GoPro addresses Hero 10 overheating issues with new firmware

GoPro is issuing a firmware update that includes new "video performance modes." These aren't new creative tools, rather they're designed to prevent cameras shutting down through overheating when recording in certain situations. The company is also unveiling a new "Enduro" battery that should improve performance in cold weather.

Soon after the launch of the Hero 10, some reviews complained that their cameras were overheating and turning off after around 20 minutes of continuous recording. The problem didn't seem to be universal, in our review I performed such a test (before hearing of said complaints) and was able to get over an hour of footage. Other detailed tests also didn't initially bump into the issue. But enough users were having the problem that the company clearly had to take note.

Today, GoPro has confirmed that a new firmware update is coming with the aforementioned Video Performance Modes — Maximum Video Performance, Extended Battery and Tripod/Stationary. The first in that list sounds much like the current mode. Extended Battery, as the name suggests, provides optimal settings for longer battery life. The latter assumes that the camera will not be moving and thus removes things like GPS and HyperSmooth stabilization to, presumably, ease the load on the new processor in situations where there's no motion or airflow to cool the camera down.

According to GoPro, with the new firmware, a 5.3K recording at 60fps will run for 47 percent longer (an average of 29 minutes per clip). Alternatively, at 4K/60fps you can enjoy a 154 percent increase to an hour and three minutes total.

GoPro Hero 10 Enduro battery.
GoPro

As for the new Enduro battery ($29.99) GoPro states it will extend recording times to an average of 56 minutes of 5.3K/60 video at 14F/-10C. When used at moderate temperatures, 5.3K/60 shots should see a boost of 28 percent in duration while 4K/120 videos will enjoy a 40 percent improvement in record time. The new cell will be compatible with both the Hero 9 Black and the Hero 10 Black and thankfully comes in a different color so that you won't mix it up with your standard batteries.

GoPro stops short of saying what the new battery is doing beyond using "revolutionary technology." Either way, whatever your use case for the Hero 10, by the end of the month you'll be able to update your firmware for the new modes or you can pick up the new battery in late November.

Apple AirPods review (2021): Better in nearly every way

When you consider 2019’s second-generation AirPods were a modest update rather than a complete overhaul, Apple was way overdue for an all-new model. With this year’s third-gen version, the company has given us just that. The 2021 AirPods have a new design, complete with handy features from the company’s more expensive earbud and headphone models. The stick-bud look is still with us, and the overall fit will remain polarizing, but Apple has nonetheless massively improved its “regular” AirPods in nearly every way.

Design

Apple totally overhauled AirPods for the third-generation version with the biggest changes coming in the design and audio quality.
Billy Steele/Engadget

Apple completely redesigned AirPods inside and out for this third-generation model. The new look is a blend of the original AirPods design and the AirPods Pro, with some modifications. Right off the bat you’ll notice the lack of the silicone eartips found on the Pro. The overall fit of the new model is similar to that of the first two AirPods, which means that there will be a good number of people who won’t care for it. That mixture of designs continues on the stem. Apple reduced the length of the component by a third versus the previous model, adding the force sensor from the AirPods Pro for the on-board controls.

For its new “contoured design,” Apple says it considered customer feedback on fit and comfort as well as thousands of ear scans, acoustic studies and heat map modeling to create the shape. The company explains that the design reduces weight and its tapered silhouette and angle increase comfort. Not to mention the updated earbud better directs sound into your ear. All of this turned out to be true, as the new model is more comfortable and the design helps deliver massive improvements to audio quality.

Despite a lot of people using AirPods at the gym or on a run, only the Pro model was sweat and water resistant. Apple has extended that protection to this third-gen unit as well as its charging case. You won’t want to try submerging either one, but the IPX4 rating should be enough to keep the earbuds safe during workouts or from an errant, albeit small, splash.

AirPods have had automatic pausing before now, but Apple changed in-ear detection for the 2021 edition. Instead of a simple optical sensor, Apple’s new version actually detects skin. Combined with the built-in accelerometer, AirPods can better determine when they’re in your ear, which Apple says makes pausing more accurate and can even extend battery life.

Software and features

Apple totally overhauled AirPods for the third-generation version with the biggest changes coming in the design and audio quality.
Billy Steele/Engadget

Like Apple’s other recent AirPods models, this new set is equipped with the company’s H1 chip. That component enables a lot of features, with the first one being one-touch fast pairing. Simply flip open the case near your iPhone and all you have to do is tap the pop-up to sync the two devices. It’s so quick and easy, and you’ll quickly realize how much time you wasted putting earbuds in pairing mode before swiping over to the Bluetooth menu. Those days are long gone and, quite frankly, good riddance.

The H1 chip also powers always-on Siri. As before, this allows you to summon the virtual assistant without having to reach for or be near your phone. H1 lends a hand with Adaptive EQ, spatial audio and dynamic head tracking as well, bringing features from the pricier Pro and Max models to a more affordable version of AirPods.

Similar to previous products, AirPods are equipped with automatic switching between Apple devices. When you’re listening to music on your MacBook Pro and get a call, you can automatically switch over. And when the call is finished, you can go back without re-pairing. Thanks to the latest version of iOS features like announce notifications with Siri and improved Find My are all available on the third-gen AirPods. The older audio sharing tool is back as well.

With the change to force sensor-driven controls, Apple has given AirPods the same actions as AirPods Pro. On the second-gen model, you had to tap the earbud and the options were very limited. Like the Pro version, you now have the ability to play/pause and accept calls (press once), skip tracks forward (press twice), skip tracks backwards (press three times) and activate Siri (press and hold). Once again, there’s no option for on-board volume control. The press-and-hold input on the AirPods Pro changes noise-cancelling mode, so it seems like Apple could’ve reassigned this action for volume — up on one side, down on the other. As it stands, using this for Siri seems redundant, especially as the hands-free assistant is a staple of its AirPods line.

Sound quality

Apple totally overhauled AirPods for the third-generation version with the biggest changes coming in the design and audio quality.

I don’t want to mince words here: the new AirPods sound so much better than the previous two versions. Like almost night and day better. Apple didn’t make any significant changes to sound quality from the first model to the 2019 version. But for gen three, Apple paired a custom driver with a high-dynamic-range amplifier to improve the audio chops. The company says that the duo work together to produce “rich consistent bass” and “crisp, clean” highs. From the moment I fired up the first song, this was all immediately evident. I don’t think I’ve ever audibly said “woah” with the first note from a guitar on any review unit, but given how average older AirPods sound, it was involuntary this time.

Overall, the sound is bigger and more immersive. It’s open and airy, instead of being compressed and downright boring like older AirPods. While greatly improved, the sound quality doesn’t match the absolute best I’ve tested: Sony’s WF-1000XM4, Master & Dynamic’s MW08 and Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 2. However, the new AirPods do sound better than the Galaxy Buds 2 and are comparable to Jabra’s Elite 75t — both of which offer active noise cancellation and are more in line with Apple’s latest in terms of price.

Even without spatial audio tracks, music feels dimensional with vocals, instruments and other sounds standing on their own. The performance is consistent across the bluegrass picking of Nickel Creek to the bluesy folk rock of Jason Isbell and the grungy metal of Every Time I Die. Sure, part of this is due to the new driver/amp combo, as the crisp treble and constant, but not overpowering, bass help create these soundscapes. Another reason is the new shape of the earbud that better directs sound into your ears.

