ICYMI: It’s finally time to test SharePlay on iOS 15.1
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This week we have a wide range of reviews on everything from mobile operating systems to DIY cutting machines. First, Mat Smith checked out the new SharePlay feature on iOS 15.1 and determined it had potential. Then Billy Steele listened to the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones and found them as comfortable as their predecessors, and with improved noise cancellation as well. Nathan Ingraham put the HP Chromebook X2 to the test and found that the lightweight laptop had a stellar screen ideal for travel. Steve Dent turned the dial on ASUS ‘ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED laptop, which he says has an exceptionally accurate color display and thoughtful features for creatives. Finally, Terrence O’Brien made some stickers and decals with the Cricut Explore 3.
Mat Smith calls iOS 15.1 a relatively minor update compared to the more drastic changes made by iOS 14. A good chunk of the additions here come from the release of SharePlay, which lets you do things like stream TV shows with a friend on FaceTime. Mat said the shows were lag-free in tests, the fitness apps were engaging, and the free-to-play games were more fun than he expected. However, SharePlay is not available for all apps – for example, YouTube and Netflix are not supported at this time.
Mat also tested spatial audio, which gives callers directional sound, but was more impressed with the new voice isolation and wide modes. It also played around with Focus modes, which help you track and limit your screen time via profiles and the ability to “lock” yourself out of your phone for set periods of time. Mat points out that these features, in addition to machine learning improvements with visual search and live text, show Apple is once again dedicated to sharing.
Nathan Ingraham found the hardware in the HP Chromebook X2 to be well built, sturdy, and simple in design. He called the bright 11-inch 2160 x 1440 touchscreen a remarkable one, making work less cramped thanks in part to its 3: 2 aspect ratio. The keyboard was responsive with good travel, and he liked that the included stylus attaches neatly and magnetically to the side. When it comes to performance, he found the X2 to do well for watching videos, browsing the web, and playing games.
However, he found that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c mobile processor struggled when it came to pushing the machine with intensive tasks. Although he was able to run his regular programs it was not the fastest experience and he said he avoided playing music from the device while running many other apps because this would cause slowdowns. That being said, its battery life, size, and lightweight design make the Chromebook X2 a solid secondary or travel device.
Steve Dent says the ASUS ProArt Studiobook is clearly intended to appeal to artists and creatives with its fast performance, beautiful 16-inch 4K OLED display, and the “ASUS Dial” for video and photo editing. The display is factory calibrated for Pantone and Calman color accuracy, and has a 1,000,000: 1 contrast ratio with inky blacks that make it ideal for content creation and streaming entertainment. It also features an “IceCool Pro” thermal solution to increase airflow while keeping noise levels to a minimum. Steve found this to be true in testing, with the exception of very GPU / CPU-intensive tasks, which increased noise levels.
He was also particularly impressed with the dial, which he said is nice with a textured grip and smooth rotation. The location is convenient, and the dial can be used to adjust screen volume or brightness as well as access menu options from four Adobe apps. Steve was also happy with the number of ports on the machine, including a USB-C with DisplayPort support and an SD Express card slot. In testing, the laptop performed well during gaming and editing tasks, thanks in part to an RTX 3070 GPU and an AMD Ryzen 9 processor. On top of that, Steve also found that its battery had good battery life, which led it to declare the Studiobook 16 the best Windows 10 laptop for content creation.
Bose makes minor but welcome updates with the QuietComfort 45 headphones
Billy Steele is not disappointed that Bose did not update the design of the QuietComfort 45 headphones. In fact, he was happy that the company kept so much of what made the previous model popular, from the light weight to the buttons. physical and cushioned pads. He reports that the new headphones retain the sound quality Bose is known for, with crisp highs, robust mids, and deep bass. The QC45 sounded good in several genres and the updated noise cancellation removed more background noise than the last model.
New to the QC45 is an ambient sound or conscious mode, which lets you hear what’s going on around you. Billy said it was usable but not the best he has ever seen. In testing, it managed to get 22.5 hours of playtime before needing to charge the headphones. However, he found the multi-device connectivity a little frustrating as it required him to reconnect after ending a call. Overall, he still thinks the latest QuietComfort cans offer a lot for people who travel frequently and need a comfortable headset with exceptional noise canceling capabilities.
Cricut’s Explore 3 cutting machine is for dedicated craftsmen
Terrence O’Brien admits that he is not the target audience for a homemade Circuit machine. Designed to cut hundreds of different types of materials, the Circuit range can perform vinyl transfers for shirts, 3D cardboard masks, stickers, decals, iron-on patches and more. However, his entry-level level of crafting didn’t stop him from fully appreciating the Cricut Explore 3, which he said was magical to use. In testing, he created a Spiderman emblem for a Halloween costume, several laptop stickers, and (most) a 3D cardboard fox.
Terrence said he found the companion app easy to use: it also offers access to over 1,000 free images and 250 projects. Even more are available through the Cricut Access subscription at $ 10 per month and you can upload your own designs. He appreciated the step-by-step instructions for pre-built projects, but points out that projects often required lots of add-ons like a scoring pen or sheet transfer tool. Overall, Terrence says that whether or not the $ 300 Explore 3 (or $ 400 Maker 3) is worth it will depend a lot on how often you use it – and what other materials you already have under the. hand.