Apple last night announced AirPods Pro, a new member of the AirPods family that features Active Noise Cancellation and immersive sound, with an in-ear design.
“AirPods are the best-selling headphones in the world,” says Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The one-tap setup experience, incredible sound and iconic design have made them a beloved Apple product, and with AirPods Pro, we’re taking the magic even further. The new in-ear AirPods Pro sound amazing with Adaptive EQ, fit comfortably with flexible ear tips and have innovative Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode. We think customers are going to love this new addition to the AirPods family.”
The no-setup experience customers know with today’s AirPods extends to AirPods Pro. By opening the charging case near an iOS or iPadOS device and giving it a tap, AirPods Pro are paired to all the devices signed into a user’s iCloud account, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV and iPod touch.
Each earbud comes with three different sizes of soft, flexible silicone ear tips that conform to the contours of each individual ear, providing both a comfortable fit and a tight seal — a critical factor in delivering immersive sound. To further maximise comfort, AirPods Pro use an innovative vent system to equalize pressure, minimising the discomfort common in other in-ear designs.
Active Noise Cancellation on AirPods Pro uses two microphones combined with advanced software to continuously adapt to each individual ear and headphone fit. This removes background noise to provide a customised noise-cancelling experience.
The first microphone is outward-facing and detects external sound to analyse environmental noise. It then creates an equivalent anti-noise that cancels out background noise before it reaches the listener’s ear. A second inward-facing microphone listens toward the ear, and AirPods Pro cancel remaining noise detected by the microphone. Noise cancellation continuously adapts the sound signal, 200 times per second.
Transparency mode provides users with the option to simultaneously listen to music while still hearing the environment around them, whether that’s to hear traffic while out for a run or a train announcement during the morning commute. Using the pressure-equalizing vent system and advanced software that leaves just the right amount of noise cancellation active, Transparency mode ensures that a user’s own voice sounds natural while audio continues to play.
Switching between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes can be done directly on the AirPod using a new force sensor on the stem. The force sensor also makes it possible to play, pause or skip tracks, and answer or hang up phone calls. Users can also press on the volume slider in Control Center on iPhone and iPad to control settings, or on Apple Watch by tapping on the AirPlay icon while music is playing.
The size and performance of the AirPods Pro are made possible by a system-in-package (SiP) design with the Apple-designed H1 chip at its core. The H1 features 10 audio cores and powers everything from sound to voice-activated Siri. The extremely low audio processing latency of H1 enables real-time noise cancellation, delivers high-quality sound using adaptive technology and responds to hands-free “Hey Siri” requests — all at once.
In Active Noise Cancellation mode, AirPods Pro delivers up to four and a half hours of listening time and up to three and a half hours of talk time on a single charge. Through additional charges from the Wireless Charging Case, AirPods Pro deliver over 24 hours of listening time or over 18 hours of talk time. Charging the AirPods case can be done wirelessly, through a Qi-certified charging mat or using the Lightning port.
The AirPods Pro will be available for $249 in the US, starting tomorrow.
iPhone 11 Pro Max selfie cam scores in top 10
DxOMark has announced the iPhone 11 Pro Max has scored in the top 10 devices in its selfie scores.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is Apple’s most recent top-of-the-line smartphone, featuring a large 6.5-inch “Super Retina” XDR OLED display, Apple’s most powerful A13 Bionic chip for processing, 4GB of RAM, IP68-rated sealing for dust/water protection, and Qi wireless charging.
The front-facing camera benefits from a hardware upgrade over previous models, with a higher-resolution 12MP sensor for sharper shots and wide-angle 23mm-equivalent lens. The lens is still fixed-focus, with the same f/2.2 aperture as the lens on the XS Max, but the wider field of view will certainly help fit more into the frame. Other features include smart HDR, and bokeh shots with Apple’s SL (Structured Light) 3D camera doing the depth sensing.
Front-camera video has been upgraded, too, with the iPhone 11 Pro Max now capable of 4K (2160p) capture at either 24/30/60fps frame rates, as well HD (1080p) capture at 30/60/120fps. The video module also benefits from gyroscope-based electronic image stabilisation (gyro-EIS) for theoretically smoother video capture using the front camera.
