print a ruler. Like the above, it has no ads or in-app purchases.

When you start the app, it will ask you for access to your camera. It needs this for the AR measuring feature, which uses your camera to measure the dimensions of actual objects. Pull down from the top to access the standard ruler, which measures up to roughly four inches/10 centimeters.

Modern iPhones also include a first-party Apple app called Measure, which allows you to measure objects using AR. Give that a try if you need to measure something larger than a few inches.

We’ve looked at the best ruler and distance measurements tools for iPhone before, so check those out for more options.

Download: 3-in-1 Ruler for iOS (Free)

Which Computer Ruler Will You Use?

We’ve looked at solid monitor ruler options for your desktop as well as your iPhone or Android phone. Whether you just need a quick visualization of a centimeter or need to measure something in a pinch, these will help you out. Just remember that they’re not perfectly accurate.

Looking for bigger measurements next? Check out how to measure area and distance on Google Maps and Google Earth


How to Measure Area and Distance in Google Maps and Google Earth




How to Measure Area and Distance in Google Maps and Google Earth

Google Maps and Google Earth can automatically measure both distance and area for you. Learn how in this step-by-step guide.
Read More

.



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How to Disable the 90Hz Display on the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL

Google Pixel 4 Back Camera Bump
Justin Duino

One of the Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL’s key features is its 90Hz display. But if you’re trying to save battery life, you can turn off the high refresh rate. Here’s how to keep the phone’s screen at 60 Hz.

How to Disable the 90Hz Display

To begin, swipe down on your home screen twice to move past the notification shade and into the quick tiles section. Tap on the gear icon to open the Settings menu.

Alternatively, you can swipe up from the home screen to open the app drawer. From there, locate and select the “Settings” app.

Google Pixel 4 Click Settings Gear

Scroll down and tap on the “Display” option.

Google Pixel 4 Click Display

Select the “Advanced” button to expand the menu.

Google Pixel 4 Click Advanced

Locate and tap on the “Smooth Display” option.

Google Pixel 4 Click Smooth Display

Select the toggle next to “Smooth Display” to disable the 90Hz display. As the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will be locked at 60 Hz, you should experience a slightly better battery life.

Google Pixel 4 Toggle Off Smooth Display

How to Force 90Hz Refresh Rate

If you’re not worried about battery life and want the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL to always run at 90Hz, you force the better-looking display. We don’t recommend this as it will run down your battery faster.

Before you can access the option to force the higher refresh rate, you have to enable Developer Options. To do this, swipe down on your display twice to access the quick settings tiles. Tap on the gear icon to open the Settings menu. Alternatively, open the “Setting” app from the app drawer.

Google Pixel 4 Click Settings Gear

Scroll down to the bottom of the menu and select the “About Phone” option.

Google Pixel 4 Select About Phone

Locate the “Build Number” item at the bottom of the page and rapidly tap on it. After a couple of seconds, you will be asked to authenticate yourself using the lock screen passcode (password, PIN, etc.).

Google Pixel 4 Rapidly Tap Build Number

Now that the setting is enabled hit the back button and select the “System” option.

Google Pixel 4 Select System

Scroll down and tap on “Advanced” to expand the full menu.

Google Pixel 4 Select Advanced

Locate and select the “Developer Options” button.

Google Pixel 4 Select Developer Options

Either use the search tool to locate “Force 90Hz Refresh Rate” or scroll down and tap on the option within the “Debugging” section.

Google Pixel 4 Select Force 90 Hz Refresh Rate

Select the toggle next to “Force 90Hz Refresh Rate” to turn the feature off.

Google Pixel 4 Toggle On Force 90 Hz Refresh Rate

Again, we don’t recommend you for the 90Hz refresh rate. Almost everyone that has used the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL has commented on the phone’s poor battery life. Forcing the higher refresh rate will make the device die faster than usual.





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How to Use Your iPad as an External Mac Display With Sidecar

iPad used as second display with Sidecar on macOS Catalina
Apple

The new Sidecar feature in macOS Catalina extends your Mac’s display to your iPad. With it, you can use your iPad as a secondary monitor or as a mirrored display that works with Apple Pencil and accessories like a mouse and keyboard.

