Get a 5-pack of outlet covers with nighttime safety lights for $15 – CNET

outlet-cover
Daily Steals

You know you're in a fancy house when there's a soft glow of guide lights illuminating stairs and hallway baseboards. Here's a way to make your house a little more like Bill Gates' summer home -- these outlet covers have built-in LED guide lights. Regularly $20, you can get a five-pack of these outlet covers for $15 with promo code CNETOTPL. That's $3 for each one. 

These plates come in two styles to suit most electrical outlets, and both feature a trio of LED lights that point down at the floor. There's no battery or special wiring needed; just remove the old cover and push this new one into place. Two electrical contacts hug the outlet and draw power for the LEDs (estimated to cost about 10 cents a year). And the lights only run at night thanks to the small photosensor.

I love guide lights like these. Not only are they convenient and improve safety, but they really enhance the look of your home after dark. What do you think about these outlet covers? Let me know in the comments. 

This article was first published last week.


CNET's deal team scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best BuyWalmartAmazon and more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page.

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Elon Musk ‘guesses’ SpaceX could send a ship to Mars as soon as 2024 – CNET

If you want to go to Mars, timing is everything, and Elon Musk no longer thinks his company SpaceX will make it to the red planet when the next window of opportunity opens in 2022. 

The world's leading fan of leaving this world had previously hoped to send a robotic mission to Mars in 2022, followed by a crewed trip a couple of years later. During an interview at the Mars Society virtual convention on Friday, Musk said he now thinks his next-generation Starship spacecraft could be ready as soon as 2023, in time for a launch window in 2024.

The orbits of Earth and Mars around the sun bring the two planets closest to each other roughly every two years. That's why we saw three robotic missions to our neighboring world, including NASA's Perseverance rover, launch within weeks of each other in July. 

"I think we've got a fighting chance," Musk said of making the 2024 Mars transport window. 

To get there, though, Musk says his team will need to pick up its pace of innovation and he isn't afraid to break a few things along the way.

"We'll probably lose a few ships," he said when asked about the development process for Starship, which is designed to eventually take dozens of people at a time to Mars.

So far, early Starship prototypes have made short, low-altitude "hops" from the SpaceX test facility in Texas. Musk hopes the early models will make it to orbit for the first time next year.  He added that the company could demonstrate refueling capability in orbit in 2022 and begin making trips to the moon shortly after that.

The company's founder and chief engineer cautioned that he has no secret dates for achieving these milestones. 

"These are just guesses," Musk told Mars Society President Robert Zubrin over Zoom. 

Now playing: Watch this: SpaceX Starship prototype takes first 'hop'

1:01

As for who'll get to go to Mars, Musk said that once there are a million people who both want to go to the red planet and can afford it, that should be enough to sustain a city. So in other words, it seems the first martians are likely to be wealthy earthlings. 

Once on Mars, Musk said, the first order of business will be setting up a propellant plant. He also mentioned the idea of sending robotic droids to the surface that people could control remotely from Earth. 

Naturally, Musk also has designs on more than Mars. He mentioned the idea of using Starship or other craft to visit the suddenly exciting atmosphere of Venus, large asteroids, the moons of Jupiter and even the Kuiper Belt and furthest reaches of the solar system.

"We need to make the leap of going to another planet first," he said.   

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12 Best Wireless Earbuds WIRED Has Tried (2020)

Wirefree (true wireless) earbuds are one of those ideas that sounds like a dream: Pop a tiny little headphone into each ear and listen to music or take calls untethered from everything.

Until recently, the reality was quite different. Most of the first wirefree buds were gigantic, dead after a few hours, and had a bunch of other problems. Luckily, times have changed. There are a host of new models that sound fabulous and work (almost) perfectly. After testing dozens of them for the past three years, here are our favorite wirefree earbuds right now, in a wide range of styles and prices.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for, our favorite cheap headphones and best workout earbuds guides may help.

Updated October 2020: We’ve added the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds as our new top noise-canceling pick.

Wait, What Are ‘Wirefree’ Earbuds?

We’ve seen them go by many names: true wireless earbuds, truly wireless earbuds, completely wireless earbuds, fully wireless earbuds. Here at WIRED, if a pair of earbuds is wireless, connecting to your phone/computer via Bluetooth, and has no cord that connects the left bud to the right, we call them wirefree. Typically, wirefree sets come with two popcorn-sized buds, each with a battery inside, and a charging cradle that carries extra battery power and keeps them safe when you’re not wearing ’em.

They’re liberating, but they do come with issues, such as limited battery life (don’t buy any with less than 5 hours), confusing controls, and reliance on a charging case. They’re also a bit easier to lose than traditional earbuds, and replacing one bud can be expensive.

