iPhone 12 Pro Max Is Significantly Better Than iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 Pro Max

I initially thought that the iPhone 12 Pro was definitely the iPhone one should buy if they are looking for the sweet spot — something not too large but powerful. But after using the iPhone 12 Pro Max for the past three days, I realize that the “Max” is in the name for a reason: It offers a better camera and much better battery life.

Camera

The 12 Pro Max, like the 12 Pro, offers a 12MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide camera, and a 12MP telephoto camera. But there are some differences here. First, the telephoto lens is capable of 2.5x zoom, slightly more than the 2x Zoom on the 12 Pro. However, the lens is larger, and it allows in more light. The main camera has sensor shift stabilization, which makes it easier to focus in on a variety of situations.

All three lenses are only slightly larger, but this makes a noticeable difference in picture quality. You will notice this the most in Night Mode, which works ridiculously well on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Here’s a picture taken in a very dark hotel room this past weekend.

The Night Mode on the iPhone 12 Pro Max is amazing.

The camera I’ve used the most over the past year has been the one on the Samsung Galaxy S20+, which is also great. However, I’ve had some issues with the auto-focus that I don’t have on the. iPhone 12 Pro Max. Apple’s camera system is really a point-and-shoot system that works.

Perhaps some people may not like the fact that that pictures aren’t an exact replica of what you are seeing at certain times. By this, I mean that you can take a picture in the early night, and it looks like it was taken during daytime. Here is a picture that was taken in Santa Clarita, CA, an hour after sunset.

This picture looks like it was taken a couple hours earlier than it actually was.

Battery Life

The iPhone 12 Pro Max feels heavier than just about any smartphone I’ve ever used, but the extra bulk, which doesn’t prevent it from being portable, is worth it for one main reason — the batter life. It is simply spectacular. On a full power charge, I was able to get at least 12 hours of very heavy use. In other words, most people, who don’t test phones, will only have to charge their phones every other day.

Perhaps the achilles heal, for some, on the iPhone 12 Pro is the battery life. However, many would say that the lighter and smaller phone is worth the extra depletion of power. I strongly disagree. Even without the improved camera system, I would recommend the 12 Pro Max over the 12 Pro just based on the battery life. The $100 difference is worth it.

What’s Missing…

As I mentioned in my review of the iPhone 12 Pro, the 120Hz refresh rate, which would make scrolling a lot smoother, is missing in Apple’s latest series of iPhones. It was a minor issue on the 12 Pro since the screen is only 6.1 inches (compared to the 6.7-inch screen of the Pro Max), but the archaic refresh rate is more noticeable on a larger screen.

This won’t bother anyone unless they are used to using a smartphone with a 120Hz refresh rate, and Apple claims that they kept the refresh rate at 60Hz in order to save battery life. Even with this minor flaw, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the best smartphone one can get now.

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Bose Sleepbuds II Are A Dream Come True

Bose Sleepbuds II

The first Bose Sleepbuds, released in June of 2018, changed my life. I originally gave them a rave review, and by the end of 2018, I named them the Audio Product of the Year. They really helped me sleep.

Far from being noise-cancelling, they were noise masking instead. Some wanted noise cancellation, but that would have made the battery life unbearable. As a very light sleeper, these really helped me end my sleepless nights. It’s unfortunate that they had to be recalled. People, including myself, rant into problems when it came to decreasing battery life, magnets becoming detached, etc. Bose honorably refunded those who had troubles, which is just about everybody.

Bose's new buds come with a small charging case.

The Sleepbuds II have fixed the issues with the initial buds. For one thing, they easily snap in the case when you want to charge them. The magnets are stronger, and they won’t break. You won’t have to constantly fiddle the sleepbuds to make sure they are being charged. And this time, they will actually charge — what more can we ask for?

Well, we could ask that our smartphone connects to these without trouble, unlike 2018′s buds. Thankfully, the connection works 100 percent of the time, and even setting up the new sleepbuds is flawless. Beyond the connection, there are plenty of sounds to choose from, even more than there were in 2018. My favorites are “Boardwalk,” “Window Seat,” and “Songbirds.” There is a sound for everybody, and even if the sound isn’t in your library, you can download it.

