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Apple Unleashes an Enterprise Powerhouse

It’s not clear whether Apple intentionally echoed Stanley Kubrick’s black monolith from the 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but the nearly featureless space gray block looks faintly ominous as the new Mac Mini rests on top of a Lenovo workstation. But it’s certainly not featureless. There’s a shiny Apple logo on top, a single…

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It’s not clear whether Apple intentionally echoed Stanley Kubrick’s black monolith from the 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but the nearly featureless space gray block looks faintly ominous as the new Mac Mini rests on top of a Lenovo workstation. But it’s certainly not featureless. There’s a shiny Apple logo on top, a single white LED on the front showing that the power is on and ports on the rear.

Lots of ports. It’s the ports that are the first indication that this is not yesterday’s Mac Mini. It’s also the first indication that this computer can do quite a lot.

There are four Thunderbolt 3, USB-C ports that also support DisplayPort video. There is a Gigabit Ethernet port that can be upgraded to 10 Gigabit Ethernet, the HDMI 2.0 port supports video up to 4K, and there is a pair of USB 3.1 ports along with a headphone jack. Power is supplied through a two-wire AC connector with a standard two-prong plug.

The Thunderbolt 3 ports provide the primary I/O, and apparently it’s assumed that audio and video input will arrive through these, because there’s no analog audio input. Those same ports can support two 4K or one 5K display. You can also support a 4K display through the HDMI port and a 5K display through a Thunderbolt port.

Works With Lots of Peripherals

The fact that Apple is using Thunderbolt 3 for its Mini adds a great deal of flexibility. I was able to use the test Mac Mini with a Dell U2718Q 27-inch 4K display connected through a simple Thunderbolt 3 to DisplayPort dongle. But there’s more to the Mac Mini’s flexibility than just those connectors.

Apple also has made its newest Mac compatible with a wide range of peripherals, giving it the ability to fit into the enterprise without a lot of fuss. For example, Apple shipped its Magic Keyboard and its Magic Trackpad with the test unit, but instead of using those at first, I tried a standard IBM USB keyboard and a Microsoft mouse. Both worked flawlessly.

The Apple keyboard connects wirelessly to the Mac Mini as does the trackpad, and using those would free up the two USB 3.1 Type A ports. Both of those work well, and pairing is quick and easy. What’s important about the Mac Mini is that you don’t need to use them, as you can use other peripherals you may already have in your office.

The Mac Mini that Apple sent for testing was the basic unit. This means it was configured with an 8th generation, four-core Intel i3 processor, 8GB of memory and a 128GB SSD for storage. This combination was reasonably fast, delivering average Geekbench 4 single-core results of 4616 and multi-core results of 13979. These aren’t high-end workstation results, but they indicate performance that’s certainly adequate for routine office tasks. More performance is available. You can order SSDs up to 2TB, memory up to 64 gigabytes and an intel processor up to a six-core i7.

If You Want Extra Storage, Order It Off the Top

While Apple doesn’t list the memory as being user upgradable, it’s held on socketed SO-DIMM memory cards. The memory and other internal components are located below the round bottom covering. Pry that off, and you’ll see a screen secured using Torx screws. Adding or replacing the memory won’t void the warranty, according to an Apple spokesperson.

The memory is the only thing you can replace manually, however. The SSD is soldered in place, so you’ll need to decide what size you need when you order the Mini. The processor isn’t field upgradable.

During a demo session following the announcement of the new Mini in Brooklyn on Oct. 30, Apple was able to show that the new Mini can be clustered to provide significant levels of performance. For example, I saw five Mac Minis clustered to provide real-time rendering using Final Cut Pro and Apple’s Compressor. The five Mac Minis were connected using 10-gigabit Ethernet and a 10-gig switch as a virtual backplane. The results were impressive.

