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Apple Finally Remembered What Makes Laptops Great

Apple Finally Remembered What Makes Laptops Great

The reintroduction of a MagSafe magnetic charging port, a staple in older Macs, is especially welcome if you tend to be clumsy and trip over your charging cables. MagSafe mostly ensures the cable releases and that the laptop doesn’t go crashing to the floor.

That reversion to functionality has come with some sacrifice. The new MacBook Pros are heavier than the previous generation of MacBook Pro, weighing 4.7 pounds and 3.5 pounds, respectively, adding about a half pound of heft to the previous generation. But they’re also just a hair thicker, which means Apple has done some clever maneuvering of the machines’ internals to make these ports fit. Battery life, in some ways the only spec that matters, is supposed to be substantially better as well.

That’s due in no small part to the chip upgrade these laptops are getting. The new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips build on last year’s M1 chip, which was Apple’s first custom-designed processor for Macs and powered last year’s MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. These new chips should offer massive gains in performance—though benchmark and speed tests will soon reveal just how big these boosts are—and in a series of not-so-subtle charts, Apple showed how the chips should outperform Intel-powered machines in almost every category. The company claims that the M1 Max’s 32-core GPU, for example, rivals even the most powerful laptops with discrete graphics processors.

Apple’s own apps have been optimized for the new chips, which will start rolling out when the new MacBook Pros ship at the end of the month, and some third-party developers were on hand (via pretaped videos) to vouch for the newfound power of the Macs. But these new MacBook Pros will still use last year’s emulator to run some x86 apps. Arguably, it’s some of these apps that are the most important element of MacBook Pros: Buyers of Apple’s high-end hardware also tend to be the customers who will spend a lot of money on software, whether for their jobs or more casual use cases, and this is exactly who Apple is targeting with these $2,000-and-up machines.

“A lot of creative professionals have been anxious to see how the M1 was going to be developed for their needs,” says Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner. “It’s not like all the apps they need are [optimized], but Apple has been working with key third-party developers like Adobe, so between the performance boost and key applications this could be the time for creative professionals to replace their devices.”

Kitagawa said she believes these new MacBook Pros won’t be high-volume items, considering their starting price of $2,000. Putting it another way: She doesn’t think that sales of the new MacBook Pros will alter Apple’s current market share in global PC shipments.

But the new machines are still technologically—and symbolically—significant for Apple. She noted that Microsoft recently announced a new Surface Studio laptop, which is also aimed at designers, developers, and producers. That’s another laptop that’s unlikely to make a huge dent in the market, but it’s a chance for Microsoft to show off what it thinks it can offer creative consumers. Appealing to creatives, and to some extent, counterculture, has been in Apple’s computer DNA. In recent years, it lost its way. To build MacBook Pros for the future, Apple rightly followed the path back to that past.

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The Best Chromebooks for Every Budget

The Best Chromebooks for Every Budget

Chromebooks come in a bewildering array of configurations. Sometimes even trying to decide which options to get on a single model can be overwhelming. As a product tester, I have to use a spreadsheet to keep it all straight. But you shouldn’t have to do that, so here are some broad specs to keep in mind when choosing one.

Processor: Chromebooks use half a dozen different processors, most of which you’ve probably never heard of. There’s a reason for that: these processors are slow, and they don’t show up in Windows laptops. After trying out plenty of Intel Celeron-based machines (usually labeled N4000), my recommendation is to go with something more powerful if you can afford it. The next step up from the Celeron is the Core m3, which is the best choice for most people. If you want a more powerful, future-proof machine, get an i3 or i5 chip.

We’re starting to see more ARM-based Chromebooks, like the Lenovo Duet above. I haven’t had any issues using ARM Chromebooks, but they aren’t quite as speedy as the Intel Core chips. There are some newer Chromebooks using AMD’s new Ryzen chips, and I’ve had good experiences with them.

RAM: Get 8 gigabytes of memory if you can afford it, especially if you plan to run any Android applications. When I’ve experienced severe slowdowns and glitches, it’s almost always on a Chromebook with only 4 gigs of RAM.

