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The Morning After: PS5 specs plus MacBook Air and iPad Pro updates

Richard Lawler
Senior News Editor
Apple

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

After a lull, new hardware announcements are creeping back in. Sony followed up on Microsoft's Xbox Series X spec reveal with its own numbers-heavy rundown for the PS5. With GDC canceled it came off as a pretty dry spectacle -- I'm not sure why the company teased the stream yesterday. For those looking to scrutinize teraflops and other vital statistics, though, it was everything they'd need.

Hours earlier, Apple revealed a new iPad Pro with a 3D-sensing camera and a companion keyboard accessory that adds a trackpad, too. It also had a new MacBook Air with its own much-improved keyboard, while keeping it just under the $1,000 mark.

Note there were no splashy press events or gatherings, however. It's a time of digital briefings on teleconference software, where most won't get to touch a device -- at least not immediately. It makes for drier meetings, but that's the new reality for the time being.

-- Mat

Sony lags behind Microsoft when it comes to raw specs -- but that's not the whole story.PlayStation 5 will feature a 10.2-teraflop GPU and a speedy custom SSD

Sony's in-depth look at the PS5 wasn't exactly a thrilling presentation (watch the ten-minute version instead), but the company did, finally, get specific about things. The next-generation console will be powered by AMD's third-generation Ryzen CPU and a custom Radeon Navi GPU, with 36 compute units and up to 10.28 teraflops worth of compute performance -- less than the next-gen Xbox.

The PlayStation 5, however, comes with a custom 825GB SSD that features a huge leap in performance over the PlayStation 4. That SSD will push 5.5 gigabytes per second compared to a mere 50 to 100 MB/s you're used to. Take a deeper dive and read on.

It's kinda like getting two things in one.Apple's updated iPad Pro has an optional keyboard and trackpad accessory

Surprise! Well, not much of one, after that leak the day before. Say hello to the new 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros, with a secondary ultra-wide 10-megapixel rear camera and, for the first time on any Apple device, a LiDAR scanner. It can measure up to 16.4 feet away, improving augmented reality features like object placement, motion capture and occluding people in a scene.

The new iPads also take advantage of iPadOS 13.4 to introduce trackpad support. There's also an optional backlit Magic Keyboard cover that includes a trackpad of its own as well as USB-C passthrough -- it's all very laptop. Apple says it's truly optimized for the iPad, with a circle that highlights interface elements, easy text selection and gestures that help you switch apps and bring up the dock. The 11-inch iPad is available to order now at $799 for a 128GB WiFi version and $999 for the 12.9-inch version.

Especially since his factory isn't closed yet.Elon Musk: Tesla 'will make ventilators if there is a shortage'

Despite a shelter-in-place order over the county where it's located, Tesla's Fremont factory remained fully staffed. The company has apparently agreed to pare back personnel from 10,000 to 2,500, but that's not enough to quiet discomfort over how Elon Musk has responded to the coronavirus pandemic, focusing on panic as an issue and bringing employees in to work anyway.

Late Wednesday night, Musk responded to a call on Twitter for his plant to manufacture ventilators that can help treat patients with severe symptoms of COVID-19 by saying that they would do it "if there is a shortage." He's opened the floor for reports of hospitals that are short ventilators -- we'll see if that helps anyone get the hardware they need in time. Meanwhile, while other automakers have idled their plants for the time being, GM and Ford have apparently had discussions with the government about using their manufacturing capabilities to build needed equipment, including ventilators.

Remember how 'Half-Life 2' required Steam even if you bought the game on disc?'Half-Life: Alyx' is proof Valve answers to no one

Valve is uniquely free to ignore outside creative constraints and consumer desires in equal measure. Since it's not a publicly traded company, and it has an abundance of resources thanks to Steam and a library of gaming hits, it can do things like surprise fans with a new game in its biggest series that runs best on a $1,000 accessory very few people own. Jessica Conditt runs down the peculiar circumstances that enable Valve's behavior, for better and -- occasionally -- for worse.

Its cheapest laptop might actually be the best for most people.Apple's new Air could be the MacBook for everyone

At $999, the MacBook Air is $200 cheaper than it was when Apple released the redesigned late-2018 model. For $100 less than the model Apple was selling yesterday, you get the same 8GB of RAM but double the storage: 256GB, up from 128GB. The default processor is still a dual-core Intel i3 CPU, but it's Intel's latest 10th-generation Ice Lake series, which should be a solid step up from the eighth-gen chips used in the Air until now.

Crucially, Apple fixed the keyboard. Now, as mentioned in the intro, we haven't tested the new Air yet, so there's always the possibility it has some serious flaws we're not aware of. But on paper, at least, this is one of the more customer-friendly products Apple has released in a while. Nathan Ingraham explains why.

But wait, there's more...

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