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UK Regulators Tell Apple to Cease ‘Beyond HDR’ Pro Display XDR Claim

Apple is adjusting its marketing in the United Kingdom following an investigation by the country’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The investigation called into question language that Apple used that stated the Pro Display XDR was “far beyond HDR,” among other claims.

Apple’s Pro Display XDR was one of the most exceptional monitors any Apple user could have purchased when it was released and carried a hefty price tag as a result. PetaPixel recently revisited the Pro Display XDR to see how the $5,000 monitor (or $6,000 if you choose the nano-texture glass) holds up today, as it has not seen a price change since its introduction.

And as is noted there, Apple did an excellent job bringing $30,000 reference display quality to a monitor that costs considerably less than that and even though it’s now nearly two years old, it still is one of the best high-end displays on the market. But tech moves fast, and Apple is no longer alone at the top when it comes to excellence at this price. The Dell mini-LED 4K HDR monitor, which also costs $5,000, has many features that might make it a better choice for more people.

Apple is the king of marketing though and, as a result, the Pro Display XDR is likely still quite popular. That’s probably why the ASA had to step in and address complaints about some of the claims Apple makes with regard to the monitor’s prowess despite its age.

According to Engadget, as of today the Apple is no longer marketing the display as such on its product page in the United Kingdom following complaints that the ASA had received over how Apple markets the monitor. Additionally, 9to5Mac notes that the company also needed to specify that the monitor only supports 99% of the P3 color gamut, as the complaint noted that the marketing was misleading customers into believing that it was capable of 100% of that color gamut.

Read more: 5 Things You Should Know Before Buying the Apple Pro Display XDR

Below you can see the different language used on the United States-based website compared to what is seen on the UK version of the same product page:

Language as it appears on the US product page.
Language as it appears on the UK product page.

In the color section, the UK version now has a note next to the P3 color gamut claim that clarifies how much of the gamut the monitor is able to reproduce:

A final complaint to the ASA called into question Apple’s 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, though as the case has been “informally resolved” as of April 7 and the contrast ratio claim is still present on Apple’s UK website, changing that language appears to not have been a part of the resolution. 9to5Mac says that it is being told Apple is in the midst of having an independent test confirm the claim.

Only the United Kingdom’s version of the Apple Pro Display XDR product page is affected by these changes.

Playboy Enters the NFT Market, Plans to Sell Art and Support Creators

Lifestyle and entertainment giant, Playboy, is entering the non-fungible token (NFT) market with plans to sell its extensive art collection and to support emerging artists.

Today, Playboy is a far cry from what the company was during its peak years in the 1960s and 1970s. It ceased its print publication in 2020 and went fully digital, but with 67 years of regular print magazines published throughout its history it holds decades of archives and photographic content under its belt.

MarketWatch reports that following this recent move towards strictly digital content, Playboy is also partnering with Nifty Gateway, a blockchain technology incorporated marketplace where digital assets or NFTs can be purchased, stored, and sold. The partnership sees an 80% and 20% split for Playboy and Nifty Gateway, respectively.

Similar to auction houses, Nifty Gateway releases a new collection available to be purchased for a limited time and at a specific time, which is referred to as “a drop.” To launch its new partnership with Nifty Gateway in the second quarter, Playboy is releasing two drops: the first is an original work by Slimesunday, a digital collage artist who explores “bizarre and erotic topics” and has previously collaborated with Playboy. The second is a Pride-themed curation by digital artist Blake Kathryn.

Long term, Playboy and Nifty Gateway plan to use this digital ownership market in three different areas: to cultivate collaborations between artists and Playboy’s art archive, to support and commission the creation of new NFT works through grants that support emerging or underrepresented artists, and to curate and sell Playboy’s own extensive photographic and art collection.

Artists will receive a revenue share paid out from Playboy’s 80% share in the partnership. Any subsequent marketplace sales will have a 10% fee paid out to Playboy, which will also contain a revenue share for the artist.

This entry into the ever-growing digital art world by Playboy is not particularly surprising. In its colorful past, the publication has supported a variety of artists of the time and given them a platform to express themselves, including art world icons Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Keith Haring, and Salvador Dalí. MarketWatch reports that Playboy is also appreciative of the vast original artwork collection it holds in its archive, noting that these works are now “ripe for exploration by digital audiences, art lovers and collectors.”

Bitcoin reported that Playboy’s interest in the digital asset market comes from seeing it as “an enormous business opportunity”, which explains the company following the footsteps of other media corporations, such as Time Magazine, the Associated Press, The New York Times, and others who have already joined in on the latest NFT trend.

