About the Author

Jeff Benjamin

@JeffBenjam

Jeff produces videos, walkthroughs, how-tos, written tutorials and reviews. He takes pride in being able to explain things in a simple, clear and concise manner.

Jeff Benjamin's Favorite Gear

December 8

With the delay of the HomePod, there is only one more big Apple hardware product slated for release before the end of 2017 — the iMac Pro. Like the regular iMac, the iMac Pro features an all-in-one design that combines a display and computer inside of a single enclosure. Yet, unlike the regular iMac, the iMac Pro is built specifically with creative professionals in mind.

As someone who regularly works with 4K and sometimes even 6K video, the iMac Pro sounds fantastic on paper. Higher-specced configurations of the baseline iMac are no slouch, but the iMac Pro will be a definite leap above the regular version in terms of performance. Here’s what we know about the iMac Pro so far… expand full story

December 1

The iPhone X was a big risk for Apple, because of the removal of the Home button and its heavy reliance on gestures, but it’s clear to me that Apple succeeded in making it work. After using the iPhone X day-to-day for almost four weeks, I’ve become well-accustomed to it as my daily driver.

At its core, the iPhone X is basically an enhanced iPhone 8, but its reliance on gestures, significantly reduced bezels, TrueDepth Camera, and OLED display make it look, feel, and at times, perform like an entirely new device. There are other things to consider as well: the glass and metal design, and upgraded telephoto camera hardware, to name a few.

For as much flack as Apple has received for the iPhone X’s so-called notch, and some of the nagging issues that continue to persist throughout iOS, the release is nonetheless a remarkable achievement. expand full story

November 29

Apple updates Support app with redesigned UI, new Discover section, and search

On the heels of launching a YouTube channel dedicated to how-to tutorial videos, Apple today pushed a significant version 2.0 update to its Apple Support app for iOS.

November 28

HDMI Forum releases more HDMI 2.1 spec details, highlighted by support for resolutions up to 10K and dynamic HDR

The HDMI Forum today released more details about its HDMI 2.1 spec, and it includes support for technology like Dynamic HDR, and features enough bandwidth to support resolutions up to 10K.

November 27

When Apple announced that it would lend official support to eGPU setups via Thunderbolt 3, I was extremely happy with the news. It means adding more graphical power on demand to Thunderbolt 3-enabled Macs like the MacBook Pro.

That said, eGPU support is still being fleshed out in macOS High Sierra, and Apple has stated that the situation will be further addressed in the spring of 2018. In the meantime, progress has been made on the eGPU front, albeit slowly.

Just for the fun of it I decided to test the Sapphire Radeon RX Vega 64 inside of a Mantiz Venus external graphics box connected to a 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro. Although official driver support isn’t yet there, I can report that when running the latest macOS High Sierra 10.13.2, the RX Vega 64 does work to some degree. Here’s a hands-on video look at what I found.

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November 21

When it comes to Thunderbolt 3 support, there are a handful of companies that immediately come to mind. Akitio, a California-based innovator, is definitely one of those companies.

One of its first big Thunderbolt 3-equipped products, the Akitio Node, made headlines for its inclusion of a macOS-compatible Thunderbolt 3 chipset. Since then, it has released a variety of products that support the high-bandwidth interface.

The latest such release is the Akitio Thunder3 Quad X. Featuring a similar naming convention as earlier releases, the Thunder3 Quad X is notable for a design that pays homage to the classic Mac Pro “cheese grater” design.

Similar to the Thunder3 Quad Mini, the Quad X supports up to four drives, and can harness software RAID to achieve impressive data transfer rates. Should those in need of a direct attached storage solution consider the Akitio Thunder3 Quad X? Watch our hands-on video walkthrough for the details. expand full story

Apple launched its External Graphics Development Kit during WWDC 2017 as a way to assist developers with demanding graphics-intensive apps and VR content creation. The unit included the developer edition of Sonnet’s external eGFX GPU chassis, along with Sapphire’s AMD RX 580 8GB graphics card, and Belkin’s USB-C to 4-port USB-A hub.

