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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


  • 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 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.


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

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

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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