Posts with «author_name|devindra hardawar» label

Engadget Podcast: Kindle Scribe review and the rise of Twitter clones

Finally, a Kindle you can write on! This week, we dive into Cherlynn’s review of the Kindle Scribe, Amazon’s first e-reader that can also capture handwritten notes. The hardware is great, but as usual, Amazon’s software feels half-baked. Also, Devindra and Cherlynn discuss the rise of new Twitter alternatives like Hive Social and Post. It looks like many communities are already splintering off to these services, but unfortunately, they can’t yet replicate the magic of Twitter.

Listen below or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!

Subscribe!


Topics

  • Kindle Scribe review – 1:13

  • Rise of the Twitter clones: Hive Social, Post, and Mastodon – 19:28

  • Amazon will lose $10 billion on its Alexa division this year – 34:12

  • We’ve got a new trailer for the Super Mario Bros. animated movie – 38:01

  • Working on – 43:58

  • Pop culture picks – 45:30

Livestream

Credits
Hosts: Cherlynn Low and Devindra Hardawar
Producer: Ben Ellman
Music: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien
Livestream producers: Julio Barrientos
Graphic artists: Luke Brooks and Brian Oh

FCC bans telecom and video surveillance gear from Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies

Last year, the Biden administration signed the Secure Equipment Act into law, which aimed to block the authorization of network licenses from several Chinese companies whose hardware has been deemed a national security threat. Today, the FCC announced that it's officially implementing that ruling, which means some future equipment from Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hikvision and Dahua won't be authorized for sale in the US. Existing equipment from those companies, which are all listed under the FCC's "Covered List," aren't affected by the law.

“The FCC is committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders, and we are continuing that work here,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications.”

To be clear, the FCC isn't completely blocking all hardware from these companies. And for some, like Hytera, Hikvision and Dahua, Rosenworcel writes that it's specifically focusing on gear related to "the purpose of public safety, security of government facilities, physical surveillance of critical infrastructure, and other national security purposes." If those companies can show that they're not marketing that equipment for government use — for example, directing it consumers instead — they may be able get authorized by the FCC.

This latest move follows years of conflict between the US and companies closely tied to Chinese governments. That's included placing several notable Chinese companies, including DJI, on the Department of Commerce's "Entity List," which prohibits US firms from selling equipment to them. The FCC is also calling for $5 billion to help US carriers with the massive task of replacing equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

Engadget Podcast: Diving into our Holiday Gift Guide

This week, Cherlynn and Devindra chat with Senior Commerce Editor, Valentina Palladino, about our massive Holiday Gift Guide. If you’re looking for a decent laptop to gift, or maybe some budget gear for yourself, we’ve got you covered! Also, they dig into the FTX debacle (which got much worse than last week!), and Elon Musk’s ongoing fail whale Twitter acquisition. And on a surprising note, we end up having strong feelings about Amazon’s chat-based virtual healthcare service.

Listen below, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!

Subscribe!


Topics

  • Engadget 2022 Holiday Gift Guide – 1:24

  • NASA’s Artemis 1 rocket finally launches – 27:20

  • Cherlynn got to try Apple’s SOS satellite text message service – 28:56

  • Qualcomm announces Snapdragon chips with hardware-accelerated ray tracing – 34:33

  • Tuvalu turns to the metaverse to save its culture from climate change – 38:38

  • Meta axes its Portal video chat device – 40:21

  • FTX continues to collapse as regulator investigations begin – 43:15

  • Elon Twitter is a mess: your weekly update – 48:36

  • Working on – 1:02:47

  • Pop culture picks – 1:05:59

Livestream

Credits
Hosts: Cherlynn Low and Devindra Hardawar
Guest: Valentina Palladino
Producer: Ben Ellman
Music: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien
Livestream producers: Julio Barrientos
Graphic artists: Luke Brooks and Brian Oh

Evernote, once the king of note-taking apps, has been bought by Bending Spoons

It looks like Evernote's 2020 redesign wasn't enough to keep it independent. Today, the former darling notetaking app for productivity hounds, which was once valued at 1 billion dollars, announced that it has been purchased by Bending Spoons. If that name sounds unfamiliar to you, you're not alone. It's a Milan-based developer behind mobile apps like the video editor Splice, and the AI image editing tool Gemini. They look like well-designed and genuinely useful apps, but they're far from Evernote's once lofty goal of helping you to remember everything.