Our Picks

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Google Pixel 5’s wimpy camera is driving me to the iPhone 12 – CNET

Google's Pixel 5 smartphone

Google's Pixel 5 smartphone has ultrawide and wide-angle cameras, but no telephoto for more distant subjects.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

For years, I've used Google Pixels and Apple iPhones for my daily smartphone photography needs. For most shots, I've relied on Pixels because of Google's pioneering computational photography software, which wrings superior image quality out of limited hardware. My current iPhone, an XS Max, has been relegated to occasions when I've needed a telephoto lens.

Two recent smartphone launches -- of Google's Pixel 5 and Apple's iPhone 12 lines -- have changed my mind. The midrange camera hardware on the Pixel 5, and the high-end array of cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, along with the gadget's large image sensor and new software options, are pushing me to the Apple camp.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. I've been impressed by Google's ability to convert cutting-edge image processing research into superior smartphone photos. Google demonstrated how profoundly computers can modernize cameras, as it surpassed smartphone rivals and traditional-camera makers.

Google's decision to build a midrange phone with just two cameras feels like an abandonment. There's just no way to make up for the multiple cameras that rivals like Samsung, Huawei and Apple employ. Sure, rivals haven't necessarily matched all of Google's camera software, but Google isn't close to their hardware.

Telephoto vs. ultrawide cameras

In 2019, Google's Pixel 4 took a step up by adding a second rear-facing camera, a telephoto option for distant subjects. That was the same year Apple added a third camera to its higher-end iPhone 11 Pro models, an ultrawide camera that sat alongside its main and telephoto cameras.

The Pixel 5 photo at 2X telephoto, shot here with Google's computational raw format, is fine viewed small but has only a 3 megapixel resolution. At right, the 12 megapixel image from a 2-year-old iPhone XS Max, shot as an HDR raw photo with Adobe's Lightroom app, offers more detail and editing flexibility. Clicking to enlarge reveals the superior iPhone detail, though it's scaled down to match the Pixel 5 photo.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google tried to match Apple's prowess this year by replacing the telephoto camera with an ultrawide camera in the Pixel 5. But Apple made major camera improvements with its iPhone 12 Pro, including a bigger image sensor, a longer-reach telephoto lens, improved image stabilization to counteract shaky hands, Dolby Vision HDR video at 60 frames per second and Apple's more flexible ProRaw format. It's clear Apple is sinking enormous resources into better photography.

Google may have made the right call for the broad market. I suspect ultrawide cameras are better for mainstream smartphone customers than telephotos. Ultrawide cameras for group shots, indoor scenes and video are arguably more useful than telephoto cameras for portraits and mountains.

But I want both. I enjoy the different perspectives. Indeed, for a few years I usually carried only telephoto and ultrawide lenses for my DSLR.

In response to my concerns, Google says it's improved the Super Res Zoom technique for digital zooming on the Pixel 5 with better computational photography and AI techniques that now can magnify up to a factor of 7X. The idea was 

"We studied carefully to determine what's really important to folks, and then we focused on that -- and shaved off literally hundreds of dollars in the process," said camera product manager Isaac Reynolds. Having a telephoto camera would have helped image quality, but Google's priority this year "was to produce a phone that compared well to the top end but at a much lower price -- and we did that."

I'm not so convinced. When shooting even at 2X telephoto zoom, my 2-year-old iPhone XS Max and my 1-year-old Pixel 4 both offer far superior imagery compared with the Pixel 5. 

Zooming in at 2X, the Pixel 5's Super Res Zoom technology generates a 12 megapixel image, but it looks artificial up close, as in this cropped view.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

What I do like so far about the Pixel 5 cameras

I want to be clear: Google's new phone has its merits, and I've experienced some of those strengths while testing the Pixel 5 cameras over the past few days. Here are a handful:

  • Google's computational raw offers photo enthusiasts the best of both worlds when it comes to photo formats. It marries the exposure and color flexibility of unprocessed raw photo data with the exposure range and noise reduction of the multishot HDR+ processing ordinarily used to make a JPEG.
  • Double-tapping the phone's power button launches the camera app fast. It's not new with the Pixel 5, but it's so much faster than the iPhone's lock screen icon.
  • Night Sight, particularly astrophotography mode, still is amazing for low-light shots.

Google also pointed to other Pixel 5 perks, including a portrait light ability to control the apparent light source brightening a subject's face; portrait shots that work in Night Sight mode; 4K video that now works at a fast 60 frames per second, more advanced high dynamic range processing called HDR+ that's now boosted by exposure bracketing for better shadow details like a backlit face, and better video stabilization.

Here's the rub, though: As Google slips in hardware, rivals are improving their software.

Google's rivals in computational photography are catching up

Apple didn't comment on its photography plans for this story, but its actions speak volumes.

Pixel 5 portrait mode

The Pixel 5 offers a useful if not unique portrait mode that blurs the background for smooth "bokeh."

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Last year, Apple matched most of what was best about Google's HDR+ for challenging scenes with bright and dark elements. This year's Pixel 5 boosts HDR+ with bracketing technology into the multishot blending technique. Apple's Smart HDR alternative, however, is now in its third generation of refinement. Apple is improving the iPhone's nighttime photos, too.

