What Job is the Surface Duo Doing?

Surface Duo: Windowing Is The New Lapability – Tech.pinions

As I wrote back in October, it would be a real shame if we just measured Surface Duo against traditional smartphones and decided that it wasn’t worth the investment because of what might be perceived like hardware shortcomings such as the camera system, or the lack of 5G support. The team set out to launch the best productivity device for users who spend most of their day in Microsoft 365 apps.

This may sound crazy to most of us in the Apple community, but there certainly are plenty of people who will have this pitch ring true to them. Hell, I’d love to get one of those to play with because it’s really interesting hardware.

But…

This isn’t going to light the world on fire. This really feels like a product that’s going to be a “second phone” for most owners, and at well over $1,000 that’s going to keep it seriously niche. Although:

For the Surface team, Duo will test what users will be willing to do with the form factor and give a good indication of what can be done for Neo and other products with dual screens and eventually folding screens.

Microsoft knows this is not going to be a top-selling phone this year, it’s a product aimed at learning how people use a device like this.

A Clean iPhone

A Clean iPhone

The 4th developer beta (3rd public beta) has been rough on my iPhone the past week. I’ve had many crashing issues, really poor performance, instances of the whole UI freezing up for 10 seconds at a time randomly, and unexplainable heat when the phone was sitting idle. I was going to wait for the next beta in hopes these problems would go away, but yesterday my camera started to not work at all (rebooting numerous times did nothing) so I had to do a full wipe of the phone.

I took the opportunity to install as little on the phone as possible, in hopes that it would turn the phone into a more intentional device than an all-purpose one. As you can see from the image above, my home screen is pretty damn empty now, and there isn’t much past that first page. Right now, my phone is good at communicating, getting the news,reading my email, playing music/podcasts, and playing a game.

The biggest change for me is that I removed all work-related apps, including Slack. Now I will likely have to go back on this, as it is sometimes convenient to have those on my phone, but as of right now it’s nice not to have any way to have work impede on my personal life. Once I close my work laptop at the end of the work day, I’m completely cut off: no emails, no Slacks, no calendars, nothing.

If anyone wants to take bets on how long this will last, I’d say the over/under is 3 days 😋

It’s About Reigning In Spending, Right?

The Revolt of the Republican Strategists - Ross Douthat

In which case the original sin of the strategist class wasn’t moral compromise or racial blindness but simple condescension: a belief that they didn’t need to take their own constituents seriously, that they could campaign on social issues and protecting the homeland and govern on foreign wars and Social Security reform and that it would all hang together. Which it did — until a demagogue came along who was ready to exploit the gap between promises and policy, and to point out that the Republican adults supposedly in charge of governing weren’t actually governing very well.

Listen, I’m not going to sit here with a straight face and tell you that either of the political parties in the US do exactly what they say they’re going to do, but the chasm between what the right says and what they do when they govern is vast, and is one of the many reasons I left the party behind 15 years ago.

So Much Left to Learn

Just for the fun of it – Shawn Blanc

Which means it’s been eight years since I began photography as a hobby. And to be honest, I still feel like a huge noob.

I am constantly finding inspiration in other people’s work and learning from other photographers. And that is exactly what excites me…

I feel the same about photography as Shawn, and I think this applies to basically everything we do. There is always more to learn, and if you love something, you really can do it for your whole life and keep learning new things about it constantly.

The Most Substantial Changes to the Movie Theater Business in Decades is Happening Right Now

Judge Agrees to End Paramount Consent Decrees | Hollywood Reporter

The changes with surefire impact, though, will be a lifting of the ban on studios licensing their works on a packaged basis. Again, the judge looks to a shifting market as a justification for allowing this to happen two years hence when a sunset period expires.

In addition to the acceleration of the home release model spurred by COVID-19 this year, this new decision from the DOJ has major potential to change how movie theaters work going forward.

If indie theaters were worried about the move to streaming, now they have the cherry on top of worrying about Disney, Amazon, and the rest buying up theaters and restricting what films will be shown at what theaters. Get ready for more trailers saying something like, “coming this summer exclusively to Disney Theaters near you.”

The iPhone SE Still Can’t be Beat

The Pixel 4a is coming out soon and it looks like a great phone. Much like last year's 3a, this is a lower powered phone, but with Google's clean version of Android and a killer camera. If you want a sub-$500 Android phone, I find it hard to think you should be looking at anything else. And at $349, this thing comes in way under that budget.

But I think the iPhone SE is still a better deal, especially for people who want to buy a cheapphone and have it last for years. Let me explain.

At its core, my position comes down to one thing: the A13 Bionic. Yes, the iPhone SE runs the same SoC as the flagship iPhone 11 Pro, and while it may a sliver slower than the Pro phone, it's basically within the margin of error. Per synthetic benchmarks, the A13 is much faster than the Snapdragon 865+,the fastest processor on Android devices in 2020. It's also projected to be faster than the 875 coming out in early 2021.

Broken down, the $399 iPhone SE is going to be faster (or at least as fast) than every Android phone released in 2020 and 2021. Depending on how generous you are with predicting the Snapdragon roadmap, we're basiclaly saying the iPhone SE is going to be faster than every Android phone until the Galaxy S40 hits in March 2022.

I'm not saying synthetic benchmarks are perfect, and I'm not saying that performance is all that matters in a phone, but if we're talking about value, then how fast your phone is has a big impact on how long it can stay useful.

On a very related note, software updates are a big deal, and users want to get them for as long as possible. Google promises 3 years of updates from the time the device ships. That's pretty good for the Android world, so it will ship with Android 10 and get upgraded to 11 this fall, 12 next year, 13 the following year, and then hopefully Android 14 in 2023 (that will technically be slightly over 3 years, so it's not technically promised). Considering how slow you phone is likely to feel by then, that's probably the time you're really going to want a new phone.

Apple doesn't make promises around updates, in part because at this point they're just expected. My iPhone SE from 2016 is currently running the iOS 14 beta, and will get all software updates Apple pushes out until this time next year. If this holds true for the new SE, then we can expect the $399 phone you buy today to get updates through iOS 18.x in 2024.

There are of course some things the Pixel 4a does better. The screen is higher resolution, the cameras are a little better, and the bezels are much smaller, but I'd argue that the bezels and more-retina screen aren't huge value points, they're status points. The camera is a real win, although the iPhone SE takes very good photos as well, and far better video, so depending on your use, that could be a wash. The Pixel 4a also comes in one storage size: 128GB. That's awesome, and the iPhone SE's 64GB is a little tight, but an upgrade to match the Pixel is $50 more, bumping it to $449, or $100 more than the Pixel 4a.

My ultimate point here is that even if you match the storage and pay $100 more for the iPhone SE, I think it's still a better deal than the Pixel 4a in the long run.

BUT…

I'm also splitting hairs here, because what else is a tech blog for but to split hairs? While I think the performance edge the iPhone has make it a better deal long into the future (aka that price savings doesn't mean much if you need to buy another phone in 2-3 years vs 4-5 years), the Pixel 4a looks like it's no slouch and $349 is an incredibly agressive price. I don't think anyone is going to be upset whether they get the iPhone SE or the Pixel 4a.

My Horizon Zero Dawn PC Performance Review

My Horizon Zero Dawn PC Performance Review

This is my firs try at this sort of thing, but I did a few minutes of commentary on how well Horizon Zero Dawn runs on PC. I specifically tested it on the NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super GPU, since that's all I've got.

I'm not Digital Foundry or anything, but I thought it was a little more fun than my commentary-free videos I've uploaded in the past.

Check it out below!

https://youtu.be/AdwSNflw4fk