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(Note: Just a minute before I hit send on this newsletter, Qualcomm announced its Snapdragon 888 Plus! It’s a higher-binned, slightly overclocked Snapdragon 888, so nothing too extreme, but makers like Asus, Motorola, Vivo, Xiaomi, will launch Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Plus smartphones later this year. Now, on with the rest of the MWC news so far…)
Mobile World Congress 2021 began this early morning with Lenovo’s announcements first off the cab, with new devices including a beefy Android tablet.
- First, Lenovo launched its second-generation Smart Clock, with its new $90 Smart Clock 2 again packing Google Assistant smarts and looking like it’ll remain one of the best third-party accessories if you want something like this.
- One of the features of the original and the Smart Clock Essential was just how often you could find them on sale, with Lenovo pushing both really hard.
- The Smart Clock 2 now updates the formula with a modest set of upgrades. It now comes with an optional wireless charger which has a USB-A port — but, for whatever reason, Lenovo removed the USB-A port on the body of the smart clock itself. The wireless charger connects via pogo pins which may be a loss, but Lenovo is including the wireless charger dock, with the package now $10 more than previously.
- Otherwise, you’ll get a 4-inch LCD, a 3W speaker system, and a not-exactly-performance MediaTek MT8167S chip with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, and a new nightlight feature for gentle light if you get up at night. There’s no camera again and a mute toggle for the microphone.
- Lenovo is also pushing tablets — Yoga Tab 13 is among a range of new tablets/second-monitors heading to the US.
- The new tablets heading to the US include the aforementioned 13-inch Android tablet that also works as a portable monitor for $679, as well as a Yoga Tab 11 ($320), Lenovo Tab P11 Plus ($260), and a budget-focused Tab M7 $110.
- The Yoga Tab 13 is the standout. It was already launched earlier in China as the Yoga Pad Pro, with a pretty handy Snapdragon 870, 8GB/256GB, and 10,200mAh battery — and the specs remain the same with the Tab 13.
- It has a stainless steel kickstand and doubles as a wall hanger too for a variety of applications, though don’t ask me what those applications could be, but options are always good.
- The display is a 2,160 x 1,350 LCD that Lenovo says runs for 12 hours on a charge. As a secondary monitor that doesn’t need a power source, and can hook up to any HDMI device including a PC or a Switch, that’s decent.
- Engadget said it is a 60Hz, 2K low temperature polysilicon display, with 400 nits of brightness.
- Anyway, these look promising. The choice of running Android vs Windows for a 13-inch touchscreen may be less of a problem come Windows 11 too, and Lenovo has a decent track record.
- Let’s see what our reviewers think when these devices start to emerge in July!
🟦 BlueStacks CEO comments on Android apps coming to Windows 11: ‘It’s not so easy’ (Android Authority).
🔊 Why Apple, Amazon and Spotify are embracing Hi-Def music: A guide to lossless streaming (WSJ, $).
🔓 This is a bad one: Microsoft signed a driver loaded with rootkit malware, breaking the trust in Microsoft’s entire process of signing drivers (Engadget).
🔧 TPM what? CPU which? Here’s what you’ll actually need to upgrade to Windows 11 (Ars Technica). Also, here’s why Windows 11 is forcing the use of TPM chips, something most people have never heard of before (The Verge).
🍎 The feedback in this discussion thread looks good for Apple: “Now that the Airtags have been out for a while, how are they really?” (r/apple).
🌞 Google launches a new medical app — but only outside the US, because of some interesting proof-of-effectiveness wrinkles (Ars Technica). That app, by the way, is only in beta testing, so you’re not missing out just yet. If you’re outside the US, you can apply here (google.com).
👾 The Pentagon published its long-awaited unclassified report into UFOs/UAPs. Here’s the report (dni.gov, PDF), and here’s the reaction from a calm reading: “The UAP task force’s unclassified report found ‘no clear indications that there is any non-terrestrial explanation’ for the aircrafts.” Somewhat amusingly, the report did warn if the breakthrough technology that “may” be seen here comes from “foreign adversaries,” that might be a “national security challenge.” Indeed. (BBC).
👞 The FBI’s body language expert on communicating when back in the office, now that our brains may be slightly broken: “Q: At a gathering, how can I tell if people want me to join their conversation? A: The only way to know is whether their feet move to welcome you. If they only turn at the hips and say, ‘Hi, Bill,’ but their feet never move, neither one wants you to join.” (Bloomberg).
💀 The discovery of “Dragon man” is absolutely fascinating and important. And, in an apparent wild backstory, the skull was hidden in a well for over 80 years by a Chinese labourer (The Guardian).
🧊 24,000 years in permafrost still didn’t kill these ancient critters (Wired).
🔴 China shares video and audio of landing and early development from its Mars rover, and the 774 feet it’s travelled so far (Engadget).
✈ Software problems delay the Boeing 777X as regulators stop trusting Boeing: Citing a serious flight test incident and lack of design maturity, FAA slows Boeing 777X certification (Seattle Times).
⛳ “Why don’t planes have dimples, like golf balls?” (r/askreddit).
Know Your Meme has ably covered Rollercoaster Dad, a meme that sprung up over the last week at the request of someone on Reddit:
Cue the memes:
- Fun! Now, Rollercoaster Dad may or may not catch on and end up being sold as an NFT in 10 years.
- But if it does, remember we got in on the ground floor, together.
Bonus: Tour De Farce (r/art).
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor