Apple’s new iPad Pro improves upon last year’s with a faster processor and 5G support – but the upgrade is really for power users

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Apple Event April 2021
iPad Pro

  • The 2021 Apple iPad Pro features improved specs while keeping the 2020 model‘s $799 starting price.
  • You can preorder the new tablet starting April 30, and units are expected to ship in mid-May.
  • The M1 processor and 5G option are nice features, but 2020 iPad owners should wait for a bigger upgrade.

On April 20, Apple announced the fifth-generation of its iPad Pro line. The new tablet has a lot of the same features as the 2020 edition, but adds an upgraded display, 5G connectivity support, Apple’s M1 processor (CPU), and bigger storage capacity.

You can order the 2021 Apple iPad Pro from Apple and other retailers starting April 30, and tablets will be available in mid-May, according to Apple.

Prices for the 11-inch tablet start at $799, and the new 12.9-inch version starts at $1,099. Here’s how the new iPad Pro models stacks up to their predecessors.

The 2021 iPad Pro has the same resolution as the 2020 iPad Pro, but the new 12.9-inch edition uses a mini-LED design versus the standard LED backlight found on the 2020 model. Mini-LED can provide better contrast and higher peak brightness to create a more realistic image with better high dynamic range (HDR) performance.

2021 iPad Pro models also incorporate a faster CPU and better graphics performance thank to the addition of Apple’s M1 chip. We’ve been impressed with the performance improvements this chip makes in other recent Apple products, like the MacBook Air.

Other upgrades include new support for 5G on cellular models, as well as a new option for up to 2TB of storage versus last year’s max of 1TB. The front camera has been upgraded as well, making the jump from 7MP to 12MP.

These improvements make the new iPad Pro a better buy for power users over the previous version, especially the 12.9-inch model thanks to its advanced display. That said, we view this as more of a mid-cycle upgrade rather than a full overhaul.

Apple iPad Pro (2021) versus Apple iPad Pro (2020)

Specifications 2021 iPad Pro 2020 iPad Pro
Starting price $799 for 11-inch, $1,099 for $12.9-inch $799 for 11-inch, $999 for $12.9-inch
Display Up to 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED display Up to 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display
Processor Apple M1 Apple 12Z Bionic
Rear Camera 12-megapixel wide-angle, 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle 12-megapixel wide-angle, 10-megapixel ultra-wide-angle
Front Camera 12 megapixels 7 megapixels
Ports USB-C, Thunderbolt/USB 4 support USB-C
Battery Life Up to 10 hours Up to 10 hours
Biometrics Face ID Face ID
Storage Options Up to 2TB Up to 1TB
Cellular connectivity 5G, 4G LTE 4G LTE

2021 iPad Pro (small)

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The new Apple TV 4K has a better Siri remote than the 2017 model, but not much else – here’s how they compare

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Apple TV 4K 2021
The 2021 Apple TV 4K is the same size as the old version, but the new Siri Remote is longer and slimmer with more precise controls.

  • A new Apple TV 4K is coming in May, replacing the 2017 model for the same $179 price.
  • The 2021 Apple TV 4K boasts an improved processor, updated Siri remote, and high frame rate support.
  • That said, most people who already own the 2017 model will find little need to upgrade.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyTV 4K (2021) (small)TV 4K (2017) (small)

Apple has revealed an updated Apple TV 4K streaming device and new Siri voice remote. The upgraded device will replace the current Apple TV 4K model in late May.

The updated Apple TV 4K features an upgraded A12 processor while the new Siri remote offers more precise controls than its predecessor. Preorders of the new Apple TV 4K will be available on April 30; the 32GB model starts at $179 while the 64GB model is $200.

The new Siri remote will be sold separately for $59, and will be compatible with older Apple TV devices following a software update in late April.

Apple last updated the Apple TV lineup in 2017, when it added support for 4K playback and HDR color formats. In terms of size, the new Apple TV 4K and the 2017 models are the exact same dimensions and weight. The new Siri remote is about half an inch longer, slightly thinner, and 0.6 lbs heavier than the original remote.

The new Siri remote has been upgraded to Bluetooth 5.0 and will also be able to control other devices like smart TVs and receivers via CEC. The original Siri remote had an accelerometer and gyroscope for use while gaming, but all versions of the Apple TV now support Bluetooth gamepads like the Xbox and PlayStation controllers.

