TCL’s First Absolutely Massive TVs Are Officially Here

Illustration for article titled TCL's First Absolutely Massive TVs Are Officially Here

Image: TCL

After being teased at CES earlier this year, TCL has officially announced pricing and availability for its monster 80-inch-plus displays. You know, for those of us who want our screens to effectively take up an entire wall in our homes.

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TCL’s so-called XL Collection for 85-inch displays and above is its first for frankly outrageously large screens—the kind that essentially turn your home into a private movie theater. This year, the company will debut three 85-inch models: an 8K TV, a 4K QLED model (85R745) that’s powered by Roku, and a 4K 4-Series (85R435) that will also run on the Roku OS.

All of these are great options for cinephiles, of course (though I’m not totally convinced that anyone actually needs an 8K TV, given that 8K content is virtually nonexistent at this stage). For any ambitious gamers eyeing the XL Collection, you’ll want to consider the QLED, which comes equipped with 120Hz HDMI input support, Variable Refresh Rate, and THX Certified Game Mode.

Now, you may be asking yourself why on earth would you need a screen this large. Surely 65 inches is plenty of screen to replicate a cinematic experience, right? TCL pointed to streaming and vertical integration as a big, big reason to invest in a gargantuan display.

“Even though we’re finally seeing theaters open up, people have discovered the joy and simplicity of watching blockbuster movies at home,” Chris Larson, TCL Senior Vice President, said in a statement. “TCL’s XL Collection represents this next stage in the TV industry—large-size, powerful televisions that deliver premier movie-going experiences in the comfort and safety of your own living room—and we’re excited for users to get back that cinematic magic. Being one of only three global TV brands with full vertical integration, TCL continues to expand its big-screen production capacity to make the largest television screens with best-in-class imaging technology more accessible than ever.”

I’m going to be honest, that doesn’t sound too great for theaters that are already fighting to stay alive post-pandemic. But it’s true, TCL has made its XL collection very, very attractive to anyone who does prefer their cinematic experience take place from the comfort of their own living room couch. The 85-inch 4K QLED model retails for $3,000, which might be a little steep for some folks. But the 85-inch 4K 4-Series is priced at just $1,600—a steal if size alone is among the top priorities on your TV features wishlist.

No word yet on what the 85-inch OD Zero mini-LED powered 8K TV is going to cost yet. That one will go on sale later this year. It’s probably safe to expect it will cost you a pretty penny, though.

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I Guess If You Must Put an AirTag on Your Siri Remote, This Is Fine

Illustration for article titled I Guess If You Must Put an AirTag on Your Siri Remote, This Is Fine

Image: PrintSpiredDesigns/Etsy

In the months of rumors leading up to Apple’s official AirTag reveal, I couldn’t help but shake the idea that somebody was going to try to stick one on their Apple TV remote. Of course, somebod(ies) absolutely did.

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Upon receiving their newly released AirTag devices, multiple Apple TV users shared their plans for affixing the trackers to their streaming remotes using all manner of adhesives—some of them more outrageous than others. There was duct tape. Rubber cement was at one point suggested. Others recommended double-sided tape, velcro, and even sticky silicone cases to fasten the AirTag to what is perhaps the most widely misunderstood remote on earth.

But maybe the best option so far—the one that least makes your expensive Apple TV wand look less like the victim of a toddler who broke into the glue drawer and went wild—is a 3D-printed AirTag Case for Apple TV Siri Remote from Etsy shop PrintSpiredDesigns, which was earlier spotted by MacRumors.

Illustration for article titled I Guess If You Must Put an AirTag on Your Siri Remote, This Is Fine

Image: PrintSpiredDesigns/Etsy

The remote sleeve will cost you all of $13 at the time of this writing, and the best part? Its product description states that the Apple tracker “clicks satisfyingly into place, and the Siri Remote fits snugly and securely overtop.” In other words, it doesn’t even need to be permanent.

Now, the case is only available for the Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K Siri remote. It does have a back opening for Lightning charging without having to disassemble the component parts, but the product description does state that as a result of the “orientation of the AirTag in the case, the loudness of the AirTag speaker may be reduced.”

The ability to lose the Apple remote is often among the top complaints from Siri remote naysayers. If this sounds like a problem specific to your own user experience, might I recommend simply putting the remote on your couch’s armrest, on the coffee table in front of you, or literally anywhere but the cracks between the cushions that are evidently regularly eating your Apple TV remote? A remote basket, maybe?

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However, if you absolutely must affix the AirTag to your remote, for the love of god, do not use glue. Try this perfectly fine solution instead.

