One look at the Intel Core i3 spec and you might think: Holy crap, this thing is weak… and you’d be wrong. Intel’s labels are designed to confuse and in most computers an Intel Core i3 means you shouldn’t expect much power.
But for the Mac mini, it’s the opposite. While it does have Core i3 branding, the chip itself has quad-cores, which gives you a lot more performance to throw around when you need to.
Running Geekbench 4 to get a sense of how the Mac mini compares to other computers, it scored 4,594 for single-core performance and 12,695 for multi-core.
To put that into perspective, that makes the Mac mini’s chip faster than the quad-core Intel Core i5 silicon inside of Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 2 at least when it comes to single-core tasks. The Laptop 2 edges out the Mac mini in multi-core performance, but not by a whole lot. But less on the synthetic benchmarks and more on what the Mac mini can actually do in a little bit.
Maybe one of the most underrated things about the Mac mini is all of the ports on its backside. There’s a lot of I/O to work with for a such a small computer and they shouldn’t be overlooked. You get four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, two full-sized USB-A ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, gigabit Ethernet, and a headphone jack. The only other computer in a comparable size I can think of with more is Intel’s Hades Canyon NUC.
The Mac Mini doesn’t come with a display, keyboard, or mouse. You can use existing accessories or buy new ones, and connecting all of this stuff is dead simple.
Hooking up a monitor is straightforward and you can do so in two ways: plug it in via HDMI or Thunderbolt 3 USB-C. If your monitor outputs over HDMI and you want to connect it over USB-C, you’ll need to pick up an adapter. I hooked up two monitors using HDMI-to-USB-C adapters and then a third monitor directly over HDMI to create my epic triple-monitor setup.
Connecting a wired keyboard and mouse into any of the USB-A or USB-C ports is the fastest way to get started using the Mac mini, but connecting wireless ones is relatively pain-free as well. I tried connecting various wireless keyboards and mice made by Apple and third-party companies like Logitech and the Mac mini definitely favors Apple’s, identifying and connecting to them quicker.
January 21, 2019 / Comments Off on Apple Mac mini review: Small but mighty
Sleek looking • Heats a room quickly • App is easy to use and packed with visual data
No heat controls in app • Pricey
You’ll spend a lot on Dyson’s air purifier/space heater combo, but there’s no question it’s excellent at its two jobs: cleaning up and warming the air in your home.
When Dyson upgraded its smart air purifier, the Pure Cool, earlier this year, it went out of its way to make it was less irritating to use in winter months. Since the Pure Cool doubles as a cooling fan, Dyson gave it a backwards-airflow mode that pushes the air out the sides, greatly reducing its “chilling” effect.
So it was probably inevitable that the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool came later. Dyson has had cooling fans that double as space heaters ever since the first Dyson Hot came out in 2011, pairing the company’s bladeless Air Multiplier air-blowing tech with, well, heat. I’ve used the Dyson Hot as a space heater, and it works well, heating up smaller rooms in just a few minutes.
That’s why I was excited to check out the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Link (the “Link” signifies it’s a smart device, connecting to the Dyson Link app). I was a fan of the Pure Cool tower, which seemingly thought of everything that most folks would want in an air purifier, combining that with a well-designed app that captured impressively granular data about the air quality in your house.
Now Dyson’s bringing the heat. It’s a welcome upgrade, though the Pure Hot+Cool isn’t just a Pure Cool with an extra setting. Dyson modified the design in ways both obvious and subtle. The end result is still an impressive household appliance that does its job well, though it might not suit everyone’s needs.
It certainly won’t suit everyone’s price range. The Pure Hot+Cool costs $599.99, which is $50 more than the Pure Cool tower. The company offers less expensive versions with fewer features, though they never get cheap per se. This is Dyson, after all.
