While I spent most of 2020 confined to my home amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, I really loved rather a lot about this previous yr.
For one, whereas I just like the journey that’s a major a part of my job at MobileSyrup, it was nice to have the ability to spend time at residence with my companion and my cat. That stated, although I’m a homebody, I’m very a lot wanting ahead to having the ability to attend tech conferences and occasions world wide once more. However, sadly, it nonetheless stays unclear when will probably be secure for that to begin occurring.
I’m additionally extraordinarily grateful to nonetheless have a job doing one thing I like when so many individuals world wide have been laid off in the course of the pandemic.
With all that stated, my favorite issues from this yr are comparatively anticipated if you realize something about me; there’s a brand new console, a online game, a smartphone and at the very least one or two issues that may shock you.
Xbox Series X
New console launches are all the time a particular time within the tech media world. They occur as soon as each seven to 10 years or so and sometimes characteristic a variety of fascinating leaks main as much as their launch, and the launch of the Xbox Series X was an absolute whirlwind.
Because Microsoft launched the Xbox Series X amid a worldwide pandemic, the corporate was compelled to deal with issues in a different way from when it launched the Xbox One again in 2013. I used to be fortunate sufficient to be a part of a comparatively small group of media that had entry to an early construct of the console months earlier than its launch.
The embargo was extraordinarily restrictive concerning what I may write concerning the Series X, and I bumped into a number of technical difficulties. Still, it was a childhood dream come true to have entry to the console so early.
Though the Xbox Series X doesn’t have any marquee launch titles because of Halo Infinite’s delay, it’s a backwards-compatible beast and contains a number of nice options like ‘Quick Resume,’ which lets you immediately leap again right into a sport even after the console has been turned off, and customized NVMe SSD expertise that leads to speedy load instances, even with previous-generation titles.
It’s additionally price mentioning that the Series X is a stunning-looking console regardless of being mainly a black field. There’s a easy magnificence to its look the cumbersome Count Chocula-like PlayStation 5 lacks.
For extra on the Xbox Series X, try my evaluate of the console.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
The Tony Hawk Pro Skater collection has influenced me considerably through the years, together with my curiosity in skateboarding tradition regardless of being horrible at it in real-life and my questionable style in punk music.
Though the franchise has been on indefinite hiatus for the previous couple of years following Robomodo’s abysmal Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, this remake of the primary two iconic entries within the long-running collection managed to surpass even my excessive expectations. This was partly as a result of Vicarious Visions, the developer at the moment answerable for the platform, has labored on the previous collection.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 (THPS 1+2) options all the outstanding ranges from the primary two titles, together with ‘The Hanger’ and ‘School II,’ however most significantly, it really performs like a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater sport. Creating combos, grinding and even linking methods collectively feels extremely fluid.
— Patrick O’Rourke (@Patrick_ORourke) November 6, 2020
The sport additionally retains its traditional artwork type with a recent coat of high-definition paint added to it. For most, THPS 1+2 appears to be like exactly the way you keep in mind it did, although early entries within the franchise are visually downright horrible by immediately’s graphical requirements.
I’m hoping the sport was profitable sufficient financially to warrant a remake of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 + 4, or maybe even a wholly new entry within the collection constructed with the identical wonderful engine.
Oh, and after 22 years, I lastly managed to 100% each video games; let’s not speak concerning the truth reverts and manuals being included in each Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 made engaging in some targets method simpler.
iPhone 12 Pro Max
Over the previous decade, I’ve reviewed plenty of iPhones. While some are extra thrilling than others, the years the place Apple shifts its smartphone line’s design is when masking Apple will get far more fascinating.
In 2020, the tech large shook issues up by releasing 4 smartphones: the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. While the iPhone 12 is the most effective mannequin for most individuals because it contains all the line’s most vital high-end options, like Apple’s highly effective A14 course of and even an OLED show, I nonetheless respect the extra display screen real-estate dimension the iPhone 12 Pro Max provides.
The ‘big boi’ of a smartphone measures in at an expansive 6.7-inches, making it the most important iPhone Apple has ever launched. It additionally options 2.5x optical zoom, sensor shift picture stabilization and an total bigger picture sensor leading to higher low-light efficiency.
As I stated in my story targeted on the Pro Max from a number of months in the past, the distinction in digital camera efficiency in comparison with the iPhone 12 and even the iPhone 12 Pro Max is negligible. Still, should you shoot most of your images with an iPhone like myself, you’ll respect these minor upgrades.
Finally, as somebody who all the time locations plenty of inventory into gadgets’ design, I like the throwback iPhone 4-like look of the iPhone 12 collection’ squared-off sides. In an trade stuffed with gadgets which are black curved slabs, it helps Apple’s iPhone 12 collection stand out.
I already alluded to this earlier on this story, however I’m not an enormous fan of travelling. My work as a tech reporter/blogger over the past decade has allowed me to journey greater than I believed I ever would in my complete life. I’m grateful to have been in a position to go to Barcelona, Germany, Boston, New York (sadly), Vancouver and several other different locations world wide.
That stated, I’m all the time happiest at residence, hanging out with my companion, my cat and taking part in video video games or watching motion pictures. After a decade spent travelling almost at the very least a couple of times a month, it’s been nice to have the ability to spend the previous yr at residence having fun with the home I not too long ago bought and spending time with my small household.
I’m wanting ahead to ultimately attending at the very least some in-person occasions once more later in 2021. Still, I hope the distant keynotes and briefings tech corporations have been compelled to adapt to over the previous yr will end in a shift throughout the trade. You don’t all the time have to fly a reporter/blogger/YouTuber out to be briefed on a product in individual, and actually, a fast video name can accomplish that very same factor. I don’t count on each firm to undertake this strategy and I’m more than pleased to journey when it is sensible to take action, however I’ve my fingers crossed that at the very least a number of tech giants on the market realized one thing from pandemic distant work.
I like gardening. However, I actually typically don’t know what I’m doing. Whether it’s rising hashish with the Canadian-made Grobo, dropping strawberry, pepper or numerous herb pods into my Click & Grow, or taking good care of the backyard my companion and I constructed this yr in our yard, getting my fingers soiled and rising crops has been an ideal respite from a busy yr within the tech trade.
In 2021, I’ve a number of enhancements deliberate for my yard backyard, together with creating raised beds with way more soil as a result of the grime in my space is generally laborious clay and roots have bother rising in it. I’m additionally about to swap out my strawberry and scorching pepper click on and develop pods for various herbs used to make tea, which I’m fairly enthusiastic about.
I additionally hope to study extra about gardening slightly than resorting to trial and error like I’ve for the previous few years. This will possible contain studying extra books on the topic, one thing else I’m hoping to spend extra time doing this yr.
Most of my hobbies contain watching completely different screens, so it’s good to have lastly discovered one thing I’m concerned about that’s solely very loosely associated to expertise.