Photo enthusiasts like me prefer unprocessed, raw photo formats so we can fine-tune color balance, exposure, sharpening and noise reduction. That's great for when the camera doesn't make the right choices when "baking" raw image data into a more convenient but limited JPEG image. Google's computational raw blended HDR processing with raw's flexibility, but now Apple plans to release its answer, ProRaw, in an update coming soon to iPhone Pro models.

Few people use Pixel phones, and that weighs on Google too. Imaging software powerhouse Adobe calibrates its Lightroom photo software to correct lens problems and adapt its HDR tool for some cameras and lenses. No surprise that Pixel phones aren't on that list. "We tend to provide support based on the popularity of the devices with our customers," Adobe said in a statement.

In contrast, Adobe is "partnering closely with Apple" to tap into ProRaw abilities. And a Google computational photography guru, Marc Levoy, has left Google and is now at Adobe, where he's building photo technology into Adobe's camera app.

Selling a midrange smartphone like a Pixel 5 or Pixel 4a 5G might well make sense when the COVID-19 pandemic has cost millions of jobs and made a $1,099 iPhone Pro Max unaffordable. But for people like me with a photography budget and appreciation for Google's computational photography smarts, it's tragic that Google has lost its lead.

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Computer Scientists Break the ‘Traveling Salesperson’ Record

When Nathan Klein started graduate school two years ago, his advisers proposed a modest plan: to work together on one of the most famous, long-standing problems in theoretical computer science.

Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research develop­ments and trends in mathe­matics and the physical and life sciences.

Even if they didn’t manage to solve it, they figured, Klein would learn a lot in the process. He went along with the idea. “I didn’t know to be intimidated,” he said. “I was just a first-year grad student—I don’t know what’s going on.”

Now, in a paper posted online in July, Klein and his advisers at the University of Washington, Anna Karlin and Shayan Oveis Gharan, have finally achieved a goal computer scientists have pursued for nearly half a century: a better way to find approximate solutions to the traveling salesperson problem.

This optimization problem, which seeks the shortest (or least expensive) round trip through a collection of cities, has applications ranging from DNA sequencing to ride-sharing logistics. Over the decades, it has inspired many of the most fundamental advances in computer science, helping to illuminate the power of techniques such as linear programming. But researchers have yet to fully explore its possibilities—and not for want of trying.

The traveling salesperson problem “isn’t a problem, it’s an addiction,” as Christos Papadimitriou, a leading expert in computational complexity, is fond of saying.

Most computer scientists believe that there is no algorithm that can efficiently find the best solutions for all possible combinations of cities. But in 1976, Nicos Christofides came up with an algorithm that efficiently finds approximate solutions—round trips that are at most 50 percent longer than the best round trip. At the time, computer scientists expected that someone would soon improve on Christofides’ simple algorithm and come closer to the true solution. But the anticipated progress did not arrive.

“A lot of people spent countless hours trying to improve this result,” said Amin Saberi of Stanford University.

Now Karlin, Klein and Oveis Gharan have proved that an algorithm devised a decade ago beats Christofides’ 50 percent factor, though they were only able to subtract 0.2 billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent. Yet this minuscule improvement breaks through both a theoretical logjam and a psychological one. Researchers hope that it will open the floodgates to further improvements.

“This is a result I have wanted all my career,” said David Williamson of Cornell University, who has been studying the traveling salesperson problem since the 1980s.

The traveling salesperson problem is one of a handful of foundational problems that theoretical computer scientists turn to again and again to test the limits of efficient computation. The new result “is the first step towards showing that the frontiers of efficient computation are in fact better than what we thought,” Williamson said.

Fractional Progress

While there is probably no efficient method that always finds the shortest trip, it is possible to find something almost as good: the shortest tree connecting all the cities, meaning a network of connections (or “edges”) with no closed loops. Christofides’ algorithm uses this tree as the backbone for a round-trip tour, adding extra edges to convert it into a round trip.

Any round-trip route must have an even number of edges into each city, since every arrival is followed by a departure. It turns out that the reverse is also true—if every city in a network has an even number of connections then the edges of the network must trace a round trip.

The shortest tree connecting all the cities lacks this evenness property, since any city at the end of a branch has just one connection to another city. So to turn the shortest tree into a round trip, Christofides (who died last year) found the best way to connect pairs of cities that have odd numbers of edges. Then he proved that the resulting round trip will never be more than 50 percent longer than the best possible round trip.

In doing so, he devised perhaps the most famous approximation algorithm in theoretical computer science—one that usually forms the first example in textbooks and courses.

“Everybody knows the simple algorithm,” said Alantha Newman of Grenoble Alpes University and the National Center for Scientific Research in France. And when you know it, she said, “you know the state of the art”—at least, you did until this past July.