How Sidecar Works

Once you have macOS Catalina installed on your Mac, you can connect your iPad to your computer and use it as an external display. It works both in a wired and wireless mode.

If you connect your iPad using a USB-C or Lightning cable, the connection is faster and more stable. But for most users, the wireless connection will work just as well. There’s no major lag as Apple uses its own Wi-Fi-based AirDrop-like peer-to-peer connection.

Sidecar UI showing Safari running How to Geek Website

Because of the peer-to-peer connection, Sidecar only has a 10-foot range. If you move to another room, you’ll notice lag and then a warning on the screen asking you to move closer to the Mac.

If you want to use the iPad as a portable display for a Mac around your house, you should look at Luna Display which works on a Wi-Fi network and has a longer range.

Once Sidecar is enabled, the iPad works as more than just a monitor. You’ll see a sidebar with controls and shortcuts, along with a virtual Touch Bar at the bottom of the screen. You can use touch, Apple Pencil, and a mouse to control the Mac display on your iPad.

Sidecar UI showing virtual Touch bar

While the touch UI does work, it’s not intuitive. If you were hoping that Sidecar would turn the Mac into an iPad where you’ll be able to use your fingers to tap on the screen and move around, alas, this is not it. The UI elements in Mac was quite small for this to work reliably.

So when you tap on the screen with a finger or you try to scroll with a finger, nothing happens. You have to use two fingers to scroll. And the only way to click or tap on elements is by using the Apple Pencil or a mouse that’s connected to the iPad (which brings up a cursor on the screen). The Mac’s keyboard and trackpad, of course, works reliably.

The Apple Pencil also can’t be used to navigate the UI. It can only be used for clicking and selecting things on the Mac. Apple Pencil does shine when used to draw on the screen in supported apps. This works natively for the Mark Up feature in Preview along with third-party apps like Affinity Photo, Adobe Illustrator, and more.

What this means is that to successfully use Sidecar as a secondary display, you’ll need to get used to a new interaction model. Swipe with two fingers to navigate, click and select using Apple Pencil or a mouse. The new text selection and editing gestures from iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 work here as well.

RELATED: What’s New in macOS 10.15 Catalina, Available Now

Sidecar Compatibility

Sidecar feature is supported on the following Macs running macOS Catalina:

  • MacBook Pro introduced in 2016 or later
  • MacBook introduced in 2016 or later
  • MacBook Air introduced in 2018 or later
  • iMac introduced in 2016 or later, plus iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015)
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac mini introduced in 2018 or later
  • Mac Pro introduced in 2019

And on the following iPads with Apple Pencil support running iPadOS 13:

  • iPad Pro: all models
  • iPad (6th generation) or later
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)

Before you begin using Sidecar, make sure that both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled on both devices.

How to Setup Sidecar

The process of connecting to Sidecar is the same for both wired and wireless connections. If you’re going to use the wired connection method, connect the Mac to your iPad using a compatible cable first.

You can start the Sidecar connection in a couple of ways. The best way is to use the AirPlay option in the menu bar.

If you can’t spot the AirPlay icon in the menu bar, you can enable it by going to System Preferences > Displays and checking the “Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available” option.

Show mirroring option for AirPlay

Now, click on the “AirPlay” button from the menu bar. Here, select your iPad.

Click to enable Sidecar from AirPlay menu

And that’s it. The Sidecar feature is now enabled and your iPad will start working as an external display. You can now drag and drop windows from your Mac’s screen to the iPad.

Alternatively, you can also go to System Preferences > Sidecar and then click on the “Select Device” dropdown and select your iPad from the list. Sidecar should now run on your iPad.

Connect to Sidecar from System Preferences

How to Use and Customize Sidecar

While you can simply use the iPad as a secondary monitor, there are some specific controls in macOS to improve your experience.

First of all, you can switch to the mirroring mode to control the Mac from the iPad. This can be useful while remaining in the room but not sitting at the computer.

To do this, click on the “Sidecar” button from the menu bar after the iPad is connected. Then click on “Mirror Built-in Retina Display.”

Sidecar options in Menu bar

The Sidecar UI on the iPad is quite simple. You’ll see a sidebar on the right and a virtual Touch Bar on the bottom (even if your Mac doesn’t support Touch Bar).

