Posted on Leave a comment

Extend your Mac display to another Mac with Luna Display 4.0

 

You can now extend or mirror your main Mac’s screen onto a second Mac as easily as you can with Sidecar and an iPad with Luna Display 4.0.

Extending a single desktop across an iMac and a MacBook Pro. (Photo: Luna Display.)

Extending a single desktop across an iMac and a MacBook Pro. (Photo: Luna Display.)

Before Apple introduced Sidecar in macOS Catalina, firms including Luna Display provided the same ability to use an iPad as a second display. Now the latest version of Luna Display 4.0 lets you do the same thing, but with either an iPad or a spare Mac.

The company calls it Mac-to-Mac-Mode and says that the aim is to make the most out of multiple Apple devices at once.

“Apple has always marketed its products to be standalone, never intended to be used at the same time.” says the firm in a statement. “While you can connect devices through AirDrop, or pick up where you left off in Safari and the Messages app, the idea remains the same: it is all about picking up one product, and setting the other down.”

“Where we differ from Apple is that, instead of limiting ourselves to using each product individually, we see the potential that comes from a combination of products that is greater than the sum of its parts,” it continues.

Apple’s Sidecar requires macOS Catalina to work with an iPad, but is also limited to certain newer Macs. Luna Display 4.0 brings the feature to older models, with the main Mac needing 2015’s macOS El Capitan or later.

The secondary Mac, the one used as an extra display, can be running an even older OS, going back to 2012’s macOS Mountain Lion.

[embedded content]

Luna Display is a combination of a hardware and software product. The hardware aspect is a dongle that you plug into the main Mac, and comes in versions for either USB-C or Mini DisplayPort.

The software element is an app that must be run on both machines. Luna Display works only wirelessly, and the two devices must be on the same Wi-Fi network.

Luna Display costs $69 direct from the developer, and there is a launch discount of 25%.

Posted on Leave a comment

Gray Logitech Crayon goes on sale alongside red original

 

Logitech has launched a second color variant of the Crayon, the peripheral producer’s alternative to the Apple Pencil, with a new gray version of the stylus now being sold from Apple via the online Apple Store.

An update to the Apple Store reveals a secondary option for the Logitech Crayon. While the aluminum body and white tip remain the same as the original, the red accents at both ends of the stylus have been replaced for gray versions, making it more appealing to those who want a more professional-looking accessory for their iPad or iPad Pro.

While the color is new, the price remains the same, with the Apple Store selling the Logitech Crayon for $69.95.

Introduced as a cheaper option for education customers than the Apple Pencil in March 2018 before becoming available to the general public, the Logitech Crayon offers practically most of the functionality as the Apple-produced counterpart, but at a cheaper price than the $99 Apple Pencil.

Logitech’s version provides the same writing experience, pairing, and drawing capabilities as the Apple Pencil, as well as a seven-hour battery life. The only real difference is the Crayon’s lack of pressure sensitivity, which may affect the usage of some drawing-related apps.

Posted on Leave a comment

CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock cuts confusion with expanded compatibility

 

The new CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock offers maximum compatibility with both Thunderbolt 3 and the various flavors of USB-C, making it a good choice for Mac and iPad Pro users.

USB C Pro Dock

CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock is one of the first Thunderbolt 3 docks on the market that supports both Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 type C laptops. Most Thunderbolt 3 devices, including docks, have typically only been compatible with Thunderbolt 3 Laptops. By making this dock compatible with both, it eliminates the confusion caused by USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 using the same Type-C connector.

When the Pro Dock is connected to a Thunderbolt 3 laptop it becomes a full Thunderbolt 3 40 gigabit per second dock, and when connected to a USB-C laptop it becomes a USB-C 10 Gigabit per second dock.

It can help charge a laptop with 85 watts of charging power, provided your laptop allows for USB-C charging. A Thunderbolt 3 computer can support dual 4K monitors with this dock, and a USB-C computer can support dual 1080p monitors.

Dock on green background

Additionally, as it supports USB-C, it can upgrade an iPad Pro into a full workstation with support for a 4K monitor, hard drives, a keyboard and mouse.