Apple totally overhauled AirPods for the third-generation version with the biggest changes coming in the design and audio quality.
Billy Steele/Engadget

The third aspect is Adaptive EQ, a feature Apple first introduced on the AirPods Max. Using computational audio, the company’s H1 chip and the inward-facing mic, AirPods tune the music for how the earbuds fit in your ear. Adaptive EQ constantly monitors sound and adapts low- and mid-range frequencies in real time. All of these updates make the new AirPods something I actually wanted to listen to music with, rather than something that was just more convenient that other earbuds.

The new AirPods also support Apple’s spatial audio. This means you can listen to tracks that are available in Dolby Atmos on Apple Music with no issue. I can respect that spatial audio as a concept is divisive: some people like it while others don’t. I don’t care for it with the AirPods Max, but I think it sounds better with these new AirPods. Dolby Atmos seemed a bit too spacious at times with Apple over-ear headphones (Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour is a prime example), but that’s not the case with the supported earbuds. I’m not sure it will sway folks who don’t care for spatial audio currently, but that’s why you have the ability to disable it entirely.

Like the AirPods Pro, spatial audio here is also available with dynamic head tracking, which changes the position of the audio in your earbuds when you turn your head. iOS will allow you to switch between fixed spatial audio and dynamic head tracking via the volume slider in Control Center. There’s also a third option to disable the immersive sound entirely from here. I think head tracking has some benefits when you’re watching a movie or TV show, but when you’re listening to music, it’s not so great. Especially when you momentarily walk away from your computer or phone. For that reason, easy access to these controls is a great thing.

What you won’t find here is active noise cancellation (ANC) or a transparency mode. Apple has reserved both for the pricier AirPods Pro, and there’s a key reason why. The third-gen AirPods allow some outside sound in by design as they don’t completely seal off your ear canal. This would make an ANC setup difficult and means the AirPods are “transparent” by default. Much like the design, if you consider the features of the new AirPods as the middle ground between the base model and the Pro version, a lot of these decisions make sense.

Call quality

Apple totally overhauled AirPods for the third-generation version with the biggest changes coming in the design and audio quality.
Billy Steele/Engadget

As ever, Apple is hyping the voice quality on its latest AirPods. The company says new acoustic mesh covers for inset microphones help reduce wind noise. These earbuds also support the AAC-ELD codec, which Apple says enables “full-HD voice quality” to keep you sounding crisp and clear on FaceTime calls. What’s more, the AirPods support spatial audio in Group FaceTime calls to further simulate the feeling of being in the same room. Basically, the sound from the person who is talking comes from the direction they’re positioned on your screen. It’s not like speaking IRL, but it is an improvement. It makes calls more immersive, plus you can get an even better sense of directional audio when your device is in landscape mode.

Indeed, FaceTime calls are crisp and clear with the new AirPods. Phone calls are improved as well but not to the same degree. Voice quality is here better than most earbuds I’ve tested, but not by a ton. True to Apple’s claims, these AirPods do a decent job blocking background noise and focusing on your voice. It’s great when you’re talking, but the clamor resumes when you’re not speaking. Depending on how loud the noise is, it might be distracting for the person on the other end. There are improvements in regards to voice, but you’ll notice them most in FaceTime.

Battery life

Apple totally overhauled AirPods for the third-generation version with the biggest changes coming in the design and audio quality.
Billy Steele/Engadget

To accompany the redesign, Apple also increased battery life on the new AirPods. The company says you can expect up to six hours on the earbuds themselves and up to 30 hours total when you factor in the case. I actually managed just over seven hours during my tests, and that’s with fixed spatial audio on (but without dynamic head tracking). Since the second-gen version was rated at five hours, over seven is a significant upgrade for those who use headphones throughout their work day.

If you find yourself in a pinch, the new AirPods have the same quick-charge feature as the AirPods Pro: five minutes in the case gives you about an hour of use. Where the original AirPods Pro case supported wireless charging, now both it and the case for AirPods is equipped with MagSafe. The MagSafe case still works with Qi-certified pads, but Apple will sell you a magnetic charger for a better experience. Just remember: the second-gen model that Apple kept around for $129 doesn’t support wireless charging at all.

The competition

Apple totally overhauled AirPods for the third-generation version with the biggest changes coming in the design and audio quality.
Billy Steele/Engadget

There’s never been a doubt that AirPods are built for iPhone, iPad and Mac. Nearly every feature is meant to enhance or extend the tools available on those devices, including giving you the ability to access Siri and other things without reaching for an iPhone. By adding the third-gen AirPods in the middle of its lineup, Apple has replaced the 2019 model with a wireless charging case. That leaves its roster with the original design (second-generation) at $129, this model at $179 and the AirPods Pro at $249. The company now has a trio of options akin to what Samsung has offered for a while now: a range of choices with varied options and prices.

At this point, the only options that come close to the deep iOS integration AirPods offer are products like the Powerbeats Pro. A few models in the Beats lineup offer handy features like fast pairing and hands-free Siri since they’re powered by Apple’s H1 chip. The more affordable Studio Buds ($150) don’t have that component, but they still offer the ability to wake the assistant without reaching for your phone. The Beats Fit Pro leaked earlier this month and initial reports indicate they too will carry Apple’s powerful earbud tech, but we don’t know about price just yet. There are plenty of options that sound great and have handy features in their own right, but nothing without the H1 chip syncs as well with Apple’s devices.

If you want active noise cancellation or ambient sound in some tiny earbuds, the Galaxy Buds 2 are a solid bet. Unfortunately, Samsung scaled back its iOS integration a few models ago, but these still work well with iPhone and the like. If ANC, spatial audio or hands-free Siri aren’t things you need, Jabra’s Elite 3 earbuds are the best value right now. They’re tiny and comfy, but the sound is impressive and the battery life is good. Plus, they’re only $80.

Wrap-up

No modest update this time around. Apple totally overhauled AirPods for the third-generation version with the biggest changes coming in the design and audio quality. The company also expanded availability of key features like spatial audio and Adaptive EQ to a more affordable set of earbuds while keeping all of the convenience of AirPods intact. These earbuds still aren’t for everyone, but what they offer the Apple faithful can’t be found elsewhere and the company will do well to keep it that way.

Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro review: Solid phones, great software, perfect pricing

The Pixel 6 is the most intriguing phone Google has made in years. Not only is it a return to premium design with eye-catching colors and up to a 120Hz screen, it’s also powered by the company’s first mobile processor — Tensor. With it, Google is promising serious improvements in AI performance and photography, including better voice recognition and Assistant features.

Google also finally upgraded the Pixel’s camera hardware instead of just relying on its processing smarts. That’s not to say it’s overlooked software this year. The Pixel 6 is stuffed to the brim with special photography modes. The best thing about the Pixel 6 series, though, is the surprisingly low starting price, and it makes the few drawbacks easier to forgive.

Design

I'm torn over the Pixel 6's design. Compared to the last few generations, these are an arresting change of pace. The two-tone palette is pretty, especially on the smaller Pixel 6, which has more fun color options. It also has a flat screen with a matte finish on its sides while the Pro has pleasantly curved, shiny edges and feels a lot like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro held in mid-air with their screens facing the camera.
David Imel for Engadget

Google's horizontal camera bar here is polarizing. I don't mind it, but I know many people think it's hideous. In its defense, it not only houses larger sensors, but it also makes for a more symmetrical design than the corner camera bumps on every other flagship. And as a bonus, it doesn’t wobble when resting on a tabletop.