Apple TV 4K’s processor has been improved from an A10X Fusion chip to a new A12 Bionic chip, allowing for higher frame rates when watching video or playing games via Apple Arcade. Other Apple TV 4K improvements include a new HDMI 2.1 port and support for Wi-Fi 6.

These improvements make the new Apple TV 4K model an enticing option for anyone who’s shopping for a high-end streaming device. Based on the specs, however, the improvements likely won’t be enough to justify an upgrade for most people who already own the 2017 model.

2021 Apple TV 4K vs. 2017 Apple TV 4K specifications

Specifications

Apple TV 4K (2021)

Apple TV 4K (2017)

Processor

A12 Bionic (64-bit)

A10 Fusion (64-bit)

Dimensions

1.4 (H) x 3.9 (W) x 3.9 (D)

1.4 (H) x 3.9 (W) x 3.9 (D)

Weight

15 ounces (425 grams)

15 ounces (425 grams)

Storage

32GB; 64GB

32GB; 64GB

HDMI

HDMI 2.1

HDMI 2.0a

Wireless

Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 (2.4GHz and 5GHz)

Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz and 5GHz)

Ethernet

Gigabit Ethernet

Gigabit Ethernet

TV 4K (2021) (small)TV 4K (2017) (small)

Siri remote specifications

Specifications

Siri Remote (2021)

Siri Remote (2017)

Dimensions

5.4 (H) x 1.4 (W) x 0.36 (D) inches

4.8 (H) x 1.5 (W) x 0.25 (D)

Battery

Rechargeable via Lightning connector port

Rechargeable via Lightning connector port

Microphones

Single microphone

Dual microphones

Wireless

Bluetooth 5.0, IR transmitter, CEC compatible

Bluetooth 4.0, IR transmitter

Buttons

Touch clickpad, jogwheel, TV/Home, Play/Pause, Back, Mute, Volume, Siri, Power

Touch surface, Menu, TV/Home, Siri, Play/Pause, Volume

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Apple’s new iMac is faster, bigger, and more colorful than before – here’s how it compares to the 2019 iMac

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Apple iMac 2021
  • Apple’s new 24-inch iMac marks a major redesign of its desktop computer.
  • The 2021 iMac features a bigger 4.5K Retina screen, fun color options, and Apple’s powerful M1 chip.
  • The 2019 model, meanwhile, has a smaller 21.5-inch 1080p display and a slower Intel-based processor.

Apple has officially unveiled its new 24-inch iMac with prices starting at $1,299. The redesigned desktop boasts several major upgrades over the previous 21.5-inch model, which Apple currently lists with a $1,099 starting price.

The 2021 iMac is the first to feature Apple’s powerful M1 chip. It also comes in a variety of color options and boasts a higher resolution screen. Compared to the older model, the new iMac includes a redesigned keyboard with Apple’s Touch ID processor as well.

Apple says the improved specs should translate to up to 85% faster CPU performance compared to the 21.5-inch iMac, as well as twice the GPU performance. The new iMac’s base model costs $200 more than the 2019 starting model, but the added power and bigger screen could be well worth the higher price.

A full verdict will have to wait until we get our hands on the new iMac in the coming weeks, but we’ve been impressed by Apple’s M1 chip in the new MacBook Air. If the 2021 iMac offers a similar leap in performance, it could be a very worthy desktop upgrade.

Below, we’ve compared some of the key starting specifications for the new 24-inch iMac versus the 21.5-inch model.

24-inch iMac (2021) versus 21.5-inch iMac (2019)

Specifications 2021 iMac 2019 iMac
Starting price $1,299 $1,099
Display 24-inch 4.5K Retina display 21.5-inch 1920 x 1080 LED display
Processor 8-core Apple M1 chip 2.3GHz dual‑core Intel Core i5
GPU 7-core GPU Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
Memory 8GB of RAM 8GB of RAM
Storage 256GB SSD 256GB SSD
Camera 1080p FaceTime HD camera with M1 image signal processor FaceTime HD camera
Speakers Six-speaker system with force-cancelling woofers Stereo speakers
Colors Blue, Green, Pink, Silver Silver

iMac (small)

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Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro put Apple’s AirPods Pro to shame with better sound and noise cancellation

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airpods pro vs galaxy buds pro comparison

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyProduct Card (small, Preferred: Amazon)AirPods Pro (small)

Apple’s AirPods Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro represent the best that these mobile behemoths have to offer in the wireless earbuds space.