The Pro Dock also features a 3.5mm combination audio in/out port, three USB-A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and an SD card reader to help minimize the need for adapters around your workspace.

The CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock retails for $199.99 and is available from Amazon with a special deal to get $30 off the retail price.

AppleInsider will be reviewing the dock in the weeks to come.

Posted on Leave a comment

Review: The 10.2-inch iPad is more of the same, and that’s not a bad thing

Almost a footnote to the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, Apple announced the new seventh generation 10.2-inch iPad for 2019 at its “By innovation only” event. The new iPad isn’t revelatory, and is an enlargement of an iteration that Apple delivered in 2018 with the education-focused sixth-generation iPad.

The new 7th-generation iPad

The new 7th-generation iPad

Right off the top, the seventh generation has the same build quality, solidity, and ease of use as the previous generations.

Just like it was over a year ago after Apple’s spring 2018 event, AppleInsider telling you about an iPad and what it can do for you is a waste of time. The odds are pretty good you’re reading this review on one.

Instead, we’re going to look at what sets the new iPad apart from older gear.

What’s the same?

Non-laminated display

Based on what we’ve been hearing from users, the biggest complaints about the iPad are the re-use of the A10 processor that Apple used for the sixth-generation iPad and the non-laminated screen.

For the screen, every other generation of iPad plus the iPad Air used a non-laminated screen, so upgraders from a very old iPad or even the fifth generation from two and a half years ago will have the same screen that they’ve always had. They’ll have a better one if they’re coming from the original non-retina iPad or the immensely popular iPad 2.

The iPad still has a non-laminated display

The iPad still has a non-laminated display

Apple decided in 2017 to use the non-laminated screen going forward with the lower-end of the product line, and 2019 is no different. The slimming laminated display is on the iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad mini —all more expensive than the seventh generation iPad.

Given the educational focus of the seventh generation iPad, there is clearly an advantage to the non-laminated screen from a service standpoint. If the glass breaks on the new iPad, it no longer necessitates a multi-hundred-dollar whole-screen replacement.

There were complaints in 2017, carried forward to 2019, that the lack of a laminated screen detaches users from the interface. We aren’t going to deny that the laminated screen is nicer, but from an operational standpoint, the non-laminated screen induces no lag or delay in user input —nor has it ever.

Also as with the 2018 iPad, the display is not a Wide Color with True Tone display, like in the iPad Pro, nor should anyone have ever expected it to be. However, color fidelity is the same as the iPad has always had, prior to Apple’s enhancements for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

A10 processor

In regards to the A10 processor, Apple told us while demoing the unit that it not just twice as fast as competing PC laptops, but also twice the speed the previous sixth-generation iPad. Even when pressed about it, they repeated this refrain about the difference between the sixth generation iPad and the seventh several times, very specifically. We were very skeptical of this claim.

The 7th-gen iPad gets a 697 and 1397 in the Geekbench 5 test

The 7th-gen iPad gets a 697 and 1397 in the Geekbench 5 test

Turns out we were right to be so, despite the new iPad having more application RAM. In Geekbench 5.0 testing, the new iPad got a single-core score of 697 and a multi-core 1397. The sixth-generation delivers 692 and 1367. That’s no difference at all, so why they repeated this mantra isn’t at all clear to us. We’ll chalk it up to confused and revised marketing messages not getting promulgated correctly on the floor.

There’s another implication of the A10 used in this iPad, and the A9 used in the fifth-generation iPad, though. Apple likes supporting an A-series processor in iOS for five years since the release of a product that last used it.

So, in this case, that means that A9 devices like the iPhone SE and iPhone 6s, and A10 devices like the iPhone 7 are likely going to be supported for a long time —two more years at least on the former, and now five more years for the iPhone 7.

Apple Pencil support

Responsiveness from the first generation Apple Pencil on the seventh generation iPad is about the same as it is on the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro —meaning pretty great. Our artists that we tapped to test it out still liked it just a hair better on the 2017 iPad Pro lineup, and far more than any Android equivalent that they had tried to that point.

First-generation Apple Pencil support

First-generation Apple Pencil support

But, they preferred the second-generation Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro to the first generation. Even with the adapter included with the Apple Pencil, charging the stylus is awkward, and much more refined on the new Apple Pencil.