Aesthetics and style are all subjective, but no one can argue with hard numbers. At 207 grams (or 7.3 ounces), the Pixel 6 is heavier than the Galaxy S21 and the iPhone 13, though not by much. The Pixel does have a larger 6.4-inch screen, though, and I wish it was smaller since previous generations (and other companies) all offer a one-hand-friendly size. Meanwhile, the Pixel 6 Pro weighs 210 grams, which is much lighter than the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Display, audio and fingerprint sensor

Both the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have lovely OLED screens. The standard model has a 6.4-inch 1080p panel that runs at 90Hz, while the Pro uses a 6.7-inch display that goes between 10Hz and 120Hz depending on what you're doing.

Most flagship phones have adopted OLED by now, and in general offer excellent image quality. The new frontier for displays is refresh rate, and the Pixel 6 Pro’s 120Hz screen is as buttery as the iPhone 13 Pro and Galaxy S21 Ultra’s. Scrolling through Twitter, Instagram and articles on the internet is satisfyingly fast.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro held in mid-air with its screen facing the camera.
David Imel for Engadget

The Pixel 6’s 90Hz refresh rate does make it feel a little slower, but you won’t notice if you haven’t been spoiled by 120Hz screens. If you’re upgrading from an older phone, the 90Hz panel will be an obvious improvement. Plus, this thing costs just $600, so no gripes here, especially since the iPhone 13 is $200 more and runs at 60Hz.

I’m also not going to complain much about the Pixel 6’s speakers, which are decent. Vocals were clear in Steve Aoki and Jolin Tsai’s Equal in the Darkness, though the mix could sound messy at times and lacked bass. Lil Nas X’s Industry Baby held up a little better.

Under the Pixel 6’s display is a fingerprint sensor, and unfortunately it’s slow and finicky, especially compared to in-screen readers on recent Galaxy and OnePlus devices. You also can’t log in with your thumb when the screen is off, meaning unlocking your phone is a two-step process: Wake the screen, then scan your print. Google could stand to take notes from Samsung here. Place your finger on the screen of an S21 and you almost immediately see your home page.

A close up on the Pixel 6 Pro's in-display fingerprint sensor.
David Imel for Engadget

If you’re mad that the fingerprint sensor was relocated, Google said it was mainly to keep the phone’s rear looking uncluttered, while still offering some form of secure biometric authentication.

Android 12 and Assistant features

What truly defines the Pixel 6 experience is its software — an area Google has always excelled. With Android 12's new Material You UI, the Pixel 6s feel as pretty inside as they do outside. The most obvious flourish is its ability to theme the entire interface around a color palette it extracts from your wallpaper. We've discussed this many times in our previous coverage of the Android 12 beta, so I won't go on and on about it here, but it makes the OS feel more cohesive.

Android 12 offers many new features that we've already tested, like updated widgets, camera and mic privacy toggles, but the company has updates that are exclusive to Pixels as well. The most impactful of these are the upgraded speech recognition algorithms. Transcriptions are more accurate, translations are integrated in more parts of the OS and the keyboard is easier to use hands-free.

As someone who detests typing on a phone, I love the new voice keyboard. It’s better at understanding my rambling monologues and inserting punctuation. Now transcribed text looks more natural, rather than being a long block of words. The system will even retroactively add punctuation to previous sentences while you’re speaking. That said, Assistant still isn’t perfect, and often adds periods where they don’t belong. And maybe this is more of an indictment of the way I speak, but Google seems to think everything I say is a question.

In fact, here’s an example of the above paragraph as transcribed by the new voice keyboard:

“As someone who detest typing on a phone, I love the new voice keyboard. It's better at understanding my rambling monologues and inserting punctuation. Now transcribe text looks more natural rather than being a long block of words. The system will even retroactively add punctuation to previous sentences while you're speaking. That said, assistant still isn't perfect and often adds periods where they don't belong. And maybe this is more of an indictment of the way I speak, but Google seems to think everything I say is a question”

What makes hands-free typing even easier is the ability to say things like “Send,” “Clear,” “Delete” and “Undo.” I especially love that you can say “Hey Google, type” to trigger the speech keyboard, so there’s no need to touch the screen to reply to your friends. The Pixel 6 also helpfully suggests commands for things like jumping to the next field in a form or setting the subject of an email. Plus, you can add emoji by saying “smiley face emoji” or “peach emoji”.

The new keyboard also makes it easier to fix mistakes. You can’t do this hands-free unless you want to clear everything and start over, but at least you don’t have to exit voice typing mode to select a typo and then tap the speech button to start dictating again. The mic will remain on so you can repeat something with more careful enunciation, and you can use commands like “Delete” to get rid of stray words.

The improvements to voice commands are especially important for those with physical or motor disabilities, and this might make it easier to communicate if you have limited mobility.

Screenshots showing examples of the new voice keyboard on the Pixel 6, as well as the help page showing more commands that can be used, like
Cherlyn Low / Engadget

Google also expanded its Quick Phrases feature, which allowed you to say things like “Stop” or “Answer” in response to alarms or calls. This feature rolled out first on Google’s speakers and displays, and now on the Pixel 6 you can also say “Stop,” “Snooze,” “Answer” and “Decline.” I know it seems like a minor update, but I appreciate every little addition that makes hands-free interaction with my phone easier.

Another advantage Pixels have over other phones is Google’s time-saving features like Duplex and Call Screening. On the Pixel 6, Google is introducing new Wait Time and Direct My Call tools that tell you how long you’ll have to wait for a customer service rep and converts voice-based menus into on-screen options. Though it’s supposed to work with the top 5,000 toll-free US business numbers, I didn’t see wait times appear for Bank of America, though it showed up for Capital One, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and DoorDash.

The Pixel 6 accurately turned DoorDash’s menu into tappable buttons, too, though it only works in English. “Press 1 to continue in English” appeared, though “Para continuar en espanol, o prima dos” did not, nor did the option to continue “en Francais.”

The company has also integrated its translation engine into more parts of the Pixel 6, like Live Transcribe and the keyboard. You no longer have to use the app or search engine to translate what you need before copying and pasting it into a message.

When I opened a conversation with our video producer Brian, the phone detected that he had written in German and asked if I wanted it to translate. Once I agreed, Brian’s message of “ich liebe dich” was replaced with “I love you.” As I typed out my reply, a separate text field appeared above the keyboard with my words in English being translated into Deutsch. This also worked with the new voice typing, although sometimes it reverted to the old speech keyboard (the microphone icon looks different in the latest version).

Three screenshots showing the Pixel 6 offering to and translating a message from German to English, and the keyboard simultaneously converting English words to German.
Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Only a few languages like German, Chinese (Simplified), Japanese, French, Hindi, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Russian and English are supported at this time. Most chat apps are compatible, too, like WhatsApp, Signal, Line, Twitter, Google Chat, Snapchat and Android Messages. Though, Instagram messages weren’t working when I tried it.

Another area where translation is baked in is Live Captions, which provides subtitles for anything playing through your phone’s speakers. In general Google’s interpretations still aren’t very accurate and sentences come off stilted. In Interpreter Mode, Brian and I had a conversation where I spoke Chinese and he spoke Korean and simply couldn’t make sense of what the other was saying unless we told it to translate both languages to English instead. But it’s not like any other translation software is better.