In a blog post, Evernote CEO Ian Small said the company is currently testing out collaborative editing between multiple users, and it's close to launching beta tests for deep Office 365 calendar integration. While that's good to hear, especially for the few remaining Evernote addicts like this reporter, those are also features that have existed in other platforms for years. It may also be tough to convince friends and colleagues to collaborate on an Evernote document — which may involve signing up for an account and learning a new interface — when Google Docs has made that simple for years.

"While ownership is changing hands, our commitment to keeping your data safe and secure remains as steadfast as ever, and the Evernote you know and love will continue to thrive," Smalls said in the post. "Joining Bending Spoons allows us to take advantage of their proven app expertise and wide range of proprietary technologies." 

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. But the fact that Evernote was purchased by a small app firm, rather than a notable tech giant, may be telling. Evernote raised nearly $300 million during the initial hype cycle around mobile apps. But the company eventually lost focus, branching out to real-world products like a smart notebook with Moleskin. Its apps were incredibly buggy for years, and it did a poor job of convincing users to actually pay for its product. 

Somehow, I stuck with it though. I have over a decade's worth of notes living in Evernote — countless news stories, interviews (with their accompanying audio), reviews and PDFs. My attempts at finding replacements have typically ended in failure (sorry OneNote, I just don't like your editor). This acquisition isn't exactly the death knell for Evernote, but it certainly feels like the end of an era. Will my data be safe under a new owner? Can I rely on fast and accurate synchronization? I'll probably stick around for a bit longer, but all of a sudden, the alternatives are looking a lot more compelling.

NVIDIA RTX 4080 review: A (slightly) more practical 4K gaming titan

Sure, we all want NVIDIA's RTX 4090, but it's tough to stomach its $1,599 starting price (if you can even find it at that price) or its massive power demands. That leaves impatient PC gamers with only one other new NVIDIA option this year: the $1,199 RTX 4080 with 16GB of VRAM. While $400 isn't exactly a huge discount in the world of high-end PC gaming (certainly not as significant as the $899 12GB RTX 4080 that NVIDIA "unlaunched."), it may tempt some gamers.

After all, it's faster than the RTX 3080 Ti that launched at the same price earlier this year, and it works with NVIDIA's powerful new DLSS 3 upscaling technology (which is limited to 4000-series GPUs). If you can live without the bragging rights of having a 4090, the RTX 4080 is a powerful GPU that'll satisfy anyone who wants to game in 4K with ray tracing. For those stuck with lower resolution monitors, though, you're probably better off waiting for the eventual 4070 and 4060 cards, as well as AMD's upcoming RDNA 3 GPUs.

Surprisingly enough, the RTX 4080 Founders Edition we reviewed shares the exact same design as the 4090. They both take up three PCI-e slots, sport massive vapor chambers, and they retain the unique pass-through fan design from NVIDIA's previous GPUs. I was expecting something a bit smaller, to be honest. At least the 4080 only needs three 8-pin PSU cables to function, whereas the 4090 demands four. (Both cards can also be powered by a single PCIe 5.0 PSU cable, but those power supplies are pretty rare at the moment.)

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

The 4080's power cables also hint at one of its major advantages: It has a 320-watt thermal design profile (TDP) and requires a 750W PSU, whereas the 4090 has a far more demanding 450W TDP. Unless you already have an 850W power supply, upgrading to the 4090 may involve getting a new unit and rewiring power throughout your entire system. These cards won't always use their maximum power loads, but you'll still need to be ready for the rare moments when they need more juice.