Two speakers

Charitably, iPad speakers are adequate. Physics applies here, and the iPad simply lacks room for large speaker chambers. The 2019 iPad has two speakers, like last year’s model —with the iPad Pro having four.

7th-gen iPad speakers

7th-gen iPad speakers

To test the speakers, we again did a blind test with 10 participants of varying ages. Without telling the participants which hardware they were listening to, we played back an assortment of tracks on an iPad mini 2, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the 2019 iPad including audio books purchased from iTunes. The tracks we used were streamed from Apple Music.

Out of our 10 testers, at three feet, three identified the four speaker iPad Pro as having better quality, with the remainder calling the difference too close to tell between the four-speaker iPad Pro, the iPad Air 2, and the 2018 iPad. At eight feet, none of our testers could tell the difference.

Connectivity

The connectivity suite remains the same. Bluetooth is still version 4,2, Wi-Fi is still 802.11ac, and the wired connector is still Lightning.

In the real world, we’re not seeing any faster web page loads than we did with the sixth-generation iPad. This is as much a testament to that device from 2017, as it is a comment on the seventh generation iPad.

Cameras

We’re only making a slight nod in this direction. The cameras are identical to those on the fifth generation iPad, and are functional. They aren’t nearly as good as the cameras on even the iPhone 6 —but they aren’t intended to be.

7th-gen iPad camera

7th-gen iPad camera

Picture quality between the 2018 iPad, the 2017 iPad, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the first generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the iPad Air 2 are essentially indistinguishable.

What’s different

Screen resolution

The stand-out feature of the seventh generation iPad is the larger 10.2-inch screen. The new display has a resolution of 2160×1620 pixels at 264 pixels per inch. In our testing, we got a brightness of about 482 nits on the seventh generation unit.

Multitasking is better with a bigger screen and iPadOS

Multitasking is better with a bigger screen and iPadOS

The sixth generation iPad from 2018 has the same pixels per inch, giving it a 2048×1546 resolution, with about the same brightness as the new model.

The new iPad Pro models deliver the same pixels per inch, but more brightness. Our 12.9-inch iPad Pro from 2018 delivered about 584 nits, in a Wide Color with True Tone display —which the seventh generation does not have.

Dimensions

With that larger screen, comes a bigger iPad enclosure.The new unit is 250.6m tall, 174.1mm wide, and 7.5 mm thick. It weighs 483 grams with Wi-Fi only, and the LTE model weighs 493 grams. For comparison, the 2018 iPad is 240mm tall, 169.5mm wide, has a thickness of 7.5mm, and weighs 469 grams with Wi-Fi and 478 grams with LTE.

To keep this all in perspective the original iPad was 242.8mm tall, 189.7mm wide, 13.4mm thick, and came in at 680 grams.

Smart connector

The seventh generation 10.2-inch iPad is the first entry-level model to support the Smart Connector. That also means that it can use Apple’s Smart Keyboard for the first time.

7th-gen iPad Smart Connector

7th-gen iPad Smart Connector

To us, the Smart Connector is potential unrealized. When it debuted on the iPad Pro line, we envisioned a large variety of peripherals and use cases for the connector, but so far, none of these have materialized, and we’re not seeing many signs of this improving.

Repetita iuvant

The new iPad repeats nearly every cue, and follows very closely in the footsteps of the the 2017 and 2018 iPad in all but screen size. All three are the closest thing we’ve seen from Apple that approaches the lower end of the tablet market.

Again, the new iPad isn’t going to revolutionize education any more than the technology as a whole may or may not have already. It still isn’t cheap enough to really draw in administrators already dealing with tight education budgets, but more importantly, it isn’t making educational content any cheaper.

2019 7th-gen iPad

2019 7th-gen iPad

Also again, despite Apple’s educational focus, the seventh iPad still excels and is aimed at people with older iPads, in an effort to convince them to get a new device. The 2018 sixth generation iPad is an inexpensive entry-level device, that keeps on hitting the target that it zeroed in on more than two years ago with the fifth generation iPad.

