Systems of the Stars: NatGeo’s “Brain Games on the Road” Host Chuck Nice Explains Why He’s Ditching His Android for an iPhone

Systems of the Stars is Laptop Mag’s series that delves into the systems superstars own, whether it’s a sleek laptop, funky graphics tablet or next-gen gaming console.

Hum! welcome to star systemsdear reader, where I hope you can hear the pompous and resounding tone of the “TV voice” of this paragraph in honor of our new guest: NatGeo’s brain games on the road host Chuck Nice! Applause, applause, applause.

Nice, a nerdy comedian and TV personality who dabbles in astronomy, artificial intelligence (AI) and other scholarly subjects, is like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Chris Rock and Will Smith shrouded in a clever and hilarious package.

No, not the real Smith who is currently in hot water for the slap heard around the world – more like the skeptical homicide detective he stars in I robot who distrusts technology. Many illogically called him paranoid, but his fears were later justified when the robots all went Planet of the Apes on everyone. Shit, shit, shit!

Brain games on the road again

brain games on the road always (Image credit: National Geographic)

Likewise, Nice is hyper aware of how technology affects the human psyche. That’s no surprise given the curious nature of his social network, which includes the likes of world-renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. If you were surrounded by big thinkers, you too would be very aware of how megacorps use technology as a tool for manipulation.

“We’re actually teaching machines how to think, how to understand our behavior, how to defend themselves, and even practice deception! What could go wrong?” Nice quizzed sarcastically during a 2018 Ted Talk titled, “A fun look at the unintended consequences of technology.”

So when our editor Marc Anthony Ramirez named Chuck Nice to be our next star systems headliner, I was intrigued. Why? Because with Nice I robot-esque skepticism, I was curious about its relationship to technology. Is he actively trying to protect his data from information-hungry entities, or is he resigning himself to being a screen-hypnotized puppet?

During an enlightening telephone conversation, Nice answers these questions. He even makes me wonder why he’s ditching his Android for an iPhone and how he’s using his tech possessions to prepare for Puzzle games on the road.

Chuck’s Defensive Tactics Against Data-Hungry Entities

Some privacy advocates say, “Buy Apple! He cares about your privacy! After all, the Cupertino-based tech giant prides itself on its dedication to protecting consumer data. Last year, Apple rolled out a feature that lets users see how apps are using their data. However, as The Washington Post pointed out, this information is self-reported and humans lie, so it’s not the most reliable resource (although Apple says it does audits regularly). As such, I wondered about the Nice method to avoid invasive technologies.

Apple Privacy Labels

Apple Privacy Labels (Image credit: Apple)

“When Apple says, ‘We’re good stewards of your privacy,’ I don’t think Apple is being magnanimous; it’s Apple finding a clever marketing angle. I can’t blame them for that. It’s a business and trying to make money,” Nice said. “They collect metadata like everyone else does. When you ask Siri something, she knows as much about you, maybe even more, than you know about yourself.”

Nice’s defensive tactics focus less on brand loyalty and more on selecting what they allow on their devices: “First, I don’t download an app unless I Absolutely you have to have it. Second, I will choose to pay for the app before upgrading to the free version. The reason free apps are there, if there is a paid version, is because they want to sell your information. The third thing I do is try my best to turn off push notifications. I don’t care what the app is.”

Push notifications

Push notifications (Image credit: Getty)

However, Nice argues that the best way to reverse the encroachment on privacy is to light a fire under lawmakers’ butts. “The way this battle is won is by putting pressure on the people running our government – and that’s Congress,” he said.

How Chuck is using technology to prepare for “Brain Games on the Road”

Despite Nice’s distrust of technology — especially when it comes to its ethics (or lack thereof) — he’s full of devices to make his busy life more seamless. It uses Apple’s latest high-end tablet, along with its stylus (sold separately), to prepare for Puzzle games on the road.

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9 inch)

iPad Pro 2021 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

“I have got an apple [Pencil] with me iPad Proso that I can make changes to the [Brain Games on the Road] script using the [stylus]”said Nice. The smart TV personality has a Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and says he uses the device the same way, but laments that documents saved on the iPad Pro are not easily “translated” with his Android device.

