March 31, 2018 — Kirk McElhearn and Bryan Chaffin

This week, we present a very special encore episode, in which we feature outspoken podcaster and columnist Kirk McElhearn, who focuses heavily on his experiences with Apple’s HomePod. He explains the problems he’s found with the product, particularly a bassy response, and problems with Apple’s Siri voice assistant. Will future software updates allow you to adjust the frequency profile of a HomePod, other than with iTunes? What about improving Siri’s recognition accuracy? What about eliminating the problem where it leaves white rings on wood surfaces that are oiled or waxed? Kirk also covers possible future Macs, such as a new Mac Pro and whether there will be an upgrade to the Mac mini, which hasn’t been updated since 2014? Gene continues his suggestion that HP’s Z2 Mini Workstation is a potential future direction with the Mac mini, offering powerful performance at a relatively low cost.

You’ll also hear from commentator Bryan Chaffin, co-founder and co-publisher of The Mac Observer, He also talks about the HomePad, and his perception of its sonic quality and future prospects. What about the still-delayed AirPlay 2 feature that was first promised to Apple users in iOS 11 last year? What about the curious disconnect between unproven claims that iPhone X sales collapsed last year, compared to Apple’s own financials that indicated high sales and revenue for iPhones, and reports that the iPhone X was the highest selling model  on the planet during the weeks it was on sale? How do such false stories get started and why do they continue even after Apple revealed the truth? There’s also talk about the unexpected success of the Apple Watch which, in 2017, became the number one best selling wearable on the planet. This comes after the Apple Watch was regarded as a tepid performer in the marketplace for so long.

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March 24, 2018 — Adam Engst and Jeff Gamet

On this week’s all-star episode, we present writer/editor Adam Engst, of TidBITS, both of whom talk about their different approaches to watching TV. Gene actually cares about the technology, while Adam will more or less accept anything that works. The Apple TV isn’t treated well by Gene, who suggests that at least some sets with built-in smart features are more or less just as useful. There’s also a discussion about the HomePod, and its tendency to sound a little bassy. And what about Siri? Has it truly reached its potential or does it need work? What about a published report that some of the original Siri employees at Apple were unhappy with its direction and how Apple handled its development. Or would it take an improved scheme to handle its higher and higher load on Apple’s servers? Gene suggests an error correcting feature, where you inform Siri when it makes a mistake and give it permission to allow Apple to record the problem.

You’ll also hear from Jeff Gamet, Managing Editor for The Mac Observer, who also focuses on the so-called Siri follies. Gene repeats his suggestion about setting up an error-correcting feature to improve its accuracy. Jeff mentions the recent auction of a job application from Steve Jobs, as Gene wonders why anyone would actually care about such a thing, while Jeff reminds us of Jobs’ influence on society. There’s also a pop culture discussion that includes well-known character actors and how they enhance the value of a film or TV show. Focusing on 4K TV, Gene and Jeff discuss the confusion and incompatibilities of HDR. Even if a TV or set-top box supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, not all sets will be able to present content in both formats. To make matters all the more confusing, not all sets support HDR from all HDMI ports, even the ones that are supposed to support these formats.

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March 17, 2018 — John Martellaro and Josh Centers

This week, we present a classic encore episode featuring 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.

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March 10, 2018 — Russell Holly and Peter Cohen

We feature commentator Russell Holly, managing editor of Mobile Nations, who focuses first on the proposals for “Right to Repair” laws in a number of states, including, most recently, California. What about giving consumers the right to buy genuine OEM parts for their tech gear, such as iPhones, and have access to service manuals? Can Apple and other companies void your warranty because you decided to fix your gear yourself, buy gray market parts, and/or have the repairs done at a shop not authorized by the manufacturer? Gene and Russell also talk at length about Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ smartphones, recently introduced, and how they might compare with the iPhone X. What about the cameras, and which model delivers the best pictures? Did Samsung improve the quality of its facial and iris recognition features? There’ also talk about the HomePod, which has proven to be somewhat controversial when it comes to its audio signature, with some saying it’s too bassy.

You’ll also hear from commentator/podcaster Peter Cohen, who also focuses on “Right to Repair” and the upsides and downsides. Peter offers his personal experiences as the employee of an authorized Apple dealer some years ago and how it influenced his opinion about whether Apple and other companies need to allow more repair freedom. There’s also a brief discussion about the concept of states’ rights and how it affects customers where such laws vary from state to state. The discussion also focuses on the HomePod and its possible value as a smart speaker. Both Gene and Peter explain, at length, why a HomePod is not on their shopping lists right now, and whether Apple could sell more copies if it loosened its dependence on Apple’s ecosystem when it comes to being able to listen to your stuff.

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March 3, 2018 — Kirk McElhearn and Bryan Chaffin

On this week’s episode, we feature outspoken podcaster and columnist Kirk McElhearn, who focuses heavily on his experiences with Apple’s HomePod. He explains the problems he’s found with the product, particularly a bassy response, and problems with Apple’s Siri voice assistant. Will future software updates allow you to adjust the frequency profile of a HomePod, other than with iTunes? What about improving Siri’s recognition accuracy? What about eliminating the problem where it leaves white rings on wood surfaces that are oiled or waxed? Kirk also covers possible future Macs, such as a new Mac Pro and whether there will be an upgrade to the Mac mini, which hasn’t been updated since 2014? Gene continues his suggestion that HP’s Z2 Mini Workstation is a potential future direction with the Mac mini, offering powerful performance at a relatively low cost.

You’ll also hear from commentator Bryan Chaffin, co-founder and co-publisher of The Mac Observer, He also talks about the HomePad, and his perception of its sonic quality and future prospects. What about the still-delayed AirPlay 2 feature that was first promised to Apple users in iOS 11 last year? What about the curious disconnect between unproven claims that iPhone X sales collapsed last year, compared to Apple’s own financials that indicated high sales and revenue for iPhones, and reports that the iPhone X was the highest selling model  on the planet during the weeks it was on sale? How do such false stories get started and why do they continue even after Apple revealed the truth? There’s also talk about the unexpected success of the Apple Watch which, in 2017, became the number one best selling wearable on the planet. This comes after the Apple Watch was regarded as a tepid performaner in the marketplace for so long.

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