The buds are even more comfortable than the first ones as there isn’t as much friction with the pillow. This makes turning over and rubbing against your pillow a lot easier. There are three different sized fittings for the buds, so you will likely find one that will fit your ears perfectly. You better find the right fit, otherwise, the buds can fall out, and they are sometimes are to find.

Bose Sleepbuds II are extremely comfortable.

The Sleepbuds II run for 10 hours without interruption. Some remember that the original Sleepbuds were supposed to last 16 hours uninterrupted, but that just wasn’t the case in the real world. The 10-hour time will be frustrating for those who sleep more than that — something that’s not recommended in the first place. But each to their own.

For those worried about n0t waking up at a desired time, these buds do have an alarm. Whatever sound you are playing stops so the bells can ring. It’s quite effective and doesn’t shock you awake from your sleep, unless you are having a nightmare.

The new Sleepbuds are easily worth $249. New users may be frustrated at first, but these take a little getting used to. Once you do adjust, you’ll never want to sleep again without the Bose Sleepbuds II.

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Oculus Quest 2: It’s A Keeper

I purchased the Oculus Quest 2 ($299 version) last month with the intention of returning it. I’ve had the first Oculus Quest a couple times, and ended up returning it because it just wasn’t worth $399. It was short-term fun that never lasted.

What’s changed? Well, besides the price, a lot. First of all, the Quest 2 provides a more comfortable fit. Some people have complained about the cheap head strap, but it works a lot better than many say it does. Of course, you can also buy the Elite Strap but may not find a need for it.

The biggest change, as mentioned in my first impressions review, is the (1832×1920 pixel resolution per eye) screen resolution. Many of the experiences look so much better without the screen door effect. Now that many software titles have upgraded to the hardware-capable 90Hz refresh rate, there is less motion sickness.

Some have criticized the controllers, but I think they are just about perfect.  They are somewhat larger, but this is great for people whose hands are larger than average since the grip becomes tighter and easier. The AA batteries seem to last a lot longer than they did in the original Quest.

Using the Quest 2 for cardio workouts is what has really pushed the device over to the “worth-it” meter for myself. The gyms in Los Angeles are still closed, and playing Beat Saber, perhaps the most popular VR game out right now, has been a great substitute. Best of all, there is now a Multiplayer mode.

Beat Saber provides a great cardio workout.

I’ve lost five pounds in the past two weeks, and I can guarantee you that most of that is because of this simple but extremely exciting game. But it’s not the only one. Holopoint is another great game that has been carried over to the Quest 2 from the early VR days. Like Beat Saber, it’s not visually stunning, but it’s dizzying and a lot of fun.

Holopoint looks elementary but is very exciting.

The ultimate reason for keeping the Quest 2 comes down to watching movies using Netflix or Bigscreen VR. With the new screen resolution, one doesn’t need a big screen 4K television anymore. The Quest 2 now provides a viewing experience that’s the closest to a theater substitute that you can get. And from the looks of things, it doesn’t look like movie theaters will open in masse anytime soon.

The Oculus Quest proved that VR is not over. The Oculus Quest 2 now proves that instead of being over, VR is now mainstream.

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iPhone 12 Pro: The Fascinating And The Frustrating

The iPhone 12 Pro is now available.

I’ve spent four days with the iPhone 12 Pro, and although I’m not going to be depressed giving it back, I can’t deny that I’ve really liked using it. For reference, I have mostly been using the Samsung Galaxy S20+ for the past seven months, and it has been mostly a great experience.

I know some iPhone fanatics are going for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but I have to say that it feels good to have a phone in my hands rather than a mini tablet. Don’t get me wrong; I love looking at a 6.7-inch screen, but it’s hard to use a 6.7-inch device with one hand. It’s also more difficult to fit a 6.7-inch device in your pocket. The 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro is the perfect size.

