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Apple Announces New iPad Pros at its ‘Spring Loaded’ Event

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The first Apple Event of 2021 saw a number of product announcements, including the brand new Apple Tags, updated Apple TV, new 24-inch iMacs with Apple Silicon and iPad Pros.  Although the design of the new iPad Pros is pretty much the same as the previous two versions, unlike last year’s minor refresh, these new models come with some significant new features that might tempt current owners to upgrade.

2021 vs 2020

Heres a quick look at the differences between the new iPad Pros and last year’s models:

2021 iPad Pro

  • M1 Chip with 8 CPU cores and 7 GPU cores
  • 8GB RAM or 16GB
  • Mini-LED Display (12.9-inch only)
  • 12MP Ultra Wide Front-facing camera
  • 5G on Cellular models

2020 iPad Pro

  • A12Z Bionic chip with eight active GPU cores
  • 6GB RAM
  • Liquid Retina Display (standard LED)
  • 7MP Facetime Camera
  • 4G Gigabit LTE on Cellular models

M1 Chip Inside!

Introduced with a Mission Impossible style video, Apple announced that the new iPad Pros feature the same M1 chip found in its MacBook Pros and Mac mini, with 8 CPU cores (with the fastest single-core performance of any low power chip) and 8 GPU cores, meaning it is actually more powerful than the M1 MacBook Air, which only has 7 GPU cores.    Apple says the M1 enables these new iPad Pros to deliver up to 50% faster performance and up to 40% faster graphics compared to the A12Z Bionic chip in the previous-generation.

When it comes to RAM, this is the first time Apple has publicly stated how much RAM any iPad has, as it’s now using the same chip as Macs.  They feature 8GB RAM on models with 128GB, 256GB or 512GB storage and 16GB RAM on models with 1TB or 2TB storage, a huge increase on the previous 6GB RAM in last year’s models.  Needless to say, these specs makes the new iPad Pros an even better choice for graphic designers and other creative professionals.

Mini LED Display

The 12.9-inch model has a new mini-LED display, that Apple is calling Liquid Retina XDR (eXtended Dynamic Range).  This replaces the 72 LEDs used as a backlight for the previous displays with thousands of ‘mini’ ones, resulting in deeper blacks, while maintaining bright colours.  The 11-inch model still features the plain old Liquid Retina display without XDR.  Both models still feature ‘ProMotion’ technology, with up to 120Hz for smooth motion and P3 colour gamut for high colour accuracy, great for Design work.

Camera Improvements

While rear cameras remain unchanged, Apple has added a new 12-megapixel Ultra Wide lens to the front-facing TrueDepth camera system, that enables a 120-degree field of view for a new ‘Center Stage’ feature that automatically keeps users in frame during video calls.

Connectivity and Storage

Apple has added support for Thunderbolt and USB4, providing up to 40Gbps transfer speeds, enabling faster file transfers, 10Gbps Ethernet and high-performance accessories such as Apple’s own Pro Display XDR at 6K resolution.

The new iPad Pros feature the same same WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, but add 5G to the Cellular version, for speeds of up to 4Gbps.

In addition to the 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB storage options, there is now 2TB option for those working with many large files such of video or just want to spend as much as possible.

Design

The design is largely unchanged, save for 0.5mm extra thickness on the 12.9-inch model, probably to accommodate the mini-LED display, also making it slightly heavier.

Should You Buy One?

If you don’t have an iPad Pro or have a pre-2018 model and you need an iPad Pro for graphic design, video editing or similarly power-hungry tasks, the new iPad Pro is the obvious choice, with the new M1 chip and up to 16GB of RAM making light work of multitasking high-end workloads.  That same 16GB RAM could tempt even those with the 2018 or 2020 models.  Similarly, if you want a 12.9-inch screen, the iPad Pro is your only choice, although you might find some good deals on the 2020 version now.  

However, the iPad Air now has the same design, the A14 chip and starts at £180 cheaper, albeit with only 64GB of storage space, but if you just want it for lighter tasks like browsing the web, playing a few games, etc. that £180 could by you a case and an Apple Pencil, with a little left over for an AirTag.

Check out everything Apple announced at the event.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Business

2021 In Focus

A look back at some of our best moments from 2021. As we explored topics ranging from Remote working, HGV Driver Shortages, Climate Change, Cryptocurrency, the COVID pandemic, Rebranding, though to Development through Play and much much more. So grab a snack and relive 2021 In Focus!

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Tech

Button batteries can kill

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Button batteries causing injuries to children have been reported since the 1970s, however, what was once a rare occurrence in the past is increasingly becoming a common issue. These injuries are not just harmful, they have been proven to be fatal. This avoidable cause of death in children is spiking as time is evolving. The small size of button batteries cannot be taken for granted.

The spike in injuries associated with button batteries is parallel to the increasing use of these batteries in domestic products including torches, car keys, artificial candles, and remote controls. 