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Wing Freedom X Review: Speedy and Pretty

When I first saw the Wing Freedom X, I wondered if it was going to be a cheaper take on the Dutch VanMoof S3. I was walking to meet a friend and happened to pass by Wing’s showroom, and I did a backward-walking double-take to peer in the window. Both electric bikes look very similar, and by that I mean they have tall, straight top tubes that overhang their tires for mounting a headlight and taillight. Both also have swept-back handlebars.

But appearances are really only skin deep. The Freedom X is a very different bike, at a price that’s more palatable for most people.

Speeeeed

It’s brisk. That’s thanks to the Bafang rear hub motor that measures 350-watt continuous output and 550-watt peak output.

You get five levels of pedal assist, but I usually kept it on level two, the second weakest. With the seven-speed mechanical gearing, I rarely needed more power. A few rotations of the pedals on level two assist, even from a standstill, shot me to 17 mph. It didn’t take much more effort to top out at 20 mph, the ebike’s official top speed.

Through the display—there’s no companion smartphone app—you can unlock the bike to reach 24 mph. It’s one of the Freedom’s coolest features, but it does technically make it illegal for use on most multi-use paths and trails. I’d just stick to the default if you’re in a city. If you buy the optional throttle for $80 extra, the Freedom X goes from a Class 1 ebike to a Class 2 because the throttle works even if you’re not pedaling.

Honestly, I didn’t like the throttle. It’s scalable, meaning that rather than being an on/off button it’s a lever that lets you select power along a continuum. Even when pinning it to its maximum, there was a lengthy delay before the bike would move. It was frustrating at stoplights, so I rarely used the throttle at all. It also didn’t add much oomph to the bike when it was moving. Flinging it to 100 percent throttle didn’t do anything the pedal assist wasn’t already doing, so it’s not like a boost button that’ll pour on extra power. Not all throttle are boost buttons, but it’s worth pointing out.

Hard Stop

Image may contain Transportation Vehicle Bike Bicycle Wheel Machine Human Person and Mountain Bike
Photograph: Wing

Stopping is more of an issue. The cable-actuated disc brakes feel weak, even on a relatively light 39-pound bike (that’s lightweight for an ebike). New York City puts the panic in panic-braking, and I often deal with my fair share of hard stops thanks to impatient drivers, oblivious pedestrians and, once, a man playing cards in the bike lane.

The Freedom X’s brakes always stopped me before certain doom, but I often felt that I was using every last bit of braking power to come to a halt in those situations. Hydraulic brakes offer better stopping power, though they’re not common at this price. Cable brakes aren’t necessarily bad, but I’d have liked to see stronger ones here.

They also squeal like two pigs with a bellyache. I chalked it up to my particular bike until I read review after review of Freedom owners reporting the same, so it seems like Wing’s choice of brake pad might be to blame. You may have to swap out the stock brake pads for your sanity. It doesn’t cost much and it’s not hard, and it’s not a reason to avoid the Freedom X.

The X Factor

I tested the Freedom X ($1,449), but there’s another very similar model Wing offers called the Freedom 2 ($1,299). The X’s upgrades are a torque sensor for the pedals instead of a cadence sensor and a display nicely integrated into the top tube, which shows information such as speed and battery level.

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iPhone 12 Pro Max camera: Why this pro photographer is super excited – CNET

iphone-12-pro-and-iphone-12-pro-max-apple-google-chrome-13-10-2020-19-47-14-2.png
Apple

As a professional photographer, I've been blown away by how the iPhone 11 Pro has been able to replace my DSLR on photo shoots. But Apple just introduced the iPhone 12 lineup, which includes the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the camera tech is even better this time around. (Here's everything Apple announced at the October event.) The iPhone 12 Pro Max's camera updates especially, both in hardware and software, have already got me buzzing about going shooting with this thing. Here's why I'm so excited.

More zoom with the 2.5x telephoto lens

I love the telephoto zoom lens on the iPhone 11 Pro, but at only 2x, it doesn't always provide quite the level of zoom I want. I often find myself digitally zooming in further to get the exact composition I want. The iPhone 12 Pro Max takes that further, to 2.5x, which might not seem like a huge upgrade, but I think will be noticeable for many shots. 

Would I have liked 5x or 10x? Sure, I love the bigger zoom on phones like the Galaxy S20 Ultra, but as they're so big, I don't use them quite as often as the 2x on the iPhone . Maybe 3x would have been a good compromise, but I still think that the 12 Pro Max's upgrade will make a big difference to many of my photos. 

Bigger image sensor

Apple already manages to squeeze incredible image quality out of tiny phone camera sensors, and its great software allows for the awesome night mode shots we've already seen. But a 47% larger sensor captures more light, allowing for brighter shots with less noise and better dynamic range. It's why my professional camera (a Canon 5D Mark IV) uses a much bigger full-frame sensor. 