The phone’s Tensor chip handles all these things quickly, and since it’s all done on-device you can use the features without an internet connection. Lens in particular was very fast at identifying Korean characters on a book and correctly capitalizing the author’s names. And, though it struggled with my handwritten Chinese characters, it was still fairly speedy at showing its English interpretation.

There are a lot of little software updates throughout Android 12 that I don’t have the time or space to go into here, but I’ll quickly shout out new security features like the Anti-Malware and Phishing tool. When someone sends you a suspicious message in WhatsApp, Facebook or Instagram, Google will throw up a warning page like it does in Chrome, reminding you not to transmit sensitive information online to people who might not be who you think they are. It won’t prevent these messages from reaching you, but it’s at least a reminder to be careful (and a great way to diss your friends). There’s also a new security hub that helps you identify what apps are using your personal data the most.

A focus shot of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro's camera bars.

Cameras

Google’s software has helped it make the most of the outdated cameras on its older Pixels, but this time around the company endowed its flagships with much better hardware. The Pixel 6 has a 50-megapixel main sensor that uses pixel-binning to achieve a resolution closer to 12 megapixels (that are bigger and let in more light). Accompanying this is a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera with a 114-degree field of view, and the Pro adds a 48-megapixel telephoto lens to the mix that has 4X optical zoom. It also has a 11.1-megapixel wide angle selfie camera that shoots in 4K, while the Pixel 6 has an 8-megapixel sensor that tops out at 1080p. These sensors aren’t just sharper, they’re also bigger with larger pixels, which makes for brighter, cleaner photos.

In almost every situation, the Pixel 6 Pro’s photos were basically on par with the iPhone 13 Pro, and the comparison here boils down to personal preference. They both produce crisp, colorful pictures. Apple tends to deliver more-saturated images with a green-yellow cast, while Google has a more neutral look. The iPhone struggles with fringing when shooting anything against a light source, but it also renders rosier skin tones compared to the Pixel, which washes my subjects out in low light.

That’s disappointing, by the way, given the Pixel 6 also features Google’s Real Tone processing. It’s part of the company’s Image Equity program, which is built on research and feedback from photographers and people of color to get more accurate exposure for different skin tones.

This isn’t a feature you can turn off, so it’s hard to see how effective it is. All I can say is: I’ve photographed people of varying skin tones in my testing and have yet to encounter any serious issues or obvious improvements.

In addition to baking Real Tone into its algorithms, Google also introduced a slew of special camera features, including Magic Eraser, Motion Mode, Face Unblur and Speech Enhancement for selfie videos.

Most of these are hit or miss, except Face Unblur, which uses images from both the wide and main cameras to stitch together photos with crisp faces every time. I wasn’t expecting to be wowed, but Face Unblur worked well. I fired the camera in rapid succession while Brian stood in front of me and vigorously shook his head from side to side. Every single shot had his face in perfect focus.

The rest of the updates, like Speech Enhancement, Magic Eraser, Long Exposure and Action Pan in Motion Mode, only work in the right circumstances. Magic Eraser doesn’t always identify photobombers or perfectly remove them. But in some cases, like my picture of a stream framed by trees, it accurately highlighted two people on the bank and seamlessly replaced them with foliage.

Pixel 6 camera mode samples. A composite showing a picture of a stream before and after Google's Magic Eraser removed two people sitting on the bank.
Cherlynn Low / Engadget

I’m also a fan of Action Pan and Long Exposure, which add a motion blur effect to your fast-moving subject and let you capture light trails. When they work, the results are eye-catching. But while they’re easy to use and don’t require you to hold still for too long, Action Pan can’t handle anything faster than a cyclist and the blur can be exaggerated. Long Exposure delivered some nice shots of cars going down a roundabout, but doesn’t offer enough controls for experienced photographers.

Finally, while speech enhancement mode does muffle some ambient noise in videos shot with the front camera, my voice wasn’t all that much clearer than without the mode on.

Generally, much like Google’s astrophotography mode, these features are only helpful in specific situations that most people won’t encounter often. The tools that have a greater impact on your photos are Magic Eraser and Face Unblur, and despite some quirks they’re both quite effective.

Performance and battery life

Despite Tensor being Google’s first mobile chip, its performance is surprisingly good. I barely noticed a difference between the Pixel 6 and Apple and Samsung’s latest flagships, and it handled League of Legends: Wild Rift while screen recording without issue. According to Geekbench 5’s CPU benchmarks, though, the iPhone 13 Pro with its 3.2GHz A15 Bionic chip was way faster than the Pixel 6 (which is clocked at 2.8Ghz), notching a multi-core score of 4,809 over Google’s 2,802. The Surface Duo 2, with a Snapdragon 888 processor (2.84GHz), came in at 3,485.

Side view of the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro standing face to face, focusing on their camera bars.
David Imel for Engadget

With two ARM X1 “Prime” cores, two big cores and four little high-efficiency cores, Tensor’s design is similar to Qualcomm’s high-end Snapdragon 888, though with an additional X1 core. But the draw here is Google’sTPU, or Tensor Processing Unit, which is a scaled down version of what the company uses in its data centers, and it’s designed to speed up AI tasks. To be fair, Apple and Qualcomm offer similar coprocessors: the Neural Engine and Hexagon, respectively. But Google has much more experience in the field of AI than its competitors, and while we don’t have hard numbers to back it up, anecdotally Tensor seems to outclass the competition in this field.

On-device Assistant requests, voice typing and translating foreign characters in Lens all happened in an instant. I was especially impressed that I could see the effects of Google’s noise reduction through the viewfinder in low light without having to wait for processing after taking the shot.

I encountered some odd delays every once in a while, like the camera struggling to load sometimes. I received several updates throughout my testing (as recently as yesterday) and may still not have the final version of the app, which could bring more stable performance.

Both the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro last incredibly long. On our video rundown test, the Pixel 6 clocked 20 and a half hours, while the Pro managed 17 hours and 13 minutes. That puts them among the longest-lasting phones we've tested all year. In real world use, too, the Pixel 6 Pro typically stuck around longer than a day and I never stopped to think about charging it.

The Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro held up in mid-air with their camera bars facing out.
David Imel for Engadget

Pixel 6 or 6 Pro?

Though it’s still difficult to choose between the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, the decision this year boils down to one key factor: price. In the past, Google's phones came in regular and XL versions, and they were obviously different in size. With the Pixel 6 though, the standard model isn't that much smaller. That's disappointing for anyone with daintier hands that have a hard time reaching across the screen. But it does mean you don’t have to choose between size or premium features — just go for the Pro if you want the top-of-the-line edition.

The main reason to get the Pixel 6 instead of the Pro is to save $300. You'll only be missing out on the 120Hz screen, telephoto camera and slight design differences. Yes, the Pro has an ultra wideband chip for spatial location and ranging, but this won’t matter much to most people.

Wrap-up

Whichever version you’re considering, the Pixel 6 series is a superb return to form. Google is clearly aware that its strengths lay in smart software and excellent photography, and those are the areas where the Pixel 6s deliver most. The company also didn’t neglect basics like battery life and display, and though I wish the fingerprint sensor was faster, there’s little to complain about. Best of all, Google is offering you all these flagship features for hundreds less than the competition.