Let’s start with the obvious: It’s smaller. The Pure Hot+Cool has a smaller “loop” (the hollow oblong part) than the Pure Cool tower, but it’s not circular like some of Dyson’s other small fans. It definitely looks like what you’d get if a Pure tower and Hot fan had a baby, which is a little on the nose.
While the upper portion is smaller, the base — which houses the air intake, filters, motors, and other components — is bulkier. That makes sense; besides the sophisticated air-filtration system, this model needs to house a heating element as well. It is slightly heavier than the Pure Cool tower, but only by about half a pound.
The heating mechanism requires other modifications, however. Whereas the power cord is removable from the chassis on the Pure Cool, not so on the Pure Hot+Cool, and the cable end is no longer a Dyson-branded adapter but a standard plug. The cable’s also gray instead of white.
Otherwise, the design is pretty much the same as the Pure Cool tower. There’s a circular display on the front that can show the current mode, tiny air-quality charts, the temperature and humidity, WiFi connectivity, and more. You toggle through them by pressing the “i” button on the remote, but the app is loaded with more info.
The remote control may be the most “complex” remote Dyson has made. In addition to controls for oscillation, the timer, backward-flow, and night mode (which never raises the fan above level 4), you also get buttons for heating and cooling. In total there are 10 buttons (12 if you count +/- controls separately), which isn’t too crazy, but it’s getting borderline for folks who want something that “just works.”
Both the Pure Cool and Pure Hot+Cool use the same filters, which are rated to last a year of normal use and cost $TK to replace.
What’s different, what’s missing
Going into this review, I expected to repeat a lot of what i said about the Pure Cool, and that mostly stands. But the Pure Hot+Cool managed to surprise me, and not always for the better.
First, a quick recap of the air filtration tech: Dyson breaks down contaminants into four buckets: The first two tell are microscopic particles, PM2.5 (particles 2.5 microns wide or smaller) and PM10 (~10 microns). The third is VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are potentially dangerous chemicals like benzene or formaldehyde. Last is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which can contribute to diseases like asthma.
Just like the Pure Cool, you can cycle through the current air quality, with separate screens for all those contaminants, on the front panel, but the data really comes alive in the app. Not only does it show current air quality in a brilliantly color-coded way — contrasting your inside air with the air quality outside — but you can really dive into historical data as the purifier continuously monitors and records the state of your air (you can turn continuous monitoring off if you’re not comfortable with this).
Adding the Pure Hot+Cool to the Dyson Link app is easy, and I didn’t have as many false starts with the Pure Cool, which seemed to require the app to “forget” the purifier every time I unplugged it at the start (it still saved my data). If you have more than one Dyson Link product, you just swipe from one to the other.
The app also lets you control the Hot+Cool just like the remote does, with one key weakness: You can’t adjust the heat. That’s a big disappointment since it means you can’t warm up a room remotely or even from another room. There’s a safety factor here, certainly, but I wish there was a better way to balance it.
As such, if you turn on the fan remotely or via the scheduler, it’ll default to “cooling” mode, with a target temperature much lower than the room temperature. There’s no actual air conditioning going on, so it’s not like it’ll freeze things, but it will prevent the purifier from shutting down the fan since it’ll never get to the target temperature. But if you want to heat things up, you’ll need to go to the room the purifier is in and use the physical remote.
A cosy combo
That was pretty much the only issue I had with the Pure Hot+Cool, however, and it’s not even that fair a criticism since Dyson was clearly forced to strip those controls due to safety standards. The only other thing to consider when thinking about the Pure Hot+Cool is whether you really want to pay 600 bucks for an air purifier.
Check that. The question is really, do you want to pay 600 bucks for an air purifier and a space heater. Now, you can definitely buy relatively inexpensive versions of both and save a lot. But you’d also need to give up more floor space. There are other purifier/heater combos, but actually not as many as you’d think, and many of those aren’t much cheaper than the Dyson.
In other words, the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Link may not be the only game in town when it comes to serving the twin needs of air quality and heat, but given everything it does — and the sleek, smart, and singular package it all comes in — the extra expense is an easy thing to warm up to.