YouTube Found the Pettiest Loophole in Its Battle Against Roku

Illustration for article titled YouTube Found the Pettiest Loophole in Its Battle Against Roku

Photo: Chris McGrath (Getty Images)

Just a week after Roku yanked YouTube TV from its app store thanks to an ongoing feud with Google, it looks like YouTube found a clever (if not extremely petty) workaround. On Friday, YouTube announced it would just cram YouTube TV access into the main YouTube app, which is still available.

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While the company plans to expand YouTube TV access via the YouTube app to “as many devices” as it can “over time,” it’s going to be arriving on Roku devices “over the next few days,” according to YouTube’s announcement. Folks that already had the YouTube TV app on their Roku devices before it was unceremoniously pulled can still use it as they normally would—but YouTube’s hammering out a contingency plan if that stops being the case.

“We’re still working to come to an agreement with Roku to ensure continued access to YouTube TV for our mutual customers,” YouTube said. “We’re also in discussions with other partners to secure free streaming devices in case YouTube TV members face any access issues on Roku.”

Roku initially accused Google of demanding that Roku block search results from other third-party streaming apps—like Netflix or Hulu—when the YouTube app is open. Roku also claimed that Google was demanding the ability to dictate some hardware used in Roku devices, along with privileged access to Roku’s user data. Google denied those claims, saying that Roku terminated their preexisting deal out of bad faith because it was trying to renegotiate its contract regarding the main YouTube app in addition to YouTube TV, despite that contract not expiring until December. YouTube’s Friday blog post is just the latest punch thrown between the two companies.

Roku said in an emailed statement that Google was acting like nothing short of an “unchecked monopolist.”

“The bundling announcement by YouTube highlights the kind of predatory business practices used by Google that Congress, Attorney Generals and regulatory bodies around the world are investigating,” Roku said.

“We have simply asked Google to stop their anticompetitive behavior of manipulating user search results to their unique financial benefit and to stop demanding access to sensitive data that no other partner on our platform receives today,” the company went on. “In response, Google has continued its practice of blatantly leveraging its YouTube monopoly to force an independent company into an agreement that is both bad for consumers and bad for fair competition.”

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Anyway, get excited to plug yet another dongle into your TV when this whole relationship inevitably falls apart.

Slow-mo Footage Reveals the Unique Way Plasma TVs Displayed a Single Frame of Video

As fun as it is to watch things go boom in slow motion, high-speed cameras are more useful as educational and research tools, revealing phenomena that are otherwise imperceptible to the naked human eye, like the weird way old plasma TVs would display a single frame of video by flashing various parts of the image in multiple passes.

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This isn’t the first time The Slow Mo Guys have pointed their high-speed cameras at a TV screen. In a video from 2018, they compared how modern LCD and OLED TVs display video—drawing images from the top of a screen to the bottom—to how old CRTs would generate each frame by drawing images line-by-line and pixel-by-pixel while relying on human persistence of vision to create a full image in our minds.

Somewhere between those technologies, we got TVs featuring plasma display panels which offered a lot of the same benefits that modern OLED screens do over LCDs. The on-screen pixels were made up of tiny cells filled with an ionized gas that self-illuminated when electricity was applied. As a result, plasma TVs didn’t need backlights nor suffer from issues like light leak, resulting in excellent contrast ratios and black levels that were darker than LCD TVs could muster. But plasma TVs actually worked a lot differently when generating images than LCDs, OLEDs, and even CRTs do, as The Slow Mo Guys discovered in their latest video that uses high-speed photography to reveal how 3D TVs functioned.

Instead of turning on every self-emissive pixel at the same time—which would be blinding—plasma display panels would instead illuminate different areas of the screen in fast pulses, up to 10 times for each frame, to quickly build up what the human brain would perceive as a single solid image. In the case of the plasma TV The Slow Mo Guys photographed, it was marketed as a 480Hz display which meant that while it actually operated at 60Hz, every frame generated was made up of eight shorter pulses.

Unlike with an LCD or OLED TV, at no point does slow-mo footage of a plasma display reveal an entire frame, but it’s the only way to see how this unique technology actually worked. As much as home theater enthusiasts loved plasma TVs, which were some of the first big-screen flat sets available, they’re a technology that’s no longer available thanks to improvements in LCD TVs, but mostly because OLED screens offer the same benefits with less power usage, slimmer profiles, and lighter sets that are much easier to hang on a wall.

Don’t Buy the Old Apple TV

Illustration for article titled Don't Buy the Old Apple TV

Photo: Catie Keck

Please do not buy an older Apple TV just for the marginal savings. Hear me out.