The size of the iPhone 12 Pro (6.1 inches) is perfect.

The new iPhone feels great in your hands. The new squarish design really feels premium and expensive. It makes the phone feel a little thick, but it’s actually thinner than the iPhone 11. The new iPhone also feels like it’s going to break in pieces if you drop it, but it won’t. Apple has covered the front in what is known as “ceramic shield,” which gives it four times better drop performance. I’m not going to test that out. And as always, I suggest that you get a sleeve and screen protector for your phone.

I was disappointed that Apple didn’t put a 120Hz refresh rate on the 12 Pro’s screen, but it really doesn’t end up being a deal killer. The contrast ratio of the OLED screen is so good that you really enjoy content, no matter how slow it refreshes. Apple kept the 60Hz refresh rate to save the battery life, and it may pay off.

The iPhone 12 Pro has an excellent camera system.

The real star of the iPhone 12 Pro is the camera system. This time, all four cameras (the one on the front and the three on the back) get Night Mode, and it works even better than it did on the iPhone 11 Pro. I have also noticed that the HDR mode works better on still pictures and videos. Auto focus works incredibly well, perhaps better than on any phone I’ve ever tested.

The only downside of the 12 Pro camera is it that it still only features a 2x optical zoom lens, unlike the 2.5x zoom lens of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Still, most people will be able to use this camera for most of their professional photography needs. It’s the best camera system on a smartphone available right now — at least until the 12 Pro Max arrives on November 13.

The main marketing point of the iPhone 12 Pro is that it offers 5G — something Samsung phones have done for the past two years. I’ve tested Verizon’s newly expanded 5G network out in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA, and speed tests show an improvement over 4G LTE speeds, but not much. While seeing a “5G” symbol on the upper-right hand corner looks good, the extra speed really won’t make a difference for most people — at least in 2020.

The new iPhone has 5G.

The most frustrating aspect of the iPhone 12 Pro is its battery life. In extensive use, the 12 Pro never lasted more than 10 hours on a single charge. Most users will be able to easily get a full day’s use of the phone. But this is 2020, and a phone that costs $999 should give most users at least two days of battery life on a single charge.

I’m going to do more tests, but I’m not sure the iPhone 12 Pro is a better product than the Samsung Galaxy S20+ (a comparable phone in the Android family), which was released seven months ago. Apple is usually ahead of the curve, but this time they are just riding riding the crest.

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iPhone 12 Series: It’s Hard To Get Excited

On Friday, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro became available. The iPhone Pro Mini and iPhone Pro Max will be released right before Thanksgiving. The biggest downer is that all these phones will have a 60Hz refresh rate rather than the 120Hz rate that many higher-end smartphones have in 2020.

This means that scrolling will still look choppy, at least when compared to updated smartphones. However, Apple may have calculated correctly that people care more about battery life than they do refresh rate. The new iPhones still have some exciting features though.

iPhone 12

For those who don’t need the extravagant camera, the iPhone 12 is the best deal at $799 (64GB). The camera is still good, even if it doesn’t have a telephoto lens. But the biggest upgrade to the regular iPhone 12 is that it contains an OLED screen that has True Tone technology for an accurate color display. For the first time ever, there is not a significant difference between the regular and pro version of the iPhone.

iPhone 12 Pro

The iPhone 12 Pro's camera is almost identical to that of the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

This is the version that will probably sell the most since it is large (but not too large) and contains advanced features higher-end iPhone users expect.

The 12 Pro has a telephoto lens, a brighter screen than the regular iPhone, and a lidar sensor that measure depth. The starting price is $999 (128GB), and it is available for purchase in several different colors.

iPhone 12 Pro Max

This is the iPhone with the largest screen. While last year’s Max had a 6.5-inch screen, this year’s has a 6.7-inch display. It’s definitely the one professional photographers would want, especially since it allows for a larger Zoom lens than even the iPhone 12 Pro. The price starts out at a whopping $1099 and gives you 128GB internal storage.

iPhone 12 Mini

Those, like myself, who loved the small size of the iPhone SE will love the iPhone Mini, which has a 5.4-inch OLED display and starts off at $699. It still has the powerful A14 Bionic chip that is included with the other iPhone 12 devices and offers a dual-lens 12MP camera. This can be a huge hit, especially because of its boxed retro iPhone 4 feeling.