The video was equally impressive. Apple uses Intel’s UHD Graphics 630, which is capable of supporting two 4K monitors at 60Hz, or a 4K and 5K monitor at the same rate. The GPU in the graphics system produces a Geekbench compute score of 19017, which is equivalent to the HP Z620 workstation we recently upgraded in an article here.

The new Mac Mini performs well in its base configuration as a desktop computer. I was able to install and use Adobe’s Creative Cloud software and Microsoft Office 365 without a hitch, and Apple includes a nice selection of software from Apple, including its own word processor, graphics and photo editing.

If I were to buy a Mac Mini for my own office, I’d add a larger SSD, more memory and possibly a faster CPU. In its basic configuration, the Mac Mini sells for $799. Configured the way I’d want it, with an i5 processor, 16 gigs of memory and a half-terabit SSD, and the six-core CPU, the price would rise to $1,499. That’s not a bad price for a midrange workstation, and the Mac Mini gives you a lot for that price.

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Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Now on Sale in India, New Alexa Voice Remote Also Available

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K has now been available in India. The new Fire TV Stick model that was launched in the country last month comes with a price tag of Rs. 5,999. Amazon.in is offering EMI options starting from Rs. 282. As an upgrade over the original Fire TV Stick, the Fire TV Stick…

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Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Now on Sale in India, New Alexa Voice Remote Also Available

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K has now been available in India. The new Fire TV Stick model that was launched in the country last month comes with a price tag of Rs. 5,999. Amazon.in is offering EMI options starting from Rs. 282. As an upgrade over the original Fire TV Stick, the Fire TV Stick 4K is designed to deliver high-quality, 4K content and supports Dolby Vision and HDR10+ technologies. There is also an all-new Alexa Voice Remote that supports voice commands as well as functions as a remote controller of your TV. Customers with the existing Fire TV Stick can also avail the controlling support by purchasing the new Alexa Voice Remote.

The Fire TV Stick 4K is available for purchase in India through Amazon.in. Customers can also opt for a two-year OneAssist Protection Plan at Rs. 499. Additionally, the new Alexa Voice Remote is available separately for existing Fire TV Stick users at Rs. 1,999.

Amazon claims that the Fire TV Stick 4K is over 80 percent more powerful than last year’s Fire TV Stick. It is powered by a quad-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz and is touted to be the “first media stick available with Dolby Vision” support. Further, there is support for 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Atmos, HDR, HDR-10, HLG, and HDR10+ content. Users can also use the Alexa integration by pressing the voice command button on the bundled remote to watch their 4K content using their voice. There is also 8GB of onboard storage as well as Bluetooth 5.0+ LE and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi that supports 802.11ac networks. For connectivity, the Fire TV Stick 4K has an HDMI output and supports power via Micro-USB.

The bundled Alexa Voice Remote combines Bluetooth and multidirectional infrared technology alongside using a proprietary cloud-based service from Amazon to enable controlling of your TV set as well as the Fire TV Stick simultaneously – without requiring the use of the native remote controller of your TV. There are dedicated power, volume, and mute buttons to control your TV, soundbar, or other AV equipment. Also, the Alexa Voice Remote has a voice button and other Fire TV Stick controls. Users with the previous-generation Fire TV Stick can also use the new Alexa Voice Remote to avail its ability to control TV sets. Amazon is additionally bringing Alexa integration to the existing Fire TV Stick via a software update.

amazon alexa voice remote Amazon Alexa Voice Remote

New Alexa Voice Remote

Similar to the previous Fire TV Stick, the Fire TV Stick 4K supports content from services such as Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, Netflix, Zee5, and SonyLIV among others. It also has Firefox and Silk browsers to let you surf the Web or access YouTube and Facebook. Furthermore, you can listen to your favourite music by accessing Amazon Prime Music, Gaana, and TuneIn. It is worth mentioning here that while the Fire TV Stick 4K supports 4K UHD content delivery, your TV set needs to have 4K support in order to enable the high-quality experience.