If you have the iPad Air 2 or older, or the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and are looking to upgrade, the 2018 sixth generation iPad is unquestionably a good buy. Realize, though, that if you have the iPad Air 2 or that first generation 9.7-inch iPad Pro, you’ll lose the laminated display —but the better performance may be worth it.

But, if you have the fifth generation iPad, and certainly the sixth generation, there may not be enough here to upgrade unless you really want that bigger screen. Had Apple shifted to the A11 processor, this would be a different conversation, though.

Like early last year, those looking for Apple’s mightiest iPad regardless of cost just need to sit this one out.

Score: 4 out of 5

Deals on Apple’s new 10.2-inch iPad

Instant discounts on Apple’s new 2019 iPad are already available, with Amazon knocking $30 off 128GB Wi-Fi models at press time.

For the latest deals and product availability, be sure to check out the AppleInsider 10.2-inch iPad Price Guide, which is updated daily.

Posted on Leave a comment

These are the best iPad deals heading into October

 

With holiday travel fast approaching and college students knee deep in the fall semester, Apple’s portable iPad is a versatile solution — lightweight enough to toss into a backpack, while still powerful enough for taking notes when seconds count. We’ve rounded up the best iPad deals going on now, with savings of up to $200 off.

Best iPad deals

Best iPad deals

Whether you’re in the market for Apple’s budget-friendly 10.2-inch iPad that just hit store shelves, or are looking for the lowest price on a robust iPad Pro to pair with the Apple Pencil 2, there’s a deal on nearly every model.

We’ve rounded up our top picks below, but for the latest promotions and sale prices, be sure to check out the AppleInsider iPad Price Guide.

Brand-new 2019 iPad (7th generation) on sale

2019 iPad Air deals

Closeout 9.7-inch iPad savings

11-inch iPad Pro deals

12.9-inch iPad Pros (Late 2018)

Closeout 10.5-inch iPad Pro bargains

iPad mini 5 deals

Exclusive iPad mini 4 deals

Additional Apple Deals

AppleInsider and Apple authorized resellers are also running a handful of additional exclusive savings this month on Apple hardware that will not only deliver the lowest prices on many of the items, but also throw in cash discounts on AppleCare and accessories. These deals are as follows:

Interested in additional Apple hardware? See if there is a Mac, iPad or Apple Watch deal that will save you $100s by checking out prices.appleinsider.com.

Posted on Leave a comment

Hands on with the 2019 10.2-inch iPad

 

Video

Apple’s education-focused 2019 got only a few —but significant —changes year-over-year. AppleInsider picked up one of the refreshed models to see how meaningful those changes are.

7th generation iPad

7th generation iPad

Feature-wise, the 2019 seventh-generation iPad remains largely the same. It still packs many of the great features that made the 2018 model a great entry-level iPad.

Apple stuck with the A10 processor for a second iteration. Additionally, the seventh generation iPad still supports the first generation Apple Pencil, and of course, there is the TRRS headphone jack.

What is different with this incarnation, is the display. It has been updated to 10.2-inches, up from the 9.7-inches of its predecessor. It isn’t just a bigger display —Apple has kept the same pixel density in the display, increasing the resolution.

The 2019 iPad supports a full-sized keyboard

The 2019 iPad supports a full-sized keyboard

While we were testing out the iPad, we noticed a difference in usability, induced by that added screen real estate. On the 9.7-inch sixth generation iPad, multitasking and multiple windows can feel constrained, but the extra area that the 10.2-inch model provides reduces that quite a bit.

Obviously, the seventh generation iPad isn’t as large as the 11-inch or 12.9-inch iPad Pro line. But, it certainly is an improvement for a fraction pf the price retained year-over-year.

Multitasking on iPad

Multitasking on iPad

As a side effect of the larger design, the seventh-generation iPad can now utilize a full-sized keyboard. The sixth-generation had to use a compressed keyboard, but the updated model now has proper spacing in between the keys.

If you’re using this iPad day-in and day-out for taking notes or writing emails, the keyboard is quite important. On the surface, it sounds like a relatively minor change to have a slightly larger display and a bigger keyboard in the seventh generation 10.2-inch iPad. In actual use, that half-inch can be profound.

The new 2019 seventh-generation iPad is available now to order for $329 — or $299 for educational institutions.

