BEST AMAZON DEVICE DEAL: Echo Show 5 -- $44.99 (save $35) BEST TV DEAL: Insignia 50-inch Fire TV smart 4K TV -- $299.99 (save $80) BEST APPLE DEAL: 2020 Apple iMac -- $1,499.99 (save $299.01) We're counting down the days until Amazon Prime Day (officially) starts on June 21, and in the meantime, there have already been some stellar deals to tide us over. We're of course seeing nice discounts on Amazon devices, but streaming channels, Apple products, and home appliances are already on sale as well. If you're itching to start shopping for your Prime Day haul, these are the best deals to shop early. The Echo Show 5 has been one of our favorites for a couple of years now.
Apple has let use your iPhone and Apple Watch as digital car key. Come iOS 15, a new tool called Home Keys will let you do the same with a compatible smart lock to your home. It's one of several smart home-related features Apple showed off during WWDC 2021. Once you're inside your home, tighter integration between HomePod and Apple TV devices will allow you to control tvOS by issuing voice commands through one of Apple's smart speakers. For those who own both an Apple TV 4K and one or more HomePod mini speakers, the company will let you pair those devices together for a better audio experience.
At long last, Apple has addressed the remote for its set-top box. I can only assume we'll eventually see a documentary investigation and several conspiracy theories about why the old, easily-lost Apple TV remote stuck around for so long, but that's a question for another day. Now the new Apple TV 4K is here and you should read Devindra Hardawar's review. Not so much for the box itself, as upgrades for the processor, smart home integration and HDMI 2.1 are more about future proofing than current capability, but to dig into the qualities of the Siri Remote. The only thing it's apparently missing is some way to find it when it's missing, plus you can use it with older Apple TVs.
Some smart home aficionados still eulogize Google's Chromecast Audio, but Belkin's new Soundform Connect aims to fulfill a similar role -- for iOS users, anyway. The $100 dongle can connect to any traditional home speaker and turn it into an AirPlay 2-compatible smart speaker you can cast audio to from iPhones and iPads running iOS 11.4 and iPadOS 11.4 or newer, plus Macs running Catalina and Apple TVs with tvOS 11.4. And when we "any" home speaker, we really mean it. The Soundform has at least one nice touch the Chromecast doesn't -- beyond still existing, that is. In addition to the classic 3.5mm jack, there's also a port for standard optical connections -- the Chromecast Audio required audiophiles to own or purchase a TOSLINK-to-3.5mm According to Belkin, users will able to ask Siri to play their music or podcasts on the speaker in question, as well as ask the virtual assistant what's playing in each room and remotely control the speaker's volume.
Amazon Device Deals: Echo Dot for $30, Kindle Paperwhite for $95, and more: There are a lot of Amazon deals to choose from. Sales on these aren't rare, but these prices are good. Check our buying guides on the best Kindles, streaming sevices, smart displays, and smart speakers for more help deciding. Target also has Amazon Devices on sale. Amazon Echo Show for $75 ($55 off) at Amazon: The Echo Show gets its own bullet point, here.
When Amazon first introduced Alexa and the Echo speaker six years ago, the idea of talking to a digital assistant wasn't totally novel. Both the iPhone and Android phones had semi-intelligent voice controls -- but with the Echo, Amazon took its first step toward making something like Alexa a constant presence in your home. Since then, Apple and Google have followed suit, and now there's a huge variety of smart speakers available at various price points. As the market exploded, the downsides of having a device that's always listening for a wake word have become increasingly apparent. They can get activated unintentionally, sending private recordings back to monolithic companies to analyze. And even at the best of times, giving more personal information to Amazon, Apple and Google can be a questionable decision. That said, all these companies have made it easier to manage how your data is used -- you can opt out of humans reviewing some of your voice queries, and it's also less complicated to manage and erase your history with various digital assistants, too. The good news is that there's never been a better time to get a smart speaker, particularly if you're a music fan.
Would you buy an Apple TV/HomePod Frankenstein device? According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple has one in the works. "The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters." Read more: Who do I pay to get the'phone' removed from my iPhone? Never one to underestimate Apple's ability to take an idea that, on the face of it, seems stupid and irrational and turn it into a multibillion-dollar craze, but this feels a bit weird even for Apple.
Apple is working on a new product that combines its HomePod smart speaker with the Apple TV. The upcoming device would include a camera for video conferencing and control over smart home equipment, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with Apple's internal developments. It would also include the same functionality we've seen from Apple's existing products: streaming video and audio, gaming capabilities, and Siri support. Apple is also said to be working on another product that would combine an iPad with a HomePod speaker. Similar products have been released by Amazon and Google recently, such as the Echo Show 10 or the Google Nest Hub.
Apple is reportedly planning to come up with an impressive product that brings together its HomePod speaker, FaceTime camera and Apple TV set-top box. A recent report hinted that Apple is working on combining the HomePod speaker with the AppleTV. The technology will come with the FaceTime camera for video conferencing through a connected TV set, according to Bloomberg. With this ambitious smart-home device, users can enjoy watching videos and playing games like when they are using an Apple TV. They can also play music and use Siri, Apple's smart assistant, and have an experience that's similar to what Apple's smart speaker can deliver, sources told Bloomberg.
Vizio and TCL sell budget-friendly TVs that don't compromise on quality -- perfect for gaming, virtual workouts, and binge-watching Cobra Kai. Reviewers love them because they're not as expensive as TVs from other top brands, but have many of the same features. But what brand should you choose? Both TCL and Vizio offer models with 4K resolution and advanced gaming features to use with the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. To help you decide, take a look at our TV breakdown. Sure, they don't have 4K or 8K displays.