Sidecar iPad UI
Apple

On the top of the sidebar, you’ll find options to show or hide the menu bar and the Dock so you can enable full-screen mode on the Mac.

In the middle, you’ll find your modifier keys: Command, Option, Control, and Shift. You can double-tap on a key to lock it.

At the bottom, you’ll see the Undo, Keyboard, and Disconnect options.

The “Keyboard” button brings up iPadOS’s compact floating keyboard which supports gesture typing. You can use the “Disconnect” button to end the Sidecar connection.

You can also customize the Sidecar UI found on the iPad. On your Mac, Go to System Preferences > Sidecar.

Click on Sidecar from System. Preferences

From here, use the drop-down next to “Show Sidebar” to move the Sidebar from the left to right. You can also move the Touch Bar to the top or bottom from the “Show Touch Bar” option.

Additionally, you can uncheck the “Show Sidebar” and “Show Touch Bar” options to disable both elements.

Sidecar options in System Preferences

If you’re an avid Apple Pencil user, you can also check the “Enable double tap on Apple Pencil” option to use the double-tap gesture as a right-click option on the Mac.

To Disconnect Sidecar, select the “Disconnect” button from the bottom-right or left corner (depending on your preferences) of the iPad’s screen.

Tap on the Disconnect button to stop Sidecar connection

Alternatively, you can go to the “AirPlay” menu from the menu bar on your Mac and click on the “Disconnect” button.





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Facebook sends its Portal smart display to work

Facebook wants to bring its Portal video display hardware to the office with the introduction of a dedicated Workplace app – one of a handful of updates to the company’s enterprise social network announced at the Flow user conference in San Francisco this week.

Launched last year, Portal supports video calls between Facebook and WhatsApp users, with an AI powered “smart camera” that tracks body movements of speakers during calls. With the Workplace app, Portal can now be used to connect work colleagues, too.

“You will be able to use Workplace on a Portal device to communicate not with your friends but with your colleagues,” said Julien Codorniou, Facebook’s vice president for Workplace. “You will be able to call them on another Portal device, on their mobile phone if they are on the go or on their PC or iPads if they are in the office.”

To make calls on Portal, Workplace users must first sign into their personal Facebook account before logging in to their Workplace account.  The Workplace app will be available for Portal Mini, first- and second-generation Portal devices and Portal+. It is slated to arrive in December.

Shipments of Portal devices got off a slow start following its introduction, with 54,000 units shipped in 2018, according to IDC analysts. (The device was released in November, meaning those shipments all took place at the end of the year.) 

Portal demand appears to have ramped up during 2019, (Facebook announced new devices last month) and Codorniou is bullish on the potential for the displays in a work setting. He noted that some Workplace customers requested trials of Portal after the device became available, and have subsequently been testing Portal devices in their organizations.

Two main use cases have emerged, said Codorniou.

One is for large companies that replace expensive legacy voice-over-IP or video-conferencing devices. “The [existing enterprise video hardware] solutions on the market are quite expensive and the quality is not great, so we are leveraging the investments that Facebook has in video conferencing on Facebook and WhatsApp and adapting it for the world of enterprise,” said Codorniou. He predicted some companies will put Portal devices on the desks of “every employee.”

The displays could also be used to connect remote workers. “You can also imagine every exec or mobile-only employees having Portal at their home office, helping them feel more connected to the people at the HQ,” he said.

While there is clear interest in Portal among some enterprise customers, said Angela Ashenden, principal analyst at CCS Insights, she said the use of Workplace with Portal devices remains a “very early concept.”

“Facebook does not yet have a business offering for Portal and there are questions about security and compliance around using Portal in a business context,” she said. “However, this does seem to be an early sign of another potential opportunity for Facebook to branch out in the enterprise market.”

Facebook continues its enterprise efforts

Workplace was Facebook’s first attempt to address the enterprise market; the enterprise social network launched in 2017 and the company has continued to add business-focused services such as an enterprise package for its Oculus virtual reality headset

Ashenden expects Facebook to continue to evolve its focus on corporate customers and predicts that the company will integrate Oculus for Business with Workplace in the next two to three years. The end result: a product aimed at “task workers” such as those in customer-facing, industrial or field-service roles.  