I'm very keen to see just what a difference this larger sensor might mean not just for my nighttime photos, but for capturing fine details in landscapes, or up close when taking macro images of flowers. A bigger sensor paired with Apple's image processing software is likely to be a potent combination. 

Apple iPhone12 Pro rear cameras

The iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max have three rear cameras.

Apple

Improved, faster lens for better night mode

It's not just the sensor that can capture more light -- the lens itself can let in more light than before thanks to its wider, f/1.6 aperture. That number basically means that the hole that light passes through is bigger than before, allowing more light to pass through in the same amount of time. Together with the larger sensor, Apple reckons the 12 Pro Max has seen an 87% improvement in low light imagery from the iPhone 11, which itself was already one of the best at low-light photos.

The redesigned lens isn't just about letting more light in, though. Apple also explained in its launch presentation that it's improved the optical clarity of the lens, reducing the amount of image distortion, particularly at the edges of the image on the widest lens. All of which means better-looking, more professional images. Lovely stuff.

Apple ProRaw 

Many of my best images I've taken with the iPhone have been taken in raw, using third-party apps. Raw images don't save data like color information, or sharpening, allowing for greater control when editing in mobile apps like Adobe Lightroom Mobile. However, the downside of shooting raw in third-party apps is that you don't get to take advantage of the image processing Apple uses in its own camera app. The Deep Fusion processing for amazing HDR, for example, is only something you'd get when shooting with the iPhone's native camera. 

iphone-12-pro-pacific-blue
Apple

To appeal more to pros, Apple has introduced Apple ProRaw in its camera app, which takes advantage of many of its image processing capabilities, but doesn't permanently bake in data like white balance, allowing you to still make those changes in post production. Apple says it's the best of both worlds, and on paper, I'm tempted to agree, but I'll have to reserve my final judgment until I can not only shoot images in this new format, but also edit the images as well. 

It's worth noting that Google has done much the same already with its Pixel phones' "computational raw" feature, which CNET senior editor Stephen Shankland calls "tremendous." How the two compare remain to be seen.

HDR video and improved stabilization 

It's not just stills that have seen an improvement. The phone also now offers HDR with Dolby Vision at up to 60fps, which Apple says is the first time this has been offered on any device. In theory, this would help control bright highlights and help lift dark shadows, in just the same way that HDR does when you take still images.

The optical image stabilization has also been improved as well by moving the image sensor to counter movements and vibrations, rather than moving the heavier lens, as was the case before. How much difference this makes remains to be seen when I can take the phones out for a proper test, but with better image quality and better stabilization, I'm really excited about the sorts of videos I'll be able to produce with this phone.

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iPhone 12 Pro Max camera: Why this pro photographer is super excited – CNET

iphone-12-pro-and-iphone-12-pro-max-apple-google-chrome-13-10-2020-19-47-14-2.png
Apple

As a professional photographer, I've been blown away by how the iPhone 11 Pro has been able to replace my DSLR on photo shoots. But Apple just introduced the iPhone 12 lineup, which includes the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the camera tech is even better this time around. (Here's everything Apple announced at the October event.) The iPhone 12 Pro Max's camera updates especially, both in hardware and software, have already got me buzzing about going shooting with this thing. Here's why I'm so excited.

More zoom with the 2.5x telephoto lens

I love the telephoto zoom lens on the iPhone 11 Pro, but at only 2x, it doesn't always provide quite the level of zoom I want. I often find myself digitally zooming in further to get the exact composition I want. The iPhone 12 Pro Max takes that further, to 2.5x, which might not seem like a huge upgrade, but I think will be noticeable for many shots. 

Would I have liked 5x or 10x? Sure, I love the bigger zoom on phones like the Galaxy S20 Ultra, but as they're so big, I don't use them quite as often as the 2x on the iPhone . Maybe 3x would have been a good compromise, but I still think that the 12 Pro Max's upgrade will make a big difference to many of my photos. 

Bigger image sensor

Apple already manages to squeeze incredible image quality out of tiny phone camera sensors, and its great software allows for the awesome night mode shots we've already seen. But a 47% larger sensor captures more light, allowing for brighter shots with less noise and better dynamic range. It's why my professional camera (a Canon 5D Mark IV) uses a much bigger full-frame sensor. 

I'm very keen to see just what a difference this larger sensor might mean not just for my nighttime photos, but for capturing fine details in landscapes, or up close when taking macro images of flowers. A bigger sensor paired with Apple's image processing software is likely to be a potent combination. 

Apple iPhone12 Pro rear cameras

The iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max have three rear cameras.

Apple

Improved, faster lens for better night mode

It's not just the sensor that can capture more light -- the lens itself can let in more light than before thanks to its wider, f/1.6 aperture. That number basically means that the hole that light passes through is bigger than before, allowing more light to pass through in the same amount of time. Together with the larger sensor, Apple reckons the 12 Pro Max has seen an 87% improvement in low light imagery from the iPhone 11, which itself was already one of the best at low-light photos.