Both models feature premium sound, noise cancellation, good battery life, and wireless charging cases. They’re ideal alternatives for larger headphones, like over-ear models, that aren’t nearly as portable.

While both sets of wireless earbuds are specifically designed for their respective mobile platforms, they can be used with any Bluetooth phone, tablet, or computer.

That said, neither of these earbuds offer their full functionality if you use them outside the ecosystem they were designed for. You’ll lose the ability to control certain key features, like noise cancellation, built-in controls, and voice assistants. That’s because, unsurprisingly, neither Apple nor Samsung have made the necessary apps for finer controls on their rival platforms.

As a result, iPhone users shouldn’t really consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and likewise, Android users shouldn’t buy the Apple AirPods Pro. Still, it’s worth comparing these flagship earbuds to see how headphones from two of the biggest names in tech stack up. Here’s how the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Pro compare across several key categories.

Specifications

Apple AirPods Pro Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Drivers: Custom high-excursion Apple driver 11mm woofer, 6.5mm tweeter
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Codecs: AAC SBC, AAC, Samsung proprietary Scalable
Battery life: Four and a half hours with noise cancellation on, five with noise cancellation and Transparency mode off, 24 hours total with wireless charging case included Five hours for earbuds, 13 hours for the charging case, 18 hours total including battery from charging case
Charging: Five-minute quick charge for an hour of playback; Qi wireless charging support; Lightning cable Three-minute quick-charge for 30 minutes of music playback, two hours for full earbud charge; wireless charging support; USB-C charging
App: Built-in settings in iOS Galaxy Wear for Android
Water resistance: IPX4 IPX7

Design and comfort

The stem design of the white AirPods Pro is now iconic and immediately recognizable. Even with their stem, the AirPods Pro are incredibly compact and lightweight.

They’re also supremely comfortable, even for users who don’t typically like the in-ear fit the AirPods Pro employ. Instead of fitting like a pair of earplugs, like many in-ear earphones, the AirPods Pro rest comfortably and securely in your ear canal’s opening.

Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro have a more discreet design that few would recognize, and they’re available in silver, black, and violet colors. They’re equally compact as the AirPods Pro, and they’re barely visible when you’re wearing them.

The Galaxy Buds Pro are almost as comfortable as the AirPods Pro, except they feel more like earplugs with a deeper fit and a bit more pressure. As a result, they’re very secure in your ear.

AirPods Pro vs Galaxy Buds Pro 4x3

Sound quality

There’s no competition here – Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro sound noticeably better than the AirPods Pro. It’s not that the AirPods Pro sound bad, it’s just that Samsung really demonstrates what’s possible at the $200 price point.

The Galaxy Buds Pro have a rich, full, clear, and dynamic sound that makes the AirPods Pro seem thin and flat by comparison. I enjoy my music far more with the Galaxy Buds Pro than I do with AirPods Pro.

I tried all the different ear tips that come included with the AirPods Pro to make sure it wasn’t a fit issue, and I ensured that I had a good fit using the built-in Ear Tip Test in the iOS settings.

Apple doesn’t include an equalizer for the AirPods Pro, but it does implement its own Adaptive EQ feature that “automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear for a rich, consistent listening experience.” Consistent it is, rich it is not. Unfortunately, there’s no option to disable Adaptive EQ to see if it could make any difference. Spotify has its own built-in equalizer settings, but no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the AirPods Pro to sound any better.

Noise cancellation

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro also outdo the AirPods Pro with their noise-cancelling performance. Again, it’s not that the AirPods Pro have poor noise cancellation, it’s just that Samsung shows that it’s possible to get better performance at $200.

To be sure, the AirPods Pro work just fine in an office/home office environment, where low hums and minor ambient sound are well muffled. Once you bring them to a noisier environment, however, like on a plane or outside in a city, the Galaxy Buds Pro show the AirPods Pro how it’s done.

Battery life

Both sets of wireless earbuds deliver similar battery life, with the AirPods Pro edging out the Galaxy Buds Pro in the wireless charging case capacity.