In addition, Portal could also serve as way to introduce Facebook’s voice assistant technology to the workplace. Facebook is reportedly working on its own AI assistant to integrate with Portal, as well as VR and AR products.  “The role of voice assistants in the enterprise is still very much being fleshed out, and Workplace by Facebook’s growing adoption will give it a valuable running start as it begins to explore the opportunities here,” said Ashenden.

Workplace adoption stats and new features

Facebook also highlighted adoption stats for its enterprise social network during the Flow conference.

There are now 3 million paid Workplace users, up from 2 million eight months ago. Facebook counts Walmart, Nestle and Dominos among its customers, with various businesses deploying Workplace to all workers – in some cases to more than 100,000 staffer.

Facebook has focused on “frontline” employees such as retail workers, introducing new features and pricing aimed at encouraging deployments of Workplace to employees that often have limited or no access to digital tools.

This strategy is paying off – and targeting deskless workers is likely to have boosted uptake of Workplace, said Ashenden. “Facebook continues to show impressive momentum with Workplace, with its focus on frontline or deskless workers continuing to create differentiation and opportunity for the brand,” she said. 

Facebook also unveiled a range of new features for Workplace. The list  includes enhancements to video capabilities within Workplace, including live video captioning and faster video. Those updates rely on a new peer-to-peer video solution that distributes a video stream to multiple viewers, rather than each individual getting his or her own stream.

One expected use for Workplace is live streaming, such as CEO presentations to the entire company.

“[This will] will allow our customers to consume less bandwidth using peer-to-peer protocols, reducing the cost of live streaming on Workplace, which is something our biggest customers have been asking for,” said Codorniou. 

Said Ashenden: “Video is an area that’s increasingly popular in the HR and Communications-led collaboration initiatives where Workplace is strongest, and Workplace is in a strong position given its ability to take advantage of the technology it inherits from the consumer Facebook platform.”

Other updates include the introduction of new “learning” posts within Workplace to encourage best practices and help employees gain new skills, as well as a new type of post that lets users “thank” colleagues; it automatically notifies an employee’s manager.  It is also possible to send short surveys via Workplace Chat, the business equivalent of Facebook’s Messenger app.   

A new analytics platform is designed to provide IT admins with more insight into corporate communities, allowing them to identify engaged users and view sentiment analysis for individual posts.

Facebook will also make Workplace available to frontline workers without a company email address and ensure that employees can only access the app during work hours to minimize digital overload.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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How to Disable the Apple Watch’s Always-On Display

Apple Watch Series 5 Always-on Display
Justin Duino

Early Apple Wach models lacked one significant feature: an always-on display. That changed with the Series 5, which includes a low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) display. The option shouldn’t affect the Apple Watch’s battery life, but here’s how to turn it off.

Disable It from the Apple Watch

Start by pressing the Apple Watch’s digital crown.

Apple Watch Click Digital Crown

Locate and tap on the “Settings” app. The icon looks like a gear.

Apple Watch Tap Settings

Scroll down and then select “Display & Brightness.”

Apple Watch Tap Display & Brightness

Tap on the “Always On” option.

Apple Watch Tap Always On

Tap on the toggle next to “Always On” to turn the feature off.

Apple Watch Toggle Off Always On

Alternatively, you can leave the always-on display enabled and toggle on “Hide Sensitive Complications.” This setting won’t turn off the Apple Watch’s display, but it will keep any private information from showing when the screen isn’t completely awake.

Disable It from the Watch App on iPhone

You can also disable the Apple Watch’s always-on display through the “Watch” app on your iPhone. To do this, open the “Watch” app from your homescreen. To locate it, use Apple’s Spotlight search to find the app.

Apple iPhone Select Watch App

Scroll down and then select “Display & Brightness.”

Apple iPhone Watch App Tap Display & Brightness

Tap on “Always On.”

Apple iPhone Watch App Tap Always On

Select the toggle next to “Always On” to disable the Apple Watch’s always-on display.

Apple iPhone Watch App Toggle Off Always On

Again, you can toggle on the “Hide Sensitive Complications” option if you want the Apple Watch not to display private information when the screen isn’t fully awake.






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A 55″ 4K QLED Display That Runs Android TV – Review Geek

OnePlus TV
OnePlus

Along with revealing a new flagship smartphone today, OnePlus announced its first smart TV (currently for India only), a device that has been hyped for months leading up to today’s event as the company trickled out details to curious customers.

