This morning, we introduced you to The Apple Archive, an unofficial collection of the Cupertino company’s official videos, print ads, marketing images, and even some eye-opening internal training videos — check out young Woz and his single earring at the beginning of this early video on the value of patents!
But at the time, we were blissfully unaware that the archive also included this delightful monstrosity: a four-minute music video masquerading as an “Easy Pay training video.”
We will now inflict it upon you:
It just keeps on going, doesn’t it?
I can guess what you’re thinking, but no, these employees were not fired — in fact, a LinkedIn profile suggests lead singer Brian Maslow spent five more years at the company and got promoted first to train his fellow Apple retail employees, later trained Whole Foods employees, and is now a manager of talent development at NBCUniversal.
And if you now find yourself with a craving for more disastrous tech company music videos, just check out this catchy number that most definitely did not save BlackBerry from being scorned by app developers in 2012.
President Donald Trump has been impeached, and his trial in the US Senate is expected to begin in earnest on January 21st. Don’t expect to see any Senators tweeting @ Trump from the proceedings, though — because they’ll have to leave their phones at the door.
Tablets and laptops can’t come along for the ride, either: according to an official sheet of “Decorum Guidelines” for Trump’s impeachment obtained by CNN, there will be no “electronic devices” allowed. They’ll have to be stored in the cloakroom outside the proceedings, apparently in a special new cabinet for that purpose.
“I just saw a piece of cabinetry in the cloakroom where we will be required to turn over our iPads and our iPhones,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), according to The Hill.
Does that mean Trump will be without his phone and ability to tweet as well? That’s not clear, as most of the rules seem to apply specifically to senators, including a rule that keeps them from talking to their neighbors during the trial.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) seems happy with the arrangement: “Paying attention is significant and important and I’m glad that we can put these devices down. I’m glad we will be sitting in our chairs, I’m glad that we are going to be focused on what’s in front of us at that time. I think it’s important, it’s beautifully old fashion, and I think we should stick to it,” she said, according to CNN.
The Senate has a long-standing policy against photos from inside its chambers, but it looks like the press will be getting even less access to senators than usual — they’ll reportedly be restricted to a second-floor press gallery without any electronic devices, be swept with a magnetometer every time they enter or exit, and not be allowed to walk with senators in the building:
Trump just tweeted a tweet that might escalate a sticky situation into an outright showdown between Apple and the US Department of Justice — by effectively claiming that Apple is refusing to do its patriotic duty to unlock two iPhones connected to last month’s shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida.
We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements. They will have to step up to the plate and help our great Country, NOW! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.
Yesterday, Attorney General William Barr accused Apple of much the same thing, saying that the tech company had provided no “substantive assistance” to the FBI in unlocking the shooter’s phones. But it’s a much more nuanced matter than that.
For starts, Apple claims that it has been continually assisting the FBI with the Pensacola phones, by providing data backed up from the phones to iCloud servers and account information, as we reported yesterday. Apple says it’s handed over gigabytes of data to investigators, and has been responding to each request within hours. Apple also suggested that the FBI seemed to be satisfied until just eight days ago, saying that “The FBI only notified us on January 6th that they needed additional assistance — a month after the attack occurred.”
But it’s also not an easy matter to simply “unlock” an iPhone for the feds — even if Apple has refused to do so in this case, which isn’t yet clear. We learned this in 2016 when Apple actually did publicly refuse to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernadino shooters, leading to a protracted legal fight that ended embarrassingly for the federal government when it turned out the feds didn’t need Apple’s help after all — partly because it paid a third-party for a tool to break into that iPhone, and partly because investigators were able to find the password on their own.
I digress: what Apple claimed in 2016 was that it didn’t actually have the existing ability to unlock a customers’ iPhone for the feds, even if they were an alleged killer, and that Apple wasn’t willing to build a backdoor into every iPhone just to make that happen — because it could potentially create a dangerous loophole that hackers could take advantage of as well.