While it may look just like the 4090, the RTX 4080 is a dramatically different beast under the hood. It's powered by 9,728 CUDA cores, 16GB of GDDR6X VRAM and offers a base clock speed of 2.21GHz (with boost speeds to 2.51GHz). The 4090, on the other hand, has 16,384 CUDA cores, slightly higher clock speeds and a whopping 24GB of VRAM. Compared to the 3080 Ti, the 4080 wins out with NVIDIA's new Ada Lovelace architecture, significantly faster speeds and 4GB more VRAM. (The 3080 Ti technically has around 500 more CUDA cores, but they're also inherently slower and less efficient than NVIDIA's new platform.)

So what do these numbers mean in practice? The RTX 4080 scored around 3,500 fewer points in 3DMark's TimeSpy Extreme benchmark compared to the 4090. But if that more powerful card didn't exist, the 4080 would be the most capable GPU we've ever reviewed. Its TimeSpy Extreme score was about 50 percent higher than the 3080 Ti, and it reached a comfortable 130fps while playing Halo Infinite in 4K with all of its graphics settings maxed out. Seeing Cyberpunk 2077 hit 74fps in 4K with ultra ray tracing settings (and the help of DLSS 3) nearly brought a tear to my eye.

None

3DMark TimeSpy Extreme

Port Royal (Ray Tracing)

Control

Blender

NVIDIA RTX 4090

12,879

17,780/82fps

4K (Native) High RT: 42 fps

9,310

NVIDIA RTX 3090

16,464

25,405/117.62 fps

4K (Native) High RT: 107 fps

12,335

NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti

8,683

12,948/59.95fps

4K (Native) Med RT: 43 fps

5,940

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

7,713

9,104/42.15fps

4K (Native) No RT: 28-40 fps

N/A

A word on DLSS 3: It's NVIDIA's latest AI solution that can take lower-quality imagery and upscale it to higher resolutions. But in addition to intelligently sharpening edges and upgrading textures, DLSS 3 can also inject interpolated frames to smooth out 4K gameplay. While I can occasionally spot issues with particularly low quality DLSS upscaling, I didn't notice any unusual framerate hiccups while testing Cyberpunk and A Plague Tale: Requiem with the technology enabled.

The only real downside to the RTX 4080 is that I can't help but compare it to the 4090. That same Cyberpunk ray tracing benchmark was almost twice as fast on the 4090, reaching an eye-watering 135 fps. It also hit a 40-fps-higher average framerate in the 3DMark Port Royal ray tracing benchmark. Still, these are the sorts of gains only the most dedicated gamers will notice, the exact market for the 4090. When it comes to actual 4K gameplay, even with ray tracing in demanding games like Control, I never felt held back by the RTX 4080.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

And if you're looking for more performance, overclocking is always an option. I didn't have a chance to do so myself, but the 4080's thermal performance makes me think there's plenty of room for pushing things harder. It never climbed beyond 61 celsius during my testing, around 10 degrees cooler than the 4090. That's a testament to NVIDIA's excellent cooling setup (and perhaps partially due to my office being slightly cooler this month).

The real question: Is it worth settling for the 4080 if there's a chance you'll actually be able to buy the 4090 for $1,599? At the moment, most online retailers are selling 4090 cards for well above $2,000. It sounds crazy to say it, but the $1,199 card seems like a steal with that gulf. But, of course, who knows how long you'll be able to find the RTX 4080 at its launch price. It likely won't be too long before it creeps towards the 4090's higher tag.

And if paying more than $1,000 for a video card seems insane to you — and let's be clear, it should — sit tight to see what NVIDIA's future cards look like. We're definitely expecting RTX 4070, 4060 and 4050 cards eventually, but the the question is when. (Also, what the heck will NVIDIA do with its planned $899 4080 GPU? Does that become the 4070?) AMD's flagship RDNA 3 GPUs will launch below $1,000, and at the entry level, Intel's new Arc GPUs are surprisingly compelling.

All in all, the RTX 4080 is exactly what I'd want from an RTX 3080 Ti successor. It's faster and has plenty of new features to make it a demonstrable leap from the previous cards. I'm not saying you should be upgrading your 3080 anytime soon, but if you somehow stumble onto $1,199, I wouldn't blame you for being tempted by the 4080.