Screen: Get an IPS LCD display. There are still a few low-end models out there with crappier TN LCD displays, and you should avoid those. Your pixel resolution depends on the size of the screen. I have used (and recommend) some 11-inch Chromebooks that have 720p displays. Because those screens are squeezed into a small form factor, I find them acceptably sharp, but of course, a 1080p screen will be much nicer.

Ports: Most things you do on a Chromebook are cloud-based, so you don’t really need to worry too much about ports. You might want a computer that charges through a USB-C port if you’d like to be able to run your Chromebook off a portable battery/charger, but unfortunately, USB-C is really only available in mid- and higher-priced models. It also helps to have a MicroSD slot for expanded storage if you need to download a lot of files during a typical day, but that option is also not widely available.

How to Share Your Wi-Fi Password

How to Share Your Wi-Fi Password

A good host always shares Wi-Fi with visitors, but explaining which network to join and spelling out the password (if you even remember it) can get tedious. Maybe you think you remember it, but it’s just not working and you insist your guest must be typing it in wrong. Then it hits you, you’ve been reciting your email password. Hey, it can happen to anyone.

There’s a much easier way to bestow Wi-Fi connectivity to your guests. If your router offers the option of creating a guest network, which we recommend because it helps you maintain a more secure Wi-Fi network, then that’s the password you should give them. Either way, here’s how to share Wi-Fi access quickly and easily on different devices.

How to Share Your Wi-Fi on iPhone, iPad, or Mac 

GIF of iOS Share WiFi feature
Courtesy of Simon Hill

Sharing Wi-Fi passwords between Apple devices is very easy, but your visitor needs to be listed in your Contacts and vice versa. Once you’re in each other’s Contacts list, make sure iPhones are on iOS 11 or newer, Macs on macOS High Sierra or later, and iPads on iPadOS. Here’s how to share it:

  1. Turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on both devices, ensure Personal Hotspot is turned off, and make sure their device is unlocked and nearby.
  2. Your device should be connected to the Wi-Fi network you want to share. (Connect to the guest network if that’s what you’re sharing.)
  3. Have your guest select your Wi-Fi network from the list of available options on their device.
  4. You will get a pop-up message on your device asking if you want to share your Wi-Fi password.
  5. Tap Share Password.

How to Share Your Wi-Fi on Android

With Android devices, you can use a QR code to share Wi-Fi details, provided the phones or tablets in question are running Android 10 or later. Here’s how:

  1. Make sure your device is connected to the Wi-Fi network you want to share and go to Settings, Network and Internet (it might be called Connections depending on your device), then Wi-Fi.
  2. Tap on the cog next to your Wi-Fi network.
  3. Tap the Share icon on the right and you should see a QR code on the screen. (You may have to authenticate this action.)
  4. Have your guest scan the QR code. You can scan QR codes using the regular camera app with most phones, including iPhones. If your guest has an Android phone, on their device head to Settings, Connections (or Network and Internet), then Wi-Fi. Scroll down to find where it says Add Network; next to it, you’ll see a QR code icon. Tap on it and they can now quickly scan the code.
  5. Scanning the code should automatically connect the device.

How to Find Your Wi-Fi Password on Windows

Microsoft used to allow you to automatically share your Wi-Fi details with contacts through something called Wi-Fi Sense, but it was scrapped due to security concerns. Sadly, there’s now no quick and easy way to share a Wi-Fi password from a Windows device. All I can show you is how to find your Wi-Fi password in Windows:

  1. Click on the Windows icon, then the Settings gear icon on the left, and choose Network & Internet.
  2. Make sure you’re on the Status tab at the top left, then choose Network and Sharing Center.
  3. Click on your network where it says Connections: Wi-Fi [your network name]. (This won’t work if you’re connected via Ethernet.)
  4. Choose Wireless Properties in the pop-up window.
  5. Select the Security tab and tick the Show characters box under the Network security key.
  6. Have your guest pick the right network on their device and type in the password you found.

Now that you’ve hooked your guests up, read our guides on how to make your Wi-Fi faster and how to secure it.

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