That said, a poll at the time suggested that most Americans believed Apple should comply with the FBI’s demands, even though a majority understood it might make their personal data less secure. Those are the sympathies that Trump is attempting to draw on now.
According to The New York Times, Apple is quietly preparing for a brand-new legal fight over the iPhone’s encryption standards and the government’s desire for a backdoor, but is also internally frustrated that the Justice Department hasn’t spent more time trying to unlock the shooter’s iPhone 5 and an iPhone 7 Plus — devices lacking Apple’s most sophisticated encryption — with third-party tools. According to security experts who spoke to both the NYT and Bloomberg, third-party cell phone unlocking tools should be able to break into the Pensacola phones as well. Both phones were damaged in apparent attempts to destroy them, but the FBI managed to get both devices to turn on.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has issued a statement in support of Apple and the need for strong encryption on personal devices in the US and abroad.
”The government’s demand is dangerous and unconstitutional, and would weaken the security of millions of iPhones,” said the ACLU’s Surveillance and Cybersecurity Counsel Jennifer Granick. “Strong encryption enables religious minorities facing genocide, like the Uyghurs in China, and journalists investigating powerful drug cartels in Mexico, to communicate safely with each other, knowledgeable sources, and the outside world. There is simply no way for Apple, or any other company, to provide the FBI access to encrypted communications without also providing it to authoritarian foreign governments and weakening our defenses against criminals and hackers.”
Apple may have even more at stake now than it did in 2016: increasingly, Apple has repositioned itself as a “privacy” company, as if it’s the only tech company you can trust. You may have seen the ads. And while Apple has stumbled a few times already on privacy, that’s the image it wants to send.
It is true that Apple has benefited from a relationship with Trump, by the way, but not necessarily around trade — unless Trump’s saying that Apple is why his proposed tariffs on phones and laptops keep getting delayed.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s tweet.
Update January 15th, 2:15AM ET: Story updated with details of the shooter’s iPhones and a statement by the ACLU.
Apple TV+ may have just lost a second high-profile project that was set to appear on the streaming platform, just one month after it was announced: the Oprah Winfrey-produced documentary that follows music industry executive Drew Dixon, one of the women who accused Russell Simmons of rape and came forward in an interview with The New York Times.
(Apple also indefinitely delayed the theatrical release of its feature film The Banker two months ago.)
“I have decided that I will no longer be executive producer on The Untitled Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering documentary and it will not air on Apple TV+,” Oprah wrote in a statement issued to several film industry publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline and The Wrap.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. We’re not clear what kind of terms Oprah negotiated in her multi-year deal with Apple, but perhaps she has the authority to make this kind of decision? The film was to be “presented by Oprah Winfrey” on the streaming platform, so it could admittedly be a little awkward for Apple to air it if she’s no longer a producer.
Here’s Oprah’s full statement, via Deadline:
I have decided that I will no longer be executive producer on The Untitled Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Documentary and it will not air on Apple TV+. First and foremost, I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women. Their stories deserve to be told and heard. In my opinion, there is more work to be done on the film to illuminate the full scope of what the victims endured and it has become clear that the filmmakers and I are not aligned in that creative vision. Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering are talented filmmakers. I have great respect for their mission but given the filmmakers’ desire to premiere the film at the Sundance Film Festival before I believe it is complete, I feel it’s best to step aside. I will be working with Time’s Up to support the victims and those impacted by abuse and sexual harassment.
The statement makes it sound like the film will still appear at Sundance, which kicks off January 24th. Here’s the Sundance Film Festival page for the documentary, which is why we know the film is about Drew Dixon — that wasn’t disclosed in Apple’s original press release.
We lost the excellent Virgin America airline a few years back, and the virtual cellular network that owes its name to Sir Richard Branson may soon be on its way out too. Sprint announced today that it’s going to be shutting down Virgin Mobile USA starting on February 2nd, transferring existing customers to Boost Mobile instead.