Stay tuned for a full review of the updated entry-level iPad in the coming days.

Deals on Apple’s new 10.2-inch iPad

Instant discounts on Apple’s new 2019 iPad are already available, with Amazon leading the pack at press time with a $30 markdown on 128GB Wi-Fi models. For the latest deals and product availability, be sure to check out the AppleInsider 10.2-inch iPad Price Guide.

iPad (Fifth) iPad (Sixth) iPad (Seventh)
Screen size 9.7 9.7 10.2
Screen resolution (pixels) 2048×1536 at 264dpi 2048×1536 at 264dpi 2160×1620 at 264dpi
Screen brightness (nits) 500 500 500
Processor A9 A10 Fusion A10 Fusion
Apple Pencil No First Generation First Generation
Smart Connector No No Yes
Dimensions (inches) 9.4×6.6×0.29 9.4×6.6×0.29 9.8×6.8×0.29
Weight (lbs) 1.03 1.03 1.07
Battery (hours) Up to 10 Up to 10 Up to 10
Rear Camera (megapixels) 8 8 8
Front Camera (megapixels) 1.2 1.2 1.2
Video 1080p 1080p 1080p
Biometric Touch ID Touch ID Touch ID

Posted on Leave a comment

Rumor: iPad Pro with triple-lens camera, iPad with dual-lens shooter to launch in October

 

An unconfirmed rumor out of China this week claims Apple plans to debut new iPad Pro and iPad variants in October, both of which will move from single-lens rear cameras to multi-sensor arrays.

Citing a Chinese supply chain source, Mac Otakara on Saturday reports Apple’s next-generation iPad Pro could adopt a triple-lens camera array, while a 10.2-inch entry-level iPad might benefit from a dual-sensor solution similar to iPhone XS.

Both models are rumored to launch in October, the person said.

AppleInsider was unable to confirm the veracity of Mac Otakara’s claims.

The Japanese publication has a decent track record in predicting Apple’s hardware moves, often gleaning information from third-party case makers made privy to leaked schematics in the months prior to a major product unveiling.

As for the triple- and dual-lens iPads, Mac Otakara’s source said diagrams of related accessories are currently “floating around.” Whether the devices in question are official Apple products or third-party add-ons is unknown.

Adopting multi-sensor rear-facing cameras in two new iPads would be an unprecedented move for Apple, as the company has yet to migrate dual-lens shooters to its tablet line despite first integrating the technology in 2016’s iPhone 7 Plus. The setup, which incorporates a wide-angle and “telephoto” lens, was later used in 2017’s iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, and last year’s iPhone XS and XS Max.

In February, noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted an iPad mini refresh and said he expected the existing 9.7-inch iPad, last updated in March 2018, to gain a 10.2-inch LCD screen. Apple subsequently released a revamped iPad mini in March alongside a new 10.5-inch iPad Air, the latter of which effectively usurped the second-generation 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

Apple’s iPad Pro has not been updated since the line received a massive redesign with a full-face display and Face ID in October 2018, while the most recent 9.7-inch iPad variant saw release in March 2018. Both models are due for a refresh.

If today’s rumor is true, Apple’s iPad Pro and iPad lines will sport camera technology commensurate to that of their iPhone contemporaries for the first time. This year’s top-end iPhone, anticipated to launch in September, is widely rumored to benefit from a triple-sensor camera design boasting a new super-wide angle lens.

Posted on Leave a comment

Editorial: Manufacturers, it’s time to put more USB-C ports on chargers

USB-C has continued to become more ubiquitous as more users adopt the small, reversible port. While all of our accessories are supporting it, chargers are lagging behind. Manufacturers —it is time to finally create chargers with more than a single USB-C port.

Even if you don’t have all your devices switched to USB-C yet, you are surely familiar with the new specification. USB-C is the connector type replacing the aging USB-A port. It is reversible and smaller than type-A ports and it supports faster speeds. USB-C cables that use the USB 3.1 Gen 2 protocol can handle up to 10Gb per second at full duplex.

Apple saw the usefulness of USB-C and made all new portable Macs utilize the cable exclusively, ditching USB-A, DisplayPort, and MagSafe in the process. The new iPad Pro also uses type-C.