Key specs

SpecPixel 6Pixel 6 Pro
Display6.4-inch 2,400 x 1,080 (20:9) OLED. 411ppi, up to 90Hz6.7-inch 3,120 x 1,440 LTPO OLED. 512ppi, up to 120Hz
Dimensions
6.2 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches / 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm;7.3 oz / 207 grams
6.5 x 3.0 x 0.4 inches / 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm;7.41 oz / 210 grams
Processor, RAM and Storage
Google Tensor with Titan M2 security coprocessor;8GB LDDR5 RAM;128GB / 256GB UFS 3.1
Google Tensor with Titan M2 security coprocessor;12GB LDDR5 RAM;128GB / 256GB / 512GB UFS 3.1
Rear cameras
50MP octa PD Quad Bayer camera, 1.2-micron pixels, 1/1.31" sensor and f/1.85 aperture12MP ultrawide camera, 1.25-micron pixels, 114-degree FOV and f/2.2
50MP octa PD Quad Bayer camera, 1.2-micron pixels, 1/1.31" sensor and f/1.85 aperture12MP ultrawide camera, 1.25-micron pixels, 114-degree FOV and f/2.248MP telephoto camera, 4x optical zoom, 0.8-micron pixels, f/3.5
Front camera8MP, 1.12-micron pixels, f/2.0, 84-degree FOV11.1MP, 1.22-micron pixels, f/2.2, 94-degree FOV
Battery
4,614 mAh, fast-charging with included Google 30W USB-C chargerQi-certified, fast wireless charging, battery share
5,003 mAh, fast-charging with included Google 30W USB-C chargerQi-certified, fast wireless charging, battery share
Sensors and connectivityUnder-display fingerprint sensor, dual-SIM (one nano and one eSIM), NFC, WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2Under-display fingerprint sensor, dual-SIM (one nano and one eSIM), NFC, WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, Ultra-wideband chip
Water resistanceIP68IP68

Photos by David Imel (@DurvidImel)

Microsoft says SolarWinds hackers may have breached 14 more companies

Microsoft has shared more details about a recent cyberattack campaign orchestrated by the Russian state-sponsored group blamed for last year's devastating SolarWinds hack. The company's cybersecurity experts warned that Nobelium is once again trying to access government and corporate networks around the world, despite President Joe Biden sanctioning Russia over previous cyberattacks.

According to Microsoft, the group is using the same strategy it employed in the successful SolarWinds attack — targeting companies whose products form core parts of global IT systems. In this campaign, Microsoft says, Nobelium has focused on a different aspect of the IT supply chain, namely resellers and service suppliers that provide cloud services and other tech.

The company says it has informed more than 140 providers and resellers that the group has targeted them. It believes Nobelium breached up to 14 of these companies' networks. However, Microsoft says it detected the campaign in its early stages in May, which should help mitigate the fallout.

Microsoft notes these hack attempts are part of a huge series of attacks conducted by Nobelium over the last few months. Between July 1st and October 19th, it told 609 of its customers that Nobelium had attempted to hack them on 22,868 occasions, with fewer than 10 successes. In the three years prior to July 1st, Microsoft told its customers about 20,500 attacks from all nation-state actors — not just Nobelium.

"This latest activity shares the hallmarks of Nobelium’s compromise-one-to-compromise-many approach and use of a diverse and dynamic toolkit that includes sophisticated malware, password sprays, supply chain attacks, token theft, API abuse [and] spear phishing," Microsoft's security intelligence division wrote in a tweet. Nobelium has also been known as Cozy Bear and APT29.

In 2020, hackers created a backdoor in a SolarWinds product called Orion, which was used by around 30,000 customers in the public and private sector. Nobelium is said to have carried out further hacks on the systems of nine US agencies and around 100 companies. Other hackers piggybacked onto the backdoor to facilitate their own attacks. The US sanctioned six Russian companies and 32 individuals and entities in April over alleged misconduct connected to the SolarWinds attack and attempts to interfere with the 2020 presidential election.

"This recent activity is another indicator that Russia is trying to gain long-term, systematic access to a variety of points in the technology supply chain and establish a mechanism for surveilling — now or in the future — targets of interest to the Russian government," Tom Burt, Microsoft's corporate vice president of customer security and trust, wrote in a blog post.

The new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros are already discounted at Amazon

Apple's latest pro-level notebooks are barely one week old and they've already received a discount on Amazon. Both the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros with M1 Pro CPUs are $50 off right now — that means you can grab the 512GB 14-inch model for $1,950 or the 512GB 16-inch version for $2,450. Is it a huge discount? No, but it's notable for Apple's newest laptops for which price might be a big barrier to entry for some. Both laptops will ship starting tomorrow.

Pre-order 14-inch MacBook Pro at Amazon - $1,950Pre-order 16-inch MacBook Pro at Amazon - $2,450

Despite being announced just last week, we managed to check out the latest MacBook Pros and gave them a score of 92. Apple addressed a lot of complaints people had with its high-end laptops here, namely their lack of ports. Both machines have three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI connector, a MagSafe power port, a headphone jack and an SD card reader. The only thing missing is a USB-A port, but that's a small sacrifice to make when you have so many connectivity options that you didn't have on previous MacBook Pros.

To house these bevy of ports, the new MacBook Pros are thicker and slightly heavier than previous editions, but they remain portable (the 14-inch a bit more so than the 16-inch). They also have lovely Liquid Retina XDR displays capable of reaching 1,600 nits of brightness thanks to their Mini-LED backlighting. They also support 120Hz refresh rates with ProMotion, which will help prevent your eyes from getting fatigued after hours of scrolling through documents and web pages. The webcam notch is a noticeable difference as well, albeit one that might frustrate some, but at least the 1080p webcam is a big upgrade from the 720p camera in previous models.

Unsurprisingly, the new MacBook Pros have stellar performance. While the M1 chipset in last year's laptops fell a bit short when it came to heavy duty creative work, the M1 Pro processors remedy that and we found the SSDs in these Pros to be speedy as well. While those who need serious power for 3D renderings and similar tasks may still want to consider machines with dedicated GPUs, others will find the power provided in the new MacBook Pros to be more than sufficient. And they last long, too — the 14-inch model survived over 12.5 hours in our testing, while the 16-inch machine lasted over 16.5 hours. If you knew during Apple's event last week that the latest MacBook Pro was the laptop for you, now's a good time to grab one while you can save a few dollars in the process.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch review (2021): Apple’s mighty Macs

Apple is finally restoring balance to its portable lineup with the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. If you wanted a big-screen Mac notebook for video editing over the past year, you were stuck paying a premium for outdated Intel and AMD hardware. So, we've been eagerly awaiting an M1 upgrade for the 16-inch MacBook Pro, a machine I called Apple's best laptop ever when it debuted two years ago.

But it's worth remembering that, for all the hype around Apple's M1 chip last year, it was a let down for creative professionals. It just couldn’t handle the kinds of heavy duty video editing and 3D rendering that they demanded, in part due to being capped at 16GB of RAM. That made the 13-inch MacBook Pro a bit of an odd duck, since the Air was nearly as fast.

Apple's redesigned MacBook Pros, powered by its new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, are exactly what media professionals have been waiting for. The processors are far faster than last year's M1, they support up to 64GB of RAM, and both laptops feature XDR display technology borrowed from the iPad Pro. But Apple also looked backwards as it stepped forward, restoring ports and adopting a design that resembles many of its older machines. Just call them PowerBooks, reborn.

What's new

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Apple isn’t currently planning to replace the 13-inch model with the MacBook Pro 14. It’s more an expansion of the highest-end model. It can do almost everything the 16-inch model can, it’s just smaller. (The only exception is "High Power Mode," which gives the 16-inch M1 Max version a temporary speed boost.) That's one way I've come to terms with the high $1,999 starting price. The bigger model now starts at $2,499, $100 more than the Intel version.