Apparently, the brand will go back to its original owner, Virgin Group, which is trying to decide whether it wants to relaunch a new iteration of Virgin Mobile in the US.
Here’s how a Virgin Mobile rep explained it to us:
As part of the remedy process laid out by the Department of Justice for the merger of Sprint and T Mobile, Sprint is transferring its pre-pay mobile brands to Dish. To facilitate this move Virgin Group has agreed with Sprint to transfer existing Virgin Mobile US customers to the Boost brand ahead of the sale to Dish. Following the transfer, Virgin will take back the Virgin Mobile brand for the US. We are delighted that after a period of uncertainty caused by the protracted merger discussions, we have control of our valuable brand once again and will now work on options to relaunch a modern mobile offer in the US.
That doesn’t mean anything except that Virgin is weighing its options: a spokeperson tells us the company will “spend some time assessing the US mobile market opportunity and start talking to interested parties about potential partnerships in due course.”
And by that time, all of Virgin Mobile USA’s existing customers will be gone.
An FAQ on Virgin Mobile USA’s website doesn’t specify a particular date the shutdown will be complete, but does say that customers can get a head start on the transfer to Boost if they want. It’s possible you won’t notice much of a difference. A Sprint spokesperson told FierceWireless that customers will be able to keep the same phone and keep paying the same price, and you’ll still technically be on the same Sprint network.
That said, you may need to change how you pay for Boost Mobile, as the company says it won’t be supporting PayPal accounts or 45/90 Day top-ups.
This isn’t the end of Virgin Mobile, either way. While its Australian counterpart (run by Optus) is also currently being phased out, it’s still a cellular brand in Sir Richard Branson’s native UK. But these days, Branson has his sights set a bit higher than cellular.
We wouldn’t be surprised if the next “Virgin Mobile USA” is simply a name slapped onto an existing MNVO to give it a bit more prestige, the same way that Boost is about to be slapped onto Virgin, and how both Boost and Virgin are basically just Sprint anyhow.
Update, January 8th at 3:22 PM ET: Added that Virgin Group will take back the rights to Virgin Mobile USA, and is deciding if it wants to potentially launch it once again.
Yesterday, The New York Times exposed in chilling detail how smartphones now mean practically anyone can be precisely tracked and identified in real time without their knowledge or permission. Today, the publication is driving that home with a particularly stunning example: tracking the President of the United States using the movements of his Secret Service agents, and other government officials, too.
Frankly, it may be more troubling that they could follow and identify Secret Service agents and other figures than Trump himself. After all, the President’s schedule is often made public and he’s well-protected, but who’s watching the watchers? Anyone who has access to the same data as the NYT, apparently — data that’s being harvested and sold completely legally right now, as far as we know.
For a while there, it seemed like beloved sci-fi show The Expanse might have been coming to an end, when Syfy decided not to renew it for a fourth season. But last May, Amazon stepped in — and right now, you can judge for yourself how well that decision panned out, because the ten-episode fourth season of The Expanse is now available to stream in its entirety on Amazon Prime.
“damn there goes my weekend,” one Verge editor exclaimed in Slack chat, when I mentioned the news. (I’m not free this weekend, so maybe I’ll start today.)
In our review of the first six episodes, we called it “very much the same show,” and said it “feels like the beginning of a grand second act.” So it may start a little slow — though it’ll pick up right where we left off after the third season’s finale (recap/spoilers!).
Amazon’s already renewed it for a fifth season, in case you’re wondering.
Hey I think there’s season 4 of a show called #TheExpanse on Amazon right now? Anyone heard of that one?
That’s what you came here to find out, and I won’t bury the lede: on Tuesday, November 19th, Google will launch a cloud service that truly lets you play big-budget games without discs or downloads, consoles or gaming PCs. That’s because Stadia lets you stream the games you buy on servers in the cloud, and it’s more reliable than any service I’ve tested in a decade covering the technology.