Magic Leap 2 is the best AR headset yet, but will an enterprise focus save the company?

Magic Leap's glasses were supposed to lead us into the augmented reality era, a world beyond screens where we could interact with digital objects as if they were standing right next to us. Too bad they failed spectacularly. By early 2020, the company had raised nearly $2 billion. But aside from a few flashy demos and wild art projects, there wasn't much of a reason for anyone to buy a $2,295 headset (it reportedly only sold around 6,000 units). Like Google Glass before it, Magic Leap felt like a false start for AR, a solution to a problem that didn't exist.

But the company isn't dead yet. With a new CEO onboard — former Microsoft executive Peggy Johnson — it's aiming for something far more practical: AR for the enterprise. That may seem like a retread of the HoloLens playbook, which has focused on business customers for years, but Magic Leap has a shot at giving Microsoft some serious competition with its second-generation AR glasses.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

The $3,299 Magic Leap 2 (ML2), which launched in September, is easier to wear, far more powerful and it offers a dramatically larger (and taller) AR field of view than any headset we've seen before. It has the unique ability to dim its display, allowing you to block out light and focus more on virtual objects. And it should be easier for developers to work with, thanks to a new Android-based OS. While it's still unclear if the company's new business plan will pay off, ML2 is still a significant achievement, especially now that Meta is also pushing into similar AR-like territory with the $1,500 Quest Pro.

"It's been a long struggle," Magic Leap SVP and head of hardware Kevin Curtis said in an interview with Engadget. "When we came out of ML1, we learned a tremendous amount... Not just technically, but also from a market point of view. So that really was used to set the goals for ML2."

Some of those goals seemed impossible at the time. The company wanted to double the field of view (FOV) — the amount of screen area where you can actually see AR objects — as well cut the device's volume in half. Those moves would make its sequel headset even more immersive, while also being more comfortable for extended wear. According to Curtis, bumping up the field of view from 50 degrees to 70 degrees with ML1's projector and eyepiece technology would have required wearing something as large as an open hand. That's not exactly doable all day.

Magic Leap

Magic Leap spent years exploring existing forms of projection, including laser-scan based systems, uLED arrays and LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon), but found them all lacking. Instead, it developed its own custom architecture, which uses LCoS together with LED RGB light modules and a complex system of concentrators and polarizers to bring images to your eyes. That works together with a new eyepiece design to achieve its lofty 70 degree field of view.

But what does that actually mean? The Magic Leap 1 headset featured a FOV of 50 degrees, which made it seem as if you were viewing AR through a car's cramped rear window. (That was comparable to HoloLens 2's 52 degrees of viewing.) With Magic Leap 2, the company hit a 70 degree FOV by increasing the vertical viewing area, allowing you to see taller objects without moving your head up and down. During my brief demo, it felt more like standing in front of an open doorway.

Magic Leap

That's more akin to how you view things in real life, according to Curtis, and it goes a long way towards convincing you the AR objects you're seeing are real. I've tried a wide variety of headsets over the years (including the defunct entry from the startup Meta, which existed long before Facebook's name change), and the Magic Leap 2 is the first one that's delivered a genuine sense of presence. Whether I was viewing a large piece of medical equipment, or an expansive 3D model of downtown San Diego, I had to try hard to see the edges. It was almost aggressively immersive.

The new projection technology also helped Magic Leap achieve its goal of reducing ML2's volume by more than half, leading to a 20 percent weight drop (it clocks in at just 260 grams, slightly more than half a pound). The result is a pair of AR glasses that feel more like, well, glasses. While the original headset looked like a pair of enormous ski goggles, ML2 has flatter lenses and slimmer arms, making you seem less like a bug-eyed dork and more like an engineer or surgeon gearing up for a big project. (It's no wonder Magic Leap gave health startups a headstart with access to its new hardware and software.)

All of this custom development will also help Magic Leap deliver better headsets down the line. The company claims its eventual Magic Leap 3 glasses, which have no release date yet, will lose another 50 percent in volume and deliver a larger field of view. The technology can potentially be scaled beyond 80 degrees, allowing you to view a building-sized object unencumbered by any AR boundaries.

