Technological World for November 11: New generation of Macs introduced, Black Friday at Ikea and Best Buy, the Asus Zephyrus G15 is a beast, Mass Effect: Legendary Edition confirmed, Miles Morales is Spider-Man

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, what Ikea Canada and Best Buy Canada are doing for Black Friday, the amazing Asus Zephyrus G15 laptop, Mass Effect is getting remastered, and Miles Morales is the best Spider-Man. But first, Apple has introduced the new generation of Mac computers built with Apple Silicon.

Apple introduces new computers with its own processing chips

In an online event on Tuesday (November 10), Apple showed the first computers that are being released with the company’s Apple Silicon processing chips.

Apple says the new MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini computers have major boosts in performance while keeping to the same price point of the comparable Intel-based systems, which industry analysts say are no longer being manufactured or sold by Apple.

Apple Silicon is already being used in iPhones and iPads – the A14 Bionic chip – and the new computers begin the transition to what the company calls a “new generation of Mac”.

The Apple M1 chip is a “system-on-chip” which means it does the jobs that computers used to have multiple chips performing, including computing, input/output, and graphics. What distinguishes these systems is that they can deliver high performance while needing less energy to operate.

The M1 has an 8-core CPU, up to an 8-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine. In combination with the new macOS, Big Sur (which releases tomorrow), Apple says the new computers will run faster, quieter, and have better battery life.

Apple also says that it’s focus on security is built into the M1 chip as well as the Big Sur operating system.

While software developers will have to make modifications to apps to accommodate the M1 chip, that software will also run on Intel-based Macs. A video played during the briefing showed developers of various programs talking about how easy it was to adapt software.

The new MacBook Air (starting at $1,299) is up to 3.5 times faster than the Intel-based MacBook Air, and when configured with the 8-core GPU visuals are processed up to 5 times faster, which leads to better resolution and frame rates for gaming and video. Even SSD drives run faster with the M1 chip, according to Apple.

And because there’s no fan, the MacBook Air is completely silent.

The MacBook Air also has dramatically better battery performance, up to 18 hours on a single charge.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro (starting at $1,699) with the M1 chip will deliver up to 20 hours on a charge, more than 10 hours compared to earlier model in addition to speed and processing improvements.

Similar improvements are found in the Mac Mini (starting at $899) compact desktop computer, which Apple says will be faster than most Windows towers.

The new Mac computers are available to preorder now, and will be shipping next week.

What to expect when shopping for tech on Black Friday 2020

Black Friday is coming up on Friday, November 27 and a couple of companies are doing things a bit differently this year.

Ikea Canada has good quality and low-cost wireless speakers in the Symfonisk speakers and speaker lamps (created in partnership with Sonos) and wireless charging solutions including desk lamps.

But on Black Friday, the company is inviting Canadians to sell back Ikea products that they no longer need or want in exchange for up to twice what they normally would receive through the “Ikea Sell-Back program”:

Customers taking part get in-store credit, and the gently-used products get sold on at a discount or donated.

Best Buy Canada, meanwhile, is confronting the realities of the covid-19 pandemic by starting Black Friday early. Reduced prices on a number of products are already in place, and the company has pledged that if you buy something and the price subsequently drops, you’ll get the difference refunded to you.

And anticipating lineups, Best Buy has created a system where you can join the queue digitally so you don’t need to be in a crowd while waiting for your chance to enter the store.

Trying to get rid of the impetus for lineups in the first place is why Best Buy is only selling the PS5 and Xbox One S/X online and not in stores.

And if you want to have your order delivered, the company has turned its stores into fulfillment centres so Best Buy can commit to next-day delivery in major cities, and two-day shipping almost everywhere else in Canada.

Hands on with the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15

Sure, there’s been lots of talk about the PS5 and the Xbox Series S/X. But there are other things you can play games on, and one of the best is the new Zephyrus G15 from Asus’s Republic of Gamers line of laptop computers.

The ROG computers are designed for performance, and the G15 has top line and current components including an AMD Ryzen 7 processor and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card, and the slick 15.6-inch display has an anti-glare coating, a minimal bezel and a refresh rate that can get to 240 Hz. It’s not a 4K display – 1920×1080 instead – but that’s acceptable for a laptop to keep costs down because most Windows gamers have an external monitor with higher specs.

It’s extremely portable, too, weighing just over 2 kg (4.6 pounds) and with a thickness of only 19 mm.

While the manufacturer says you can get some 15 hours of battery, that’s when it’s not being used, and gaming is power intensive. You can expect about three to four hours unplugged, depending on the game you’re playing. But you can also use portable battery packs to power the machine through the USB-C port.

Other ports include an rj-45 ethernet, three USB-A, HDMI, and a headphone jack.

I’ve been using the G15 to get into my Steam library, to play games on Google Stadia, and also to play games from Microsoft, by loading them onto Windows, and also by playing Xbox games in the cloud using the new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

But I’ve also been using the G15 for work, and the crisp keyboard has made it easy for me to write and edit audio. The subdued design means that if I’m ever able to visit clients again, I can still look like a professional. The only thing that’s missing is a webcam.

The Zephyrus G15 delivers great performance for the price.

Edmonton’s BioWare confirms remastered Mass Effect

On Mass Effect Day 2020 (November 7), BioWare general manager Casey Hudson announced that a remastered version of the Mass Effect trilogy is in the works.

The Legendary Edition from the Edmonton studio is not a remake, but a remaster, cleaning up the art so the three games and DLC all look good in 4K.

At first the release will only be for PS4, Windows, and Xbox One, but Hudson said that there is a plan for PS5 and Xbox Series S/X.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales a completely new experience in a familiar setting

If you played Marvel’s Spider-Man, the 2018 game that I really loved, you should know that there’s not much new here.

This makes sense, as the sequel from Insomniac Games is set in the same New York City, uses a similar mission and collectible design, and has the same combat mechanics.

But we’ve got a diffferent story with a different Spider-Man. Here, Miles Morales is given responsibility for protecting New York while Peter Parker goes overseas to work as a photojournalist.

Miles has his own story, his own subset of super powers, his own way of moving, and his own world within this familiar New York City. And because we’re in Miles’ world, this game feels different.

He can become invisible and he’s got bioelectric powers, which adds some nuance to how he fights (the finishing move animations in particular are incredible).

This game isn’t quite as expansive, in terms of story or side missions, as the 2018 game featuring Peter Parker as the Webslinger, but it’s just as much fun to swing through the city.

If you played that first game, you might want to play expansion, The City That Never Sleeps, which introduces Miles as a character.

But you don’t need to have played as Peter if you just want to step into Miles’ shoes. Because there are a bunch of small detail things that set this game apart.

There’s mural art all over the city, including one for Black Lives Matter. Miles communicates with the artist using ESL, and he and his mother slip between English and Spanish the way bi- and trilingual families do.

There’s a respect between the characters – even between the enemies – that is often missing from games that are so reliant on conflict and combat.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a humanistic video game, and it’s exactly the kind of game we need right now.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales will be available on November 12 for PS4 and PS5. If you pick it up on PS4, you can move to PS5 when you’re ready, and you can take your save file with you. Rated teen.


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