The issue starts with the lodgement of button batteries. When a button battery gets lodged in the human body including ear, oesophagus or nose, and lies against a moist environment, it generates an electrical charge. The current breaks water molecules and converts water to hydroxide and hydrogen gas. These hydroxide ions then eat through body tissue. Almost all injuries that led to death were associated with battery lodgement in the oesophagus and erosion into the aorta or other large vessels leading to massive haemorrhage. 

Even if ingestion of a battery is immediately recognised, the transport to an appropriate medical centre can also play a role in worsening the condition. The oesophageal perforation can occur as early as within two hours. Further, despite the removal of such a battery, the damage continues long after. Therefore, although the size of the battery is small, the effect is damaging

During the holiday season, a lot of electronic toys and gifts are given, and these mostly require button batteries to function. Due to the sensitivity of the consequences of button battery injuries, the harms of these batteries need to be made an approachable knowledge for the public.

Although identifying and removing impacted batteries is a way of saving lives, it is still equivalent to only rescuing an already bad condition. The occurrence of these situations needs to be prevented by designing products that require a safer alternative for power sources. 

A few ways to reduce the occurrence of these incidents include making products with warnings on product labels, securing battery compartments with screws, and making sturdy products so if they fall, they don’t break and release batteries. 

Currently, the compulsory safety requirements are only established for toys designed for children up to 36 months. These requirements are set in place to reduce the incidences of choking and deaths in young children. Although there are laws regarding choking hazards with toys in children, an official rule has not been passed that targets the danger of button batteries. 

There are many campaigns that are being run to raise awareness and establish laws related to dangers with button batteries. There is a non-profit group known as ‘Reese’s Purpose’ – named after a girl who could not survive after a button battery incident. This group is urging the government to pass the ‘Reese’s Law’ which represents having established laws regarding secure battery compartments on consumer products. 

The urgency of these standards to be approved is high. This is because, according to US Senator Richard Blumenthal, in 2020 alone, the reported incidents of button battery ingestions were 3,500 and this number is likely to be an undercount. Even in Australia, the incidents related to button battery exposures being reported to Poisons Information Centres and Injury Surveillance Units is still increasing.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Business

Giving to Charity in a Digital World – In Focus

Giving to charity is something that some do on a regular basis, others give on occasion and yet there are a few that are just reluctant for whichever reason. In this episode of ‘In Focus’ we dig into the ideas around giving to charity and how digitalisation in this industry is transforming the ways in which we donate, removing any barriers in donating. Join us as we speak to Sean Donnelly from RoundUps.org

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Education

How to achieve a healthy ‘Play Diet’? – In Focus

Playing is an important part of being a child, but play has changed over the years. We have seen China put restrictions in place to limit the amount of time children spend playing games including on screens. Parents today struggle with their children who constantly seem to be on their devices and in front of screens day and night playing online. Outdoor play almost seems to be lost and forgotten about, but it is a key part of the ‘Play Diet’

Join us as we speak to Dr. Amanda Gummer, founder of the Good Play Guide (goodplayguide.com) who shares her research and insight to help bring ‘In Focus’ the importance of play, its role in the development for the next generation and how we achieve a good balance in our ‘play diet’

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Musk polls Twitter followers about selling stocks

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Elon Musk’s tweets often stir conversation and this time is no exception. Musk recently polled his followers asking if he should sell 10% of his shares. The twitter poll was met with over 3.5 million respondents suggesting that he should go ahead with the proposition. The premise was not void of criticism with many speculating Musk’s underlying intentions and why a billionaire would sell parts of his key holding. The immediate consequence of Musk’s tweet saw Tesla share prices drop by over 4% with sales worth over $4 billion. It appears that since Musk is not paid a salary by Tesla and accumulates his wealth through his ownership of approximately $208 billion worth of shares, his only means to fulfil tax bills is by selling some of his stocks. Hence, there is a vital reason for Musk’s idea to sell stock. Not only that, it appears that he was already planning on selling parts of his stock this year and the twitter poll has likely had no influence on what seemed like an impulsive decision on the surface. 

Despite this, yesterday’s twitter exchange with Bernie Sanders saw Tesla shares drop yet again. Is Musk going to sell more shares in a frenzy, or is this a genuine effort to fund his tax bills? Many believe that he is simply selling shares because he can, and is not short of cash to pay his taxes; owing to the fact that Musk is still, well and truly, the world’s richest man alive. Musk is part of the billionaires club currently under scrutiny for not directing their wealth towards meaningfully reducing global social welfare challenges. His tweet on ending world hunger prior to the poll about selling his shares, openly called for suggestions on how his wealth could solve this crisis. Many groups have drawn up plans hoping Musk will stick to his word and extend his ideas to create a sustainable planet for the long term. Whilst many agree that 2% of Musk’s wealth cannot solve world hunger for good, it can surely contribute to innovation in this sector and agricultural and economic investments in less fortunate parts of the world. It is estimated that Musk has accumulated a staggering fortune of $260 billion dollars according to Forbes after his recent transactions.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Tech

Nikon’s Z9 is a camera like no other

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Figure 1 (Featured Image): Nikon’s new flagship camera, The Z9. Source: Nikon

Nikon recently announced its first real “pro” mirrorless camera, priced at $5,500, the Z9 camera has one key distinguishing feature that sets it apart from all its competitors, the mechanical shutter-less design of its super-fast sensor. No other professional camera has this right now and it shares this trait with smartphone cameras.