You can also use new Alexa skills on the Fire TV Stick 4K to view live camera feeds, check sports scores, order food, book a cab, or stream songs using your voice. Likewise, you can pair your Echo devices with your Fire TV to control your TV and ask Alexa to play and search for your favourite content, access new apps, or control the playback on your Fire TV – all without using the bundled remote.

With the latest arrival, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K becomes one of the cheapest native 4K players in India. The Apple TV 4K is already available in India as a 4K player. However, it is not as affordable as the Fire TV Stick 4K, with a starting price of Rs. 17,430 for the 32GB storage variant, and Rs. 19,480 for the 64GB variant.

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Thunderlord and Heavy Machine Guns are Back in Destiny 2

Bungie revealed today that Thunderlord, the fan-favorite Heavy Machine Gun exotic from Destiny 1, has made its way into Destiny 2. Not only is that pretty exciting news, more importantly, it triggers the official return of Heavy Machine Guns into Destiny 2.Destiny 2 did away with HMGs when launching Destiny 2 over a year ago.…

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Bungie revealed today that Thunderlord, the fan-favorite Heavy Machine Gun exotic from Destiny 1, has made its way into Destiny 2. Not only is that pretty exciting news, more importantly, it triggers the official return of Heavy Machine Guns into Destiny 2.

Destiny 2 did away with HMGs when launching Destiny 2 over a year ago. They were pretty overpowered in the Crucible, but lacked punch in most PvE situations. Rather then try and fix its problems in both major areas, it seemed like Bungie decided to just get rid of them all together.

However the first of the annual pass content. Black Armory, coming out later this year will usher in the return of the lost power weapon class, and Thunderlord is your sneak preview of that.

The Thunderlord can only be obtained by completing the Lost Cryptarch event which launched around Halloween. Talk to Amanda Holiday in the Shipyard if you haven’t started it up yet.

You have a few weeks to complete the quest in order to guarantee yourself one if you stick with it. If you end up skipping the quest when the event ends on Nov. 27, you’ll still be able to get Thunderlord via normal means. Also known as praying to the RNG gods. So you know what that means: go do that quest.

Ed has been a proud member of the Twinfinite staff since 2014. He plays everything on everything but is particularly fond of JRPGs, MMOs, and sports. He holds a B.A. in history and political science and a M.S. in education all from the University at Albany.

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Essential’s $149 magnetic dongle will bring back your headphone jack

Essential’s headphone adapter is expensive.Image: essentialBy Johnny Lieu2018-11-14 02:37:17 UTC We know, you miss your headphone jack. Like other smartphones, the Essential Phone has done away with the feature, but the company has just launched its long-touted external headphone adapter and DAC, which magnetically snaps on to the back of your phone. SEE ALSO: Apple…

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Essential’s $149 magnetic dongle will bring back your headphone jack
Essential's headphone adapter is expensive.
Essential’s headphone adapter is expensive.

Image: essential

2016%2f09%2f16%2fe7%2fhttpsd2mhye01h4nj2n.cloudfront.netmediazgkymde1lzex.0f9e7By Johnny Lieu

We know, you miss your headphone jack.

Like other smartphones, the Essential Phone has done away with the feature, but the company has just launched its long-touted external headphone adapter and DAC, which magnetically snaps on to the back of your phone.

SEE ALSO: Apple quietly releases USB-C to headphone jack dongle

And it ain’t cheap: The Audio Adapter HD will set you back an eye-watering $149.

To be fair, Essential’s adapter doesn’t claim to be like the other plasticky dongles, which are a fraction of the price.

Essential claims its titanium adapter “sports an audiophile-grade amp that can drive audiophile-grade headphones” thus providing “studio quality audio performance.” 

At the time of writing, the accessory has sold out, with stock to be replenished next week. It’s a different outcome to Essential’s first phone, the PH-1, which sold poorly following delays.

Still, Essential is reportedly working on a new phone which will be controlled entirely by your voice, which it is looking to unveil next year at CES. 

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