Conclusion

Besides the new design, the new iPhones don’t appear to have the “Wow!” factor of previous iPhones when they were released. Yes, they have 5G, but Samsung and other manufacturers have released 5G capable smartphones for the past two years. 

It all comes down to marketing, which Apple is incredible at. If, once again, Apple can convince consumers they are getting cutting-edge technology with the new iPhone 12 series, Apple will have another hit product on their hands.

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Oculus Quest 2: First Impressions

The Oculus Quest 2 is now available.

I’ve been using the Oculus Quest 2 for the past two days. I’m not quite ready to give a full review but wanted to give my initial impressions, which are mostly positive given that the headset goes for only $299 (64GB version).

Reminds Me of Gear VR

Remember the first Gear VR, which required a Samsung phone to operate? It felt cheaply built, but offered a groundbreaking experience, at least for 2014. The Quest 2 feels slightly cheap and plastic, but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. It’s obvious that Facebook had to cut some minor corners in order to make the device more affordable.

The new Quest feels a little cheaper than the previous one.

That Screen!

Finally! It’s taken several years, but Facebook has, at last, included a screen (1832×1920 pixel resolution per eye) that doesn’t look like there is a screen door put in front of it. In order to notice any screen door effect, you have to practically look for it.

Unfortunately, in order to cut costs, Samsung switched from an OLED screen to an LCD. It’s not that big of a deal, but the blacks aren’t as black as they are on the original Quest. Still, I’ll easily take the new Oculus screen; it just feels more immersive.

The Comfort

Many reviews are panning the new head strap, saying that it makes the headset feel heavier on your head than it should. I don’t have a problem with it. Overall, the headset does feel lighter. I wish I didn’t have to take the Quest 2 off in order to adjust the lenses (you have to actually push them rather than move a button), but otherwise it’s the most comfortable headset I’ve worn yet.

It may look weird, but the Quest 2 fits very comfortably.

Oculus does offer an Elite Strap and even an Elite Strap with Battery You may want to get the latter since the battery life isn’t quite good (one of my only major complaints), and most places have a package for $129 that includes both a case and Elite Strap with Battery.

Software Not Ready

The Quest 2 has the capability of producing a 90Hz refresh rate, but needs a software update in order to do so. However, the Quest 2 basically needs new and updated software to take advantage of just about all of the improvements over the original Quest. If you feel risky, however, there is a workaround to getting a 90Hz refresh rate, but proceed at your own risk. 

Facebook

Yes, in order to use the Oculus Quest 2, you have to sign in with a Facebook account. So, if you are one of the many who now has a locked account due to some political posting that offended someone you don’t even know, too bad.

Conclusion

Despite some minor shortcomings, the Oculus Quest 2 will continue to push VR into the mainstream. The cost is excellent, and the device is very portable and easy to set up. There will be a full review posted soon.

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ Is An iPad Pro Alternative

The iPad has been pretty much the tablet standard for the past 10 years, especially since the tablet has gone from being just an overgrown iPhone into an actual tablet. There have been some Android tablets that have excellent hardware, but the software has been somewhat limited.

The Galaxy Tab S7+ (regular and 5G) doesn’t always fix the software issue, but the hardware is so good that it is practically in a league of its own. Not only does the S7+ have an incredibly beautiful 12.4-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED screen, but (unlike the iPad Pro) it includes a stylus and the improved S Pen.

It also has a 120Hz refresh rate, which makes things butter-like smooth and the best speaker system that has ever been put on a tablet. The sound, which has pretty good bass, even outshines the iPad Pro, and most have been very impressed with the sound of Apple’s tablet.

The Galaxy Tab S7+ screen is the best of any tablet.