Apple priced the External Graphics Development Kit at $599, which was reasonable considering that the Sapphire Pulse RX 580 8GB still goes for around $279, and demanded a higher price during the kit’s launch. The External Graphics Development Kit has been on sale for several months, but now all stock appears to be exhausted.

As a part of its Cyber Week Sale, Sonnet is offering the eGFX Breakaway Box – Developer Edition — the same unit included in Apple’s kit, sans Belkin USB hub, for $499. That’s a $100 price difference from what Apple was charging, and the developer edition of the eGFX units are available to all users, not just developers. expand full story

November 19

If you’re looking for the fastest bus-powered portable external drive, then look no further than the Sonnet Fusion Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Flash Drive with 1TB of storage. Capable of theoretical data transfer rates up to 2600 MB/s, it’s perfect for 4K workflows and beyond.

The most remarkable thing about this drive is how utterly compact it is, and how with just a single Thunderbolt 3 connection, it allows for blistering-fast data transfer rates that can compete with the real world performance of a 2017 MacBook Pro’s built-in NVMe SSD.

In this hands-on video walkthrough, we explore what Sonnet has labeled as the world’s fastest bus-powered portable storage device. Does it live up to the hype? expand full story

November 15

In this hands-on video walkthrough we highlight more than 15 handy tips and tricks for new iPhone X owners. Included in the video are easier methods for invoking Control Center and Notifications, a method for recording Animoji without a time limit, and the best way to quickly switch between two apps. Have a look at our hands-on video for the details. expand full story

November 13

Earlier today Apple released iOS 11.2 beta 3 to developers. Unlike the previous update, which featured new wallpaper and the beta rollout of Apple Pay Cash, there aren’t as many user-facing features and changes this time around. However, there is one new change that is bound to spark conversation — the presence of a new Control Center indicator on the Lock screen.

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November 10

When Apple unveiled its plans to officially support external graphics over Thunderbolt 3, it provided developers with an opportunity to purchase its $599 External Graphics Development Kit. The kit included, among other things, Sonnet Technologies’ eGFX Breakaway Box Developer Edition, providing users with a 350W power supply, one 8-pin (6+2 pin) power connector, support for cards up to 225W, and 60W of power delivery capable of recharging a 13-inch MacBook Pro at full speed.

The $269 consumer version of the same box is similar to the one earmarked for developers, except it provides an 8-pin (6+2 pin) plus one 6-pin power connector, is capable of supporting cards up to 300W, but only supplies 15W of power for laptop charging.

On Tuesday, Sonnet announced the availability of its most powerful eGPU offering yet — the $349 eGFX Breakaway Box 550. This unit provides dual 8-pin (6+2pin) power connectors, support for cards up to 375W, and 87W of power delivery. In other words, the eGFX Breakaway Box 550 is the unit for you if you plan on driving graphics cards like Nvidia’s Titan Xp or AMD’s RX Vega 56, while requiring full speed charging for your 15-inch MacBook Pro. expand full story

November 9

After its initial debut back in April, Apple’s Clips app is maturing into a go-to application for users looking to create video content via a quick and easy to use interface. The antithesis of complicated menu-driven video editing apps, Clips packs a ton of features into a surprisingly deep, but relatively simple-to-use UI.

In my first hands-on Clips tutorial back in April, I was impressed by the type of content that users could produce while wielding the few tools provided within the app. Fast-forward to July’s release of Clips 1.1, which added Disney/Pixar assets along with additional content from Apple, and it was clear that Clips wasn’t destined to be just a flash in the pan.

Back in July, Apple reported that Clips was garnering over 1M monthly unique users, and I suspect that Clips 2.0 will only broaden the app’s appeal and expand to more users. New features, such as the super-impressive Selfie Scenes revealed during the iPhone X keynote, harness the power of the device’s TrueDepth Camera to immerse the user inside one of a dozen 360-degree environments. There’s even a couple of Star Wars-inspired scenes, including one from the upcoming Last Jedi movie.

