Netflix Review

Fear City review: How Netflix’s new mafia documentary failed –

Rudy Giuliani, wearing a navy suit with a flag pinned to its lapel, sits in a glassy conference room talking to a camera. “I was a tough kid. I was a boxer. I was taught not to be afraid of anything,” he says. “Could I have been a wise guy? Sure I could have. But in the ’70s, I became an assistant US attorney.”

Surprisingly, he’s not in a campaign ad. Giuliani is a major and exalted figure in Sam Hobkinson’s Fear City: New York vs. the Mafia, a new three-episode documentary series on Netflix. Of course he is. Giuliani, after all, had a large role in the legal strategy that helped law enforcement break the stranglehold that five major mafia families had on the economy and culture of New York City in the 1980s. It would be weird to make a documentary about the era without including him in it.

But Rudy Giuliani circa 2020 is not the same cultural figure he was back then. Nor is, for that matter, Donald Trump, whose connections to the mob in that era and apparent adoption of mob-like tactics are no secret. Fear City — a true crime tale for the “law and order” crowd, laced with nostalgia for the good ol’ days — pulls off some wild feats of lazy filmmaking in its storytelling. And the wildest of them all might be an almost complete absence of any acknowledgment that the past is barely in the past, when it comes to this topic.

Imagine making a documentary in 2020 about New York City, the mafia, and the 1970s and ’80s with only the thinnest possible reference to the current president of the United States — who, whatever you think of him, is a thoroughly relevant character. (The thin reference in this series comes at the beginning of the third episode, when someone says that if you were a real estate developer in New York in the 1980s, you had to deal with the mob. Fear City shows a few images of Trump while mentioning Trump Tower as a major development from a major developer, and plays a bit of a tape where a mobster mentions him. Okay, but: How did Trump deal with the mob? To what extent? Were his actions criminal? Don’t hold out for an answer. Fear City has already moved on.)

Or contemplate the decision-making that goes into including Giuliani — Trump’s future lawyer — as a pervasive presence and primary subject, alongside the New York attorneys and FBI agents he worked with, nearly all of whom are interviewed in similarly glossy settings, with everyone giving uninterrogated accounts as the film’s most reliable narrators. The more colorful former mobsters’ voices (mostly guys who did time or became states’ witnesses) become less significant once Giuliani and co. enter the picture — a working title for Fear City could well have been How Rudy Saved New York City from the Bad Guys: And That’s Why Law Enforcement Is Good. I had to scan the credits to confirm the series wasn’t funded by the Department of Justice.

Others can better speak than I to the historical veracity of Fear City. Was RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), the congressional act that gave law enforcement the ammunition they needed to finally indict mob bosses, as unambiguously good as the film makes it seem? How well does the way that former mobsters and FBI agents characterize those years of cat-and-mousing each other hold up against history? I have no idea, but its lack of voices outside of those directly involved in the cases leaves me skeptical.

Michael Franzese, who was a member of the Columbo crime family.

I’m not here to quibble with Fear City on the level of facts, though, or even politics; what struck me was how bad it is as a documentary.

Fear City is shallow, toothless, and dull

It’s a boring choice to tell a story like this from the point of view of the FBI agents. Their perspective is well trodden in TV and movies. And New York’s relationship to the mob is not exactly hidden history.

It’s also crushingly dull to adopt the official narrative about what New York was like back then as the film’s de facto worldview, proposed in (unfortunately punctuated) on-screen text at the start of the first episode:

1970’s NEW YORK


That’s not entirely wrong, of course. New York was in rough shape in the 1970s, and nearly bankrupt.

But if there was anything else going on in New York at the time, you wouldn’t know it from Fear City, which provides little, if any, context. Nor would you know how ordinary New Yorkers were really affected by the state of things, except through the words of the mobsters and the FBI agents interviewed in the film.

There’s plenty of talk of the mafia’s control over unions, but no former union workers appear to talk about it. We hear stories about grocery store owners being exploited, but never hear from the actual grocery store owners. And women don’t seem to exist in this world at all. (Very few women speak throughout the entire series; the most interesting female voice is former FBI agent Charlotte Lang, who was the sole woman agent on the mob-busting team, and she only appears halfway through the third episode. Fear City would have been far more compelling if it had reoriented itself around her.)

What we get with Fear City isn’t “New York vs the mafia,” as the subtitle promises; it’s “the FBI and the District Attorney’s Office vs the mafia,” which boils down to a lot of talking about the specific ways bosses got bugged and doesn’t offer much of a sense of how New York was caught up in it all.