The S7+ has two rear cameras: 13MP (Regular) & 5MP (Ultra Wide) and a front 8MP shooter. Just like Apple’s tablet camera system, Samsung’s is adequate but not for professionals. It’s far less useful than the fantastic camera system on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra or even the Samsung Galaxy S20+.

The S7+ is the ultimate consumption device. There isn’t a better tablet out there for watching videos, listening to music, web browsing, viewing photos, and checking email. However, the limitations with Android software don’t make it the ultimate content creation device. A lot will say that the iPad makes a better content creation device.

However, in terms of content creation (especially editing photos and videos), most people will use a much more adequate Windows PC or MacOS laptop. So for many people, the content creation part may not be that important.

The 16:10 aspect ratio of Samsung’s screen will make some happy, but others will prefer a more square aspect ratio like the Surface Pro devices or, especially, iPad. It does help make it the ultimate movie watching machine, with barely any black bars on top or the bottom of the screen.

Samsung has a keyboard attachment for $229, and I haven’t been able to test that out yet. However, in a way, I don’t want to. The Galaxy Tab S7+ is something that belongs in your hands. If you want to type a Word document and transform photos, use a laptop. For nearly everything else, however, the Galaxy Tab S7+ is the most adequate tablet on the market.

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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Were Worth The Wait

It seems like ages ago when Bose announced that they were finally going to release noise cancelling earbuds. Some thought that the huge delay had to do with quality control issues, perhaps similar to the Sleepbuds. But this weekend, the $279 (!!) QuietComfort Earbuds arrived in stores, and they may be worth the price.

I’ll start with the annoying things, which aren’t deal breakers, first. There is the annoying bloated big case. The case can fit in your pocket, but will have people wondering if you are really happy to see them. Another annoying thing is that you have to press your fingernail against a very small button in order to open the case. However, at least the case won’t fly open when it’s dropped, causing your buds to spill all over the place.

The QuietComfort Earbuds charging case is huge.

The buds fit in their battery-charging spots with barely any effort thanks to the powerful magnets. And you get six hours of battery life, so the big case does serve it’s purpose. At least it’s made of high quality materials.

The Bose earbuds themselves are quite large and look like they might hurt your ears. But once you put them in, you’ll realize that these are, perhaps, the most comfortable earbuds on the market. In fact, I slept with them for two nights and barely had any comfort issues. They come with three sets of ear pieces, so you have to make sure you use the correct ones in order to guarantee the best listening experience.

Of course, the most important thing you look for in earbuds is sound, and the QuietComfort buds have that typical Bose signature sound — sculpted bass, decent mids, and effective highs. Audio purists aren’t big fans of Bose, but most people will find that these the best-sounding earbuds on the market.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds offer a stellar listening experience.

The noise cancellation takes wireless earbuds to another level. It’s as if Bose copied the noise cancellation in the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and pasted it in their new earbuds. There are also 10 levels of noise cancellation that can be set. When you set it at 0, you get a very natural-sounding transparency mode that lets you hear the world as you would if you didn’t have the earbuds in.

I tested three different phone calls and voice memos to test voice quality. Everybody on the other end said there was no way they could tell I was talking through Bluetooth earbuds, and they could barely hear surrounding noise. The voice memos were also very high quality, even if slightly robotic.

Bose claims that you can get up to 6 hours per charge, and that is about accurate. With noise cancellation fully enabled, I was able to get over 5 hours of use. With noise cancellation set halfway, I went over 6 hours. I would love it if Bose was able to put in a couple more hours given the buds are so big. Still, the battery life is very satisfactory.

One may balk at the $279 price tag, especially since you can get the AirPods Pro for $219 in some places. However, you pay for what you get, and with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, you get more than what has ever been offered by previous earbuds.

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The iPhone 12 Sounds Underwhelming

iPhone 12 Render

By this time of the year, people are usually getting their new iPhones. Last year, the iPhone 11 Pro Max had a much improved camera set and a beautiful 6.5-inch screen. But it lacked 5G, compatibility with the Apple Pencil, and the screen felt a little outdated with the usual 60Hz refresh rate.