This week, Apple unveiled its sixth-generation Apple TV box, a 4K device with a new processor and spec upgrades that make it a best-in-class option for streaming. However, despite wiping its previous 4K box from its primary purchasing channels (you can still snag one refurbished), Apple is still selling its even older 32GB Apple TV HD box, but shipping it with the new, all-aluminum Siri remote.

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The discount between the $149 HD device—which originally launched in 2015—and the new $179 4K streaming box is $30 for the same 32GB capacity. Wait, what?

It’s unclear how long Apple plans to continue supporting software updates for a streaming box that’s well over five years old. But even if it were to commit to updates for years to come, the spec difference between the two boxes makes the HD box look like a ripoff (even if that fancy new Apple TV calibration feature is coming to older boxes as well, which it sounds like it is).

The new box supports Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology while the 2015 box supports Bluetooth 4.0. But the old box supports HDMI 1.4 while the newer box supports HDMI 2.1. Hell, even buying the 2017 Apple TV 4K box—you can still find it at Best Buy for the same cost of the brand new box that’s packed with more features, which pfft—bumps you up to at least HDMI 2.0.

So, what about folks who don’t have 4K TVs? I’d argue the cost savings here are so negligible that the guts of your box are really what matters. Who’s to say you don’t upgrade to a 4K TV two or three years down the line? Wouldn’t you rather have a more powerful device that supports next-gen specs than one you’ll need to replace if you want to take advantage of premium visual goodies on your next display?

The best thing we can do as consumers is try to future-proof our gadgets so we don’t wind up having to replace them as quickly—and I guarantee you’ll get more mileage out of this brand new Apple TV 4K model than you will out of one that’s going on six years old already. The difference of $30 may sound like a deal now, but you may wind up regretting it later on down the line when that box stops getting the software updates it needs to run smoothly.

All I’m saying is that, as much as I am disappointed by the new Apple TV remote, you are much better off just getting the newer box. Don’t take the bait.

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Dearly Beloved, We’re Gathered Here to Say Goodbye to the Best Apple TV Remote

Illustration for article titled Dearly Beloved, We're Gathered Here to Say Goodbye to the Best Apple TV Remote

Photo: Catie Keck/Gizmodo

Friends, family, past and current Apple TV users, we are gathered here today to mourn the loss of the very best remote for streaming.

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Apple earlier this week unveiled its new Apple TV 4K, the next-generation set-top box that will replace Apple’s previous product of the same name. While this new box will see some exciting upgrades over its predecessor—more power with the A12 Bionic chip, as well as nifty calibration features for adjusting the picture on your TV using an iPhone—I was devastated by the reveal of a new, touchpad-less Siri remote.

Indeed, Apple’s newest remote will likely fix some of the most controversial fixtures of the previous Apple TV remote. For one, it has a larger form factor and thicker, all-aluminum body, which should make it slightly easier to find between the cushions. It also adds a number of buttons and moves the Siri button prompt to the remote’s right side, sort of like on the iPhone. These things are all fine.

Illustration for article titled Dearly Beloved, We're Gathered Here to Say Goodbye to the Best Apple TV Remote

Image: Apple

But I am personally wrecked over Apple’s choice to swap the touchpad—the best and most misunderstood fixture of the black Apple TV remote—for a clickpad that supports a circular gesture for jogging through content. It is still touch-enabled, but I cannot imagine it produces the same experience as having the entire top of the remote devoted to touch, a thing I adored about the previous Apple TV remote over any other out-of-the-box streaming wand.

The touchpad made the experience for me, personally. It was perfect for skipping over content, which is a thing I find myself doing often. Other streaming remotes, like that of the Chromecast with Google TV (which I love), often feel cheap and poorly designed by comparison. In the past, I’ve been able to sway some of the Apple TV remote’s harshest critics (my own colleagues), by reminding them that the touchpad speed could be adjusted for greater control.

I am, of course, eager to experience the new Apple TV 4K—aluminum remote and all. But I know that every time I reach for it, I’ll be thinking not of the remote in my hand but of the one that came before it. It provided the perfect streaming experience. Dare I say, it was one of my great gadget loves.

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Pour one out for the Apple TV remote of my dreams. May it rest peacefully and find the appreciation it so deserved in the great gadget afterlife.

The New Apple TV and Siri Remote Are Here

Illustration for article titled The New Apple TV and Siri Remote Are Here

Image: Apple

Apple has been long overdue for a revamp of its pricey set-top box. Now, it’s finally here.