But the worst sin Fear City may commit is being … tedious? Something as pulpy and cinematic as cops chasing criminals should be loaded with juicy stories. Fear City somehow manages to both be far too simplistic and utterly lost in its own weeds. Watching it made me feel like an interloper in a conversation a bunch of guys were having as they relived their glory days to one another, only to realize 10 minutes in that none of them were particularly good storytellers. The film spends a lot of time talking about bugging the mafia, which is interesting enough at first, but then it goes on … and on … and on … and just when you think it’s finally moving on to a new topic, it goes back.

Former FBI special agent Joe Cantamessa in Fear City: New York vs. the Mafia.

Documentarians can only work with the facts they have available, of course. But they make choices, just like other filmmakers, about what goes into their film and what doesn’t. They pick the voices they believe are important and leave out the ones that don’t matter, and they adopt narratives and choose which facts to use to tell their story.

The story told in Fear City is ultimately about heroic law enforcement and attorneys pursuing the mafia. It’s also about how glamorous and fun it was to be in the mafia. (Drinking Champagne comes up frequently.) It is emphatically not about what factors led to organized criminals becoming so powerful in New York.

It’s not about what kind of men were attracted to the mob, and why. Nor is it interested in the ethics of spying on civilians suspected of criminal activity, or curious about why women were so consistently sidelined (a question mob-movie godfather Martin Scorsese explored just last year in his film The Irishman). It is only glancingly concerned with why someone — like, say, Rudy Giuliani — would decide not to be a “wise guy” and instead become an attorney. (In part, it seems he, and others, hated what the mafia had done to Italian American communities, which would have been another great thread to tug on.)

Fear City is also not about why this particular moment in history matters, other than its potential for entertainment value (if you are very interested in the mechanics of placing a bug or the construction of legal strategies). But you don’t tell a story like this for no reason. At the end of Fear City, the film halfheartedly notes where some of its interviewees landed: jail and state’s witness status for the mob guys, mayor of New York for Giuliani, no note of the other agents and lawyers.

Then it turns ominous. The last scene is archival footage of a newscaster wrapping up the story by saying, “Who will the next generation of bosses be, and what kind of shadowy crime games will they play?” The footage cuts to a shot of lower Manhattan, with the Twin Towers prominent. We go to credits.

You can take away any number of messages from that directorial choice, but Occam’s razor suggests it’s a link between what we all know happened to the Twin Towers and how Giuliani brought down the mafia. Giuliani has long made political use of his governance during 9/11 and its aftermath, particularly since becoming President Donald Trump’s attorney in 2018 — something Fear City does not mention at all (again, seems relevant!).

No matter: The link is established. Fear City plays best as an extended attempt to remind us that the good guys were the good guys and Giuliani was the smartest guy in the room, no matter what he’s up to these days. It is not interested in how the mafia’s presence in New York shaped the city’s future, or what the events of the past reveal about the twisted present; it’s not interested in New York. It’s a reinforcement of accepted ideas, not a probing of history.

Sure, there’s a place in the world for uncomplicated nostalgia for the old days. But it should never be as vapid, or dull, as Fear City.

Fear City is streaming on Netflix.

Support Vox’s explanatory journalism

Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.

Read More

OnePlus Review

OnePlus Buds review: cheap AirPods for OnePlus phones – The Verge

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

OnePlus has been making excellent earbuds for years now, and today, the company is introducing its first true wireless pair. The aggressively priced $79 OnePlus Buds have an AirPod-like rigid design that’s all hard plastic — marking a shift away from the Bullets, Bullets Wireless 2, and other OnePlus earbuds that used silicone tips for a sealed-off, in-ear fit.

The OnePlus Buds require a OnePlus phone if you want to get the most from them, so these really won’t appeal to owners of other Android devices. You won’t get features like wireless charging or noise cancellation at a price this low, but if you’ve found yourself envious of Apple’s AirPods and don’t like how in-ear earbuds feel, it’s hard to beat the value factor here. The OnePlus Buds have strong battery life, decent sound, and a stable wireless connection. They’re available in white and gray in the US, with the divisive blue / green combo reserved for international markets. I think it looks very toy-like, but such a bold color option might be a breath of fresh air to some.

The reality is that a one-size-fits-most approach — OnePlus calls it a “half in-ear” design — is always going to leave some people out of luck. I’ve never enjoyed how regular AirPods feel in my ears; they’re not particularly stable, and for all the praise they receive for all-day comfort, my ears don’t seem well-suited for them.