As I started demoing the Magic Leap 2 in a brightly lit hotel meeting room, it was mostly what I expected: A more comfortable and higher quality version of its predecessor. But at one point, I hit a button and the screen started to go dark, as if a shadowy cloud was blotting out the sickly fluorescent lights above me. I had flipped on the headset's global dimmer, which darkens the real world to better highlight virtual objects. The result is an almost VR-like experience. The virtual map I was viewing, which showed how first responders were dealing with wildfires in Colorado, all of a sudden looked sharper and more colorful. I wasn't distracted by the boring meeting desk in front of me, or the occasional bystander walking by.

Every AR solution adds light, Curtis explained, what's unique about ML2 is that it's able to add the color black. The dimmer module is another display that sits in front of the headset's eyepiece, allowing it to reduce light across the entire screen, or into specific areas, by a factor of 100. That'll let you use ML2 in brightly lit rooms, or even outside on a sunny day, without making the AR images seem washed out. Developers can also use the dimmer to add shadows to their objects, giving you an added layer of depth in AR.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

As Magic Leap was working on making AR more VR-like, Meta was also doubling down on bringing the real world into VR with the Quest Pro. Thanks to new cameras and upgraded hardware, Meta is pitching that headset as a way to bring VR elements into your typical workflow (just imagine viewing VR windows dancing above your laptop's screen). Based on my time with the Quest Pro so far, that's not something I'd actually want much of. The cameras just aren't good enough yet. But it's funny to see Meta tackling a similar problem as Magic Leap from another angle. Somewhere between these two headsets is the ideal balance between the immersion of VR, and the real world integration of AR.

I was so distracted by Magic Leap 2's expanded field of view and dimming capabilities, I barely noticed that its controller felt more ergonomic. And I didn't think much of the headset's computing pack, which can now be worn across your body like a messenger bag. Naturally, it has faster hardware inside (specifically, a quad-core AMD Zen 2 processor and RDNA 2 graphics). But my main takeaway, after years of AR and VR testing, and the seemingly endless drumbeat of metaverse hype from an increasingly desperate Mark Zuckerberg, is that it’s nice to be genuinely surprised by a new headset.

Magic Leap

But of course, tech alone won't make a successful product. Magic Leap isn't targeting ML2 towards consumers at all, instead it's being pitched to doctors who may want a bit of AR assistance during surgery, or engineers who would like to pull up schematics when they're standing in front of complex machinery.

"I think it's improved a lot, [Magic Leap is a] different company," said Chief Marketing Officer Daniel Diez, when I asked about the state of Magic Leap today. Amid dismal sales of its first headset, and increasingly dire financials, founder and CEO Rony Abovitz left in 2020. But now, thanks to more than $1 billion in additional funding and a new leader in Peggy Johnson, it has another shot at the AR market.

At the very least, it’s clear the metaverse isn’t a problem Meta can solve on its own. Magic Leap is one of the few established competitors out there, making it a company that’s still worth watching. And if the enterprise play doesn’t work out, there’s a chance a large company like Google (one of its original investors) may have some use for all of this AR tech.

Engadget Podcast: A foldable iPhone, Meta layoffs and the fall of FTX

We’re still waiting for Apple to deliver a genuine foldable iPhone, but that didn’t stop a group of engineers in China from crafting their own prototype. This week, Cherlynn and Devindra dive into the possibility of a real foldable iPhone, plus they discuss Meta’s massive layoffs and the fast downfall of the crypto exchange FTX. Also, what are the ethics of Apple limiting AirDrop in China (and eventually the rest of the world)?

Listen below, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!

Subscribe!