The redesigned lens isn't just about letting more light in, though. Apple also explained in its launch presentation that it's improved the optical clarity of the lens, reducing the amount of image distortion, particularly at the edges of the image on the widest lens. All of which means better-looking, more professional images. Lovely stuff.

Apple ProRaw 

Many of my best images I've taken with the iPhone have been taken in raw, using third-party apps. Raw images don't save data like color information, or sharpening, allowing for greater control when editing in mobile apps like Adobe Lightroom Mobile. However, the downside of shooting raw in third-party apps is that you don't get to take advantage of the image processing Apple uses in its own camera app. The Deep Fusion processing for amazing HDR, for example, is only something you'd get when shooting with the iPhone's native camera. 

iphone-12-pro-pacific-blue
Apple

To appeal more to pros, Apple has introduced Apple ProRaw in its camera app, which takes advantage of many of its image processing capabilities, but doesn't permanently bake in data like white balance, allowing you to still make those changes in post production. Apple says it's the best of both worlds, and on paper, I'm tempted to agree, but I'll have to reserve my final judgment until I can not only shoot images in this new format, but also edit the images as well. 

It's worth noting that Google has done much the same already with its Pixel phones' "computational raw" feature, which CNET senior editor Stephen Shankland calls "tremendous." How the two compare remain to be seen.

HDR video and improved stabilization 

It's not just stills that have seen an improvement. The phone also now offers HDR with Dolby Vision at up to 60fps, which Apple says is the first time this has been offered on any device. In theory, this would help control bright highlights and help lift dark shadows, in just the same way that HDR does when you take still images.

The optical image stabilization has also been improved as well by moving the image sensor to counter movements and vibrations, rather than moving the heavier lens, as was the case before. How much difference this makes remains to be seen when I can take the phones out for a proper test, but with better image quality and better stabilization, I'm really excited about the sorts of videos I'll be able to produce with this phone.

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iPhone 12 has 5G, but we’re still not sure if we even need it – CNET

Tim Cook Apple 5G

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday talked up the iPhone 12 lineup's new 5G connectivity.

Apple
This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Apple last week gave users plenty of reasons to want a new iPhone 12, much as it does every year. The camera is better, and so's the processor. The display, with its "ceramic shield" technology, is more durable, and there's even a Pacific blue iPhone 12 Pro. There are now four new models to choose from instead of three, and the overall phone's been redesigned for the first time since 2017. Oh, and did you hear? All phones in the iPhone 12 lineup also come with 5G

The next-generation cellular technology was front and center in Apple's virtual iPhone launch last Tuesday. Apple showed us its secret, padded anechoic chamber where it tests 5G airwaves and talked up the tweaks it's made to boost battery life in its 5G iPhones. It even trotted out Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg to launch the carrier's low-band, nationwide 5G network. (He did keep his distance from Apple CEO Tim Cook while on stage.)

Now playing: Watch this: Verizon CEO talks 5G at 2020 iPhone event

6:01

But Apple, like essentially everyone else in the wireless industry, still didn't actually give us a reason to need 5G in our phones right now, even in the $699 iPhone 12 Mini, $799 iPhone 12, $999 iPhone 12 Pro and $1,099 iPhone 12 Pro Max. It kept the pricing steady for its two highest-end devices but increased the iPhone 12's cost by $100 over last year's iPhone 11. For that same starting price, users now get a device with a smaller display -- 5.4 inches in the Mini instead of the iPhone 11's 6.1 inches. 

This all goes back to a broader problem the wireless industry has wrestled with since the debut of 5G nearly two years ago. Sure, there's a boost in speed with 5G, but the increase most consumers are seeing now isn't significant enough to really matter (and in some cases, 5G connections are no faster than 4G). Carriers have greatly expanded their networks, but the quality of service varies dramatically based on where you live. And with the novel coronavirus locking many of us down in our homes, the idea of higher speed on the go is irrelevant. Ultimately, 5G is expected to be a game-changer, but for many consumers right now, it's just an extra cost.

"There's no killer app for why you need to upgrade to 5G beyond it's just faster than 4G," said Logan Purk, an equity analyst with Edward Jones. "For the average consumer, that's not a strong enough selling point to move into these higher-priced handsets and pay up for that technology." 

For now, everyone continues to focus on speed. As Cook noted Tuesday, 5G "will bring a new level of performance for downloads and uploads, higher-quality video streaming, more responsive gaming [and] real-time interactivity." He added that it improves security and privacy since people can use 5G networks instead of public Wi-Fi connections. 

"Today is the beginning of a new era for iPhone," Cook said during his keynote. "This is a huge moment for all of us."

Now playing: Watch this: Apple unveils iPhone 12 lineup and new HomePod Mini speaker

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For many people, the fact that Apple has new iPhones at all is reason enough to buy them. The company, perhaps more than any other on the planet, has a base of loyal fans who upgrade each year. But it's the rest of us, who hold onto our phones for three years, that Apple has to woo.