If you’re expecting it to look or work as well as a high-end gaming PC or even a high-end game console, or if you’re hoping for a killer app, you may come away disappointed. But the overarching reaction I had while playing Stadia was the same I have with half-decent headphones: I’d happily keep playing if I wasn’t already spoiled.
All you need is a decent internet connection, a good Wi-Fi router, and your pick of Google’s Chromecast Ultra dongle, Pixel phone, or the Chrome web browser on a laptop or desktop. Oh, and a lot of patience. Despite the charm and an improved slate of games, Google’s cloud gaming service isn’t anywhere near what the company initially promised in March. It’s effectively a beta that Google is charging real money for, and you should wait until 2020 for that to change.
I‘m not going to restate my entire editorial about Google’s incredibly awkward launch, but I think it’d be helpful to tell you what Stadia is and isn’t so we can review it fairly.
Assuming Google doesn’t change its plans, there are three phases of Stadia’s life:
Today, Stadia is a $130 one-time purchase, plus $10 a month (after a three-month trial), plus $20 to $60 per premium game;
for early access to a service that lets you play a limited selection of 22 games you can mostly already buy everywhere else;
except here, you can stream them directly from the cloud;
on your TV with the included Chromecast Ultra dongle at “4K” resolution with high dynamic range (HDR);
with the included wireless Stadia Controller, which is roughly equivalent to an Xbox One or Sony DualShock controller, except it only works wirelessly with Chromecast;
or on Google Pixel phones at “1080p” resolution, assuming you also buy a controller clip (or phone stand) and plug it in with USB-C;
or via the Chrome web browser at “1080p” resolution, with any wired gamepad or mouse and keyboard of your choice;
with the ability to seamlessly swap between phone and PC, or somewhat less seamlessly between TV, phone, and PC to pick up where you left off on a different device
except without voice chat, captures, or Google Assistant on phone*
and without the ability to see achievements or share captures from any platform whatsoever, including TV and Chrome
*In fact, Stadia reviewers weren’t able to try these things on any platform, though Google claims they’ll work on day one.
Sometime in 2020,Stadia will become a free service, plus the cost of games;
for a catalog of as many as 44 confirmed titles, including standouts Cyberpunk 2077 and possibly Baldur’s Gate III;
with an optional $10 / month Stadia Pro subscription to play them at 4K with HDR via your own Chromecast Ultra or Chrome web browser;
with an optional $70 Stadia Controller that can theoretically hop between phone, PC, and TV without having to be turned off, re-paired or plugged in;
which also lets you listen and chat with your Bluetooth headphones, not just a wired 3.5mm set;
with achievements, the ability to instantly share gameplay captures to YouTube, and cross-platform voice chat;
an unspecified amount of YouTube integration will enable some of Stadia’s promised features that didn’t make launch (see below).
Someday,Google has promised or suggested:
You’ll be able to click on a YouTube ad for a game to jump straight into that game
You’ll be able to live-stream to YouTube in 4K at the same time you’re playing in 4K
You’ll be able to share a link to an exact moment in a game with friends or followers so they can try it instantly
Streamers will be able to let viewers line up to instantly join their game
You’ll be able to see your friend’s actual screens in some games to help you coordinate
The controller’s dedicated Google Assistant button will be able to help you beat games
Future games will combine the power of multiple Stadia servers to do things impossible on console or PC, like a single shared world for every single player, advanced physics, fully destructible worlds, huge numbers of NPCs, etc.
Google will release its own games for Stadia with some of these features
Other Android phones and perhaps iPhones will get in on the action
Cross-platform multiplayer may happen
Stadia will scale to “8K” resolution and 120 frames per second
To reiterate: a lot of the features Google promised in March simply don’t exist yet. So let’s focus on what does exist: a service that lets you play entire games over the internet on TVs, phones, and web browsers, which is still fairly impressive all by itself.
