By Aneesh Karuppur (V)
As the holiday season quickly approaches, the technology world continues to develop and grow. In this issue, let’s take a look at some good gifts and some not-so-good ones.
First off, the topic most relevant to the average Pingry student is Apple’s new 16-inch MacBook Pro. They come with a scissor keyboard that feels deeper than the previous generation’s (2016-2019) butterfly keys. This new model also features a new TouchBar that has a physical Escape key and a fingerprint sensor/power button. The laptop comes with some incremental processor improvements, an (absolutely necessary) 8 terabyte solid-state drive, and a beefier battery. But the main selling point is the larger screen, which one-ups that of the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro. The screen is of a sufficiently high resolution, and the area surrounding the screen (the bezels) has been shrunk so a bigger screen can fit in about the same footprint as the outgoing 15-inch model. As is the case with Apple displays, the color accuracy is objectively unmatched among other laptops. The laptop still sticks with four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, which means that this can connect to a variety of devices (displays, external storage drives, GPUs, and other equipment) with a single cable. Pingry still recommends a dongle to go along with these relatively new ports, so I will recommend anything other than Apple’s overpriced USB-C dongles. Overall, the laptop is a nice upgrade and starts at the same $2,399 starting price as the old 15-inch model. If you are in the market for a new laptop for photo and video editing or coding and prefer a larger screen and more power options, this laptop is worth a look. An interesting note is that the upgrades for this machine will not be carried over to the 13-inch just yet, which will retain its issue-prone butterfly keyboard and large bezels. If you can hold out a few years for a 13-inch model, it may be worth it.
Another cool piece of tech that warrants discussion is Tesla’s Cybertruck pickup truck. This vehicle is boxy, sharp, and angular, and Tesla is billing it as an all-electric off-roading truck combination. Tesla also highlights features like “unbreakable” windows and a hefty steel structure. Surprisingly, it is not priced outlandishly: it starts at less than $40,000 and goes up from there. I can’t really make a recommendation, but if you want your utilitarian vehicle to stand out from the crowd, this is it.
Going back to Apple for a bit, let’s discuss Apple’s AirPods Pro. The new Pro label here doesn’t signify anything “professional” about these wireless earbuds, but Apple has made some meaningful changes. There are now swappable rubber tips to block noise more effectively, which perfectly ties in with Apple’s active noise cancelling feature. This means that repetitive, droning noises, like those in a subway ride or an airplane cabin, will be filtered out while the user is listening. The new AirPods Pro have some smaller touches, like vents to equalize the air pressure in the listener’s ears, and more actions that can be performed without taking out your phone (play, pause, skip track, etc.). They do come with Apple’s wireless charging case, albeit in a different shape. I think the AirPods Pro is cool, but more of a generous gift rather than a necessity. If you have the AirPods Gen 1 or Gen 2, I wouldn’t really recommend upgrading to these unless you really need noise cancelling in your life. Of course, the price is also higher than regular AirPods, so that is something to consider as well.
And, finally, a little holiday shopping advice––keep an eye out for any potential scams or fraudulent websites. Criminals have been using more sophisticated methods of phishing, like pretending to be the email address of a friend or family member, and it is often very difficult to detect this fraud at a glance. If an email asks you to enter your credit card information, Social Security number, or anything of the like, hover over the email address and search it up to make sure it is a legitimate email address from a major company or service. If a friend seems to be emailing you for money or a suspicious request, call or text the friend before you enter your information. Once the money is sent, it can be difficult to trace, and this is especially true with the advent of digital credit cards and financial services (Apple Card, Venmo, etc.).
If you’re careful and conscious, though, your holiday tech experience should be fun and rewarding. Happy shopping, and stay tuned for the next issue!