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9 inch)

iPad Pro 2021 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Nice also uses its iPad Pro, attached with the magic keyboard, as a cafe or bar companion while working on light tasks on the go. The premium tablet also serves as an e-reader for Nice, but the brain games on the road the host has a message for Apple on how they can improve the slate.

Chuck wants the iPad Pro to stop blinding him while he reads

“Let me see the words!” Nice said with a touch of humor. “You don’t have a bright backlight when you’re reading a [physical] page or a magazine,” he added, insinuating that there should be an iPad feature that puts text in the forefront of users’ eyes (not the backlight).

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9 inch)

iPad Pro 2021 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Nice also provides a blue light filter option for the tablet to protect users’ eyes. “With these other drives, even the Samsung [tablet]they allow you to [opt for] a yellow light screen to make it much easier on your eyes. Apple, you’re looking at the same screen all the time,” he said.

Finally, Nice wants Apple to improve the zoom functionality of the iPad Pro: “They must allow you to zoom when reading your articles and your downloads. This is [another] something they have to do.”

Chuck uses a trio of Apple devices for three different tasks

While some prefer to take an all-in-one approach when it comes to their productivity devices, Nice likes to buy laptops and tablets for specific tasks. For example, he reserves e-book reading (and script editing) for his iPad Pro, but you probably won’t catch him reading a novel on his 16-inch MacBook Pro. Instead, it primarily uses the Mac for heavy editing tasks.

16-inch MacBook Pro

16-inch MacBook Pro (Image credit: Apple)

It doesn’t stop there. The NatGeo host also has the 13-inch MacBook Pro, too. “I use the big laptop as a workstation and I use a small laptop as [mobile companion]; I take it with me [on the road]”Nice said.

2020 13-inch MacBook Pro

2020 13-inch MacBook Pro (Image credit: Apple)

While Nice digs into many aspects of its Apple devices, iCloud is the bane of its existence. “iCloud is kind of bullshit. I’m sorry,” Nice said, making me laugh in agreement. “Give me the ability to download whatever I want and leave other stuff where I want. You don’t have to do all cross devices.

Chuck on why he reluctantly trades in his Samsung for an iPhone

As mentioned, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the nice daily driver, which it loves. “I love the stylus,” Nice said, referring to the stylus that comes with the Samsung device. “It’s so great for taking notes. You can also set it to [transforms your penmanship] in the text. Nice also uses the KineMaster app on the Note 20 Ultra, and the S Pen is useful for getting to the bottom of things when it comes to photo and video editing.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra on a wooden block

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

However, Nice is willing to ditch their beloved Samsung in favor of the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Why? He wants a phone with advanced cameras. Let’s say Nice is in a bright room where he’s standing on a stage – he’s also backlit. In this scenario, the TV personality claims that the iPhone 13 Pro offers better camera features to compensate for the bright lighting.

“This Apple phone takes a good photo,” Nice said, adding that the process of changing camera settings to your liking is faster on iOS. “Samsung is like, ‘You can do [the same thing on Android]but there are still four stages.

iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 13 Pro Max (Image credit: future)

Whether it’s a Samsung or Apple device, Nice believes that each can be improved. That being said, I couldn’t help but ask, “What does the perfect laptop look like for Chuck?”

In keeping with Systems of the Stars tradition, we asked Chuck what his dream laptop looked like

Nice told me he would remove the crappy webcam usually found on laptops and replace it with a quality iPhone 13 Pro Max lens. “[Laptop webcams] suck!” Joli said. “They’re still terrible, so I’d have that – my phone’s camera would also be packed into my laptop.”

Chuck Nice with his dream laptop

Chuck Nice and his dream laptop (Image credit: Future/Kimberly Gedeon)

Then the laptop would have a detachable keyboard. “He would fall into place. It’s just as sturdy as a regular keyboard, but I could take it off so I could put the screen up and work from different vantage points,” Nice said.

Nice’s dream laptop would also have Apple’s beloved Retina display technology and it would fill the laptop with its favorite ports: a dual SD card reader, a microSD card reader, and a headphone jack. 3.5mm. In response to why it would have dual SD card readers, he said, “I often work with two different devices.”

Finally, Nice, a self-proclaimed audiophile, would add a quad-speaker setup to his laptop for a surround sound experience while listening to his favorite tunes. “You can’t put all that shit in a laptop ’cause it’ll cost like $8,000,” Nice joked, but hey, the brain games on the road the host can dream.

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