Meta, Beats, and monitors
Instruction Set 2023/7/21
Welcome back. This is Instruction Set for the week of Friday, July 21st.
I'm really happy about the response to this week's subscriber article on the Pixel in Japan. I felt good about it when I sent it out, but it turned out to be easily my most successful article yet in terms of driving signups and discussion, so thank you to everyone who read it or shared it.
I think the perfect Multicore post is something that's pretty niche and possibly local but has global interest and is firmly in my wheelhouse. I don't have much desire (or ability) to min-max my #content game, but after six months of doing this, that feels like a reasonable guiding principle for what you won't be able to read elsewhere. Which is what I should be focusing on.
Instruction Set is part of that plan. The Pixel article took me quite a while to get right, and I'm glad I didn't feel the need to push it out as part of a news-focused schedule. A roundup of commentary at the end of the week feels like the best way to cover a wide range of topics while making space for the deeper dives.
That said, I'm conscious of the need to strike the right balance. Please do tell me if you feel like I'm missing anything in Instruction Set, or if you think I'm including too much. I know my personal bar for reading a 2,000-word email would be pretty high.
This week might be a good test case. There wasn't much in the way of dramatic news, but things did happen, including developments in a couple of stories from last week that I need to catch up on. How much of this is interesting? Let me know!
Beats announced its new Studio Pro headphones. They look similar to previous generations of Beats' top-end Studio cans, which were last updated in 2017, but are quite an intriguing entry in the high-end noise-cancelling wireless over-ear market (which is to say “things to bring on planes”).
Specifically, they're $350, which is $200 less than the AirPods Max. But they're part of Apple's ecosystem, of course, so you still get automatic device pairing — and that also works on Android phones and Chromebooks because of Beats' dedicated hardware. The last Beats product I used was the Studio Buds, which I actually loved until my dog ate one, and that multi-ecosystem feature was a big reason why.
Elsewhere you get USB-C, spatial audio with head tracking, Find My support, hands-free "Hey Siri", and generally the sort of features you'd expect from AirPods. I can't speak to sound quality, and that'd be subjective even if I could, given the number of solid competitors from Sony, Bose, and so on. But the AirPods Max increasingly look like they're in need of an update, a price cut, or both.
Last week I mentioned Intel killing off its niche-but-cool NUC line of mini PCs. Intel's explanation was that it intended to "pivot our strategy to enable our ecosystem partners to continue NUC innovation and growth", which sounded like an optimistic spin on the situation, but it turns out things are already happening.
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