Both notebooks still look like MacBook Pros, with sleek unibody aluminum cases. But lean in a bit closer and you'll notice some retro flourishes. They're slightly thicker, with more bulbous edges that hearken back to Apple's notebooks from the 2000's. They're also heavier than you'd expect: the 14-inch model comes in at 3.5 pounds, while the 16-inch varies between 4.7 and 4.8 pounds, depending on the chip you choose. That's about half a pound heavier than the last 16-inch MacBook Pro. 

All of that heft isn’t for naught, though. In part it allowed Apple to cram in a lot more ports. Joining three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C connections are a full-sized HDMI port, a MagSafe power connection, a high-impedance headphone jack and an SD card reader (cue triumphant horns). Sure, you’ll still need adapters to connect older USB Type-A devices, but at least you can offload photos and video without extra gear. You can still charge the notebooks over USB-C — always useful in a pinch — but the MagSafe connection is less likely to cause accidental falls and you won't have to use a precious USB-C port just to stay powered up.

MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021)
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Looking at the MacBook Pro's screens makes it clear they're anything but retro, though. They feature 14.2-inch and 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR displays, respectively. Mini-LED backlighting lets them reach up to 1,600 nits of peak brightness, which is great for HDR content. The screens are a sharp 254 pixels per inch, with a 3,024 by 1,964 resolution on the 14-inch and 3,456 by 2,234 on the 16-inch. Neither are true 4K (the 16-inch comes close), but you'll still be able to work on 4K and 8K video, just at a reduced scale.

Best of all is that the MacBook Pros support ProMotion, Apple's technology that enables refresh rates up to 120Hz. With that flipped on, scrolling through web pages and documents just felt silky smooth. And after spending hours writing up this review, I definitely noticed that my eyes were less fatigued thanks to the speedy refresh rate. This is becoming more common in the laptop world. Microsoft already beat Apple to the punch by putting a 120Hz screen in the Surface Laptop Studio. ProMotion is also intelligent enough to lower the refresh rate when it makes sense, which goes a long way towards saving battery life.

Really though, you don't have to think about all of the technology going into Apple's Liquid Retina XDR displays. Just know that they look incredible, with eye-watering brightness in sunny HDR scenes and inky black darkness in night shots. These aren't OLED screens, but mini-LEDs get Apple pretty close to that level of contrast. 

Embracing the notch life

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Now let's talk about the elephant in the room: that notch in the middle of the screen. Much like the last batch of iPhones, Apple carved out a portion of the display to fit in a camera. In this case a 1080p webcam. Upon first glance, it's almost laughable that Apple is leaning even more into a design element that everyone hates. But, honestly, the notch isn't a big deal.

Apple wisely pushed the MacOS menu bar around the camera, so it's really just taking up space that would go unused anyway. The menu bar also gets blacked out entirely whenever you put an app or video in fullscreen. You could also use a black wallpaper which effectively hides the notch.

I'll happily give up a bit of screen real estate, though, if it means Apple can finally squeeze in a decent camera. And judging from the dozens of video calls I've been on over the past week, it's a huge upgrade. There's a clear leap forward in resolution, sharpness and detail compared to my 2017 MacBook Pro. And it definitely looks better than the M1 MacBook Air, which had a few tweaks, but was still stuck at 720p. It would have been nice to see FaceID on the MacBook Pro though, which would have brought it on-par with Windows Hello-equipped PCs. For now, you'll still have to rely on the TouchID sensor on the power button.

In use

MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch stacked on each other  (2021)

Our 14-inch review model was equipped with an M1 Pro sporting 16 GPU cores, 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. The 16-inch had the 32 GPU core M1 Max, a 2TB SSD and a whopping 64GB of RAM. (This, by the way, marks the first time I've reviewed a laptop with that much RAM.) Both of Apple's new chips also feature 10 CPU cores — for comparison, the M1 had eight CPU cores and eight GPU cores.

Geekbench 5 CPU

Cinebench R23

Disk speed (top reads/writes)

Apple MacBook Pro (14-inch)

1,767/11,777

1,515/12,118

5.1 GB/s / 5.8 GB/s

Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2021)

1,783/12,693

1,524/12,281

5.1 GB/s / 6.2 GB/s

Apple MacBook Pro (Apple M1, 13-inch, 2020)

1,696/7,174

1,492/7,467

3GB/s / 3GB/s

Dell XPS 15 (Intel i7-11800H, RTX 3050 Ti)

1,536/7,551

1,506/9,453

2.8 GB/s / 2.6 GB/s

Razer Blade 14 (AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX. RTX 3080)

1,443/7,226

1,461/11,502

3 GB/s / 2 GB/s

Just based on specs, I expected to see some wild performance improvements. And the benchmarks didn't disappoint: According to GeekBench 5, both MacBook Pros blew away every Windows PC we reviewed this year by a significant margin. That includes the NUC 11 Extreme powered by Intel's Core i9-11900KB, a high-end desktop CPU! The single-core performance on the M1 Pro and Max was similar to the M1, which is unsurprising. But the multi-core figures were far higher. Another nice plus: Both of these computers are equipped with very fast NVMe SSDs, which will be a huge help when working with large projects. 

The GPU-heavy Geekbench 5 Compute score made it clear that Apple hasn't completely surpassed the likes of NVIDIA and AMD, though. The 14-inch MacBook Pro was more than twice as fast as the Surface Pro 8 (running Intel's Xe graphics) and the M1-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro, while the bigger notebook was on-par with the Surface Laptop Studio equipped with an NVIDIA 3050 Ti. These aren't bad scores, but it makes it clear that users who need serious power for 3D rendering or data crunching may be better off with PCs equipped with dedicated GPUs.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

I don't think those are the people Apple is trying to court, though. Instead, the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros seem like an attempt to get back in the good graces of audio and video producers. Apple's new chips will certainly be more than enough for dealing with media. Both computers managed to convert a 4K video clip to 1080p in 34 seconds with Apple's VideoToolbox hardware encoder, which is four seconds slower than the NUC 11 Extreme, but four seconds faster than the XPS 15. They were also among the fastest Cinebench R23 performers we saw this year — only the ASUS ROG Strix G15 gaming laptop bested them.

And before you ask, no, the M1 Pro and M1 Max don't magically turn these computers into gaming rigs. Sure, everything on Apple Arcade runs smoothly, but that was true of the MacBook Air. When I tried to load Borderlands 3, one of the few semi-recent games that actually works on Macs, I just got an unplayable mess running below 30fps. Maybe the the guarantee of decent GPUs will encourage more game developers to build for Macs, but more likely they'll just end up making sure their iPhone and iPad games run smoothly.

Surprisingly, I didn’t notice a huge difference in performance when I was running the MacBook Pros on battery. PCs often slow down dramatically whenever they’re disconnected from a socket, but not so with these notebooks. That’s useful if you need to encode something remotely and you’re willing to sacrifice battery life to get it done.

Don’t worry though, the efficiency of the M1 chip’s ARM design leads to great battery performance. The 14-inch MacBook Pro lasted 12 hours and 35 minutes in our benchmark, while the 16-inch went for 16 hours and 34 minutes. That’s over five hours longer than the last Intel model.

MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021)
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget


It’s clear that Apple listened to many of the complaints from Mac fans (and perhaps even lowly reviewers). But really, that’s something the company has been doing more over the years, like when it finally moved away from those awful butterfly keyboards to more tactile Magic Keyboards. By the way, typing on the 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro remains excellent, and the trackpad is a dream to use, as always. And I didn't miss the TouchBar at all—having a few short keys up top just felt more useful.

Apple didn't skimp on the audio front either. Both MacBook Pros sport a six-speaker array, made up of two tweeters and four force-cancelling woofers. Simply put, they sound miraculous. I normally just play a few songs on notebook speakers to confirm how disappointing they are. But these laptops sounded like I was listening to two small bookshelf speakers, with transparent vocals and punchy bass. Yes, I'm as shocked as you are.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro sounds a bit better, since it has room for slightly bigger drivers, but both notebooks are enough for a private jam session. The MacBook Pro's microphones also do a solid job of capturing speech during video calls. I wouldn't use them to record professional music, as Apple suggested you could, but they’re probably fine for a quick podcast session on the road.

Wrap-up

MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch sitting on a table(2021)
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

So if you’re in the market for one of these new computers, which should you get? If you’re mostly using it for general productivity tasks, then I’d lean towards the 14-inch model, which was just easier to travel with. It’s a good option for coders and people who may not need a ton of screen real estate. But all of the video and audio producers I’ve talked to were unequivocal: they wanted to go big with the 16-inch model.

The biggest downside of the new MacBook Pros are their high prices — but really, what else do you expect from Apple? The 14-inch model, in particular, will probably give you the vapors if you're comparing it to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. But in the world of gaming and high-end productivity notebooks, Apple's pricing isn't that far off. The Razer Blade 14, for example, is just two hundred dollars less than the MacBook Pro 14-inch. Dell's XPS 15 OLED is around $500 cheaper than the cheapest 16-inch MBP, but that's with a CPU that's much slower than Apple's. Once you start speccing that machine up, though, you’ll likely pay close to $2,500.

On the whole, these computers have practically everything we’d want in a powerful notebook. If you're a creative professional with a large budget for a new computer, and you want something that'll genuinely speed up your workflow, the new MacBook Pros are exactly what you need.

Samsung’s The Frame TVs are up to 33 percent off in an early Black Friday sale

The latest Samsung early Black Friday sale brings The Frame smart TVs down to some of the lowest prices we've seen in a while. Both Amazon and Samsung's own website have the deals right now, which include the 55-inch The Frame 4K smart TV for just under $1,000 — that's $500 off its normal price and the lowest we've seen it. The most affordable of the bunch is the 32-inch set, which is down to $450, and you'll find the 75-inch TV for $2,200 on the high end of the spectrum.

Buy 55-inch The Frame at Amazon - $998Buy 55-inch The Frame at Samsung - $999

If you aren't familiar, Samsung's The Frame TVs stand out because they aren't basic black voids when you're not watching something. Instead, they use Art Mode to display various pictures and pieces of art, allowing it to blend better into your living room. You can even send your own photos to the screen, turning it into a super-large version of those small, digital photo frames that are quite popular now. Built-in sensors optimize the picture to your environment, and they can tell when you're away, turning the screen off automatically. On top of all that, you're getting a 4K QLED set with 100 percent color volume, 4K AI upscaling and Alexa support.

While a bunch of other Samsung TVs are also on sale right now, the Premiere Projector with a 4.2.2 sound system is noteworthy because it's been discounted to just under $5,000. That's $500 cheaper than it was back in September when it was last on sale, and a total discount of $1,500. Yes, it's still an expensive piece of home theater equipment, but it's a much better buy at this price. It includes separate red, green and blue lasers so it can cover the full Rec.2020 color range, and it supports HDR10+ and up to 2,800 lumens of brightness. If you're willing to compromise a bit on sound, the model with a 2.2 channel system is down to a new low of $2,498 as well.

Buy Premiere Projector (4.2.2 channel sound) at Amazon - $4,998Buy Premiere Projector (2.2 channel sound) at Amazon - $2,498

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Apple’s new AirPods Pro with MagSafe charging are already down to $220

When Apple rolled out the new AirPods at its October 18th event, it didn't change the AirPods Pro but did introduce a MagSafe charging case. That's not a bad thing, as they already offered clear sound, good active noise cancellation and always-on Siri access. Now, we're already seeing the new Magsafe model on sale for the first time at Amazon for $220, or $29 off the regular $249 price. 

Buy Apple AirPods Pro at Amazon - $220

The AirPods Pro earned an 87 Engadget score for their improved sound quality, better fitting design, IPX4 water resistance, Siri access and easy switching between Apple devices. They also do a good job blocking out surrounding noise, and the latest feature can boost other people's voices during conversations — useful for folks with mild hearing difficulties. 

As part of its new AirPods and MacBook Pro launch, Apple also gave the AirPods Pro a MagSafe charging case for the same $249 price tag. As before, they have a built-in battery that allows you to go up to 24 hours without needing access to a wall plug. The addition of MagSafe makes charging a bit safer, as the cable will just pull out rather than tripping you or breaking if you accidentally catch it when walking by. 

If that feature doesn't matter much to you, the older AirPods Pro model is also on sale for $197, for a 21 percent discount. They have dropped to lower prices before, so you could also wait for a better deal — like on Black Friday coming up next month.

ICYMI: Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 still needs some work

This week, we’ve got a handful of reviews across several categories. Devindra Hardawar reviewed AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 and determined that its lackluster performance and features made the GPU hard to praise, particularly when chip shortages have forced skyrocketing prices. Nicole Lee carried the Facebook Portal Go around her house and found its features don’t entirely outweigh the flaws. I tracked my twin’s daily habits with the Talli one-touch tracker and liked it more than I thought I would, plus Cherlynn Low found that she wasn’t totally sold on Microsoft’s latest Surface Duo 2 folding smartphone.

Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 is still struggling

The Microsoft Surface Duo 2 stands almost closed, with the logo on its back facing the camera.
David Imel for Engadget

Cherlynn Low admits right away that the Surface Duo 2 is a frustrating device, despite upgrades to the cameras, software and performance. At $1,500, it remains a pricey and niche foldable phone. The newest version offers a combined 8.3-inch screen and it runs Android 11. Cherlynn says the hardware is attractive with an impressively thin profile and a sleek silhouette. The unique 1,892 x 1,344 resolution produced some odd aspect ratios, but overall, apps expanded to cover the whole screen when the automatic-span setting was enabled.

While Cherlynn liked the 90Hz refresh rate, the lovely AMOLED panels and the video quality, she was disappointed that the Duo 2 didn’t have any functionality when closed since, unlike competing smartphones, it doesn’t have an external screen. She also experienced occasional software issues: the system periodically required repeated taps to register, and the UI was finicky with swipe-based navigation. But she was most let down by the camera, which disables the rear shooters depending on the position of the phone. In the end, she could only recommend the device to those who really need a dual-screen phone and have $1,500 to spare.

AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 shouldn’t be your first pick

AMD Radeon RX 6600
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

In his review of the Radeon RX 6600, Devindra Hardawar wonders who this GPU is for. Although the card has speedy 1080p load performance, its ray tracing was lackluster at best, its upscaling abilities are limited and it has fewer features than competing cards from NVIDIA. This makes it difficult to recommend, particularly because there’s no way to estimate how much the card will cost due to the global chip shortage and ballooning prices.