It’s Nikon’s first camera that uses a 45.7-megapixel full-frame backside-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor that allows a flash sync of up to 1/200th of a second which might be the fastest sync speed ever for an electronic shutter. The sensor uses a very similar construction to a smartphone camera as it has a sandwiched architecture of sensor, logic board and RAM. The new image processing Expeed 7 processor and dual CFExpress or XQD card slots give the Z9 a high-speed continuous shooting at 20fps for more than 1,000 frames in both JPEG and RAW file formats. The Z9 does this while offering blackout-free shooting with the electronic viewfinder continuing to display the actual movement of the subject within the scene so that every single moment can be captured with no skipped frame or loss of view. Mirrorless cameras have always had a few advantages that DSLRs cannot offer namely the electronic view-finder that allows the user to see the scene exactly as it would appear in the final image instead of the optical view-finders offered in DSLRs and Z9 enhances that advantage even further.

Figure 2: Z9 Features a 4-axis tilting monitor facilitating shooting from high or low angles. Source: Nikon

This is why it should surpass the high performance that previously only digital SLRs could offer from Nikon like the D6. It is clearly aimed at professional sports and wildlife photographers, a market Nikon hadn’t appeased so far with its mirrorless offerings, where high frame rates and black-out free viewfinder would play a crucial role in allowing the photographer to capture the best image. 

Nikon had been previously criticised for its first mirrorless offerings when the Z6 and Z7 were released back in late 2018, but with the updated versions of those two cameras in the shape of Z6II and Z7II and now the Z9, Nikon have made a big statement and have finally caught up with Canon; whose offerings had a different target audience from the get-go with high performance lenses and cameras in the mirrorless space. For Canon, that proved to be a successful strategy earning them a lot of praise thus far as early adopters tend to be enthusiasts or professionals who demand high performance and specifications for their gear. However, both Nikon and Canon have some way to catch up with Sony when it comes to mirrorless cameras as they have the biggest share of the mirrorless market.

Figure 3: Images are displayed on EVF and LCD monitor and image date can be processed simultaneously to offer blackout-free shooting. Source: Nikon

Z9 with its shutter-free design now puts Nikon at the forefront of the mirrorless market, not even Sony can compete in this regard. Z9 sports a claimed world’s fastest CMOS sensor scanning speed and world’s most minimal rolling-shutter distortion. By getting rid of the mechanical shutter, pros who use this camera don’t have to worry about any shutter wear or breakdown. Nikon has also added a VR safety lock on the sensor that protects it from any risk of damage caused by unintentional movement when the power is off, for example by swaying during bumpy off-road travel. 

The Z 9 provides the 3D-tracking feature as an AF-area mode option for the first time in a Nikon mirrorless camera. It can continue tracking a subject even in a scene where subjects move drastically. The Z9 also brings new advances by offering three dynamic-area AF modes with different focus-area sizes (Small/Medium/Large) which is useful when shooting with a fixed composition. It also employs a deep-learning algorithm to detect the nine different subject types. All this means that the Z9 like many other newer mirrorless professional cameras is less of a camera with a computer in it and more like a computer with a lens attached to it. 

This shift towards computational photography has been happening for quite some time now in the professional cameras. For now, issues like processing power, memory and use of AI are holding the professional cameras back. It seems inevitable, however, that one day a lot of post-processing smarts of today will be built in features in these cameras that allow professionals and amateurs alike to spend a lot less time editing on their computer and more time shooting out in the field, doing what they love!

Nikon Z9 key specifications:

  • 20% smaller body than the D6 camera
  • 45.7MP Stacked CMOS sensor
  • 30 fps JPEG shooting
  • 20 fps Raw shooting (for over 1000 compressed RAWs)
  • 120 fps JPEG shooting at 11MP resolution
  • 8K/30fps capture and 4K-from-8K, with ProRes 422 HQ option
  • 8K/60fps, 12-bit 8K N-Raw and 4K ProRes RAW 
  • Native ISO range of 64 – 25600 (expandable to 32 – 102400)
  • Internal 10-bit N-Log and HLG capture
  • 3.69M dot OLED electronic viewfinder with reduced lag and greater brightness
  • Four-axis 3.2 touchscreen LCD tilts horizontally and vertically
  • Built-in GPS, GLONASS and QZSS
  • Dual CFexpress Type B / XQD card slots

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Foad is a professional Electrical engineer, avid traveller, always up for an adventure and trying to change the world – one word at a time.

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