It's likely counting on consumers seeking out 5G phones to "futureproof" their purchase. 5G may not be everywhere right now, but it will be common by the time people are ready for their next device. And while the first 5G phones were limited by what networks they could access, the newer 5G modems enable unlocked phones and tap into all different types of the technology

If you bought a 5G phone last year, "you weren't future-proofing," Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said. "But now you can buy 5G with confidence." 

5G, ready or not

The entire iPhone 12 lineup features a new design reminiscent of Apple's iPad Pro tablets. The flatter sides give the iPhones a new feel for the first time in three years. All models come with a new, ultra-strong Corning-designed front cover display, dubbed "ceramic shield." It's "tougher than any smartphone glass," Apple said, and is four times less likely to crack if you drop it. The new phones come with Apple's updated A14 Bionic, the same chip that's in the new iPad Air. They also get bumps in their camera capabilities

None of the new iPhone 12 models come without 5G connectivity, whether you have 5G service in your area or not. Anyone who wants a device that's 4G-only will have to opt for an older model, like the $399 iPhone SE or last year's iPhone 11, now priced at $599. Or you can opt to not activate 5G service on your new iPhone 12 and benefit from the faster 4G capabilities in the device.

That follows the same strategy Samsung rolled out earlier this year. Starting with its Galaxy S20 lineup, all of Samsung's new flagship phones. in the US come with 5G connectivity. Outside the US, though, Samsung still offers 4G models, something that ultimately hurt its position when it came to 5G sales. 

That won't be the case with the iPhone 12. All markets will have 5G iPhones, though only the US versions are capable of connecting to ultra-fast -- but short range -- millimeter wave networks.

While Samsung has released a dozen 5G phones since its first device in early 2019, it will fall to No. 3 in terms of 5G phone shipments this year, according to Strategy Analytics. Apple, with less than three months of sales, will become No. 2, after Huawei. And next year, Apple will be the world's biggest 5G phone vendor, the firm said, largely because all of its new iPhones are 5G by default.

"There is no demand for 5G phones, only push from operators and vendors," Strategy Analytics analyst Ville-Petteri Ukonaho said. "If people have a choice, they'll still go for 4G because there's no need for 5G. It doesn't bring anything so revolutionarily new to the table that people want 5G phones." 

Together, all phone vendors should ship about 273 million 5G phones in 2020, according to Strategy Analytics. And next year, Apple will ship 180 million 5G iPhones out of the market's total 670 million 5G phones, the firm said. 

While Apple and the carriers will do all they can to make sure 5G works, it's not up to them to make us want it. Ultimately, it will be up to developers and what they actually do with 5G that will make it a must-have. Keep in mind, Apple's embrace of 4G helped popularize apps like Uber and Airbnb or services like livestreaming -- and many expect the same to happen with 5G. 

"Each generation of cellular network technology on iPhone has enabled breakthrough innovations and entirely new opportunities for developers and our users," Cook said. "And 5G is the most exciting step yet."

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The Haunting of Bly Manor ending explained, and all your questions answered – CNET

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Dani in The Haunting of Bly Manor, out now on Netflix.

Netflix

If you're still entwined in the tragic The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix, crank up the Newton Brothers' score, because there's even more to steep yourself in. A lot happens at the countryside mansion, with mysteries unraveling around housekeeper Mrs. Grose and the faceless Lady in the Lake.

In case you missed a few key details, here are some answers to Bly Manor's biggest mysteries and questions.

Read moreThe Haunting of Bly Manor review: A very different follow-up to Hill House

Warning: Spoilers ahead

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Dani and Jamie in The Haunting of Bly Manor.

Netflix

Who is Carla Gugino's character?

In The Haunting of Hill House, the first in Mike Flanagan's horror anthology, Gugino played Olivia, the mother of the Crain family. Here she plays the older version of Jamie, who tells the story of Bly Manor (taking place in London, 1987) at Flora Wingrave's wedding reception (in Northern California, 2007). In the end she realizes her horror story is really a love story with au pair Dani Clayton, played by Victoria Pedretti, aka Nell in Hill House.

Who is the Yellow Spectacled Spectre?

The Yellow Spectacled Spectre is the ghost of Dani's fiancé Edmund, who died tragically after Dani broke off their engagement. Dani had been best friends with Edmund since childhood, but felt pressured by his family to stay in a relationship with him, ignoring her sexuality. One night, after Edmund discovers Dani doesn't want to marry him, they fight, leading to Edmund storming out of their car, right into an oncoming truck. His ghost's glasses are seared with the yellow glare of the lights.

How does Flora's doll house work?

Because the young Flora can see the ghost of Rebecca Jessel and the Lady in the Lake, she places talismans of them in her doll house, tracking wherever they are. The faceless ghost of a Victorian Child Flora befriends also helps to shift their positions in the doll house. Flora and her brother Miles don't want Dani to see the ghosts, because Rebecca and the ghost of Peter Quint have told them not to reveal their presence. They also fear Dani will be attacked by the Lady, who killed Quint.