Key front camera specifications:
- 12MP-resolution sensor
- Fixed-focus, 23mm-equivalent f/2.2-aperture lens
- SL 3D camera
- Smart HDR
- Portrait mode with bokeh and depth control
- 4K 2160p/60fps video
DxOMark provided the following review:
Achieving a DxOMark Selfie Score of 91, the front camera on the iPhone 11 Pro Max offers a nice improvement in image quality over the XS Max, and ranks just inside the top ten in our database. The addition of a wider lens on the new device is a big plus, helping you fit more into the frame and get better compositions in a range of situations. There are other strengths, too, including a higher score for focus, with both faces and backgrounds boasting good detail at a range of distances, and effective bokeh shots when you want to blur the background. Selfies pack plenty of punch outdoors, too, with accurate exposure on faces, and fairly wide dynamic range ensuring well-controlled highlights and skin tones even in very bright conditions.
Colour rendering has been improved on the iPhone 11 Pro Max, too. White balance is typically a little yellow, but the warmer skin tones can be attractive, and good saturation ensures that colours are pleasant and often vivid in outdoor shots. Details are also well preserved, with well-defined facial features in both single and group selfies at close and medium range; and skin tone rendering usually looks natural.
Bokeh shots are also a key strength for the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s selfie shooter, and the strong background blur looks really striking. Apple’s SL 3D camera generally does a good job with depth estimation and subject isolation. A notable area for further development, however, is noise, which is often very prevalent in both indoor and low-light images. Noise has improved slightly since the XS Max, but front-facing cameras from key competitors continue to offer smoother results in low-light conditions.
Video shows some of the same strengths and weaknesses as stills. The lens’s wider field of view, good focus at most distances, and extended depth of field make the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s front camera a much more suitable solution for vlogging compared to previous iterations. Video exposure is also very good, with the inclusion of HDR processing offering a fairly wide dynamic range in bright outdoor lighting conditions, which is still a little rare for video on front cameras. Colour is pleasant when white balance is accurate, and although slight white balance instabilities are evident, the device generally avoids any offensive colour casts. 4K capture also ensures good detail in videos; fine detail is well preserved, especially in outdoor conditions, and the texture-versus-noise compromise is good. Detail and noise in indoor videos is the main opportunity for improvement, however, with a significant loss of detail and strong noise visible in lower light conditions.
Read more about how the scores are calculated on DxOMark’s website.
New Acer TravelMate convertible coming
The Acer TravelMate Spin B3, which features a flip-over screen and an 11.6″ screen, will launch in April.
Acer has announced a convertible TravelMate Spin B3 device, intended for the education market. The 11.6-inch notebook comes with enhanced performance and has a sturdy design to protect it from knocks.
The TravelMate Spin B3 features the latest Intel Pentium and Celeron processors, intended to give students the power they need for classroom work. The laptop also complies with the MIL-STD 810G military standard, meaning that it’s strong enough to survive bumps and accidental spills. A pressure-resistant top cover, shock-absorbent rubber bumper and reinforced corners all add to the durability of the device. The notebook can also get students through the school day (up to 12 hours of battery life) on a single charge.
The TravelMate Spin B3 adapts to the demands of a school day via four usage modes: students can write essays in clamshell mode, watch videos or lectures in display mode, make space on a desk in tent mode when they need to work by hand, and make use of tablet mode when they need to write by hand in maths or art class, for example. An optional world-facing camera above the keyboard allows students to capture photos and videos in tablet mode. It includes Wacom AES technology to provide a natural writing experience, and comes with a dockable stylus.
There is an optional battery indicator light on the front cover which enables teachers to see which students’ laptops are low on battery. The devices have anchored keys that are difficult to remove and an easy-fix keyboard, making it convenient for the school’s IT technician to repair.
The laptop comes with: Ethernet, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, an HDMI port and on select models, a fully-functional USB Type-C port that allows for charging, 5GB/s data transfer and connection to external displays.
The TravelMate Spin B3 will be available in April, starting at R4000.