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The new box is built with the A12 Bionic chip, which will make the next generation of the Apple TV faster and more powerful. This new box will also be a 4K streaming device, just like the last one, but the new one will have color balance calibration capabilities as well, which is fantastic for folks who want the best possible picture but aren’t super familiar with calibration techniques.

The big reveal today was Apple TV’s new Apple TV remote, an aluminum Siri remote that will have a Siri button on the side and what appears to be a slightly larger form factor. Its buttons got a bit of an overhaul as well. The remote itself can be controlled with a clickpad control but is also touch-enabled. Apple says that an outer ring of the clickpad supports an intuitive circular gesture that turns it into a jog controlperfect for finding a scene in a movie or show.”

Illustration for article titled The New Apple TV and Siri Remote Are Here

Screenshot: Apple

Apple’s original 4K box was released in 2017, so the company has been overdue for a newer streaming solution for quite some time, particularly as it focuses on expanding its services slate. Apple TV+, Arcade, and Fitness+ are examples of services that are best experienced on the largest possible screen versus a smaller, palm-sized iPhone.

But Apple is also competing with quite a few popular and comparatively cheaper boxes as well. A 64GB Apple TV 4K, which you’ll want if you plan to play any games on your box, will run you about $200. But you can get a Chromecast with Google TV, which does much of what the Apple box does, for just $50. Sure, there are some trade-offs. But for the average streamer, I’m not sure those are significant enough to warrant paying $150 extra to stay within the Apple ecosystem.

That’s going to be a problem for Apple, as it has priced this new box at $179 for 32GB and $199 for the 64GB. So while many of us hoped for a more affordable streaming set-top box, it appears Apple has opted to do the Apple thing here.

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The new Apple TV 4K will go on sale Friday, April 30.

Here’s What’s Going on With the Roku Remote Pro’s Streaming Buttons

Roku’s newest Voice Remote Pro (left) next to a previous generation of Roku remote.

Roku’s newest Voice Remote Pro (left) next to a previous generation of Roku remote.
Photo: Catie Keck/Gizmodo

If you go all-in on Roku’s new Voice Remote Pro, you may end up getting one sans the Apple TV+ button seen in marketing materials.

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When I was shipped a Voice Remote Pro last week, the one I received had four streaming buttons on the wand: Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and Sling TV. But marketing images for the Pro depicted the remote with the Hulu button scooched over on the bottom row and an Apple TV+ button in place of a Sling shortcut. The discrepancy was initially spotted by Zatz Not Funny!, and Roku confirmed to Gizmodo that the remote with the Apple TV+ button will take a minute to begin shipping.

“The button transition on the Roku Voice Remote Pro will take a few months but in the meantime customers can use their voice to program a personal shortcut button to launch their favorite channels,” a spokesperson said.

Indeed, a pair of programmable buttons are one of a handful of great things about the Voice Remote Pro, which is also rechargeable. In addition to its “find my remote” and hands-free features, personalized shortcut keys will allow Apple TV+ subscribers to get around this hiccup fairly easily. The button issue will, however, likely be annoying to anyone who is not a Sling subscriber but is a paying customer of Apple’s service.

A marketing image depicting an Apple TV+ shortcut button on the new Voice Remote Pro.

A marketing image depicting an Apple TV+ shortcut button on the new Voice Remote Pro.
Image: Roku

It’s unclear why the button was depicted in marketing materials and why the change appears to have happened so late in the game. But it does indicate that Roku has doubled down on its initiative to win over Apple users, even for a service that’s fairly new to the space and still working to build up a substantial library of originals.

Roku has aggressively expanded support for Apple users who opt for its streaming devices over Apple’s own set-top boxes, which are significantly more expensive than many of Roku’s devices. Roku finally introduced AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support on its 4K devices with the Roku OS 9.4 update, and its inclusion of the Apple TV+ button directly on its remotes further demonstrates the company’s willingness to target Apple users.

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But it does appear that marketing materials jumped the gun a bit. So if an Apple TV+ button is a make-or-break upgrade requirement for you, it looks like we may have to wait a few months before we’ll start seeing it become widely available.

Logitech Kills Harmony Universal Remotes, Says It Will Offer Support for as Long as Customers Use Them

Illustration for article titled Logitech Kills Harmony Universal Remotes, Says It Will Offer Support for as Long as Customers Use Them

Photo: Araya Diaz (Getty Images)

For those of you that turned to one of Logitech’s Harmony universal remotes to escape the mountain of remotes in your home, we have some sad news: Logitech has killed the Harmony line of remotes. If you own a Harmony remote or wanted to buy one, take a breath. As of now, the company says it will continue to support existing and new Harmony customers.