Image credits: Header photo by Les Anderson

Apple Delays Production of Some MacBook and iPad Models: Report

The global silicon chip shortage appears to finally have reached Apple, as a new report states that it has delayed the production of some MacBook and iPad models. While it does not impact current product availability, the delay is a worrying sign that could change.

According to Nikkei Asia and echoed by Engadget, the supply chain issues that have affected everyone from GPU makers to automobile manufacturers is finally catching up to Apple. The issues are affecting the MacBook production at a key manufacturing step where components are mounted on a printed circuit board, while iPad production has been pushed back due to a shortage of displays and display components.

For now, Nikkei reports that these shortages are not having a direct effect on the current supply of Apple products, so consumers should not notice this issue when it comes to being able to purchase new devices… for now. But this issue is almost assured to eventually become an issue, as it is reported Apple has already moved the production timeline for new products away from the first half of this year and into the second half in anticipation of a parts shortage.

Apple has considerable clout when it comes to ordering and procuring parts, so seeing that the global silicon shortage has finally started to affect the consumer electronics giant is troubling.

The silicon shortage was bound to affect Apple at some point though, as it has already greatly affected the availability of computing parts for PCs and video game consoles, therefore making it extremely challenging for people to buy them. Much of the time this is blamed on scalpers and crypto mining, and while those two factors are part of it, Linus Tech Tips explains in the video above that its actually not the main reason getting these parts is so difficult.

Looking specifically at automobiles, many manufacturers expected the coronavirus pandemic to seriously slow down the rate at which consumers bought them, and adjusted timelines and production schedules ahead of that. And while initially that proved to be the case, the second half of last year saw that turn around in a big way. When people realized they didn’t want to be riding mass transit with a highly contagious disease on the loose, “demand came roaring back,” as Linus says.

Adding to that, new generation graphics cards finally gave consumers a reason to upgrade right at the same time that Sony and Microsoft released new gaming consoles, making demand skyrocket as people spent more time at home. But it doesn’t stop there: as more people pivoted to working from home, demand for the types of products necessary to effectively do so went through the ceiling.

When companies produce modern electronics, they don’t do so on a whim. Everything is planned well in advance, and factories producing the pieces necessary to make those electronics work have a fixed amount they can make in a given time period. According to Linus, that output is already at maximum capacity. The problem is that demand is just simply too high to be offset.

So while it is possible to point to one or two things that caused this supply shortage, it is actually the combination of all of these factors that have led to a dramatic difference between supply and demand. Hopefully, Apple is able to work around these issues, but at some point, the physical limitation of available electronics parts is just something you can’t get around, no matter how big of a company you are. With new iMacs and Macbook Pros expected this year, a delay due to shortages would put a damper on huge expectations consumers now have thanks to the wild success of Apple’s M1 MacBooks.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.

Lighting Equipment Manufacturer Cactus Has Ceased Operations

Cactus, a brand once used by a wide range of photographers thanks to its low cost yet high-quality products, has ceased operations and closed its photographic equipment business. Strangely, it doesn’t seem as though it notified all of its retail partners.

While the company’s status was originally rumored in a story on DIY Photography in late March, the report cited a customer’s interaction with Cactus and was not confirmed by the publication directly.

While Cactus initially was unresponsive, it finally did confirm to PetaPixel that it had closed its business operations at the end of last year.

“I’m sorry that Cactus has closed its photographic equipment business since Dec 2020. All inventory has been sold out and no more new products will be available for sale,” a Cactus representative said to PetaPixel. “We operate in a very limited scale now to focus on servicing the in-warranty units, and offering technical assistance to the Cactus users. We are sorry that we can no longer serve this community.”

No specific reason was provided as to why Cactus was unable to stay in business.

Cactus was last in the news back in 2018 when it attempted to crowdfund the RQ250 TTL wireless monolight. The flash promised a power output equal to 3.5 ordinary speedlights, and it offered TTL and HSS support for eight major camera brands. A major concern was that the device would retail for $700, and some argued that the Godox AD200 would offer all the same features for just 50 fewer Ws of power at $300.

The Kickstarter would ultimately fail to reach its $100,000 goal.

Since then Godox has released several new products, including the recently-announced AD100Pro, a cylinder-shaped tiny pocket flash that boasts 100 Ws of power for $300.