Known as the “OnePlus TV,” the company originally announced that it was working on a television in September 2018. After a year of development and much speculation about its specifications, OnePlus has ripped off the covers to reveal a 55-inch 4K QLED display that is powered by Android TV. The company also built its own content discovery platform called OxygenPlay that runs on top of Android TV. All other app services are handled specifically by Android TV, however, save for Netflix—that will be available later this year. The TV will also be compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

OnePlus notes that it aimed for a sleek, minimalist design with almost no bezel wrapping around the display. While we don’t have all the specs yet, the TV has quantum dot color, supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+, and it has a 50-watt eight-speaker configuration that delivers surround sound via Dolby Atmos. Connectivity behind the unit includes three HDMI ports, two USB slots, an Ethernet jack, and support for Bluetooth 5.0. OnePlus says its TV touts best-in-class colors when compared against other QLED TVs.

Back of OnePlus TV
OnePlus

The bundled remote is equally minimalist in design, featuring only a few buttons and a USB Type-C port for recharging the device instead of replacing any batteries. Along with a dedicated remote, the OnePlus TV can be controlled through the OnePlus Connect app, which lets you navigate the TV’s interface from your smartphone and includes abilities such as taking screenshots from the TV.

The company will initially offer two versions: standard and pro. The main difference between these models seems to be that the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro can retract its soundbar out of sight when not being used, while the standard OnePlus TV Q1 has its soundbar fixed in place.

Pricing starts at Rs. 69,900 ($985 USD) for the OnePlus TV Q1, while the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro is set at Rs. 99,900 ($1,400 USD). Availability is initially limited to India, with units available for purchase on Amazon India starting September 28, while North America, Europe, and China will see launches when OnePlus establishes partnerships in those regions.





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The Tivoo Max is a Retro Pixel Art Display That Doubles as a Thumping Bluetooth Speaker

Our verdict of the Divoom Tivoo Max:
The Tivoo Max is a gorgeous pixel display and great bassy speaker, with a wide selection of features and massive library of pixel art–all wrapped up in a chic retro TV package. It’ll look fantastic no matter where you put it, and add a little magic to your room.
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Pixels are making a serious comeback. Perhaps we’re just sick of the ultra clarity of real life, and yearn for the days when 256 dots were all you needed to make a convincing character. Whether you’re a child of the 80s or just love the retro appeal of pixel art, Divoom has the perfect desktop toy for you. The Tivoo Max is a gorgeous portable LED pixel display with built-in 40W Bluetooth speaker, all packaged in the style of an old CRT television.

It looks stunning and doesn’t sound half-bad either. With a huge library of pixel art, an army of artists, and a feature set that blows away any imitators, the Tivoo Max is a versatile device that would add a little magic to your desktop, bedside table, or shelf.

Join us as we take a closer look, and at the end of this review, we’ve got another one to give away to one lucky reader.

The Tivoo Max is available direct from Divoom, or on Amazon, for under $200.



Divoom Tivoo Max


Divoom Tivoo Max

Buy Now On Amazon
$199.00

Design and Durability

With a hefty bass speaker and 10,000mAh internal battery, the Tivoo Max weighs in at just under 1.5kg (or just over 3 pounds). That’s heavy enough that it’s uncomfortable to hold in one hand for long. This also means that you’ll do some serious damage to the case or front panel if you drop it.

The Tivoo Max is a Retro Pixel Art Display That Doubles as a Thumping Bluetooth Speaker tivoo max photo overview

So despite technically being portable, we wouldn’t suggest taking this out and about for partying. It’s really designed to sit on display and just look stunning.

The pixel display itself is a 140mm square, and the whole Tivoo stands at 185mm tall, 160mm wide, and 86mm deep. Four chrome feet sit on the base, with a chrome dial and button on the side, and four capacitive controls on top for volume, play, and alarm. The main body comes in red (as reviewed), white, or black.

As a Pixel Display

The main function of the Tivoo Max is a bright, customizable 16×16 pixel display. The Divoom app features a huge library of art, and you can save up 12 animations or pictures directly to the Tivoo on a custom favorites channel. Your chosen favorites will just play in rotation.