Kanex GoPower USB-C chargers

Kanex GoPower USB-C chargers

Other accessory makers in the past few years have started to release products using USB-C at a faster rate. Dashcams like Owl use USB-C, as do recent GoPros, the Nikon Z range of cameras, air purifiers like Wynd, and headphones such as the Master & Dynamic ANC over head cans.

The point is, with so much of our gear now relying on the updated port design, why are we limited to chargers that only support one or maybe two USB-C ports max?

When AppleInsider reached out to several accessory makers, the main hangup that we were quoted was that USB-C PD takes too much power for more than two ports to be included on a charger at once. However, that doesn’t need to be the case.

USB-C PD —the PD stands for Power Delivery —is a dynamic charging technology that can handle up to 100 watts with specific cables and chargers. This is the kind of charger need to power up Apple’s latest Macs that use 60W or up to 87W of power draw.

Satechi 75W Dual USB-C multi-charger

Satechi 75W Dual USB-C multi-charger

What manufacturers seem to be trying to do is keep things simple by making all USB-C ports on their chargers support Power Delivery. Take the Satechi 75W Dual USB-C multi-charger. It sports two USB-C ports, with the top handling 60W output and the second handling 18W. The 60W is great for a Mac while the latter for an iPad Pro.

Then there are two legacy USB-A ports that charge at much lower speeds, usually five or seven watts. These ports are the ones that we wish would be swapped for low-power USB-C ports.

The same can be said for the absolutely exceptional Zendure SuperTank and SuperPort battery and multi-charger we reviewed, though it can handle up to 100W over USB-C.

In our ideal world, we’d have a four-port multi-charger with all USB-C. Two that support USB-C PD at fast speeds for power hungry gear such as Macs or iPads, and two slower ports for headphones, fitness accessories, etc.

Take my standard setup for example. Admittedly, I often truck around with more gear than the average consumer, but I don’t think my setup is all that odd.

When I head out, I take my MacBook Pro (or my iPad Pro), my iPhone, my Apple Watch, and a pair of headphones. Both my Mac and iPad Pro use USB-C to charge and with the newfound prevalence of USB-C Lightning cables I also use that to quick charge my iPhone and even my AirPods.

If I’m not taking my AirPods, I take my Master & Dynamic ANC headphones which came with a USB-C cable. I also use a USB-C Apple Watch charger because it can plug into my iPad or Mac.

Other gear that I travel with from time-to-time include my Nikon Z 7, my GoPro Hero 7, or my DJI Osmo, all of which use USB-C. The current option is to grab a bunch of USB-C to USB-A cables which is frustrating to bring along or to just charge two devices at once.

None of this is ideal.

Manufacturers have the ability to create all USB-C chargers without worrying about heat or power by just including slower ports that still put out the same amount of power as current chargers with both type A and C.

It is time for them to stop holding on to the legacy ports and embrace USB-C to push the industry forward and to finally allow early adopters and those with newer devices the ability to actually charge their gear the way they should be able to.

Posted on Leave a comment

Review: WaterField’s Tech Rolltop Backpack is a durable if pricey status symbol

WaterField’s latest backpack is a durable and versatile option for carrying your MacBook, iPad or other tech gear, but the price is only worth it if you put style on the same pedestal as function.

Sometimes I feel as if there’s a separate, alien world of Apple accessories buyers out there. To an extent I can understand the people who plunk down $1,000 on a new iPhone or $3,000 on a new Mac — often you’re spending hours with these machines day-in and day-out. If an iPhone is your primary device, an XS Max doesn’t seem far-fetched.

But as Apple fans are probably aware, there are some absurdly expensive accessories out there. Leather-wrapped chargers, Swarovski iPhone cases, Hermes Apple Watch bands and so on, many of which cost a lot without adding tangible value. The makers of these products count on the fact that someone who can afford a $1,000 iPhone probably has cash to spare.

WaterField, I’d say, falls somewhere in between luxury and pure practicality. Just about all of their products made of materials like leather, suede and canvas, yet while that’s unnecessary, it does have value in the context of things like pouches and backpacks.