Stadia is a service where, if your Destiny 2 buddies might need you for a raid, you might legitimately be able to contribute no matter where you are or what you’re doing — as long as there’s good Wi-Fi on tap. I fired up a session on the TV with the Stadia Controller while we were just blasting tiny minions, swapped to a desktop with a mouse and keyboard when I needed better aim for a boss fight, and seamlessly resumed the game on a smartphone before walking down the hall to grab a snack — all while playing with a colleague 5,000-plus miles away in London — without any major hitches.
Now, there’s next to no chance I’d actually be able to do that with friends because Destiny 2 has no cross-platform multiplayer (or adjustable FOV, in case you’re wondering). They’re probably going to play it on the consoles and PCs they already own. Bungie does let you sync your progress between Stadia, PlayStation, Xbox, and Steam — which is a huge point in its favor — but I doubt I’d convince anyone to switch when Destiny 2 looks so much worse on Stadia than other platforms.
Did you notice that I wrote “4K” and “1080p” in scare quotes earlier? For days, I’ve been trying and failing to get Google to admit that its servers aren’t actually rendering intensive games at what I would consider 4K. For instance, here’s a picture I carefully took with my iPhone 11 Pro when playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider at the highest settings Stadia seems to deliver today:
And here’s a similar picture from my gaming PC with a GeForce GTX 1080, a video card that, theoretically, has slightly less oomph (9 teraflops versus 10.7 teraflops) than Stadia’s servers should offer. Tap to enlarge (or download) these pics to compare for yourself:
What you’re looking at here isn’t bad streaming; the stream is 4K. Not only that, but it’s also some of the best streaming image quality I’ve seen, without loads of the nasty compression artifacts that make other cloud gaming services look like there’s an ugly haze between you and much of the game. But where’s the sharp detail in Lara Croft’s character model? And where are the high-resolution textures? Google told me that Stadia is designed to run games at the highest resolution with all of the settings turned up, but clearly, that isn’t happening here.
With Destiny 2, it’s even more obvious that the game isn’t running at the highest settings. On a Chromecast Ultra, a “4K” stream looked closer to 1080p, and my colleague Tom Warren and I swore that the 1080p streams we were getting in the Chrome web browser looked more like 720p.
Initially, Google told us that it was using the highest-resolution, highest-fidelity build of Destiny 2 available. But Bungie later confirmed that our eyes weren’t deceiving us. “When streaming at 4K, we render at a native 1080p and then upsample and apply a variety of techniques to increase the overall quality of effect,” a Bungie rep said, adding that D2 runs at the PC equivalent of medium settings. That explains why the Xbox One X build, which runs at a native 4K and with higher-res assets, looks so much better than Stadia.
Destiny 2: Stadia vs. Xbox One X
Frankly, those two games are the only graphically intensive ones we had time to test since Stadia’s launch lineup was a little bit lacking until Sunday evening and reviewers only got to try seven of the 12 original games. Stadia early adopters will point out that the new list of 22 games is more than most next-gen consoles come with, but there’s nothing next-gen about any of these games. It’s just a list of solid titles you can sink your teeth into for many hours if you haven’t played them already.
And I can’t truly tell you whether Google Stadia will work for you with even as much fidelity as you see above because I live in Silicon Valley, a mere 45-minute drive from Google’s headquarters, with a fairly good 150 Mbps Comcast internet connection and an excellent Wi-Fi router at my disposal. I’m likely close enough to the company’s West Coast data centers that I’m probably akin to a best-case Stadia user.
But I have to give Google some benefit of the doubt because we’ve never seen a cloud gaming launch on this scale: 14 different territories at once, including the continental US, UK, and Canada, with Google’s extensive cloud infrastructure and ISP partnerships backing it up. Stadia also seems remarkably good at maintaining image quality and latency in the face of bandwidth constraints.
