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    DOWNLOAD — Free Version: This week’s guests include commentator John Martellaro, Senior Editor, Analysis & Reviews for The Mac Observer. John’s talking points include the HomePod, and whether some of the critical reviewers, including Consumer Reports magazine, were expecting too much from it. He also brings up a possible sensitivity with nearby objects, where the presence of a salt shaker close to a HomePod seriously hurt sound quality. The discussion moves to 4K/UHD TV, which John says has finally come of age. In a slightly technical discussion, John explains how the expensive iMac Pro can exploit up to 18 cores and whether any of that holds any value for the typical Mac or PC user. There’s also a discussion about a blogger’s curious and overwrought reaction to a pair of visits to an Apple Store that, after some delays, had a favorable result. And why is Apple’s complex product lineup “perfect?”

    You’ll also hear from Josh Centers, Managing Editor for TidBITS, and author of “Take Control of Apple TV” and other titles, who explains how he got an Apple TV 4K at a big discount, and why he’s becoming disenchanted with the product and why he likes Google Chromecast  more and more. In turn, Gene reminds listeners that his VIZIO TV has an embedded Chromecast system known as SmartCast, and why he hasn’t used his Apple TV, an older model, in over two months. And what about the HomePod and the so-called scandal involving white rings being left on oiled or waxed wood surfaces by its silicone base? Should Apple have explained this limitation earlier? What about reports that the Sonos One leaves white traces from its silicone feet? Josh also explains why he’s about to give up on Apple Music.

    Click to hear our latest episode: The Tech Night Owl Live — February 17, 2018

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    More Nonsense About iPhone X Sales

    February 20th, 2018

    Before I comment about yet another nonsensical article claiming poor iPhone X sales, let me remind you of Apple’s results for the December quarter. During the weeks in which it was available, it was the number one best selling smartphone on the planet. Number two was the iPhone 8 Plus, which explains why the average sale prices hit record levels. Whether a natural evolution of the product lineup, or blind luck (which I doubt), Apple made the right moves.

    It also sold more smartphones than Samsung. Not just in revenue but in the number of units sold. So it’s hard to think that any tech commentator would continue to post the fiction that people are resisting the most expensive iPhone.

    I even see more and more of them in use. It’s not a survey, just a random observation. I also see more Apple Watches, even on the hands of cashiers at convenience stores who are not exactly among the highest paid employees.

    Continue Reading...


    Newsletter Issue #951: Recent Apple Gear Inspires the Critics

    February 19th, 2018

    The biggest issues with the media’s response about new Apple gear isn’t just Consumer Reports. True, the publications seems to have a penchant for inserting itself into the debate whenever something from Apple isn’t working as it’s supposed to do. The publication’s marketing team evidently realizes that any bad news about the company will get loads of hits.

    So when the 2016 MacBook Pro delivered questionable battery life results, you can be sure that CR was ready to not recommend it in a preliminary review. But how many personal computers are even granted preliminary reviews?

    It turned out that, yes, the problem was due to an obscure Apple bug. But it was only triggered when Safari was used in a special mode that was primarily meant for web developers. How that was supposed to represent an honest appraisal of its real battery life escapes me. Even when the problem was fixed, the results were still pretty funky compared to what other publications measured. So CR appears to reside in its own reality too.

    Continue Reading…


    The HomePod Report: Oil and Silicone Don’t Mix

    February 16th, 2018

    I suppose this is a subject we’ll get beyond, but it’s early the game for the HomePod, and there are still things left to be discovered. So as more and more reviewers and owners begin to try out their new HomePods, you can bet problems will be discovered. Some might relate to the early adopter phenomenon, where the initial shipments of a new gadget might have glitches of one sort or another.

    There are reports, for example, of early setup issues. Apple has already addressed some of the problems in support documents, and as the product spreads around the world, no doubt there will be more. But Apple can certainly release updates to address these and other issues. There will be an update in the future, for example, to allow you to set up a pair of HomePods for a more realistic stereo image and, I suppose, to convey the feel of surround sound.

    The audio quality may either be exceptional or pretty good with distinct flaws that may vary from musical track to musical track. By using the word “amazing,” Apple may have established unrealistic expectations for what it can do.

    Continue Reading...


    The HomePod Report: Are We Expecting Too Much?

    February 15th, 2018

    Long long ago, when I had a lot more money than I do now, I owned a fairly expensive stereo system. The centerpiece was the Carver Amazing Platinum Mark IV speakers. In polished black, they were truly imposing, with a 60-inch tall ribbon driver and four 12-inch subwoofers in each unit.

    I placed the electronics, which included a preamplifier equipped with tubes no less, in a black cabinet situated  between the speakers. Despite my feeling that they were extremely delicate, they came in a secure box and I moved three times during the years I owned them, but they never sustained damage from those long trips. I did have to replace the ribbon assembly on one of the units early on, however, due a manufacturing defect. But I also had help direct from the designer, my old friend Bob Carver. Yes, I got them at a discount.

    To be sure, they sounded great, but my listening habits changed over the years. As I explained in an earlier post, I sold the entire system, sans cabinet, more than a decade ago to raise funds for a relative suffering from deep financial stress.

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