The Galaxy Buds Pro themselves can play music for up to five hours with active noise cancellation enabled, and eight hours with noise cancellation off, per Samsung’s claim. The wireless charging case can hold up to 13 hours of charge, which sums up to a total of 18 hours of music playback. A quick three-minute charge in the case will give 30 minutes of battery life – something we tested and proved when the buds were accidentally left out of their case to discharge.

Apple claims the AirPods Pro can last four and a half hours with noise cancellation turned on, and five hours with it turned off. With a full charge on the buds and a full battery in the case, the AirPods Pro are capable of up to 24 hours of playback. A five-minute charge gives an extra hour of battery life to the buds themselves.

AirPods Pro vs. Galaxy Buds Pro cases

Apps, features, and controls

Apple offers minimalist options for the AirPods Pro in the built-in iOS settings, at least when compared with the Galaxy Buds Pro and the Galaxy Wear Android app.

AirPods Pro app

For the AirPods Pro, you get noise control that lets you choose between noise cancellation enabled or disabled, and a transparency mode that amplifies ambient noise for awareness and quick conversations.

You can customize whether pressing and holding the AirPods Pro stems activates Siri or toggles through the noise control settings. You also get Apple’s “Spatial Audio” feature, which is basically Apple’s version of surround sound. The built-in demo in the iOS settings is impressive, but it only works with compatible videos, and I’ve never encountered a video that supports Spatial Audio yet.

Galaxy Buds Pro app

For the Galaxy Buds Pro, you get significantly more control and options. Like the AirPods Pro, you get noise controls that enable/disable noise cancellation and toggle an Ambient Sound mode.

The Galaxy Buds Pro also have a Voice Detect feature that automatically enables Ambient Sound mode and pauses your music when you start talking. It works surprisingly well for engaging in quick conversations while you’re listening to music, and it’s nice that it’s automatic.

You can also manage what touching and holding the sensors on the buds do, whether it’s switching through noise controls, enabling Bixby (Samsung’s version of Siri), adjusting volume, or opening the Spotify app on your phone.

There’s also a built-in equalizer and an option for 360 audio, which is surround sound for video. Unlike Apple’s Spatial Audio, this feature isn’t dependent on whether a video supports 360 or not.

Multiple device connections

Both earbuds can connect to multiple devices simultaneously within their respective ecosystems. For example, you can listen to music or watch a video on your Mac and pick up a phone call on your iPhone, and the AirPods Pro connection will switch automatically. Likewise, the Galaxy Buds Pro automatically switch between other Samsung Galaxy products, but this feature doesn’t work with all Android devices.

It’s unfortunate that this feature is restricted to specific ecosystems, as some over-ear headphones can maintain multiple device connections across platforms with Multipoint Bluetooth technology. That said, there are a few wireless earbuds that don’t even come with automatic switching at all.

Water resistance

Another important feature is water resistance, which mostly applies for sweat during workouts, or rain. The Galaxy Buds Pro are rated at an IPX7 water resistance, while the AirPods Pro are rated at IPX4. Technically, IPX7 is better, but IPX4 shouldn’t pose a problem for rain splashes or sweat.

Which should you buy?

iPhone owners who value a compact design, wireless charging case, Siri capabilities, and support for connecting to other Apple devices with automatic switching, should go for the AirPods Pro.

But if you’re not in a rush, it might be worth waiting since Apple is expected to release new versions of the AirPods and AirPods Pro this year, according to Bloomberg.

Both models will reportedly come with a new Apple wireless chip, and the Pro earbuds are expected to feature a sleeker design. The entry-level AirPods will also get a slimmer look, longer battery life, and swappable ear tips, according to the report, but no noise cancellation.

It’s unclear exactly when the new AirPods Pro will launch, but the report says the cheaper version could debut in the first half of 2021.

For Android users, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are among the best wireless earbuds you can get. The best alternative in the $200 range is the Sony WF-1000XM3, but you’d be missing out on a wireless charging case, and the Sony case is rather large compared to the Galaxy Buds Pro’s.

