September 27, 2020

TCL updates its fan-fave TV range, Surface Duo has a baffling price, and more

That Microsoft Surface Duo pricing makes it a Surface Dud, unless there's some kind of surprise. Plus TCL new TVs, and more!

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Wednesday, 12 August 2020. Stop press! As the newsletter was being sent out, the wraps were coming off the Microsoft Surface Duo launch, due for release on September 10, for quite the price: $1,399. Ouch. More on it through the day…

1. New TCL TVs

While we wait for the seemingly unaffordable Surface Duo to launch proper, TCL has a much more appealing offer with its new 6-Series Roku TVs, now in 55, 65 and 75-inch models

What’s good?

  • The likes of CNET constantly rate TCL’s 6-Series Roku TVs as some of the best available in that midprice region of $500-$700 or so, especially at the semi-standard 65-inch range.
  • Now, they don’t quite stack up to the ultimate in TVs from LG, like its LG OLEDB9P series, but those go for around $2,300 and upwards.
  • TCL’s approach is baking in as much picture quality for surprisingly good prices, which has led to many recommendations for the 6-Series over the last 18-24 months.
  • Now, mini-LED tech offers better black levels than ever, and there’s a new THX Certified Gaming Mode.
  • Mini-LED is a straightforward idea: even smaller LEDs means more can be packed in tighter spots, and with the right control, can allow for more local dimming zones. It’s still not OLED, and we’re talking a big difference between the 6 and 8 series: the 6 has 1,000 LEDs and 240 zones, the 8 10,000 LEDs and 1,000 zones. But hey, it’s still substantially cheaper.
  • THX game mode is aiming to reduce input lag even further, supporting 120Hz and variable refresh rates, and 120Hz and 4K, but not together. No one quite knows exactly what TCL is doing here — it’s a world first, says TCL — so stay tuned for reviews that dig into it all further.
  • TCL is also introducing the 2020 5-Series, at 50, 55, 65, and 75-inch models. The 5 drops mini-LEDs but does now offer local dimming and QLED color, taking on the Vizio M-Series more directly.

Overall:

  • The quick summary: one of the best-midpriced LCD display TVs is now better, with mini-LED technology now offered, previously only available with the 8-Series. No reviews yet, but hope for good things.
  • With November unlikely to feature Black Friday in the way it has before in-person, I’d still expect a bunch of online Black Friday deals, and it’s unlikely TCL would miss out.

The other TV news is Xiaomi’s transparent TV, mainly for how much you shouldn’t want this, no matter how expensive the dress is:

  • Transparency in TVs is not a totally new concept, and you might’ve seen them being used in advertising boards before.
  • But what’s new is it being offered for a personal TV, because it’s not at all recommended.
  • It’s a bad idea because it’ll just look terrible in too many circumstances, in dark lighting.
  • Xiaomi admits it’s more for art than cranking Netflix, and Gizmodo has a ruthless take and I can’t help but agree.

2. Microsoft to launch Xbox Series X in November. No exact day yet, but much more firm now that the date has shifted from the general holiday 2020 release to a month (The Verge).


3. Microsoft has, though, delayed Halo Infinite to 2021 — a possible delay was pre-empted, but given the way Microsoft went ahead with game demonstrations it looked like it’d still launch with the Series X. I suspect the November date was revealed to keep this story from looking too embarrassing (The Verge).


4. Samsung Display announces first variable refresh rate technology, and it’s on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The ‘VRR’ tech means the latest Note 20 can shift between 120, 60, 30 and 10Hz modes, depending on what you’re doing with your device, aiming to preserve battery life (Android Authority).


5. Google Lens’ new ‘Homework’ filter will solve math problems from a photo (Android Authority).


6. Oppo could be working on phones with radical Li-Fi tech (Android Authority).


7. Google Pixel 4a vs older Google phones: Should you upgrade? (Android Authority).


8. Samsung Galaxy Buds Live vs Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus: the older the better (SoundGuys).


9. TikTok used a loophole to track MAC addresses on Android. Why? Ads, generally, but this fuels the TikTok data/China issues (WSJ, $).


10. Deeply bad news: Mozilla to lay off around 250 employees (Vice).


11. New on TV: Netflix gaming documentary High Score, on gaming’s golden age, is ‘honestly solid’ (Ars Technica).


12. How Google Meet weathered the work-from-home explosion (Wired).


13. “A keyboard with blank keycaps made me an expert typist� Hmm! (bojanvidanovic.com)


14. “Can insects/spiders get obese?� Short, gross answer: Yes (r/askscience).


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