The OnePlus Buds haven’t fared much better. When in my ears, I found that they held in place just fine while I was seated or walking around. But if I tried to run with them, they’d eventually get jostled loose. Other people I let try them on told me that they felt just as snug as AirPods and they’d have no hesitation working out while wearing them, so this comes down to your ear shape.

A person wearing the OnePlus Buds earbuds.

At a distance, the OnePlus Buds look a lot like Apple’s standard AirPods.

As for why OnePlus went this route, the company gave me this explanation:

Half in-ear buds are generally more comfortable for more people, so we wanted to make the OnePlus Buds more friendly for a wider range of users, especially users who are looking for their first truly wireless earphones. We do understand that different people have different preferences, so we will continue to listen to user feedback for future products. Our goal is always to provide a great balance between high-quality sound, fast charging, comfort, and a reasonable price.

Like with AirPods, the open-air design of the OnePlus Buds will limit their sound potential. You’re going to hear a whole lot of the world around you, and there’s no avoiding that without cranking the volume to a potentially uncomfortable and possibly unsafe level. OnePlus says it tuned the earbuds to boost bass, but without an in-ear seal, the result still falls short of the low-end oomph you’ll hear from the Bullets Wireless 2 neckband earbuds or our top true wireless picks.

If you can live with that, the sound they produce has a pleasantly wide soundstage; Phoebe Bridgers’ “Graceland Too” shines with ample separation for the acoustic instruments and harmonies. But other tracks like The Weeknd’s enduring “Blinding Lights” sound hollow without that full seal. The OnePlus Buds will do the job for casual, through-the-day listening but if you want more powerful bass and better noise isolation, you’ll have to spend a bit more money. OnePlus supports SBC and AAC codecs with the Buds; the company went with a non-Qualcomm chipset inside, so it couldn’t use higher-quality codecs like apt-X HD. (You’re not going to be able to tell any difference between codecs with this open style of earbud anyway.)

A close-up photo of the OnePlus earbuds in a person’s hand.

The OnePlus Buds feature a hard plastic, one-size-fits-most design.

The charging case looks like a squished, squatter version of the Pixel Buds case. OnePlus claims it worked for around 90 days to perfect the case’s matte texture. I like the end result, and matte always wins over glossy — especially in the dog days of summer. Take note, Samsung. (The earbuds themselves are glossy, however.) The Buds can reach up to seven hours of continuous battery life, and the case has enough juice to get you to around 30 hours of total listening time.

During my time testing the OnePlus Buds so far, I’ve been unable to do much with the tap controls on each side. There’s no way to pause music with the earbuds right now; all you can do is double-tap to skip to the next song or hold down for three seconds to switch between synced devices. More customization is on the way, thankfully: by the time these start shipping at the end of July, OnePlus will roll out a software update to its phones that will allow you to choose your preferred action for a double-tap so you can pause, activate Google Assistant, or go back to the last song instead of always skipping forward. It’s a bit strange that the controls are so limited out of the box — and this is why you should avoid the OnePlus Buds if you’ve got a different Android phone — but at least a fix is coming.

A side profile shot of the OnePlus Buds that shows the circular tap area for controls.

The “CD-like” outer circle is a design touch from previous OnePlus earbuds.

You can’t deny their AirPodish looks, but the OnePlus Buds benefit from those long stems. Each bud has three mics — at the top, middle, and bottom — and runs some noise-reduction algorithms to help people hear you more clearly on calls. Everyone I called while wearing the OnePlus Buds was able to hear me without any issue. The company is also touting extremely low latency between the earbuds and OnePlus phones when in game / fanatic mode, which should help them keep up with all of the action on-screen.

They lack wireless charging, but the OnePlus Buds do pack some frills despite the low price: they’re rated IPX4 water resistant, so they can withstand sweat and some splashes of water. They’ll automatically pause music when one earbud is removed, and they also support Android’s Fast Pair feature, which ties them to your Google account, shows battery levels for the buds and case, and lets you find a misplaced earbud by playing a sound. Unfortunately, you can’t use either of the earbuds standalone for audio or making calls, and they can only pair to one device at a time.

A photo of the white and blue/green OnePlus Buds.

The blue color option won’t be for everyone, but it most definitely stands out.

I think future OnePlus true wireless earbuds will put a bigger emphasis on sound and have a design more in line with the company’s Bullets series. But with the OnePlus Buds, the focus was clearly trying to come up with a cheaper version of AirPods for OnePlus customers. You’re getting a very solid set of earbuds for that $79 — if the fit is right.

Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge

Read More

Review WIRED

LG’s CX OLED TV Review: Pretty and Expensive | WIRED – WIRED

Most new TVs are very good. So good I have a hard time telling friends, family, and readers to spend more than a thousand dollars on any of them.

That’s because you can easily get a fantastic TV capable of delivering the best picture quality that Amazon, Netflix, or Disney+ have to offer—like 4K resolution and Dolby Vision HDR—for so much less. That even includes top-tier “local” backlighting for deeper blacks and quantum dots for brighter colors. And yet, each year when the first LG OLED arrives, I’m forced to rethink this value-based position.

The LG CX (pronounced “C-10”) is that amazing. From class-leading picture quality to great features for gamers, this is the aspirational TV worth shelling money out for. But the needle hasn’t moved much from the company’s 2019 models—they might be better buys since you can catch them at a lower price.

In Your House

Photograph: LG

Instructions for unboxing and setup are easy to follow but be warned: when you put the CX on the stand the first time, you’ll likely think you’re ruining a multi-thousand dollar TV. You can feel the screen bending slightly when you move it face-down to screw in the base. It’s nothing to worry about though. In my few years dealing with LG’s paper-thin TVs, I’ve yet to have an issue. But if I was going to wall-mount one, I’d probably hire a professional.

Once it’s out, take a minute to marvel. “So thin you’ll be scared of it,” is how I’ve come to describe the CX to friends and family. A two-inch-thick base tapers to a few mere millimeters about a third of the way up from the included stand on the 65-inch model I tested.

Ports, connections, and power are all pretty standard for a modern flatscreen. You get four HDMI 2.1 ports, three USB ports, RF, Ethernet, and composite audio and video inputs (nice for older game systems). On the output side, it’s got optical and 3.5 mm audio outs.

Like all LG TVs, the CX features the company’s own smart operating system, webOS. I still prefer the slightly easier to navigate interface of Roku TVs, like on the TCL 6 Series (9/10, WIRED Recommends), but what’s here works just fine. It was easy to find and organize my favorite streaming apps, and each ran flawlessly.

The best thing about using the LG interface? The included smart remote, which acts like a Nintendo Wiimote for a cursor on screen. It makes typing in usernames and passwords—aka the bane of my existence—much faster.

Movie Madness

I’ve been binging a lot of old favorites recently, so the first thing I popped on was an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer on DVD. Even when optimizing 480p video, the CX showcased how much better dark scenes can look over a standard, LED-backlit model.

It’s all thanks to the OLED technology. OLED TVs aren’t “normal” LED-backlit TVs. Instead, each pixel is filled with an organic material that’s able to act as its own backlight when prodded with electrical currents. So when an image is black on the screen, there is absolutely no light emitted by the pixels, as opposed to LED backlighting that’s always on, to some extent or another, with non-OLED TVs. Such “true” blacks create astonishing contrast, making for some of the most lifelike images possible.

The first time you’ll truly realize the power of LG’s awesome screen technology is when you watch something in 4K with High Dynamic Range (HDR). The CX supports both the HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR standards, which means you’ll get the most from every house-made show on Netflix, Amazon, and elsewhere, and many new-release movies.

But regardless of what format you watch, the contrast on the CX is shockingly good, as are the colors. Super bright reds, greens, and blues juxtapose themselves alongside insanely realistic shadows, creating some of the most lifelike images you’re likely to get at home. I especially like the new filmmaker mode, which turns off motion smoothing automatically. There are a ton of other picture modes to mess with and try—each of them looks good, but I’d stick to cinema mode or filmmaker mode if you’re watching TV and movies more than gaming.

I don’t usually mention this on most TV reviews, given how good streaming quality currently is, but the CX is one model where it might be worthwhile to buy a 4K Blu-ray player and discs as 4K Blu-ray offers even higher bitrate video, which means better image quality.

Photograph: LG

Both this year’s CX and last year’s B9 support Nvidia G-sync, which makes games look super smooth for those with PCs powered by Nvidia graphics cards. The CX now also supports AMD FreeSync, for those with AMD cards. It’s nice to have both major standards included.

In terms of image, LG has upgraded the processor inside the CX for 2020, but I can’t really tell the difference between this and last year’s LG OLED models without them side by side. I’m sure they’ve made it slightly better, but the B9 looked so good, it’s just that hard to tell.

I always hesitate to even mention built-in TV speakers, because we here at WIRED are so convinced that you should buy a soundbar. I don’t think it’s worth criticizing LG for the entire industry’s problem, but I will say that the CX’s speakers—like 99 percent of TV speakers—sound pretty bad. Don’t use them.