The Tivoo Max is a Retro Pixel Art Display That Doubles as a Thumping Bluetooth Speaker tivoo max photo side dial
The viewing angle of the screen is enormous. The large chrome dial on the side changes the “channel”.

Turning the dial on the side selects other channels or features as configured from the app.

There’s a couple of pre-made “cloud channels” too: seasonal, hot, and cool. These appear to be selections of top or topical content drawn from the library, and I’d assume they update over time.

You can of course also create your own static pictures, animations, or text messages to be displayed on the Tivoo.

divoom app pixel art creation gif
I wonder how many points I’ll get for this one?

If you fancy yourself as a retro art creator, upload your work and you could earn points. And what do points mean? Prizes! Points can be exchanged for Divoom hardware products, so the best creators are rewarded with more than just internet karma. There are also monthly competitions to submit your pixel art creations, again, with real hardware prizes.

Or you can just download the hard work of others. There’s no shame in not being a creator! Divoom has been around a while, so there’s a lot to choose from.

As a Speaker

Featuring dual 10W speakers for stereo sound, plus a 20W subwoofer, the audio quality from the Tivoo Max is surprisingly good. It’s easily better than your Amazon Echo, but not quite as good as a Sonos One. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the sound at this price point, that’s for sure. You can hear a sample in the review video.

rear of divoom tivoo max showing sub cone

There’s a visualizer channel too, so if you have audio playing through Bluetooth or the local SD card, you’ll get a selection of music-reactive animations to choose from. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to work with ambient audio, so if your music is coming from elsewhere, the visualizer will remain static.

GIF of tivoo max music reactive channel

The only slightly annoying quirk I found with the Tivoo was that as the primary purpose is to be a display, it was left on most of the time. This meant I had to micromanage the Bluetooth audio connection. With most Bluetooth speakers, you’d only turn them on when you actually want to use them, so the automatic connection is a time saver. With the Tivoo, you may need to turn your Bluetooth off if you don’t want it randomly redirecting your audio when you walk near.

And More

While not truly being a smart speaker, in that there’s no Alexa or Google Home connectivity, the Tivoo Max can nonetheless run a selection of “apps”. Most of these actually run on your phone while using the LED display for visual output. At current count:

  • A basic version of Tetris and Breakout, played a little awkwardly using the dial on the side.
  • Magic 8-ball, and a dice roller.
  • A Slot machine, where you can win actual Divoom points.
  • Clock, alarm, weather, date display etc (these don’t require your phone).
  • Daily planner, which alerts you at certain times of the day (also doesn’t need your phone).
  • Stopwatch and countdown timer.
  • Sleep timer with built-in white noise samples and night light.
  • Scoreboard.
  • Volume meter.
  • “DJ Mixer”, which is a collection of sound samples (bass, synth and vocal loops etc) with corresponding reactive pixel art.

You can also configure notifications of social alerts from your phone, though these consist of a large social icon flashing on the screen, and don’t actually read your messages. I’m not sure we need any hints to direct our diminishing attention to a phone screen, but it’s there if you want.

The "DJ Mixer" app from Divoom
The “DJ Mixer” is very basic, so anything I made on it sounded awful due to the lack of automated beat matching (and my atrocious sense of rhythm).

There’s lot of amusing distractions then, and apps that will prove more useful in different situations. As a desktop gadget, the daily planner would be great. For instance, I understand it’s all the rage now to have hourly alerts telling you to drink water, among those whose sense of thirst is broken. As a bedside clock, the sleep timer is obviously useful. And I’m sure you could amuse your nephew or niece for literally minutes with the games (while recounting stories of how computers used to be).

But most of us will probably just ignore these features, and use it as a nice speaker and incredibly good looking pixel display.

Should You Buy a Tivoo Max?

The Tivoo Max is a gorgeous and versatile device with features that suit various tasks around the home. Buut a large chunk of the price comes from the hefty built-in speaker. If you’re purely looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker, this probably isn’t it. You’re probably seeking something a little more durable, that you can carry around and won’t destroy by dropping it. Take a look at the UE Boom


Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2: A Bombproof Bluetooth Speaker




Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2: A Bombproof Bluetooth Speaker

The Wonderboom 2 is a rugged Bluetooth speaker with a punchy 360 sound, up to 13 hours of playtime, and a stereo pairing option.
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series if you’re not particularly invested in the idea of having a music reactive pixel display attached to your speaker.



