The last couple of weeks brought new gadgets from Apple, Google and others. We got to work testing the new Apple TV 4K, which Devindra Hardawar says is much better than the previous model based on the remote alone. Billy Steele listened to the new Pixel Buds A-Series, which are just as comfortable as last year’s version and cost $80 less. Devindra also tested the NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti, which provided him with some excellent ray tracing performance but will probably be difficult to get your hands on. And Mat Smith cleaned his apartment with the high-end Dyson V15, which uses lasers to help get your floors spotless.
Devindra spent some time with the 2021 Apple TV 4K, which is quite similar to last year’s model, save for the new Siri remote that makes a huge difference in daily use. The new remote has a directional pad with touchpad capabilities, both of which solve some of the complaints about the fussiness of the previous model. It’s also chunkier and easier to hold, and Devindra says the shape and size make it more difficult to misplace. The commands and layout were also an improvement. Devindra went so far as to recommend that current Apple TV owners upgrade the remote on its own.
The rest of the device is largely similar to the previous, though it is slightly faster. The A12 Bionic processor gives it Dolby Vision and HDR video capabilities. During testing, Devindra found the set-top box was able to switch easily between different apps and streams, and could even throw videos into picture-in-picture view while he navigated through other apps. He also liked the HomeKit support, which allowed him to control smart lights even while away from home. Though it is one of the most expensive streaming devices, Devindra still believes it provides a ton of benefits, particularly for iOS users.
Google officially revealed the Pixel Buds A-Series this week and they should hit shelves by June 17th. Billy Steele tested the new wireless earbuds to see how they compared to last year’s version. He reports that while the A-Series buds lack a few features, their $99 price tag makes them an impressive achievement. The earbuds have a new Dark Olive color option but remain small, round and comfortable when tucked into the ear, just like the previous model. Rated IPX4, the A-Series is water-resistant enough to last through workouts, too. The buds and the case together weigh 14 grams less than the previous Pixel Buds, so they’re lightweight enough to wear for long periods of time.
Billy said the sound profile remains similar to last year’s model: a balanced mix across styles with good clarity in the details. He also pointed out that the addition of a bass boost in the app solves a previous drawback. But the A-Series is not without shortcomings: most notably, it does not have wireless charging or on-board controls. But the deep Google Assistant integration, sound quality, fit and — of course — low price make them a promising option.
Trying to buy a GPU in today’s market is still a huge hassle because of supply shortages and scalpers. Devindra Hardawar says the new NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti will certainly be a unicorn on store shelves (if you manage to find it) because of its excellent ray tracing performance and fast speeds. Our benchmark testing says a lot about the 3080 Ti’s performance: it hit 600 points more than the 3080 on the 3DMark TimeSpy Extreme test and was nearly 1,000 points faster than the Radeon 6800 XT. What that translates to in real-world gameplay is almost 200fps in Destiny 2 running at 1,440p with maxed out graphics settings — and handling the demanding ray tracing of Control at 85 to 90fps, which impressed Devindra.
However, because the 3080 Ti basically crams a 3090 into a 3080 case, cooling could become a concern. Devindra noticed that the fans were louder and ran more frequently and that might become an issue for anyone who games in a warmer environment or those who eschew headphones. Despite the fan noise and problems with the supply chain, he still felt that the 3080 Ti is a powerhouse of a GPU that will please ambitious gamers.
Mat Smith’s time with the Dyson V15 Detect vacuum helped him get his rugs, carpet and hardwood floors as clean as they’ve ever been. He did this largely by using the laser “blade” light on the cleaning head, which identifies hairs, dust and other debris. While he was impressed with its ability to collect what other vacuum cleaners hadn’t, the $699 price tag is admittedly nauseating.
The laser on the cleaning head is aimed at a 7.2mm level, which is ideal for finding dust bunnies. However, it didn’t work on carpets or rugs because of the 1.5-degree angle. Additionally, a new piezo acoustic sensor detects the size and frequency of the dust by turning tiny vibrations of the dust particles hitting a surface into electrical signals inside the cleaning head. This means the V15 can also display a particle count on the LCD display on the handle, givbetter idea of how many particles you’ve sucked up. With a full battery, Mat was able to run it for 20-minutes in Boost cleaning mode, but he found the need to constantly pull the trigger to activate the vacuum a bit tiring.