That brings me to perhaps the best thing LG has done with the CX: made it in a smaller size. OLED TVs have extremely low latency, which makes them great for high-end PC gamers. That makes the newly minted 48-inch option for the CX OLED an awesome option for gamers who want a TV that also doubles as a computer screen. It’s also great for folks like my Dad, who have smaller TV cabinets designed for pre-flatscreen sizes.

Worth the Upgrade?

The crux of my problem with this year’s LG OLED line is that last year’s models are still amazing. It’s a tough problem to have: LG has done its best to make a better version of what came before, but what came before was so good that it doesn’t really matter. Once you get to TVs this nice, the visual burden falls on the sheer quality of the content, not the TV.

In fact, unless you’re after the new 48-inch model or have an AMD-powered video card on your PC, it makes much more sense to save money and buy an OLED from LG’s 2019 lineup. The CX starts at a cheaper price than last year’s C9 OLEDs did, but you can still snag a C9 or B9 OLED for cheaper, and you probably won’t be able to tell the difference.

But when those deals run out, when the CX’s price dips a little bit, I don’t consider it foolish to buy the CX if you’re a video nerd. It’s a truly remarkable TV, and the best high-end TV for most people. It’s one of the only models that definitely looks much better than what you can buy for less than $1,000.

Read More

Awesome Review

LG CX OLED TV review: Awesome picture, high price – CNET

Side-by-side with last year’s cheaper model it’s tough to tell the difference.
Subscribe to CNET: playlists:…Download
Read More

Bloods' Review

‘Da 5 Bloods’ review: Spike Lee’s gutsy Vietnam film has year’s best acting – New York Post

June 11, 2020 | 10:59am | Updated June 11, 2020 | 11:55am

Running time: 154 minutes. Rated R (strong violence, grisly images and pervasive language).

Spike Lee’s gutsy new Netflix drama, “Da 5 Bloods,” sets you up and knocks you down.

After kicking off with archival footage of a suffering world during the Vietnam War, the Oscar winner has four black men in their sixties meet up for a happy present-day reunion at a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.

The buds — called the “Bloods” — are back to their former battlefield, we learn, to retrieve the remains of the fifth “Blood,” Stormin’ Norman (“Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, in flashback).

So, this must be Lee’s reckoning-with-’Nam film, you think. Movies about older men confronting the ghosts of that disastrous war is a popular club, with “The Last Full Measure” and Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying” among the most recent members.

But “Da 5 Bloods” is not some misty-eyed heart-tugger with Bob Dylan crooning in the background. The Bloods have not only come to Vietnam to honor their pal; they’re there to recover a treasure of Vietnamese gold they buried decades earlier. What a juicy shift.

Getting to the red meat takes some time, though. The first hour bobs along casually, establishing the men’s personalities. Otis (Clarke Peters) is a pacifist with no hard feelings toward the locals, Eddie (Norm Lewis) is the group mediator, Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) is the funnyman and Paul (Delroy Lindo) is, well, a Trump voter who wears a MAGA cap.

Isiah Whitlock Jr, Norm Lewis, Clarke Peters, Delroy Lindo and Jonathan Majors in “Da 5 Bloods.”David Lee/Netflix

By now, anybody who’s ever purchased a movie ticket should know that Lee is a director who puts his politics in your face. For my money, he’s one of the few who can do so considerately and in the service of a good story.

The plan is for Otis’ old flame Tiên (Y. Lan) and her French associate Desroche (Jean Reno) to help the men smuggle the gold into an offshore account, to bask forever in riches.

When the digging begins, your breathing ends. Like Lee did with the superb Best Picture nominee “BlacKkKlansman,” the director douses even the most euphoric moments in tension and discomfort.

Danger lurks everywhere. As the guys search for gold, you’re haunted by the thought of them stumbling on other less-welcoming metallic objects. A quick shot of two different men wandering the woods seems so long ago, you start to wonder if your nervous mind made it up.

Director Spike Lee (far left) on set with his cast.
Director Spike Lee (far left) on set with the cast of “Da 5 Bloods.”DAVID LEE/NETFLIX

The group — now joined by Paul’s son and some white activist tagalongs — becomes subsumed by greed. Instead of fulfilling their promise to Norman, to use the money to benefit their community, they all agree to keep the gold for themselves. That’s when their dream crumbles.

The acting, which up till now had been nice, suddenly switches into the year’s best so far. British actor Lindo, a Lee mainstay, delivers a one-shot, three-minute soliloquy to camera as he hikes through the forest. It’s a towering moment out of Shakespeare’s “Richard III” or August Wilson’s “Fences” that you won’t soon forget.