Topics

  • Chinese modders made a foldable iPhone – 1:32

  • Meta lays off 11,000 people worldwide – 12:48

  • Sale of crypto exchange FTX to Chinese-based Binance fails – 20:56

  • Musk Twitter is a mess: the weekly update – 26:41

  • Apple sets time limit for receiving Airdrops in China – 31:38

  • Volvo unveils its EX90 EV SUV – 35:52

  • Instagram’s web client has finally been redesigned – 39:37

  • Google starts issuing Stadia refunds – 41:22

  • Working on – 47:03

  • Pop culture picks – 49:10

Livestream

Credits
Hosts: Cherlynn Low and Devindra Hardawar
Producer: Ben Ellman
Music: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien
Livestream producers: Julio Barrientos
Graphic artists: Luke Brooks and Brian Oh

Engadget Podcast: Elon Musk’s Twitter fiasco

Well, it finally happened: Elon Musk has officially taken over Twitter. This week, Cherlynn and Devindra are joined by Engadget’s Karissa Bell to discuss how Musk is reshaping the social network. Are all the changes bad, or is there some method to his madness? (Spoiler: It looks more like desperation than anything else.) Also, we dive into some recent Google AI news, and Devindra explains why the new Apple TV 4K is genuinely great.

Listen below, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!

Subscribe!


Topics

  • Elon Musk’s Twitter fiasco – 1:26

  • Thinking of leaving Twitter? Here are some platforms to check out – 21:49

  • Google announces package tracking in Gmail – 29:55

  • Texas AG sues Google over facial recognition data collection – 35:23

  • The PS VR2 will cost $550, arrives February 22, 2023 – 38:07

  • Xiaomi’s 12S Ultra concept phone has a massive camera with interchangeable lenses – 40:35

  • Working on – 43:42

  • Pop culture picks – 48:57

Credits
Hosts: Cherlynn Low and Devindra Hardawar
Guest: Karissa Bell
Producer: Ben Ellman
Music: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien

AMD's first RDNA3 GPUs are the Radeon RX 7900 XTX and 7900 XT

Now that NVIDIA has kicked off the latest video card wave with the insanely powerful RTX 4090, all eyes are on AMD to see how it will respond. Today, the company announced the Radeon RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT, two confusingly named GPUs powered by its new RDNA3 architecture. On stage during its Las Vegas launch event, AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su claimed the new hardware offers a 54 percent increase in performance per watt over the previous GPUs. She also emphasized that AMD is focused on delivering complex performance with reasonable power usage, a clear knock against NVIDIA's power-hungry (and PSU cable-melting) RTX 4090.

Developing...

Apple TV 4K review (2022): Still the best streaming box by a long shot

After Apple finally gave us a decent Siri remote last year, I couldn't imagine the Apple TV 4K getting much better. It's not like anyone is clamoring for an 8K upgrade – all we need these days is support for fast 4K streaming, as well as the multitude of HDR (high definition range) formats out there. The new Apple TV 4K can easily meet those demands, but what's truly impressive is that it's far faster than before and it's a lot cheaper at $129 (down from $179)! At last, there's an Apple TV I can recommend to anyone without hesitation.

Let's start with what's new: this year's Apple TV 4K is powered by an A15 Bionic chip, which launched with the iPhone 13 (and is still being used in the iPhone 14). That's a huge leap forward from the 2018-era A12 in the previous model. The new box also ships with 64GB of storage, instead of a meager 32GB. If you're planning to load up a ton of games and apps, there's also a 128GB model for $149, which adds an Ethernet port and support for the Thread internet-of-things protocol. Finally, Apple has integrated HDR10+ support, which works similar to Dolby Vision for delivering more accurate HDR in every scene.

At first glance, the Apple TV 4K looks the same as the previous models: a smooth black box with obscenely rounded corners. Peer a bit closer, though, and you'll notice it's actually smaller, like a prop rendering of its predecessor. Apple says it has 20 percent less volume than before, a result of losing the fan from previous models (this one runs silently) and being powered by more efficient hardware. Apple wouldn't say what, exactly, led to the dramatic price drop. But I'd bet it's down to simpler manufacturing, as well as a dip in component pricing across the board.