January 5, 2019 / Comments Off on Dyson’s heater/air purifier combo is a great winter companion
Sure, you could toast marshmallows with Boring’s Not-A-Flamethrower, but what fun is that? It’s so basic.
Because we’re Mashable, we turned the fire up. Like wayyy up.
It’s easy to get carried away when you’re wielding what’s essentially a roofing torch modded onto an airsoft rifle. Elon Musk may have masterminded the Not-A-Flamethrower as a joke, but it’s definitely no toy.
Our Not-A-Flamethrower (yes, we bought it with our own money), No. 18,473 of the 20,000 units The Boring Company made, came late — we had to shame the company into shipping it to us after waiting an entire summer — but we finally got to put it to good use. (Whether it was worth spending $500 is a separate discussion!)
December 31, 2018 / Comments Off on We used Boring’s Not-A-Flamethrower to burn away the worst of 2018
Really easy to connect • Similar to Google Maps on iOS • CarPlay integrates well with texts • calls • and music streaming
Google Maps not native experience • Difficult to input destination info mid-ride • Not as full-featured as iOS version of Google Maps
If you’re an iPhone owner but prefer Google Maps to Apple Maps, the CarPlay version is a smooth, albeit limited way to get the in-car experience you want.
As an avid Google Maps user on my iPhone, I was excited to jump into a car with a screen that would connect to the navigation app seamlessly through Apple’s CarPlay. I usually drive a 1995 vehicle with a tape cassette player, so through GM’s car-sharing service Maven I upgraded for the day.
Once in a more modern, electric blue 2017 hybrid Chevy Volt, I was ready to connect. I use a mount in my usual car to see my iPhone screen, but with Apple CarPlay enabled through the Volt’s infotainment system I connected my phone through a USB cord to the car and put my iPhone 6 away into a middle compartment.
It momentarily felt weird to be phoneless, but miraculously a car-version of my phone appeared before me. Through the CarPlay interface I recognized some of my usual apps and services (like my Apple Music player, texts, and phone).
Once I scrolled to the Google Maps app, I immediately noticed this wasn’t the full-featured Google Maps I was used to. Sure it showed the time to destination and the clear directions on the top of the screen, but I couldn’t click over to the alternate routes as easily to see how much faster taking that side street would be. I couldn’t change my destination as easily mid-ride and it didn’t offer any of the “non-driving” options like taking public transit or walking. This was a stripped-down version made for the car, but it worked plenty fine.
However, this is still an Apple system that’s begrudgingly added a Google product into its universe. CarPlay came out in 2014, but it didn’t accept third-party navigation apps until iOS 12 came out in September. The announcement came out in June, likely to keep more iPhone users from switching to Android phones to use Google Maps or Waze on Android Auto, Google’s CarPlay equivalent.
Apple’s CarPlay website prominently features its smooth integration with its own mapping platform. Google Maps doesn’t even make an appearance until the bottom of the page with other third-party navigation apps like Waze and Baidu in the “Choose your favorite navigation app” section.
I noticed this Apple preference right away. I tried using my voice to get directions to SFO on Google Maps, but Siri kept sending me to Apple Maps (which worked perfectly fine but it’s just not the same). Then, to get back to Google Maps, I had to hunt down the app icon, manually. Unfortunately it defaulted to the second page of options. Thankfully, you can re-arrange the icons, but you need to do it on your phone. (I opted not to since this was a one-day experience.)
Once you’re hooked into the infotainment system you’ll fall into some of the purposeful limitations of an in-car system: primarily the inability to type or really click on many options on the screen once the car is on and in drive (which totally makes sense from a safety perspective). That means you’ll have to rely on voice and keep your eyes on the road, meaning you’ll need to be very specific when specifying what app you want to use. And it’s frustrating that you can’t fall back on typical phone searches in a pinch (or when you’re at a particularly long red light).