The Tech Rolltop Backpack is, if anything, probably the most utilitarian thing they’ve made. As its name implies, the backpack’s signature feature is a collapsible top. This lets you shrink down if space is at a premium, or stuff it to the gills when it counts.

The pack comes in waxed canvas or ballistic nylon, depending on the color you want, and in two sizes: “Compact,” holding up to 15 liters, and “Full,” storing up to 24 liters. We went with the Full option in brown waxed canvas.

The tech focus of the Rolltop is evident is several respects. Two outward-facing pockets include an unsealed one for quick access to things like cards, your iPhone or headphones. A mesh laptop/tablet compartment sits up against your back, and the interior has a padded sleeve compartment that can fit a 15-inch MacBook. Only the Full bag can hold 15-inch laptops within the mesh section.

WaterField's Tech Rolltop Backpack

WaterField sees the bag as useful for more than just the office, and along those lines there are two exterior side pockets. They’re relatively spacious, so they should be handy for things like GoPros, water bottles, protein shakers or even Bluetooth speakers.

The Full model feels equally spacious when you open up the main compartment. By design it includes just two divisions: a sleeve for your MacBook or iPad, and a zippered pocket for cables, chargers, and other small items. Some people might want additional pockets, but I imagine most won’t complain.

The sleeve is plush and probably preferable for carrying a Mac or iPad versus the exterior mesh, which is less comfortable and leaves your device exposed to the elements. You may need to start with the the former when loading the bag though — I found that if I waited until clothes and other items were in, even a 9.7-inch iPad (in a rugged case mind) took some force.

WaterField's Tech Rolltop Backpack

The Rolltop does indeed let you cram in extra versus regular bags, for the simple reason that the top is flexible and opens straight. I tested it under a few circumstances, including even using it as a grocery bag — I was able to fit three large boxes of protein bars and four packages of ground turkey with room to spare.

WaterField's Tech Rolltop Backpack

If you’re planning to use the product for weekend or overnight trips however, you should absolutely buy the Full model. On a brief Houston trip, one night and one day, even that size was just barely enough.

The same goes if the bag is serving both work and fitness tasks. You should be okay if you don’t need to bring much to work beyond your tech gear, but it could be hard to stash things like lunch, books, shoes, clothing and electronics simultaneously.

All that said, the product is extremely well-made. Stitching is tight and materials are tough, especially the waxed canvas, which seems like it would take a Bowie knife to rip. Both the canvas and the interior lining are water-resistant, although you should only stuff the bag so far if you’re expecting rain or snow, since you otherwise won’t be able to roll it shut.

Other nice touches include an adjustable magnetic clasp, and a foam lining at the bottom that helps preserve the bag’s shape when you’re loading it.

WaterField's Tech Rolltop Backpack

My only remaining complaints begin with the potential awkwardness of a roll-top design. If you need to grab something from the bottom you’ll have to plunge most of your arm in, which is a minor inconvenience but might still nudge some people towards alternatives.

The other is price. The Compact Rolltop is $229, and the Full is $249, which is an awful lot to spend on a backpack. When you consider that a bigger, equally durable bag like 5.11’s AMP24 is about $190, that’s difficult to justify.

Which brings us full circle. This bag is really for people who want a status symbol as much as something useful — whereas a 5.11 product looks like you just got home from a tour in Afghanistan, WaterField’s lineup is meant to blend in with the business casual world. In any environment it’ll probably impress colleagues.

If you can afford it and fashion does matter that much to you, by all means buy the Tech Rolltop — you won’t be disappointed.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Where to buy

The Waterfield Tech Rolltop Backpack is available in three colors and retails for $229 for the compact version and $249 for the full size.

Posted on Leave a comment

Hands on: Pixelmator Photo is king of the iPad photo editing apps

Since Pixelmator Photo is now available for iPad, AppleInsider takes you on a deep dive of the features and performance you can expect from the latest tablet-bound image editor.

Pixelmator Photo

Pixelmator Photo on iPad App Store

We’ve spent quite a bit of time using the original Pixelmator on our Mac, as well as the more powerful Pixelmator Pro. On iOS, we’ve utilized the original Pixelmator app but wanted more dedicated to photos —and with Pixelmator Photo, that’s just what we got.