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In a post on Logitech Support on Friday, the company said that while its Harmony remotes continue to be available through various retailers, it will stop manufacturing them moving forward. Nonetheless, this doesn’t seem like it will affect current or even new Harmony users, at least the way Logitech explains it.

“We expect no impact to our customers by this announcement. We plan to support our Harmony community and new Harmony customers, which includes access to our software and apps to set up and manage your remotes,” a Logitech Support representative wrote on the site. “We also plan to continue to update the platform and add devices to our Harmony database. Customer and warranty support will continue to be offered.”

In other words: Logitech is saying that your remotes will still work. Additionally, it says that its goal is to “keep service running as long as customers are using it.”

The company also affirmed that it planned to continue to make updates to the Harmony software for desktop and Harmony apps for Android and iOS. It will continue to offer a support team as well as offer resources on the Harmony support page.

Logitech stated that its remaining Harmony inventory will still be available as supplies last through selected retailers for customers to purchase. It will still continue to maintain the Harmony database and software but will no longer upgrade the line or develop new products for it.

The announcement capped years of rumors and speculation that the company was looking to give its remotes the boot. In 2019, Logitech CEO Bracken Darrell said that the remotes were a small part of its overall business and that they were losing relevance in a world dominated by streaming services.

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“I think over time, you’ll have fewer and fewer people who feel like they really need that universal remote,” Darrell said on the Vergecast. “Now you have a different problem: you have 10 different streaming services, and I want to watch Friends. Where do I watch it? So it’s less about different devices and more about different streaming services.”

Yet, even in 2019, Darrell said that Logitech would always take care of Harmony customers, who “really love” the remotes. He’s not wrong. Even critics really like it. The Harmony remote makes frequent appearances on buyer’s guides, including Gizmodo’s own guide. On the announcement page, dozens of users expressed their dismay.

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“Wow. I don’t get shaken up by much but this has rattled my home theater cage,” one user wrote. “Is this really the end? Please tell me we’re there’s some future for the Harmony hardware line. Please!”

RIP Harmony. Let’s hope Logitech keeps its word and offers faithful Harmony customers service for as long as they want it.

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Looks Like There’s Hope for Apple TV Remote Haters

Illustration for article titled Looks Like There's Hope for Apple TV Remote Haters

Photo: Catie Keck/Gizmodo

To say the Apple TV remote is polarizing is an understatement. On the one side, you have the stans who claim this is the best streaming remote ever made. On the other, the haters cite the remote’s touchpad and overall UI as an unforgivable affront to gadget design. But, per 9to5 Mac, Apple is currently working on updating the much-maligned remote for the rumored next-gen Apple TV.

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To be fair, it’s unclear what exactly those updates will be. The report from 9to5 Mac cites unnamed Apple sources, but the most concrete detail is that the new remote has the internal code name B519. The current remote is internally known as B439, so the higher number may indicate that Apple’s done some significant tinkering. MacRumors has also reported last week that in the tvOS 14.5 beta, Apple switched the name from “Siri Remote” to “Apple TV remote.” The beta also renames the “Home Button” to “TV Button.” These are small changes for sure, but combined with the 9to5 Mac report, it strongly suggests that we’ll be seeing a new remote whenever Apple decides to launch the new Apple TV. (There were rumors of a March event, but it now appears that April is more likely.)

Another Bloomberg report from September also offers some clues. In it, noted Apple prognosticator Mark Gurman posits that the new Apple TV will sport a faster processor for gaming and that the “upgraded” remote may have a feature similar to Find My iPhone. Which, if you’ve ever had an Apple TV remote, you know how easy it is to lose between the couch cushions. That alone would be a useful update.

As someone who has a love-hate relationship with my Apple TV remote, a redesign has been a long time coming. While I’ll admit adjusting the touchpad sensitivity helped, 9 out of 10 times I pick up the remote the wrong way due to the symmetrical design. I wouldn’t complain if the company also got rid of the glass so I don’t panic every time I drop it on a hard surface. And while the Apple TV remote has never been particularly great, reports of a “significant” upgrade at least spur some hope that Apple’s listened to feedback.

Unfortunately, this is also Apple. Even if the upgraded remote is the best damn thing to grace streaming, it’ll also likely cost approximately $10,000 to replace. Given Apple’s track record, there’s also a decent chance it’ll be pretty to look at, but not exactly sturdy. Meaning, you’ll still probably panic every time you can’t find it or drop it. But hey, you can’t win ‘em all.