Peters, too, is sweet as Otis decides to stop running from his past. And it’s a thrill to see 57-year-old Lewis, who I’ve admired on Broadway for years, in his biggest film role to date.

Lee ends the movie on a political note, which makes sense, but waters down the potency of the men’s journey in a way that showing the Charlottesville, Va., attack at the end of “BlacKkKlansman” did not. Still, good for Lee for being a director of many ideas in a heartless Hollywood of sequels and franchises.

Read More

Apple's Review

Review: Apple’s entry-level 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro is yesterday’s tech for today’s prices – AppleInsider

Since the 2017 revision, the 13-inch MacBook Pro line has been a tale of two computers, and the 2020 refresh is no exception. But, there are some interesting “updates” in the new model, that puzzle us, and make us wonder why they were made.

For this review, we’re specifically looking at the entry-level 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro with an 8th Gen 1.4GHz Core i5 processor that can Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz (the 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro can also be configured with an 8th Gen 1.7GHz quad-core Core i7 with a Turbo Boost speed of 4.5GHz). There is a giant difference between the MacBook Pro that has the eighth-generation Intel processor, versus the tenth generation. Enough of one, in fact, that they warrant a separate examination.

While we’ll be briefly discussing the higher-end models today, we’ll be reviewing the higher-end 10th generation model a bit later as there are sufficient differences.

Not the refresh that was expected

Many users had hoped to see Apple move to a 14-inch design for the smaller MacBook Pro, adopting a similar design aesthetic as Apple had for the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro that became the 16-inch. That hasn’t — yet — come to pass and instead we got another iteration on the existing MacBook Pro design.

The refresh still has the gorgeous P3 wide color gamut Retina display, two Thunderbolt three ports on the entry-level model we’re discussing here, a headphone jack, the contested Touch Bar, and the same 720p camera that has been maligned for years.

Many things, Apple chose not to update. Wi-Fi is still only 802.11ac and not Wi-Fi 6 that the iPhone first brought to Apple products. Most devices and routers don’t support Wi-Fi 6 at the moment but for a machine destined to last for at least six years, Wi-Fi 6 should be included. At least it has Bluetooth 5, though.

The exterior looks the same, though it did increase in weight from 3.02 pounds to 3.11 pounds and thickness from .59 inches to .61 inches. This has everything to do with the new keyboard.

The 13.3-inch refresh doesn’t belie a 14-inch redesign, it just isn’t here yet. Recent rumors point to early 2021 as the timeframe for the updated aesthetic.

Apple’s Magic Keyboard

Apple has updated the keyboard design. After several false starts, Apple’s kicked its butterfly switch mechanisms to the curb in favor of Apple’s latest version of a scissor-switch design.

The previous butterfly keyboard was divisive, to say the least, but it had few staunch advocates. Between it and the Touch Bar, we believe that Apple was trying to migrate users to a more iPad-like experience for typing on the Mac. It appears to have not gone that well.

We have spoken at some length on the updated Magic Keyboard again, and again. It still has a full millimeter of key travel. It still feels more responsive to type on and not all that different from the 16-inch MacBook Pro which also has Apple’s Magic Keyboard embedded into its aluminum body.

We truly do like the feel of the updated keyboard. While the extra key travel at times makes us feel like we are slightly slower than on the previous design that we’ve been hammering away on for nearly five years, it is an improvement. It isn’t enough to cause us to trip up while typing that often, and is enough to make the keys feel more responsive when depressed.

Aside from moving to the Magic Keyboard, other changes are also notable. Specifically, Apple has included a standalone physical escape key and also returned the inverted “T” design for the arrow keys. Depending on a user’s work, these may be more impactful than a shift from the previous-gen keyboard.

Upgraded internals

We’re just going to come out and say it — we’re not impressed with the lower-end of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. While the high-end 13-inch models were improved with the tenth-generation Intel processors, the entry-level units got stuck with the same eighth-generation chips as the 2019 models.

We see the impacts of this choice in performance. Our 1.4GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor model obviously scored the same as the 2019 model with the same chip. The entry 13-inch MacBook Pro (2019) scored 942 and 3913 on the Geekbench 5.1.1 single and multi-core tests while the 2020 model earned a 948 and a 4015.

In the Cinebench R20 benchmark, the fans barely spun up, not kicking in until two thirds through the test. They were audible, but not as loud as Apple’s laptop fans used to be. Monitoring with Intel Power Gadget, the 13-inch MacBook Pro was able to maintain its clock speed without unnecessarily throttling down. In the test it scored 1588 points.

