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This week we received a wide range of reviews on everything from mobile operating systems to craft cutting machines. First, Mat Smith tested the new SharePlay feature on iOS 15.1 and found it to have potential. Then Billy Steele listened to the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones and found that they were just as comfortable as their predecessors, and also with improved noise cancellation. Nathan Ingraham put the HP Chromebook X2 to the test and discovered that the lightweight laptop has a great screen that is ideal for travel. Steve Dent has turned the wheel on ASUS ’ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED laptop, which he says has a screen with extremely precise colors and thoughtful features for creatives. Finally, Terrence O’Brien made a few stickers and stickers with Cricut Explore 3.
Mat Smith calls iOS 15.1 a relatively minor update compared to the more drastic changes brought by iOS 14. A good portion of the add-ons here come from the SharePlay release, which allows you to do things like stream TV shows with a friend via FaceTime. Matt said that the shows were without delays in testing, that the fitness apps were motivating and that the free games were more fun than he expected. However, SharePlay is not available for all applications – for example, YouTube and Netflix are not currently supported.
Matt also tested surround sound, which gives callers directional sound, but was more impressed by the new voice isolation and wide mods. He also played with focusing methods, which help you track and limit the time in front of the screen through profiles and the ability to “lock” yourself from the phone at certain times. Matt points out that these features, in addition to improving machine learning with Visual Look-up and Live Text, show that Apple is once again committed to sharing.
Nathan Ingraham has found that the hardware on the HP Chromebook X2 is well made, solid and simple in design. He called the bright 11-inch, 2,160 x 1,440 touchscreen exceptional, which makes the work feel less cramped thanks to its 3: 2 aspect ratio. The keyboard responded well and he liked that the included pen was neatly and magnetically attached to the side. When it comes to performance, he found the X2 works well for watching videos, browsing the web and playing games.
However, he discovered that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c mobile processor was struggling when it came time to push the machine with intensive tasks. Although he could run his usual programs, it was not the fastest experience and he said that he avoided playing music from the device while running many other applications because that would cause a slowdown. With that in mind, its stellar battery life, size and lightweight design make the Chromebook X2 a solid secondary or travel device.
Steve Dent says the ASUS ProArt Studiobook is clearly designed to appeal to artists and creatives with its fast performance, beautiful 16-inch 4K OLED screen and “ASUS dial” for video and photo editing. The screen is factory calibrated to Pantone and Calman color accuracy and has a contrast ratio of 1,000,000: 1 with dark black which makes it good for content creation and streaming entertainment. It also has an “IceCool Pro” thermal solution to increase air flow with minimal noise. Steve found this to be true during testing, except for GPU / CPU intensive tasks, which increased noise levels.
He was also particularly impressed by the dial, which he says is pleasant with a textured handle and smooth rotation. The location is convenient, and the scroll wheel can be used to adjust the volume or brightness of the screen, as well as to access menu options from four Adobe applications. Steve was also pleased with the number of ports on the machine, including USB-C with DisplayPort support and an SD Express card slot. On testing, the laptop performed well during gaming and editing tasks, thanks in part to the RTX 3070 GPU and AMD Ryzen 9 CPU. On top of that, Steve also revealed that it has a solid battery life, which led him to declare the Studiobook 16 the best Windows 10 laptop for content creation.
Bose makes minor but appreciated updates with the QuietComfort 45 headphones
Billy Steele is not disappointed that Bose has not updated the design of the QuietComfort 45 headphones. In fact, he was pleased that the company kept so much of what made the previous model popular, from light weight to physical buttons and pads. He reports that the new headphones retain the sound quality for which Bose is known, with sharp high, robust midrange and deep bass. The QC45 sounded good in multiple genres, and the updated noise cancellation removed more background sounds than the previous model.
New to the QC45 is the ambient sound or mode that lets you hear what’s going on around you. Billy said he was helpful, but not the best he had ever experienced. During testing, he managed to get 22.5 hours of playback before he needed to charge his headphones. However, he found connecting multiple devices a bit frustrating as it required them to reconnect after the call was completed. All in all, he still believes that the latest QuietComfort cans offer a lot for people who travel often and need a comfortable set of headphones with exceptional noise cancellation capabilities.
Cricut’s Explore 3 cutting machine is for dedicated craftsmen
Terrence O’Brien admits that he is not the main audience for circular craft machines. Designed to cut hundreds of different types of materials, the Circuit line can make vinyl transfers for shirts, 3D cardboard masks, stickers, decals, stickers and more. However, his initial level of craft didn’t stop him from fully enjoying Cricut Explore 3, which he said felt like magic to use. During testing, he created a Spider-Man emblem for a Halloween costume, several laptop stickers and (mostly) a 3D cardboard fox.
Terrence said the accompanying app is easy to use: it also offers access to over 1,000 free images and 250 projects. Even more is available through a Cricut Access membership of $ 10 per month and you can upload your own designs. He appreciated the detailed instructions for pre-designed projects, but points out that projects often required a lot of extras like a scoring pen or a foil transfer tool. All in all, Terrence says whether the $ 300 Explore 3 (or the $ 400 Maker 3) is worth it or not, it will depend a lot on how often you use it – and what other materials you already have on hand.
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