I artificially forced my Wi-Fi down to 35 Mbps, 30 Mbps, 25 Mbps, 20 Mbps, 15 Mbps, 10 Mbps, and 5 Mbps speeds, and I found that games stayed playable down to 15 Mbps, even 10 Mbps if they weren’t fast-paced. Over a wired Ethernet cable, I was surprised by how accurate I could be with a mouse and keyboard after very little practice.
Nvidia’s invite-only GeForce Now beta has been my benchmark for cloud gaming, but I still view it as a major handicap for games like the brutally hard Sekiro: Shadows Die Twicebecause Nvidia’s service seems to handle bandwidth dips comparatively poorly. (I did beat Genichiro over the internet, but I view it as one of my finest accomplishments.)
That said, Stadia doesn’t seem to know what to do with a truly volatile network like you’ll have at a cafe: over my local Starbucks’ speedy but congested Google Wi-Fi connection, Stadia tried to maintain visual quality and wound up stuttering to death, while GeForce Now looked like soup but let me keep playing. I also tricked Stadia into playing over a excellent 90 Mbps LTE cellular connection where the experience ranged from totally playable to annoyingly stuttery, which is probably why Google doesn’t officially support cellular connections at all.
Everywhere, there are signs that Stadia is unfinished, half-baked, and not fully thought-out, but that’s clear nowhere more than the Stadia Controller. Physically, it’s a pleasingly familiar, comfortable blend of Sony’s DualShock 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One gamepads. It borrows Sony’s stippled texture and oblong grips, but its analog sticks look and feel far more like Microsoft’s superior ones. Plus, there are Switch Pro-like face buttons for good measure. It has smoother triggers than Sony, too.
Functionally, it arrives with two practically useless buttons (Google Assistant and screen capture, both of which are barely functional at launch), a currently disabled Bluetooth radio, and it can’t control PC or phone sessions using its Wi-Fi-based direct-to-server connection, even though its internal Wi-Fi radio was pitched as the way you could seamlessly switch from one Stadia platform to another.
When I noticed that latency seems worse on a Chromecast with a wireless gamepad than on a phone with the pad plugged in over USB-C, I wondered if that small part of the Stadia idea might be flawed.
When I plugged in wired headphones into its 3.5mm jack, the volume was far too low, and there’s static that shouldn’t be there. When I came back to my Pixel hours later, which was still plugged into the gamepad, I realized it drained a huge chunk of the phone’s battery. Apparently, it never shut itself off. And when I hit the Stadia button, I was impressed by how it reaches over the network to fire up the Chromecast and my TV simultaneously — until I realized that Google doesn’t have any way to turn my TV off.
The truly impressive gamepad experiences I had while testing Stadia didn’t use the Stadia Controller at all, but Google does deserve credit for one: I loved how Stadia natively supported my 8BitDo SF30 Pro, right down to its rarely used rumble motor. I also loved just how good it felt to pick up an Xbox 360 gamepad and play Destiny 2 at 4K 60 fps on a Windows PC again, after days of training myself to adapt to a lesser experience.
AGREE TO CONTINUE: GOOGLE STADIA
Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to hit “agree” to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don’t read and definitely can’t negotiate.
To use Google Stadia, you must have a Google account and agree to:
There’s no reason anyone should buy into Stadia right now. Google has made sure of that, partly by underdelivering at launch and partly with a pricing scheme that sees you paying three times (for hardware, for the service, for games) just to be an early adopter.
But the nice thing is that no one’s forcing you to, either. Early adopters know who they are, and they’ll hopefully be subsidizing a better experience for the rest of us while helping Google work out the kinks. The technology works reasonably well, and Google’s gadgets can all be automatically updated over the air.
I can’t imagine many gamers paying three ways for Stadia today, but I could definitely see them paying once. They’ll want to know whether to buy a new console or upgrade their PC for Cyberpunk 2077 next April… and maybe decide to instead spend $60 on a Stadia copy they’ll only play in their Chrome web browser, using what will t
If I drew up a diagram of the perfect traditional laptop, a maxed-out Dell XPS 15 7590 would come pretty damn close.
