Apple HomePod debut set, but is Alexa too far ahead of Siri?

Siri, your room is under the stairs

At long last, Apple’s A.I. pal Siri is getting out of the iPhone and is almost ready to move into your house. The long-awaited Apple HomePod smart home speaker is finally shiny and polished enough to meet Jony and Tim’s exacting standards and will start shipping February 9th, with preorders starting this Friday. And if you think it’s going to compete on price, you’re wrong.

Apple’s first smart speaker is going to ring in at a stout $350 to start, which is, of course, much more than most of Amazon’s Echo products and Google’s Google Home products. So, will it be worth it?  The HomePod is packing some serious tech, including seven directional “beam-forming” tweeters and a powerful woofer for quality sound, six microphones so Siri can hear your every request, and Apple HomeKit integration for all your other new smart home bits of course.

But the question remains: Is it too little (or even too much), too late? Amazon’s fleet of Echo products continues to grow, while it seems like Alexa is getting embedded into everything. And Google Home isn’t far behind. But Apple may have one big advantage: A loyal customer base that likes their tech to be all-Apple, all the time, price be damned. We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, we’re working on getting a HomePod into DT for a thorough test.

The man with the trillion-dollar plan

While you may have been distracted by all the hoopla over at Tesla around the Model 3, the new Roadster, the new Tesla Truck and Elon Musk launching his personal car into space aboard the still-untested Falcon Heavy rocket, there’s been long been speculation about whether Elon will even remain as CEO of Tesla going forward. According to the New York Times, Musk has always considered his tenure at the top of Tesla as somewhat… temporary.

He has said in the past he might vacate after the Model 3 was released or other benchmarks were met. But, now it looks like he’s going to stay on to guide the ship for another 10 years, while also steering SpaceX and SolarCity… which is now a part of Tesla. Musk says that he thinks Tesla can be a trillion-dollar company in that time, but before they hit that target, he has some others along the way.

Musk says that if they miss the mark, he won’t get paid. Of course, it’s not like the guy would have to count cans or something if things go south – he’s a billionaire – but you do get the sense it’s more a matter of pride than money for Musk to see Tesla succeed.

Oh, and that Falcon Heavy test-fire? With the government – and NASA – back in business, it should happen soon. We’ll keep you updated.

Is that a drone in your pocket…

Drone maker DJI is in the news today with a cool new flying toy: The Mavic Air. It’s small. It’s stable. It’s fast! And it folds up to fit in your pocket! The new Mavic Air features a tiny 3-axis gimbal with a 4K 100-megabit camera, along with 120-FPS slow motion full-HD video. The Air has a 4-kilometer range and a top speed of over 40 miles an hour, along with a suite of sensors to keep you out of the trees – or worse.

It can also track-and-fly during your adventures, and works with hand gestures like it’s big brother, the Mavic Pro. It has cool new imaging features like “sphere” photos, along with “asteroid” and “boomerang” modes. Looks pretty damn cool. Flight time is said to be 21 minutes on a full charge, and price is set at $799 for the basic setup and $999 for a package with more batteries and other extras.

DJI says they expect it to ship on the 28th, but we got ahold of one a bit early so we’ll have a hands on report real soon. Sign up for our email newsletter for any Mavic Air updates and go to DT.com all the latest tech news.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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