Product Card (small, Preferred: Amazon)AirPods Pro (small)

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We compared Sling’s Orange and Blue streaming plans, and Blue offers the best value with more live TV channels

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Sling Orange vs. Sling Blue vs. Sling Orange and Sling Blue 4x3
  • Sling TV remains one of the most affordable live TV streaming services on the market.
  • There are two plans, Orange and Blue, that each cost $35 a month.
  • Sling Orange has ESPN and Disney, but Sling Blue has more channels overall, including NBC and Fox.

For the money-savvy cord-cutter, Sling’s live TV streaming service is hard to beat. At $35 a month for over 30 channels, it’s easily one of the most affordable options on the market, beating competitors like Hulu + Live TV ($65/month), AT&T TV ($70/month), and YouTubeTV ($65/month) by a wide margin.

Sling TV offers two different streaming packages, Orange and Blue, each for the same $35 monthly charge following a discounted $25 fee for the first month.

Many of the channels on Orange and Blue overlap, but there are some differences that could sway you toward one package or the other. You can combine the two services for $50 a month, but that brings the cost closer to Sling’s competitors’, so you wouldn’t be saving nearly as much money as you could.

If you’re on a budget, it’s best to choose between the two Sling services, and for me, there’s a clear winner. All things considered, Sling Blue is simply the better value. 

What are the channel differences between Sling Orange and Sling Blue?

Sling Orange offers the Disney Channel and other Disney-owned networks like ESPN, several ESPN secondary channels, and Freeform. Meanwhile, Sling Blue omits the Disney-owned networks in favor of more channels overall, including local NBC and Fox stations in select markets.

You can find a full list of Sling Orange channels here, and a full list of Sling Blue channels here.

While the Disney content is valuable – I streamed “Halloweentown” the moment I discovered it among Sling’s on-demand offerings – with Disney Plus now in the picture, its inclusion with Sling is no longer the draw it once was. If you’re a true Disney fan, Disney Plus might be your best bet anyway.

For my money, I think Sling Blue‘s more robust channel selection is simply a better value.

Though you don’t get Disney or ESPN, Blue offers an additional 11 channels. In fact, Blue has 17 unique channels in its catalog compared to the six channels unique to Orange.

Parents and sports fans should still find plenty to watch on Blue as well, since it features Nick Jr. for the kids who might miss Disney – I was always more of a Nickelodeon kid anyway – and a host of sports channels, including Fox Sports and the NFL Network. In addition to these, Blue offers some lifestyle channels you don’t get with Orange, like USA, Bravo, and TLC.

Can I watch local channels on Sling Orange and Sling Blue?

If you’re attached to your local channels, Blue is also the clear choice, as Orange doesn’t offer local channels at all.

Blue offers local NBC and Fox channels, though you do have to live in an Designated Market Area to gain access to them. Sling lists all of the supported areas for NBC and Fox on its website. If you live outside of these regions, you unfortunately won’t have the NBC and Fox channels as part of your slate.

Sling TV Review and How It works 4x3

Multi-streams

While the channel choices are likely going to be your main motivator for choosing Orange or Blue, they also differ in how many simultaneous streams you can watch. With Orange, you can only stream on one device at a time, while Blue allows you three, so if you have a large household or plan to share an account with a friend, Blue is your best bet.

Sling provided a login to test the service, and while I was watching on Orange, I kept getting kicked off because someone else was trying to stream on the same account. It was so annoying that I immediately knew that once I committed to cord-cutting full time, I was going with Blue and keeping my password closely guarded.

The bottom line

With two services that each cost $35 a month, most people will be better off opting for the one that gives them the the most content for their money. In this case, that’s the Sling Blue plan.

For me, Blue wins over Orange in every category. Sure, Orange gets you Disney and ESPN, but if you’re worried about kids’ content, Blue makes up for it with Nick Jr. If you’re worried about sports content, Blue includes three sports channels. With Blue, you get nearly a dozen more total channels, including local networks if you live near most major cities. Blue also allows you three simultaneous streams while Orange allows you just one, so you don’t have to worry about keeping your password locked away in a safe.

Blue simply offers more value for your money. But, if you absolutely must have Disney and ESPN on top of all the channels Blue offers, you can always combine the services for $50 a month and you won’t have to worry about missing a thing.

That said, I don’t think the $15 increase is worth it just for the ESPN and Disney channels, especially with Disney Plus now on the market. I’m sticking with Blue for now, and I’ll be over here streaming “Good Eats” on Sling On-Demand for the next several days.

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