On paper, it seems to have everything I might want or need: an octa-core Intel Core i9 processor faster than my current desktop PC, a 15-inch 4K OLED panel bright enough to read outdoors, 64GB of RAM for serious multitasking, 2TB of blazing fast NVMe solid-state storage, and GeForce GTX 1650 graphics potent enough for some portable gaming as well. All of that inside an aluminum and carbon-fiber clad chassis with a Windows Precision Touchpad and well-spaced backlit keyboard, plus all the most important ports: two USB 3.0, one Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C, one HDMI, a 3.5mm jack, and an SD card slot.
Did I mention it’s got one of the largest batteries you can carry on a plane — 97Wh — to keep it all charged?
In other words: it’s the ultimate version of the laptop I already own. In 2017, I bought an XPS 15 because it looked like the perfect Windows alternative to the MacBook Pro, with enough performance, battery life, ports, and occasional gaming chops to be whatever I needed it to be on the go.
After over a month of testing, there’s no question: the new 2019 model is even more desirable than the laptop that wowed me two and a half years ago. Dell didn’t fix anything that wasn’t broken, and did fix one thing that was: the company came to its senses and moved the awkwardly angled nose-webcam up to the top bezel where it belongs. Aside from slightly more cushion (and slightly less click) in the keyboard and a slightly whiter aluminum finish, the industrial design is exactly the same.
But if you’re looking to buy one, I’d advise investing in a beefed-up warranty and skipping its most potent parts.
It’s not that the OLED screen isn’t gorgeous, or the Core i9 isn’t powerful. They absolutely are. OLED laptops are an idea whose time has come, and my heart sings when I stream a 4K HDR movie on the exceptionally clear, searingly bright OLED non-touchscreen that Dell offers starting at the $1,949 mark. Dell advertises this panel provides 400 nits of brightness, but I suspect that’s a conservative number — Tom’s Hardware measured 626 nits on average, which would explain why I had no trouble writing a chunk of this review in the sunlight outdoors, and why the light sources in HDR movies felt so real when I watched them on this laptop.
But actually finding 4K HDR movies that’ll stream in Windows is a different story. Netflix works great as long as you’re using Microsoft’s Edge browser, but I was astounded to find the state of Windows and 4K / HDR playback is still so poor: when I tried to fire up my copy of Blade Runner 2049 in Vudu, Google Play Movies & TV, Movies Anywhere, FandangoNow, and Microsoft’s own Movies & TV app, I discovered none of them support HDR on Windows PCs, few support 4K, and those that do didn’t recognize the XPS 15 as 4K-ready. Similarly, you can’t use this screen for HDR gaming, because Windows doesn’t recognize that as a possibility.
None of that means this screen’s inky blacks and vibrant colors don’t lend themselves to regular movies or even games — and I was pleasantly surprised how much gaming this non-gaming laptop can do. My original XPS 15’s GeForce GTX 1050 graphics chip can’t quite manage to play the latest games like Borderlands 3 and Mordhau at 1080p resolution anymore; but with the 2019 model’s GeForce GTX 1650, both Borderlands and The Witcher 3 look great at 1080p and medium detail, with only occasional dips below 60 frames per second. You can run less intensive games like Overwatch at 4K resolution in a pinch, too.
You’ll really want a different laptop with an RTX 2060 or better if you’re truly set on gaming, since the XPS 15 maxes out at that GTX 1650. But I still felt comfortable playing the graphics-intensive Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p and medium settings, where the deep, deep blacks of the OLED panel made spelunking through dark caves a delight —instead of the muddled gray mess you get from a screen that can’t display true black in the dark regions of a game.