There is a degree of variance in these tests. While the 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro scores mildly higher, on average, they are identical for all intents and purposes.

Apple increased the storage capacities, thankfully. Doubling the capacities across the line. It now starts at 256GB and the low-end options can be upgraded to 2TB. Twice what they previously started at and were capped at. In terms of speed, we were averaging around 1250 megabytes per second for write speeds and 1600 megabytes per second for read speeds using the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test.

For comparison, the 16-inch MacBook Pro at just about any capacity will peak at 3150 megabytes per second read speeds, and about 2900 megabytes per second write speeds. The 2020 MacBook Air delivers about 1250 megabytes per second read, and 1000 megabytes per second write.

Memory too is the same as last year, starting at 8GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3. Graphics as well sticking around, relying on the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645.

Entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro versus high-end

This year, more than ever, there is a distinction between the entry-level units and the upper-level units. They are physically differentiated by the number of Thunderbolt 3 ports. The entry-level has two while the upper-end has four. As we’ve mentioned, we will review the higher-end machine soon, but to give you an idea of the differences, we wanted to touch on them quickly.

The high-end units have the aforementioned tenth generation Intel chips rather than the older eighth generation. They use faster 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory, start at 16GB, and can be updated to 32GB. Internal storage can be maxed out at 4TB.

Because of those tenth generation chips, the 2020 high-end model has better graphics than the 2019 refresh, and this 2020 low-end MacBook Pro. On the high end, a 6K display such as the Pro Display XDR can be driven, with this model only able to connect to a 5K external display.

Should you buy the entry-level 13-inch 2020 MacBook Pro?

This new 13-inch MacBook Pro for 2020 is… fine. It is, in a vacuum, a solid machine. But in the ladder that is Apple’s portable Mac lineup, it is an extra rung.

The newest MacBook Air is a more enticing option versus the 13-inch MacBook Pro at the low-end. It is cheaper, slimmer, and more portable. Not to mention, the MacBook Air has those updated tenth generation Intel processors that the entry-level MacBook Pro lacks.

Users who are dead-set on picking up an entry-level MacBook Pro are buying it for a few reasons. Compared to the Air, it is very slightly more capable and does come with the Touch Bar — but if the latter is a bonus varies very much user to user. Compared to the previous-gen MacBook Pro it also has beam-forming microphones, Dolby Atmos support on tiny speakers, as well as better value with the doubled internal storage capacities.

Those aren’t inherently bad reasons to buy the machine, but the MacBook Air is a better value overall, and the high-end 13-inch MacBook Pro has more to offer.

If we weren’t comparing this to the MacBook Air, if it existed in an ideal vacuum, we’d give this machine a four out of five for its design, feature set, and performance. But with the MacBook Air in such close proximity, occupying the same market segment, the entry-level Pro doesn’t warrant more than a 3.5.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

New 2020 13″ MacBook Pro deals

Apple’s brand-new 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro is already on sale, with exclusive coupon discounts of up to $200 off, plus bonus savings on AppleCare.

If, after reading this 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro review, you want to pick up a system for yourself, check out the deals in the AppleInsider 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro Price Guide.

Read More

Never Review

Never Have I Ever review: Mindy Kaling’s Netflix show takes desi drama worldwide – Hindustan Times

Home / TV / Never Have I Ever review: Mindy Kaling’s Netflix show takes desi drama worldwide

Never Have I Ever

Creators – Mindy Kaling, Lang Fisher

Cast – Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Sendhil Ramamurthy

One of the biggest ironies about Never Have I Ever is something that’ll most likely slip under the radar. The protagonist of the new Netflix show is called Devi, the Sanskrit word for ‘goddess’, but that’s probably the last word anyone would use to describe her.

Played by newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who was chosen from 15000 possible candidates in an open casting call, Devi is a brash, slightly arrogant teenager with a tendency to get herself into trouble. This is perhaps one of the reasons why creators Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher came up with the brilliant idea to cast the famously ill-mannered tennis legend John McEnroe as the show’s narrator.

Watch the Never Have I Ever trailer here 

McEnroe is a born showman, so the fact that his acerbic, Arrested Development-style narration is the highlight of Never Have I Ever shouldn’t come as a surprise, but who knew he was this funny? To hear him describe Indian aunties — “Aunties are old Indian women who have no relation to you but are allowed to have opinions about your life and shortcomings” — is glorious.