During testing, Devindra found the RX 6600 to be a capable gaming card. It reached 120FPS in Destiny 2 with maxed out graphics, but stumbled when he pushed the game to 1440p. Similarly, during the Hitman 3 benchmark, the GPU reached a respectable 138fps in 1080p, but again faltered once Devindra pushed it to 1440p. He says the RX 6600 could be an upgrade for some because of its Smart Access Memory, which allows your CPU to directly address your video card's RAM. Otherwise, he says the GPU can only compete if the market stabilizes and the price drops below $300.

The Portal Go brings Facebook video chat all over your house

Facebook Portal Go
Nicole Lee/Engadget

Nicole Lee approves of the design updates made to Facebook’s Portal Go, which now features a grey fabric enclosure and rounded corners. The improvements make the Go easy to prop up on a lap or hold while you walk around the house. Part tablet and part smart display, the Go touts smart camera tracking via the 12-megapixel wide-angle lens that uses AI-powered technology to automatically pan and zoom to keep you in frame. This makes it easier to get several people in the picture on a call, and it works in third-party apps as well.

Nicole says she was impressed by the video capabilities of the 10.1-inch display, which has the same 1,280 x 800 resolution as previous Portal devices. She was particularly pleased by the adaptive lighting features like Night Mode, which reduces the amount of blue light in the evening. It also provides decent audio thanks to its two full-range speakers and subwoofer, so it can double as a portable speaker in a pinch. Nicole also managed to squeeze a little over six hours out of the battery — more than the company’s claims of five. Despite this, she says the Go is your best choice only if Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are your primary video call services.

Talli’s one-touch tracker makes it easy to log kids habits

Talli Baby One Touch Tracker
Talli Baby

Although I like the app I use to track my twins' daily habits, I was curious about Talli’s dedicated hardware. A sleek box with eight buttons , the Talli is intended to help busy parents track their kids' stats with a single button press. I have to admit: I found it a lot more useful than I thought I would. Being able to push a button to log a medication or a bottle without having to open my phone, launch an app and enter in details was a welcome relief.

The Talli tracker also pairs with an app that records and graphs your child’s daily activities. The app is standalone, meaning you don't have to buy the physical tracker to use it, and there's no subscription required in order to access features or data. If you get the device, it runs on AA batteries and can be left freestanding or be wall mounted. I’ll admit I had a challenging time trying to find the exact right location for the Talli. Grabbing it often resulted in an accidental button press, but that didn’t diminish its usefulness. It can also work alongside an Alexa skill enabling parents to log events by saying “Alexa, tell Talli Baby that Sam had a bottle.” At $99, it’s a bit pricey for a single-function device, but if you’re looking to establish a routine of recording your baby’s habits, it can make things more convenient.

ICYMI: Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 still needs some work

This week, we’ve got a handful of reviews across several categories. Devindra Hardawar reviewed AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 and determined that its lackluster performance and features made the GPU hard to praise, particularly when chip shortages have forced skyrocketing prices. Nicole Lee carried the Facebook Portal Go around her house and found its features don’t entirely outweigh the flaws. I tracked my twin’s daily habits with the Talli one-touch tracker and liked it more than I thought I would, plus Cherlynn Low found that she wasn’t totally sold on Microsoft’s latest Surface Duo 2 folding smartphone.

Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 is still struggling

The Microsoft Surface Duo 2 stands almost closed, with the logo on its back facing the camera.
David Imel for Engadget

Cherlynn Low admits right away that the Surface Duo 2 is a frustrating device, despite upgrades to the cameras, software and performance. At $1,500, it remains a pricey and niche foldable phone. The newest version offers a combined 8.3-inch screen and it runs Android 11. Cherlynn says the hardware is attractive with an impressively thin profile and a sleek silhouette. The unique 1,892 x 1,344 resolution produced some odd aspect ratios, but overall, apps expanded to cover the whole screen when the automatic-span setting was enabled.

While Cherlynn liked the 90Hz refresh rate, the lovely AMOLED panels and the video quality, she was disappointed that the Duo 2 didn’t have any functionality when closed since, unlike competing smartphones, it doesn’t have an external screen. She also experienced occasional software issues: the system periodically required repeated taps to register, and the UI was finicky with swipe-based navigation. But she was most let down by the camera, which disables the rear shooters depending on the position of the phone. In the end, she could only recommend the device to those who really need a dual-screen phone and have $1,500 to spare.

AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 shouldn’t be your first pick

AMD Radeon RX 6600
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

In his review of the Radeon RX 6600, Devindra Hardawar wonders who this GPU is for. Although the card has speedy 1080p load performance, its ray tracing was lackluster at best, its upscaling abilities are limited and it has fewer features than competing cards from NVIDIA. This makes it difficult to recommend, particularly because there’s no way to estimate how much the card will cost due to the global chip shortage and ballooning prices.

During testing, Devindra found the RX 6600 to be a capable gaming card. It reached 120FPS in Destiny 2 with maxed out graphics, but stumbled when he pushed the game to 1440p. Similarly, during the Hitman 3 benchmark, the GPU reached a respectable 138fps in 1080p, but again faltered once Devindra pushed it to 1440p. He says the RX 6600 could be an upgrade for some because of its Smart Access Memory, which allows your CPU to directly address your video card's RAM. Otherwise, he says the GPU can only compete if the market stabilizes and the price drops below $300.

The Portal Go brings Facebook video chat all over your house

Facebook Portal Go
Nicole Lee/Engadget

Nicole Lee approves of the design updates made to Facebook’s Portal Go, which now features a grey fabric enclosure and rounded corners. The improvements make the Go easy to prop up on a lap or hold while you walk around the house. Part tablet and part smart display, the Go touts smart camera tracking via the 12-megapixel wide-angle lens that uses AI-powered technology to automatically pan and zoom to keep you in frame. This makes it easier to get several people in the picture on a call, and it works in third-party apps as well.

Nicole says she was impressed by the video capabilities of the 10.1-inch display, which has the same 1,280 x 800 resolution as previous Portal devices. She was particularly pleased by the adaptive lighting features like Night Mode, which reduces the amount of blue light in the evening. It also provides decent audio thanks to its two full-range speakers and subwoofer, so it can double as a portable speaker in a pinch. Nicole also managed to squeeze a little over six hours out of the battery — more than the company’s claims of five. Despite this, she says the Go is your best choice only if Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are your primary video call services.

Talli’s one-touch tracker makes it easy to log kids habits

Talli Baby One Touch Tracker
Talli Baby

Although I like the app I use to track my twins' daily habits, I was curious about Talli’s dedicated hardware. A sleek box with eight buttons , the Talli is intended to help busy parents track their kids' stats with a single button press. I have to admit: I found it a lot more useful than I thought I would. Being able to push a button to log a medication or a bottle without having to open my phone, launch an app and enter in details was a welcome relief.

The Talli tracker also pairs with an app that records and graphs your child’s daily activities. The app is standalone, meaning you don't have to buy the physical tracker to use it, and there's no subscription required in order to access features or data. If you get the device, it runs on AA batteries and can be left freestanding or be wall mounted. I’ll admit I had a challenging time trying to find the exact right location for the Talli. Grabbing it often resulted in an accidental button press, but that didn’t diminish its usefulness. It can also work alongside an Alexa skill enabling parents to log events by saying “Alexa, tell Talli Baby that Sam had a bottle.” At $99, it’s a bit pricey for a single-function device, but if you’re looking to establish a routine of recording your baby’s habits, it can make things more convenient.