If you want to hear me wax poetic about Apple's Siri Remote, just check out my review of the last Apple TV. I'm still enamored with it a year later: It's easy to hold, has all of the basic functions you'd want, and it's far harder to lose than the previous super-thin remote. I'm still baffled why we were forced to use a glass-backed remote with a crummy touchpad on the original Apple TV 4K. Long live the new model and it's touch-sensitive, directional clickpad.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

So sure, the hardware is great, but how's the software? Setting up the Apple TV 4K is now surprisingly easy, assuming you're already beholden to Apple's ecosystem. After plugging it in, I just had to tap my iPhone to the box to send over my WiFi and iCloud credentials. I chose to synchronize my home screens, which made all of the apps from my current Apple TV pop over. At that point, all I had to do was log into my usual streaming haunts, and I was ready to go.

After using every Apple TV the company has put out over the last decade, I had one immediate thought as I started using this new model: Holy hell this thing is fast. That's not to say the last version was slow, by any means. But there's a snappiness to this year's box that just feels freeing. I can swipe through all of the apps on my homescreen with ease, launch Netflix a few seconds faster than before, and drill through my library of movies without breaking a sweat. No more slight loading delays or pinwheels.

It could just be that I'm experiencing the rush of a brand new device, one uncluttered by a year's worth of use. But using the new Apple TV 4K feels like the difference between using an iPhone X and an iPhone 14 — everything just happens faster, with a greater sense of urgency. I found that most useful when I was flipping between apps and different videos. While I was catching up on Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities on Netflix, I could quickly hop over to check out my YouTube channels while my wife needed a bathroom break, and then resume the creepiness when she returned. Again, this is something I did frequently with the previous box, but now the Apple TV feels completely unencumbered.

Amid my speed viewing, I was also impressed to see that the Apple TV handles HDR 10+ without any issues. The opening chase in No Time to Die looked glorious, with excellent highlights in the brightly-lit European streets, but also solid shadow detail in darker scenes. That's the main appeal of HDR10+. Like the original HDR 10 standard, it delivers both brighter brights and darker darks. But, it can also adjust those settings based on the scene you're viewing, just like Dolby Vision. That avoids some issues commonly seen with HDR 10, where one HDR profile setting may not work well across a wide variety of scenes.

While testing the Apple TV 4K on Samsung's 55-inch Odyssey Ark monitor, I was also able to view Dolby Vision titles from iTunes via HDR10+. That feature is particularly useful on the Ark, since it doesn't support Dolby Vision on its own. You can expect HDR10+ to work across Apple TV+ offerings, as well as many titles available for rent or purchase. Amazon has also been pushing the standard for years, so you'll find native HDR10+ support across all of its originals. (It looked particularly great during the opening of The Peripheral.)

If you weren't a fan of the Apple TV's interface before, this new model won't change your mind. But as someone who has tested plenty of streaming devices, I still feel most at home with the Apple TV. I appreciate its wide variety of apps, its seamless integration with iOS devices, and the overall polish you don't see on Roku's software. Sure, you can use the Apple TV app on competing devices today (including Roku's!), but that's just a gateway to content. It's not the same as living with an elegantly designed streaming interface day-to-day.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Another plus? The Apple TV actually has games you may want to play .I was able to load up Sonic Racing in a few seconds, pair an Xbox controller, and start zooming around the track without much issue. The A15 Bionic should allow for smoother performance on more demanding games, but I've personally never seen anything stress these boxes much.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the Apple TV this year: you don't have to pay as much of a premium to own it. At $129, it's a bit pricier than the $100 Roku Ultra, but in exchange you get a far more robust app platform and more features. The $149 model we reviewed is a smarter buy if you demand Ethernet, or would like to start using Thread IoT devices. (I didn't have any Thread-compatible hardware to test, unfortunately.) But even that model is a decent bit cheaper than the previous $179 Apple TV.

If you already bought last year's Apple TV 4K for its new Siri remote, this new box probably isn't worth the upgrade. But if you picked up an HDR10+ TV recently, it may be worth the step up, just so you're seeing the best HDR picture possible.

It’s taken a while, but Apple has finally managed to craft the ideal streaming box: one that’s relatively inexpensive, filled with modern features and fast. So damn fast.