PetaPixel spoke to Nick Fancher who is currently listed as a Cactus ambassador on the company’s website to ask about his experiences with Cactus recently, and found that he had not actively worked with the company for some time. Fancher says that after his contact left the company a few years ago, Cactus never spoke with him again. Citing the failure to complete funding on the AD200, Fancher says he has largely switched to using Godox equipment.

The comparisons to Godox and the failure of the Kickstarter are likely the largest contributors to Catcus’s decline, and while its products were largely praised for years thanks to the company’s support for a wide range of camera systems and helpful firmware updates, Godox became a lighting goliath that may have proven too tough to topple.

What is particularly unusual about Cactus’s exit is that it appears to be largely unknown. The company still has active partnerships with United States-based distributors, and as of the time of publication at least one of the company’s largest partners had no knowledge of Cactus going out of business. In a brief exchange with PetaPixel on the subject, from its perspective, it was business as usual even four months since the company supposedly shut its doors.

For now, it appears Cactus products currently on store shelves are the last of them, and while the company does state it intends to service in-warranty units, it’s likely safe to assume it is the end of the road for firmware support.

Seagate Performed Best in Backblaze’s 2020 Hard Drive Failure Report

Internal computer components

Backblaze, one of the leading cloud storage and backup companies, has just released information on its hard drive failure rates throughout 2020, revealing which models fared better than others.

As noted by DPReview, Backblaze reports that 39,792 hard drives were added to its assortment in 2020 and by the end of the year, the number of drives under its management reached a total of 165,530. Out of those, 3,000 were boot drives and the rest of the 162,530 were hard drives. For this report, the company omitted 231 hard drives in its research as they were used for testing or if the company did not have at least 60 drives of a certain model. 

The company explains that the reason for excluding boot drives from gathering this data is simply because their function is greatly different from that of a typical hard drive, however, if any useful data is gathered in the future, Backblaze intends to publish it. After all exclusions, the company was left with 162,299 hard drives that it used to compile the data below.

Backblaze hard drive failure rate statistics

Somewhat unexpectedly, for drive models with over 250,000 drive days over the course of 2020, the Seagate 6TB drive (model ST6000DX000) led the way with a 0.23% annualized failure rate (AFR) despite it being the oldest model of all the drives listed on the table.

AFR refers to the estimated probability of a hard drive failure during a full year of use. While there are other drives that may show a lower failure rate, such as Toshiba, the number of drives tested was too low or the amount of time they have been active was too short to assume the AFR would be consistent over a larger number of drives. That said, Backblaze has high hopes.

“The new Toshiba 14TB drive (model: MG07ACA14TA) and the new Toshiba 16TB (model: MG08ACA16TEY) were introduced to our data centers in 2020 and they are putting up zeros, as in zero failures,” the company writes. “While each drive model has only been installed for about two months, they are off to a great start.”

Close runners up to Seagate were two HGST 4TB drives (models HMS5C4040ALE640 and HMS5C4040BLE640) with 0.27% AFR, followed by the 8TB drive (model HUH728080ALE600) at 0.29% AFR, and the 12TB drive (model HUH721212ALE600) at 0.31% AFR. An improvement compared to the year prior, the AFR for all of the models included in the 2020 report was 0.93% which was less than half the AFR for 2019 which stood at 1.89%.

So while Seagate led the way, just about everyone saw marked improvements.

Backblaze describes the notable improvement of AFR across the board as “a group effort.” On one hand, older drives as a group — which consists of 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, and 10TB capacity drives — improved in 2020 by going from 1.35% AFR in the year prior to 0.96% AFR. On the other hand, 30,000 larger drives were added to the list — of capacities 14TB, 16TB, and 18TB — and as a group, they too improved to achieve 0.89% AFR. Overall, regardless of the drive capacity or its age, the improvements were visible throughout the entire range of different hard drive models in 2020.

Backblaze set a goal at the start of 2020 to diversify the drive models it offered, which came in useful later on when COVID-19 began affecting the world economy and consequently the supply chain. This particular tactic helped the company to navigate the market needs and limitations during a global pandemic. Although such extreme implications, like those experienced due to the global pandemic, couldn’t have been predicted, Backblaze had already gone through a supply chain disruption in 2011 when severe flooding affected Thailand. Since then, particular attention was paid to improving supply strategies.

If you are interested in deep diving into all of the data collected, you can visit all previous Backblaze reports, ranging from 2013, on their statistics page. While it might not seem like something a non-Backblaze user would be interested in, these failure rate statistics are very useful in determining which drives to invest in for home or office use, especially for photographers who regularly have to expand storage in order to accommodate growing image libraries.

Image credits: Header image by Anete Lusina