This isn’t a criticism of Dell or this laptop, just something you should know: a laptop-sized 4K OLED screen is still a giant battery hog, to the point you can’t expect all-day battery life even from a 97 watt-hour battery pack. One of the biggest reasons I bought the 2017 model was so I could get seven to eight hours of real-world battery life with its comparatively bland 1080p LCD panel, but no matter how I tweaked the brightness I haven’t been able to get more than 5.5 hours of work done on the OLED model — and sometimes just four hours. We only saw slightly better from the 15-inch HP Spectre X360 with OLED. The Dell does last long enough to watch an entire 4K HDR movie at high brightness with some charge left in the tank, though, and I could game for a whole hour on battery.
When the industry figures out how to put a truly HDR-capable 4K 120Hz OLED screen in a laptop with enough horsepower to run games at that resolution and refresh rate, it’s going to be something special. But for now, it’s still hard for me to justify the price and the huge battery life hit of the OLED panel.
Another thing I’m looking forward to: a future Dell XPS 15 that’s actually designed to house a demanding Core i9 chip inside its frame. I wasn’t exaggerating when I called this laptop’s Core i9-9980HK more powerful than my desktop: I run a Skylake Core i5-6600K, and this chip not only has twice the cores (eight), four times the threads (16), and up to a 5GHz boost clock, it visibly launches apps (and giant browser windows filled with tabs) much faster than my aging desktop PC.
But it also gets notably hotter than my XPS 15 from 2017, to the point it can get uncomfortable to use on a lap for extended periods. And if you stress the Core i9 and the GeForce GTX 1650 at the same time, they seem to require more cooling and power than the XPS 15’s unchanged design can offer. Using MSI’s Afterburner system monitoring app, I saw the Core i9 repeatedly throttle itself in the middle of a game, something I suspect might come up in similarly intensive tasks. (It’s the reason I couldn’t keep The Witcher 3 locked at 60 fps, though PCWorld’s Gordon Mah Ung says the throttling wasn’t as bad when encoding 4K video.) Windows would also sometimes throw warnings that the 130-watt AC adapter wasn’t providing enough electricity.
Agree to Continue: Dell XPS 15 (2019)
Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to hit “agree” to use devices when we review them, since these are agreements most people don’t read and definitely can’t negotiate.
To start using the Dell XPS 15, you’ll need to agree to ten non-negotiable license agreements, most of them nested within an overarching “Windows 10 License Agreement”:
You can buy an electric scooter. You can rent an electric scooter. And of course, you can pick one up off a crowded street. What you can’t do is escape the ridicule that comes with this extremely convenient mode of transportation — particularly not after they explode inside a tech company’s headquarters and cause people to evacuate.
The San Francisco Fire Department has confirmed to The Verge that Dropbox evacuated its SF headquarters at 333 Brannan Street yesterday after an electric scooter caught fire on the fifth floor of the building. The SFFD says it was able to extinguish the fire, and that no one got hurt.
My office was evacuated today because an electric scooter exploded and caught fire. Seriously living in an episode of Silicon Valley over here. pic.twitter.com/cX2iVvejtf
Based on a photo from Dropbox associate creative director Davy Rudolph, the scooter looks like a match for a fairly cheap ($250-ish) model known as the Tianrun R3 and also sold by RocketX, though it’s not clear which company its owner purchased it from. Cheap hoverboards have been known to occasionally explode in the past, typically because of issues when charging their large, combustible lithium-ion batteries, but we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
In this case, it sounds like the excitement didn’t really take a big chunk out of the company’s day. Here’s Dropbox’s statement:
We experienced a small fire at 333 Brannan yesterday afternoon. It was quickly put out, no injuries have been reported, and everyone was able to evacuate safely. We’re thankful to the SFFD for their swift response.
Just another Wednesday in Silicon Valley*. Complete with cases of emergency La Croix, apparently!
everyone in tech jokes about how their lives feel like an ep of Silicon Valley but yesterday dropbox had to evacuate bc an electric scooter exploded in our office and it was “so hot” outside (80 degrees) that people were instacarting us emergency la croix