And the aunties certainly have a lot to say about young Devi. She’d like to think of herself as someone who has ‘the beauty of Priyanka Chopra and the incisive intellect of RBG’, but in reality, she’s struggling to cope with the death of her father, the demands of being an American teenager, and the pressures of living up to her mother’s Indian ideals.

Part teen romance, part coming-of-age comedy, Never Have I Ever is a delicately written little show, an immigrant tale that feels just about authentic enough to survive in a world where Master of None and Little America exist. Aesthetically, it’s more of a sitcom than either of those two shows; something like Fresh Off the Boat, but it does a much better job at balancing the comedy and the drama.


One of its quieter achievements is its characterisation of Devi’s mother, Nalini, played by Poorna Jagannathan. It’s a layered role — perhaps unexpectedly so — one that requires Jagannathan to wear several caps. A widow, a single mother and a driven professional, Nalini is often called to switch between these roles at the drop of a ‘topi’. It might be slightly alarming for American audiences to watch a mother threaten her daughter with casual violence, but Jagannathan’s performance never allows Nalini to slip into the stereotype of a strict South Asian parent. She’s strong-willed and fiercely independent, but also prone to moments of vulnerability.

Also read: Sex Education season 2 review: Netflix’s terrific teen comedy is still a turn-on

But it’ll be even more alarming for American audiences to watch Indian characters who, with the exception of cousin Kamala, do not sound like some sort of racist caricature. At its core, Never Have I Ever — which don’t get me wrong, spends a lot of time on Devi’s pursuit of the school heartthrob — is a story about three women. To the foreign eye, Nalini, Devi and Kamala are simply immigrants. But each of them is written with depth, and the show is very empathetic to its supporting characters, to the point that Devi’s storyline sometimes feels secondary.

But Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is a gifted actor. Often, Devi’s behaviour is repulsive — she’s selfish, ungrateful and petty — but that’s what makes her a real person. Never Have I Ever slaps on a thick layer of brown on a white-washed industry, and takes desi drama worldwide.

Follow @htshowbiz for more

The author tweets @RohanNaahar

Read More

Dance' Review

‘The Last Dance’ Review: Michael Jordan & Chicago Bulls Docuseries Is A Stunning Slam Dunk For ESPN & Netflix – Deadline

Eager, and perhaps way overly eager to reopen America in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump has recently said he is tired of watching 14-year-old basketball games on TV with all sports leagues shuttered.

Well, the more than two-decade-old basketball games that are the fuel for ESPN’s upcoming The Last Dance are exactly the kind of small-screen excitement many of us could use right now, sports fans or not.

Packed with unseen footage that has been under lock and key since Bill Clinton was president, the comprehensive 10-episode docuseries that tips off Sunday focuses on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ quest for a sixth NBA championship. That 1997-1998 quest is the primary beat of the Jason Hehir-helmed and Netlfix co-produced effort on excellence in motion. At the same time, the stunning and captivating Last Dance is also a deep mix of the evolution of Jordan into one of the greatest athletes of all time via determination, drive and leadership, as I say in my video review above.

Now, you may debate if MJ is greater than say the brilliance of a Serena Williams, Pele or Muhammed Ali — it is a fair discussion of a pantheon of power. However, regardless of who is the GOAT in your opinion, Last Dance is a damn convincing 500-minute argument that no one ever in any field, sports or otherwise, played and worked as hard as Jordan, now the principal owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.

Now, it’s no great leap to compare The Last Dance with the Oscar-winning O.J.: Made In America docuseries that ESPN triumphantly ran in 2016. Both are in depth, both are as much about the play as the player, and both are high-quality long looks at African American sports figures. But, let’s be clear, that’s really where the comparisons should end. These are very different stories by their nature, with the former being one of triumph and the latter a tragedy on so many levels.

First set to debut June 2 on the Disney-owned sports cabler, The Last Dance was moved to this weekend late last month not long after the NBA and all other sports league went dark due to the COVID-19 crisis. For a sports-starved nation, the domestic run of The Last Dance is the real deal that display a caliber of player that we will likely never see again, even when all the arenas open up.

With a soundtrack including the likes of Prince and hip hop godhead Eric B & Rakim plus interviews with a scathingly honest Jordan; Bulls teammates like Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr; philosopher coach Phil Jackson; a couple of U.S. Presidents and more, The Last Dance may in fact be one of the greatest sports documentaries ever made – which, even for the home of the stellar 30 for 30 series, should be the point when you consider the subject matter.

Stay at home, stay safe, click on my video review for The Last Dance, then get courtside on your couch this Sunday for a slam dunk. As for you in the rest of the world, The Last Dance can be seen on Netflix starting this weekend too.

Read More