Just how big of an upgrade is Clips 2.0? Have a look at our hands-on video walkthrough as we highlight some of the key new features. expand full story

November 6

The iPhone X Leather Folio is Apple’s first attempt at a wallet-style case for the iPhone. It’s certainly not the first folio case that we’ve seen, with companies like Twelve South and Nomad being yearly players in this space. However, it will likely be one of the most popular cases of this style due to the fact that it’s made by Apple.

At $99, should you consider the iPhone X Leather Folio? Watch our hands on video walkthrough inside for more details.

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November 3

As we noted earlier, iOS 11.2 beta 2 is an iPhone X-only release for the time being. It doesn’t appear to feature many changes when compared to the previous beta, but it does come with at least three noteworthy new additions for iPhone X owners.

The biggest news for iOS 11.2 beta 2 is the presence of three new Live wallpapers, which appear in addition to the three new Live wallpapers included with the public iOS version for iPhone X. These are the same wallpapers that Apple has featured in its marketing, including its highly-publicized iPhone X ‘It’s Here’ commercial. expand full story

The iPhone X ushers in a major change to the way we interact with our devices due to the lack of a Home button. In order to accommodate an almost bezel-free display, Apple eschewed the Home button and replaced its functionality with several new Screen Edge Gestures.

The presence of these new gestures present new learning opportunities for navigating throughout the iOS UI.  We’ve been using the iPhone X for a day now and have already largely adapted to the new interface methods.

Watch our hands-on video walkthrough as we step through many of the new gestures you’ll need to know to fully navigate the iOS interface sans Home button. expand full story

Unlike previous iPhones, there’s no way to manually enable a permanent battery percentage display on the iPhone X in the status bar via the Settings app. This could be due to the fact that there’s not as much real estate available in the status bar on the iPhone X, or it could just be Apple wanting to maintain a tidy interface.

Whatever the reason, Apple understands that users still need to be able to access their iPhone’s current battery percentage. How do you go about doing so on iPhone X? In our brief hands-on, we share three easy ways to do so. expand full story

November 2

Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer, two of the best creative-minded applications available on the Mac, are receiving major updates today to increase performance and add new features.

The apps, which are beloved by creative designers due to their no-compromise feature set and subscription-free pricing model, both receive performance improvements, which include a Metal 2 accelerated view and macOS High Sierra optimization. There’s also a new light UI option for users to select from.

For a limited time until November 16th, app developer Serif is providing buyers with bonus content for both apps, which include new textures for Affinity Photo, and a pro brush pack for Affinity Designer. expand full story

October 30

The first iOS 11.2 beta went out to developers earlier today and with it comes several new updates and changes. As you might expect that are quite a few small tweaks and enhancements scattered throughout the release, but 11.2 beta 1 also lends us a first look at the new AirPlay 2 multi-room control features that Apple announced back at WWDC 2017.

Have a look at our hands-on video walkthrough for more details… expand full story

October 27

Today was the first day of the third-annual Final Cut Pro X Creative Summit in Cupertino, CA. The event is geared towards professional video editors using Final Cut Pro X. Talks, demonstrations, along with a visit to the Apple campus is involved. There’s also communication with the product team behind the popular NLE.

The first day of the event started off with quite a bang, as Apple took the wraps off of the next big edition of Final Cut Pro X, version 10.4. Although there is no designated date for release, the update will be pushed sometime before year’s end and includes enhanced color tools, support for VR and HDR workflows, custom LUTs, HEVC, and lots more. expand full story

All of the buzz is surrounding the launch of the iPhone X, but Apple has quietly launched a new leather sleeve accessory for the 12-inch MacBook. The Leather Sleeve for 12‑inch MacBook, which looks very similar to the Leather Sleeve for iPad Pro, is available in either Saddle Brown or Midnight Blue. expand full story

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