Divoom Tivoo Max


Divoom Tivoo Max

Buy Now On Amazon
$199.00

On the other hand, if you’re really keen on a pixel display but don’t particularly need the speaker element, check out the Divoom Pixoo instead. It’s a lot cheaper (around $50), and the display is actually slightly larger.



Divoom Tivoo Max


Divoom Tivoo Max

Buy Now On Amazon
$54.90

However, if you’re after a magical desktop gadget or art piece for your home–which also happens to be a rather great-sounding Bluetooth speaker–the Tivoo Max is perfect. It’s the best sounding device in Divoom’s extensive range, but there are other options to suit every price point and feature set. Divoom are also currently running an IndieGogo campaign for their latest design, the Ditoo (review coming soon!)

Enter the Competition!

Divoom Tivoo Max Pixel Art Display and Portable Speaker Giveaway



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HP Pavilion 32 QHD 32-Inch Display Review & Rating

The HP Pavilion 32 QHD 32-Inch Display shows rich and reasonably true colors for both video and photos. With goodies like a USB Type-C port (which you can use as a display-signal input, or to quickly charge small devices like cell phones), it is a worthy successor to the Editors’ Choice-winning, and similarly named, HP Pavilion 32 Display. It’s our newest pick among large-screen, general-purpose home monitors.


A Straightforward Design

Design-wise, the matte-black HP Pavilion 32 QHD 32-Inch Display is plain and straightforward, with half-inch bezels on two sides and the top, and an inch-thick bezel at the bottom. The cabinet rests on a short stalk attached to a rectangular base.

Including the stand, the Pavilion 32 QHD measures 17.1 by 29.9 by 2.6 inches (HWD), and it weighs 15.7 pounds. The monitor supports tilt adjustment, from 5 degrees downward to 25 degrees upward, but it lacks height or swivel adjustment. The back of the monitor includes the ports, some ventilation grilles, and a notch for a security lockdown cable.

HP Pavilion 32 QHD 32-inch Display

The Pavilion 32 QHD employs a 32-inch panel (that’s measured diagonally), with a native resolution of 2,560 by 1,440 pixels (known also as QHD), for a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. The panel uses vertical alignment (VA) technology, which is known for its high contrast ratio and deep blacks.

Its pixel density works out to 92 pixels per inch (ppi), which matches that of the earlier HP Pavilion 32 Display. (It has the same screen size and resolution as the Pavilion 32 QHD.) This is lower than the density of 32-inch 4K monitors such as the BenQ EW3270U (138ppi), but it should be fine for mainstream home use. (Higher pixel densities generally translate to sharper images.)


Outward-Facing Ports in Back

The Pavilion 32 QHD’s port selection consists of HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.2 inputs, a USB Type-C port, and two USB 3.0 ports, the latter two both downstream—meaning that you can’t stream content over them to the monitor. You can charge small devices from them (they each deliver up to 4.5 watts) or connect peripherals to them.

HP Pavilion 32 QHD 32-inch Display

The USB-C port supports DisplayPort over USB, meaning that you can stream video and other content through it. (It’s also the upstream data connection for the USB-A ports.) The USB-C port also can supply up to 15 watts of power, which allows you to charge small devices (such as recent iPad Pro tablets, and most Samsung Galaxy M-series phones) through it. Other monitors offer greater power delivery to quickly charge laptops over their USB-C port. For instance, the Dell 27 USB-C Ultrathin Monitor (S2719DC) supplies up to 45 watts, while the Dell UltraSharp 34 Curved USB-C Monitor (U3419W) delivers as much as 90 watts.

Also on the back of the Pavilion 32 QHD is an audio-out jack, letting you connect headphones or powered external speakers to the monitor, which has no speakers of its own. This is a step above the recently reviewed HP 27 Quantum Dot, which has neither speakers nor an audio-out jack; sound for that model has to come from your computer or other input source. The BenQ EW3270U includes a built-in pair of 2-watt speakers.