Bright side: Any saved locations or lists also come up in the app for easy one-tap opening, along with recent searches from your phone.
While getting texts and even for making calls or playing music, Google Maps app effortlessly blended into my other CarPlay needs. Even if it’s not the default maps app, it’s built for a dashboard, using the in-dash screen and car speakers to best effect. It also knows when not to hit you with information (the whole point of CarPlay and Android Auto are to give you safer, more car-suited experiences).
If you can’t cross town without Google Maps and you’ve got an iPhone, this lets you navigate without a clunky car mount that might tax your battery to dangerously low levels. However, if you’re hooked on all the features that Google’s added to its navigation app, then you might be want to stick to the mobile app on a dashboard mount.
However, it’s worth noting Apple Maps has massively improved over the last few years. If you have CarPlay anyway, it may be easier to just use Siri have Apple Maps come up as the default when you say to your car, “Directions to SFO.”
As Apple knows, though, there is a cadre of Google Maps users who have all sorts of places, searches, and more saved in their history, and switching over entirely just isn’t an option for many of them — hence the massive market for car mounts and solutions. For that crowd, the new CarPlay version of Google Maps is enough to keep them from switching entirely to Android.
December 28, 2018 / Comments Off on With Google Maps on Apple CarPlay, iPhone owners can finally ditch clunky mounts
It works • Battery life lasts long • Loud front-facing stereo speakers
‘Holographic display’ is garbage • Bulky • shoddily-built construction • So gargantuan it hurts to hold • Laughably outdated Android interface • Where the hell are the modules?
RED deserves credit for running in the opposite direction of mobile trends with the Hydrogen One. It’s too bad they made all of the wrong choices.
The biggest loser of 2018, the worst phone — no, worst product — released this year is, unfortunately, RED’s Hydrogen One phone.
Practically everything about the Hollywood cinema camera maker’s first smartphone is terrible.
The Hydrogen One has been one big disappointment after another since it was announced last year. If its gargantuan, design, dated specs, and exorbitant $1,300 starting price for the aluminum version ($1,600 if you bought the titanium version) doesn’t turn you off, everything else about this monstrosity will.
This review could have come months ago, but I wanted to give the phone and its gimmicky and not-at-all holographic “holographic display” a fair chance as shotgun to my iPhone (I’m a two phone guy — always an iPhone and Android).
For the first week ending in October, I really tried my best to give the Hydrogen One a shot as my daily driver (i.e. as my main phone).
While initial reviews slammed the phone’s camera for being complete garbage, I secretly hoped the handful of post-launch software updates might resolve many of the issues and maybe make the phone a sleeper hit.
Sadly, nearly two months into carrying the Hydrogen One phone, I must declare it the dud of the year.
At a press launch with carrier partner AT&T in late October, RED founder and CEO Jim Jannard candidly summed up the phone before it even launched: “We have no idea what we’re doing.”
Big and hefty
The Hydrogen One is technically a phone, but I didn’t get the sense Jannard cared for it as a device for making calls, or texting, or browsing the web.
As he re-introduced the Hydrogen to press and many who hadn’t seen it during the company’s limited preview events before, I could sense he was more enthusiastic at the idea of merely doing something different.
Jannard, after all, was advised by his friends and family he’d never succeed challenging Ray-Ban when he started Oakley sunglasses and he’d never supplant Hollywood film camera powerhouses like ARRI or Panovision with RED digital cameras, and look how that worked in his favor. His two companies ended up disrupting two industries.
While phone makers copy each other and race to the death to shrink the notch, remove it altogether, slim down the bezels, and build foldable phones, Jannard and company tried to dazzle by running in the opposite direction.
