OPINION: The new iPad Pro is stunning, but who is it for?
This week saw Apple host its final event of the year. It launched three major new product updates. The new iPad Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini.
The event was a bit of a mixed bag. The product that will grab all the headlines is the new iPad Pro. Which I’ve still not made up my mind on.
Although, to be honest, I’ve always struggled with the point of tablets. And maybe Apple secretly shares this sentiment as I’ve yet to witness an iPad Pro being used, as it’s now designed, to replace your laptop.
For me, the reason for this is simple. There’s still no mouse compatibility. Instead, users are locked behind a wall of touch-input. Which limits options to either your finger or the new $219.00 Apple Pencil – the previous Apple Pencil won’t work with the new iPad.
And the new iPad Pro has staggeringly-good specs. It features the A12X Bionic chip that can perform a whopping five trillion operations per second. Which is a big deal and is no surprise why Apple is claiming its “the smartest, most powerful chip we’ve ever made”.
The screen is breathtaking too. Available in two sizes 11‑inch or 12.9‑inch – it boasts 600 NITs brightness and P3 wide colour gamut. Apple also tells us its the iPad Pro’s screen is the “lowest reflectivity in the industry”.
All this translates, in layman’s terms, into one of the best screens you’ll find on any piece of technology on the market.
The new iPad Pro has scores of other equally-impressive specs and features that make it more powerful and capable than most modern laptops.
All the iPad Pro needed was mouse compatibility and the entry-level price of $1399 would probably be my favourite product of the year. But it doesn’t. Which confuses and angers me at the same time.
Moving on to a new Apple product that makes perfect sense. The new MacBook Air.
First of all, it’s a well-priced laptop, for Apple, costing US$1119 (MZ$1681) in the United States
But annoyingly, the price is considerably more in New Zealand, $2149.00, which is an extra $468 for the exact same product even after allowing for the exchange rate.
What that buys you is a 10 per cent thinner and 7 per cent lighter MacBook Air. It features some interesting new specs too. Touch ID and a 12-hour real-use battery are two of my favourites. The trackpad is also 20 per cent larger, while the bezel has been reduced by 50 per cent.
Other important specs include the onboard T2 co-processor, which brings the Air in line with the recently launched new Mac Pro and MacBook, and an Intel 8th-generation processor.
The MacBook Air has always been a popular Apple product, and the 2018 update makes total sense. I expect to see a lot of these sold, and enjoyed, in the next few years.
The Mac Mini is a little harder for me to get enthusiastic about.
Apple hadn’t updated this product since 2014 and the “new” Mini doesn’t really feel like a new product at all to me. It’s just had its specs updated. Albeit impressive. But it was long overdue.
I can’t help but think a better strategy for the Mini would be regular updates to its specs like Apple has done with its MacBooks.
An entry-level Mac Mini with 3.6GHz quad-core processor and 128GB storage will cost $1449.00 or about $245 more than the equivalent price in the US.
Meet the world’s first flexible smartphone
The race for the world’s first bendy smartphone has been going on for several years now. And if rumours are to be believed, it looked like Samsung or LG would win the race, launching a flexible device early next year.
Nope. They’ve both been beaten to it by a small Californian company called Royole, which I confess, I’ve never heard of before.
And on Wednesday the Royole chose Beijing as its location to announce the world’s first fully-working flexible smartphone. The FlexPai RY1201.
And offered customers the change to buy it immediately, with a flash sale price of 8999 yuan (NZ$1950).
The phone runs an Android OS and boasts an impressive 7.8in AMOLED 1920 x 1440 display, fingerprint recognition, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage.
In other words, it looks like a standard high-end smartphone – that bends.
Bitcoin turned 10-years-old this week
But how far has the cryptocurrency come in the past decade?
The easiest way to measure bitcoin’s success is to look at it from a monetary perspective. So let’s start there.
When bitcoin launched it was worth just US$0.012. Today it’s worth roughly US$9500. Which suggests it’s been a massive success. But it’s not as simple as that.
Bitcoin is bought and sold just like a commodity. And its price is notoriously volatile. In January 2017, bitcoin was worth less than US$1400 and by December 2017 its price peaked at US$27,805. Seven weeks later its price crashed down to US$9416.
Following the price of bitcoin is a crazy ride. And its what rightly grabs the headlines, because, from a technological point of view, bitcoin hasn’t really changed at all in the past 10 years. It wasn’t designed to. The cryptocurrency’s stability is built into its DNA.
Bitcoin uses Blockchain to validate its transaction. This is a double-edged sword. Bitcoin’s decentralised network is a big part of what keeps the currency secure. However, it’s also what prevents it from entering mainstream use.
The dream of everyday people using bitcoin to pay for a cup of coffee is almost as far away today as it was in 2008.
Why? Because it’s a painfully slow and expensive technology. Bitcoin can manage approximately three transactions a second. Compare this Visa, which can handle 3674 transactions a second, and you start to see the problem.
The carbon footprint of mining bitcoins is also terrifying, with reports claiming it to be similar to that of a small country.
Rival cryptos claim to offer improved transaction speeds that rival Visa. The problem is that they’re nowhere near as popular as bitcoin.
To sum up. Bitcoin’s first 10-years represented a mouthwatering investment opportunity, but little else of value to the common man.