Pixelmator Photo is a fast, capable photo editor that could easily handle anything we threw at it. Compared to other editors we’re fond of —such as Darkroom —Pixelmator Photo didn’t go from the iPhone to the iPad. It was designed from the beginning for Apple’s tablets.

We first saw Pixelmator Photo at Apple’s iPad Pro event last fall and have been eagerly awaiting the release ever since. For the past month or so we’ve been editing our best shots using the beta of Pixelmator Photo and were overwhelmingly impressed with its abilities.

UI and layout

The app itself is very well arranged. Most controls appear on the right side, with occasional sliders and filters available along the bottom. This leaves the bulk of the display dedicated to content.

Pixelmator Photo

Pixelmator Photo

From the top left, you can head back to the file selector, undo, or revert. This is important because everything in Pixelmator Photo is non-destructive so no matter how much editing you do, you can always go back to the original.

On the top right, the auto button, repair control, crop function, adjustments, export, and more are placed.

As you open different controls, they elegantly slide over the image without being burdensome. They even make use of popover so multiple elements could be open at the same time such as the adjustments panel and the “more” menu. It all feels very natural and fluid.

Pixelmator Photo file picker

Pixelmator Photo iCoud-based file picker

When you launch the app, it will automatically have any recent images ready to go. That doesn’t necessarily mean recent images you’ve opened with Pixelmator, but rather any stored on iCloud Drive. As an example, as we prepared our iMac 5K review, we had screenshots and other images littered across our desktop. Those images were then instantly available the second we opened the Pixelmator Photo app. Saying this is handy is an understatement.

A proper image workflow has been a bit of a rough point for iOS users and Pixelmator has done a great job simplifying this. It is painless to manage images on our Mac, and as long as they are in iCloud, it is just as easy to edit them on our tablet. This has made our iPad Pro our preferred device for image editing. At least the bulk of the time.

Editing imagery

Pixelmator Photo supports over 500 RAW formats which means even our newer Nikon Z 7 was supported.

Pixelmator Photo

Pixelmator Photo

One of the biggest, flagship features of Pixelmator Photo is machine learning. Pixelmator has leaned on Core ML to automatically improve photos. In our time with Pixelmator Photo, this has been spot on more often than not. It really does an amazing job adjusting the image. Frequently we’d just hit that and be on our way. If there was a particular look or effect we were trying to achieve however, we went manual.

This even applies to crop, where ML will automatically crop it so the subject is perfectly framed.

As you dig into the manual adjustments, each section can be toggled on/off, adjusted, or automatically set with the Machine Learning button that does its best to make it look as it should. We appreciated the ability to not just automate the entire photo using ML, but each individual adjustment type.

All of the tools were designed for touch, rather than a desktop UI. A few of the most intuitive controls include the Color Balance, Selective Color, and the Curves. Color Balance has a color wheel you can drag the selector in as well as adjustments on either side to tint your image. Curves shows a live histogram as you move the line around and add inflection points.

When adjusting, there are several pre-designed filters along the bottom that were “inspired by pro photography” as well as your own that you create. The list is quite extensive, but it isn’t the most filters we’ve seen in an editing app. They all are pretty solid and of course, you can tweak them once applied to dial in your look.

Pixelmator Photo

Pixelmator Photo export interface

When you’re finished editing an image, you have three options —modify the original in the Photos app, save the image to photos, or export it via the Share Sheet. Using the first option is unavailable if you didn’t open the original from the Photos app, which was usually the case for us as we opened from iCloud Drive. When using the export option, you first get an export screen that allows you to choose the format (HEIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF) and the quality. It even gives you a prediction of file size before you proceed. Then the Share Sheet appears with all the common destinations.

Should you buy it?

Yes. That is the easy, simple answer here. We consider the app to be cheap at only $4.99. That is also a one-time purchase, unlike Photoshop that requires the monthly subscription.

We love the layout, the abilities, and the amazing performance for such a low price. Editing on our tablet is much more convenient than always sitting down at our computer. In iOS 12, Apple really improved the camera import flow which makes getting photos from your shooter to your tablet all the easier.

If you want to try out Pixelmator Photo for yourself it is available now on the App Store.