The Pavilion 32 QHD has fewer ports than the older HP Pavilion 32 Display, which has two HDMI ports, a DisplayPort connector, and three USB 2.0 ports (one upstream and two downstream). However, the 32 QHD’s USB ports (two USB 3.0 ports, plus the USB-C port) are rated for faster throughput than its predecessor’s USB 2.0 ports.

All the ports on the Pavilion 32 QHD are in back and face outward, which is also the case with the HP Pavilion 27 Quantum Dot. This isn’t as convenient as having at least some of the ports on the side facing outward, but it’s better than downward-facing ports, which is the arrangement on the BenQ EW3270U and many other monitors. With the 32 QHD, you can turn the monitor around to add a cable to the port of your choice.

HP Pavilion 32 QHD 32-inch Display


Easy Joystick-Based Navigation

You access the Pavilion 32 QHD’s onscreen display (OSD) with the monitor’s mini-joystick-style four-way controller. It’s located on the back, near the right-hand edge. We mostly see these controllers in gaming monitors, and it’s good to see them migrate to more general-purpose home monitors, as they’re much easier to work with than the set of individual buttons that many manufacturers resort to for navigation.

From the Pavilion 32 QHD’s main menu, you can access selections for Brightness, Color, Image, and Input. Color settings include Warm, Neutral, Cool, Native, Custom RGB, and a slew of preset picture modes. The latter batch includes selections for Low Blue Light, Night, Photo, Reading, HP Enhance+ (a noise-reduction feature), and Gaming with FreeSync. You move through the list by pushing the joystick down or up, going to different menu levels by pressing the joystick left or right.


Spot-On Color

I did our color, brightness, and black-level testing for the Pavilion 32 QHD using a Klein K10-A colorimeter, a Murideo Six-G signal generator, and SpectraCal CalMAN 5 software. HP rates the monitor’s luminance (brightness per unit area) at 300 candelas per meter squared (nits), and it came up just short of that (292 nits) in my testing. I calculated the contrast ratio at 2,920:1, in line with its 3,000:1 rating.

HP Pavilion 32 QHD 32-inch Display

HP claims that the Pavilion 32 QHD covers 100 percent of the sRGB color space—the world standard for web-based graphics (the “s” even stands for standard) and my testing bore that out, as it turned in a perfect score. This makes this monitor a good choice for people looking for color accuracy in photos they publish to the web. Above is a color fidelity or chromaticity chart for the 32 QHD. The area within the triangle represents the sRGB color space, and my data points (the circles) are evenly placed around it.

I also viewed a host of test video clips, as well as photos, with the Pavilion 32 QHD. Video looked good, with bright and rich colors, and good detail and dynamic range. Photos looked crisp and bright, and the color seemed true enough.


A Sop to Gamers, and a Short Warranty

The main gaming-friendly feature that the Pavilion 32 QHD includes is support for AMD FreeSync adaptive sync technology, which is common enough these days among mainstream consumer monitors not specially targeted at gamers. When coupled with a computer with a late-model AMD Radeon graphics card, FreeSync can reduce image tearing by adjusting the panel’s refresh rate to match the frame-rate output of the card. The 32 QHD’s refresh rate is a mere 60Hz. This monitor is fine for casual gaming, but serious esports competitors will want to get a true gaming display with a higher refresh rate.

Related Story See How We Test Monitors

HP provides a meager one-year warranty for the Pavilion 32 QHD. Most other monitor manufacturers (Dell, ViewSonic, and Asus, among them) back their products with at least a three-year plan. HP does offer extended warranties for a small extra sum (three-year, next-day-exchange service for $44.99, or two years for $24.99). Still, at the 32 QHD’s price, the company should back this panel with a standard warranty that’s more in line with the competition.

HP Pavilion 32 QHD 32-inch Display


A Solid Citizen for Photos and Video

Short warranty notwithstanding, the Pavilion 32 QHD delivers. It showed decent brightness and good color fidelity in our testing, nailing the sRGB color space, and it handled our test photos and video clips well. Its port selection is better than that of its ancestor, the HP Pavilion 32 Display, thanks to a USB Type-C port and an upgrade to USB 3.0. And replacing that monitor’s button-based control system with a mini-joystick controller makes navigation much easier. Thanks to these upgrades, the Pavilion 32 QHD becomes our latest Editors’ Choice among large-screen monitors for general-purpose home use.



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