Instead of a thinner and sleeker glass-and-metal “sandwich,” the Hydrogen One is a thick and monstrous chunk of metal with aggressive-looking “scalloped” sides and a striking backside with a prominent RED jewel logo. The device is big, heavy, and such a menacing tank that I kept thinking of the phone as brass knuckles every time I gripped it. Seriously, you could probably bludgeon someone with it. And good luck putting them in your pants pocket — don’t be surprised if the phone rips your jeans.
At first I sorta appreciated the size. Typing on it was a good experience since your hands aren’t so cramped holding it. But the phone’s so darn heavy it started to hurt just using it every day. And about the scalloped sides — they’re supposed to make the phone easier to grip, but I ended up dropping the phone more times than devices made of more slippery glass.
I don’t have a problem with the bruises (mostly scratches and dents) from dropping or banging up a phone (I kinda dig the battle-scarred look), but this phone’s built like a tank. It should at least survive better in my filthy dirt and lint-filled backpack better than an iPhone XS or Galaxy Note 9. And yet it doesn’t.
My first review unit somehow acquired a long scratch right between the dual rear cameras. The glass is sapphire, which should be pretty darn scratch-resistant. You either need another piece of sapphire glass or a material that’s harder like diamond to scratch it, but that wasn’t the case. I had only unboxed it and pocketed it in my jeans and gone to lunch. When I came back it was damaged.
My second unit’s sapphire camera cover fared better, but the bruising from daily wear and tear has made me question its build-quality, especially for the price.
Mediocre at every turn
Like I said, if the unorthodox design doesn’t offend you, the rest of the phone will.
The bezels above and below the 5.7-inch display (2,560 x 1,440) are the biggest I’ve seen on any phone released this year. But they’re huge for good reason: They contain two very loud front-facing stereo speakers.
A big “forehead” and “chin” are fine when they’re purposeful (like on the Pixel 3 or Razer Phone 2), but on the Hydrogen One, the cutouts for things like the dual selfie cameras, proximity sensor, and speaker grills are sunken in and collect dust. As a result, sometimes my selfies have little speckles of dust around the edges.
There’s a dedicated recording button on the right side of the phone — in case it wasn’t clear what this phone’s priority is — which opens the camera if you long-press it. It’s cool, but a double-press of the power button on many Android phones does the same.
The phone’s marquee feature — its highly anticipated “holographic display” or what RED officially calls “4-View” — is horrible in every sense. It’s nothing more than a marginally better version of the glasses-free display on the Nintendo 3DS.
There’s nothing “holographic” about anything that pops off the display, which is to say it’s not delivering holograms in the Star Wars sense, where a person or object floats in mid-air. Instead, it basically tricks your eyes into thinking there’s depth to the image.
It wouldn’t be as disappointing if the 3D was at least spectacular, but it isn’t. It’s mediocre. Viewing angles, while slightly better than a Nintendo 3DS’s display, are poor when viewing holographic content anywhere outside of dead-center. And the resolution of the holographic content is extremely low.
The screen is so bad some people said it hurt their eyes looking at the holographic content. At least on the Nintendo 3DS there’s a physical slider to adjust the intensity of the 3D depth if the maximum setting is too much on your eyes.
The “holographic display” is mediocre.
You know how everyone always says “content is king?” Well, it really needed to be true on the Hydrogen One more than any other device, and it failed. Holographic 4-View photos look bad and you can only take these special 3D photos in landscape mode and not portrait. You also can only view them in 4-View within the RED Player app and not Google Photos. And on the topic of limited viewing, the depth in these 4-View pics can only viewed on another Hydrogen One.
Holographic apps are downloaded from the RED|LeiaLoft app; games like Asphalt 8 support the special display but not many others. And take it from me, as good as a game as Asphalt 8 is in 2D, it’ll give you a headache and make you wanna puke in 3D.
Then there’s the Hydrogen Network, a place to rent and buy “holographic” movies. There are some big films like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ready Player One, and The Avengers, but I’d advise you to steer clear of these just like the crappy holographic games.
