U.S. proposes expedited appeal in fight with AT&T over Time Warner purchase

The U.S. Justice Department has proposed an expedited schedule for an appeal of a judge’s ruling that allowed AT&T Inc to buy movie and TV show maker Time Warner, according to a court filing on Wednesday.

Hands-On With Apple’s New $699 Blackmagic eGPU

Alongside the new 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models introduced last week, Apple also debuted a new eGPU enclosure designed in partnership with Blackmagic.

We picked up one of the new Blackmagic eGPUs to check out its design and the performance that it offers when paired with one of Apple’s Macs.

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The Blackmagic eGPU is equipped with a Radeon Pro 580 GPU, which was first introduced by AMD in June 2017. It features 8GB VRAM, and it is the same graphics card used in the high-end 2017 iMac.

You can connect the Blackmagic eGPU to any Mac that includes support for Thunderbolt 3, which includes the 2016 and later MacBook Pro models and iMac models produced in 2017.

Design wise, the Blackmagic eGPU features a futuristic looking aluminum enclosure that fits well on a desktop. A thermal grille allows for efficient heat dissipation, letting the included fan run lower, so it’s as quiet as 18db.

It includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports, 4 USB 3.1 ports for connecting accessories, an HDMI port, and 85W of power delivery, so it can also power a MacBook Pro when connected. It is the first eGPU that offers support for the LG UltraFine 5K display.

Unfortunately, the Blackmagic eGPU is not upgradeable, so you’re not going to be able to swap out the included graphics card for an upgraded version in the future, which is one of the major downsides to the accessory.

Compared to the graphics cards available in the 2016 and later MacBook Pro models, the Blackmagic eGPU offers much faster performance for tasks like gaming, VR experiences, and graphics-intensive creative work like video editing, 3D graphics work, and more.

In Apple’s testing, the Blackmagic eGPU was twice as fast at many tasks as the GPU in the 15-inch 2018 MacBook Pro, and 6 to 7 times faster than the built-in GPU in the 13-inch 2018 MacBook Pro. In our own testing with a 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2016, the Blackmagic eGPU offered impressive speeds in OpenCL and Metal tests.

The Blackmagic eGPU is available exclusively from Apple for $699. There appears to be a bit of a backlog, and orders placed today won’t deliver until August 9 at the earliest.

What do you think of the Blackmagic eGPU? Do you plan on buying one? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

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Judge denies Manafort’s request to suppress evidence

A federal judge on Wednesday denied a request by President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to suppress evidence seized by the FBI from his home as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia.

Essential discounts its 360 Camera to $19, a day after its phone was half-off

At $250, the Essential Phone was arguably the best deal of Amazon Prime Day. Which is saying a lot. But no matter how you slice it, 50 percent off an Android flagship is a pretty tough deal to beat. I know of at least one TechCruncher who couldn’t resist the lure of that kind of discount.

Now that Prime Day is over, the phone’s price is back up at $499 — but the deals, it seems, keep on coming. Over on Essential’s site, you’ll find the company’s modular 360 Camera for $19. That’s a mind-boggling 90 percent off its MSRP — the kind of deal that has “fire sale” written all over it.

In other circumstances, you could chalk up a killer deal or two to an inventory refresh. Hell, it’s almost a year since the PH-1 handset hit the market, so the company could have a replacement in the works. The context of other recent news around the company, however, paints a very different picture.

In February, the company was reported to have only shipped 88,000 phones the prior year. In May, word got out that founder Andy Rubin was looking to put the company up for sale and had cancelled work on the followup phone. The company didn’t issue a flat-out denial, but instead insisted that it still had products in the works.

“We always have multiple products in development at the same time and we embrace canceling some in favor of the ones we think will be bigger hits,” it said at the time. “We are putting all of our efforts towards our future, game-changing products, which include mobile and home products.”

Indeed, the gears are still turning and the lights are on over at Essential HQ. The company announced that it was expanding to additional markets, including Canada, France, Japan and the U.K. And last month the company finally announced its second modular accessory, the Audio Adapter HD. That plug-in brings HD audio playback to the device. The company is also continuing to offer quick software support and has already promised to be one of the first to offer an update to Android P when it arrives. 

We reached out to the company for an update and received the following statement from a spokesperson, “We’re offering a great deal on the Essential 360 Camera accessory so new customers who bought our phone during Amazon Prime Day can enjoy the full Essential experience.”

So, perhaps there’s something to be said for roping people into the ecosystem and then offering a doubly deep discount on an accessory that only works with that device.

For its part, Essential has always acknowledged that it’s had a tough road ahead. At an event in New York prior to the release of the PH-1, an executive outlined a 10-year plan to become a truly successful contender in a category dominated by tech titans like Samsung and Apple. And that $300 million from Access Technology Ventures, Tencent, Foxconn and Amazon certainly didn’t hurt.

If the rumors are true, this would be a sad end for a hardware startup with good devices and a grand ambition. Given what the company laid out early on, it was clear that it’s only just getting started with its innovative approach to mobile and the smart home. But hardware is hard, as the well-trod saying goes — that’s the case even if you have boatloads of funding and happen to be the guy who created Android.

New York governor opens door to criminal case against Trump Foundation

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday opened the door to a possible criminal case against the Donald J. Trump Foundation, but the state attorney general’s office said it had not determined that a criminal referral was warranted.