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Miles and Dani.

Netflix

Is Miles evil?

Despite waxing philosophical about the evil in men, Miles was doing his best to be expelled from boarding school and rejoin his sister back home at Bly. While all his antics at school were his own doing, his creepy behavior toward Dani is down to Quint possessing his body.

What happened to Rebecca Jessel?

Dani learns the previous governess, Rebecca, killed herself in the nearby lake. Later we discover this wasn't a suicide after Rebecca was spurned by her lover, Quint, who worked for the Wingraves as a driver. The night Quint convinces Rebecca to move to America with him, he encounters the Lady in the Lake, who kills him. After he returns to Rebecca as a ghost, he possesses her body and drowns her in the lake, so they can then take over Flora and Miles' bodies and start a new life.

Was Hannah Grose dead the whole time?

When Dani first arrives at Bly Manor, she's greeted by housekeeper Mrs. Grose, who at this point is already a ghost. Just before Dani's arrival, Hannah notices something strange about Miles, who's been acting out since returning from boarding school. Wanting to help him, she does as he says and follows him into the woods, where he pushes her down the well. Miles is of course being possessed by Quint. Hannah immediately reincarnates as a ghost, but continues to act like she's still alive, greeting Dani moments later. The crack she keeps seeing is a crack at the bottom of the well -- the last thing she sees before dying. She remains corporeal because she hasn't had that "moment" where she realizes she's dead, especially since she's around people who keep reaffirming who she thinks she is.

Who's making the phone calls?

Dani and the gang initially believe Quint's alive and calling the house to speak to Rebecca, not realizing she's dead. But really it's Henry, the Wingraves' uncle. Before the Wingrave parents' deaths, Henry was having an affair with his brother's wife, Charlotte Wingrave, and Flora is in fact his daughter. He rings the manor hoping Flora will pick up.

What's 'dream hopping'?

Dream hopping is what Flora experiences when Rebecca possesses her body. She tucks Flora into happy memories of her mother, who gives her advice on how to make friends with a boy she keeps encountering, aka the Victorian Child. Flora realizes she's in a dream, because she relives the memories at her current age, instead of much younger.

What happened with Hannah in episode 5?

In episode 5, Hannah hops through her memories, including her first interview with Owen. However, this changes as she reimagines it. She even lands in the moment the Lady in the Lake kills Quint, which could possibly be the house's memory itself. Hannah appears to be special, able to hop into other people's memories.

What was Peter Quint's plan?

When Quint becomes a ghost, he starts to learn what he can and can't do, including that he can possess someone permanently if they invite him in. He has to do this soon, because the ghosts at Bly all eventually lose their faces and memories. He convinces Rebecca to let him take over her body, but when he discovers he still can't leave Bly, he drowns her, turning her into a ghost. Despite her betrayed trust, she agrees to his new plan of possessing the Wingrave children so they can be together, tucking the children away into happy memories of their parents forever.

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Quint and the Wingrave children.

Netflix

Who's the Lady in the Lake?

The Lady in the Lake is the ghost of Viola Willoughby, played by Kate Siegel, aka Theo from Hill House. She's the daughter of the owner of Bly Manor, murdered centuries ago by her own sister, Perdita. Viola falls ill with a lung disease, but refuses to let a priest move her spirit on. Eventually, no longer able to endure her worsening state and abuse, Perdita smothers Viola with a pillow. She marries Viola's husband Arthur and looks after her daughter Isabel. On the brink of bankruptcy, Perdita opens up a chest of dresses and jewellery Viola left to Isabel, intending to sell them. Viola's spirit emerges and kills Perdita. Thinking the chest is cursed, Arthur sinks it in the lake. Now, Viola's faceless ghost emerges from the water at night, searching the manor for her daughter and killing anyone in her path, despite no longer having her memories. While her ghost remains there, anyone else who dies on the grounds is caught in her "gravity well," unable to move on.

What does Dani do in the lake at the end?

After hearing Quint detail how Flora and Miles can invite him and Rebecca into their bodies, Dani does the same to Viola in the lake, in order to save Flora from drowning. This releases all the trapped ghosts from Bly. But in accepting Viola into her body, Dani dooms herself to Viola one day taking her over. After she and Jamie move to start a new life in America, Dani increasingly sees visions of Viola in her reflection. After almost strangling Jamie one night, Dani returns to Bly Manor and drowns herself in the lake, resuming Viola's wandering of the grounds at night.

How does Dani's ghost return to Jamie in the hotel room?

Just like Dani and Henry see their own personal spectres and supernatural doppelgängers, it's possible the ghost of Dani who looks over the older version of Jamie in the hotel room isn't the same ghost wandering the grounds of Bly. After all, the wedding reception is taking place all the way in America, after Flora and Miles moved there with Henry to start a new life.

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