The traditional 2D viewing is equally bad. The screen’s too dim and you can actually see the pixels that are used to create the 4-View effect. If you thought a display with a PenTile pixel array was bad, the Hydrogen One’s display takes it to another level.
And it gets worse. Yes, it really does. Though I have no problems with the responsive fingerprint sensor/power button sunken into one of the right scalloped sides, or the fast charging, or the headphone jack (nice!), or the easily accessible microSD card and nano SIM card tray (doesn’t require a SIM ejector tool), I have to tell you the software is unacceptable.
It’s not only that the Snapdragon 835 chip is already over a year old at this point and can’t keep up or that the software is based Android 8.1 Oreo and not 9 Pie, but that RED chose to give the interface such an egregious skin.
I get that the red, silver, and black icons match RED’s branding, but together with the 3D flipping animations when you switch homescreen pages, the whole UI just looks like we got knocked back to the early days of Android when the Motorola DROID ruled supreme.
Now to be fair, RED did modernize a few things with the latest software update. But still, the whole phone feels alien in 2018. Even the sounds the phone makes when you lock it with the power button or tap the shutter button are cringe. I swear a pack of tourists freaked out when they heard the loud shutter button fire off when I was taking a sunset shot at Brooklyn Bridge Park back in October.
Oh, and how about its cameras? They’re so crappy, I’m gonna quickly gloss over this section in lieu of my usual comprehensive camera comparisons.
Photos from the Hydrogen One’s dual 12-megapixel cameras look okay at first, but blow them up and compare them to shots taken with an iPhone XR, XS, Pixel 3, or even a OnePlus 6T and you’ll find they lack dynamic range, contrast, HDR stinks, and images are usually grainier. In low-light, the cameras completely fall apart.
Here are some initial photos I shot…they’re not pretty.
Software updates seemed to have increased contrast a little and warmed up the color temperature, but as you can see in the comparison below, the cameras aren’t worthy of $1,000+ phone.
It’s a little nuts that RED, a camera company known for making the best digital video cameras, failed to make a phone with the best camera for photos and videos.
About the only thing the Hydrogen One gets right is battery life. This thing’s 4,500 mAh battery is one of the largest on any 2018 phone and it just lasts and lasts.
So many unfulfilled promises
It was a long shot to expect RED to make a groundbreaking phone — these days anyone can go to a factory in Asia and cobble together great parts and slap their name onto slab of glass and metal — and the Hydrogen One proved me right.
In the end, the RED Hydrogen One and its gimmicky “holographic display” left me with more emptiness than I had hoped for. The phone’s disappointing on every level and at this point, holding out for the promised modules that are supposed to transform it into a cinema-grade camera with features like a larger image sensor and mount support for virtually any camera lens seems like fraud.
Besides their word, nobody outside of REDs seen this camera module, which makes it as good as vaporware. And by the time it gets released (if it ever gets released), the Hydrogen One 2 (or will it be Hydrogen Two?) will probably be out by then.
Which leaves the Hydrogen One as one of the most hyped and ill-conceived phones in years. It’s a miracle RED even shipped it.
With all respect to Jannard and RED, I will always root for the underdog, especially when it comes to trying new things in a stale product category. I love seeing David versus Goliath scenarios. Jannard told press at its launch event “if you concentrate on what we’re doing that others aren’t doing, you’re gonna love it.”
I tried really hard to care about the Hydrogen One’s special features — the “holographic display” and weird design — but I just couldn’t. The bottom line is: If you want a great portable camera, just go and get a great little camera like a Sony RX100 VI or a slightly larger, but still small-ish mirrorless camera like the Sony A6500 or Panasonic GH5. Both shoot 4K video really well and take fantastic photos.
Just don’t spend your money on the Hydrogen One. It hurts to say it, but the Hydrogen One is so much fail and as such, is the rightful winner of the worst tech product of 2018.
December 27, 2018 / Comments Off on RED’s Hydrogen One was the worst tech product of 2018