The iPhone 12 series is late this year thanks to the coronavirus epidemic. But from the early leaks, it sounds like Apple may be better off waiting another year so they could come up with something groundbreaking. After Samsung just released the Galaxy Z Fold2, Apple’s newest iPhone will seem less groundbreaking.

The iPhone 12 is expected to come in four different models — the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro, and the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. All four are expected to revert to a design that will remind many users of iPhone 5′s flat machined edges, along with a slimmer notch.

Let’s take a look at the flagship iPhone 12 model, the iPhone 12 Pro Max. This phone is set to have a 6.7-inch 1242 x 2688 pixel resolution display. It will run iOS 14 with Apple’s A14 chipset. It will have a four lens camera, with one lens being a ToF camera that uses infrared light (lasers invisible to human eyes) to determine depth information.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is set to come in several different color options.

If Apple wanted to compete with the new Galaxy Note, they would at least make the Pro Max compatible with the Apple Pencil. However, that doesn’t look like it will happen. If Apple wanted customers to enjoy a realistic media experience, perhaps they could have gotten rid of that annoying notch at the top of the screen. Unfortunately, that’s not happening either.

Despite my gloom and doom (which may change when the phone is possibly announced on October 13), I am willing to bet that the new iPhone 12 series will be successful. With the pandemic (hopefully) waning, customers will have more money and will be excited about Apple’s new smartphone series. Then, there’s Apple’s marketing team, who could make anything look groundbreaking.

However, for the first time in nearly a decade, it’s safe to say that Samsung is the leader in the smartphone industry. The Korean company has taken many risks, but it looks like all the innovation is about to pay off. The iPhone 12 series may be good, but it’s definitely not innovative.

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Oculus Quest 2 Really Is A Major (And Cheaper) Upgrade

The Oculus Quest 2 goes on sale October 13.

Forget about my article from last month that said — based on what I thought were reliable reports — that the new Oculus Quest would not be a major upgrade. Last week, Facebook revealed the new unit, and let’s just say that I can hardly wait to get it in my hands. Here are some of the major improvements.

Resolution

I think this is the biggest improvement on the new Oculus Quest, although they moved from an OLED panel to an inferior LCD one, probably to keep costs down. However, most won’t notice the difference, and they’ll be more happy with the screen because there is virtually no screen door effect.

The previous Oculus Quest had a pixel resolution of 1440 x 1600 per eye, and the Quest 2 increases the amount to 1832 x 1920 per eye. That’s a huge difference in the real world, and those who have used the new Quest claim that the screen door effect is a thing of the past.

Refresh Rate

The previous Oculus Quest had a 72Hz refresh rate, and the new one will increase to 90Hz. This will make things operate more smoothly. Of course, what we would really love is a 120Hz refresh rate like the latest tablets and smartphones. We can look forward to that on the Oculus Quest 3. 

Weight

The Oculus Quest 2 is lighter and smaller than first one.

The Oculus Quest 2 is smaller and lighter. 2019′s Quest weighed 571 grams, and the new one will weight 501 grams. This should make wearing the Quest more comfortable, but it also depends on how equally the weight is distributed.

Processor

Unlike the Qualcomm Snapdragon 25 processor of the previous Quest, the new one will run a much improved Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor. This will enable the standalone headset to immerse the user into more powerful experiences. For the most powerful experiences, one can link the Quest 2 to a VR-capable desktop or laptop with the charger cable. (You no longer need the Oculus Link cord.)

Strong Ecosystem

When the first Oculus was released in 2019, there weren’t enough experiences or games to justify the price for those who are less than VR enthusiasts. However, there will be 200 titles by the time the Quest 2 is released. The most popular titles are Beat SaberStar Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, and The Room VR.

Price

This is, perhaps, the most important reason — at least one that will drive up sales. The 64GB Quest 2 (which is all 90 percent of people really need) will cost $299 instead of $399, and the 128GB will cost $399. Let’s hope that Facebook will have enough units available; the original Oculus Quest has been difficult to find.

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