Amazon in Australia, HDMI pushes Ultra HD, McAfee’s big security’s predictions, and two Google gadgets reviewed. This is The Wrap.
For the first Friday in December, the last month of 2017, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and this week that roundup starts with a look at the world’s biggest online retailer, Amazon.
We’ve all heard that Amazon would be making its way to Australia, but right now, no one quite knows when.
It should be soon. Any day now, and it might be early next year.
That’s because this week Amazon announced that its Echo smart speakers would be coming to Australia in 2018, and Amazon’s artificial intelligence Alexa would be joining it.
And aside for bringing the Amazon Echo speaker to Australia, that’s good news because it likely means Amazon’s other goods are just around the corner in the new year.
The new year also promises to be interesting in the world of cyber security, with McAfee announcing what we can expect to find, and the news kind of suggests that you’ll still want security ASAP on your devices. Sorry folks, it’s still needed.
The hot word right now is that ransomware will evolve and take on more devices, expanding to the Internet of Things and affecting gadgets across our lives, not just our phones and computers. Meanwhile, online privacy will become more complicated, and that’s something that will affect both kids and parents, because kids are going online just as often as we are, if not more.
This means security education is going to be super important, all in the effort to make good netizens — you know, citizens of the online world — and that’ll mean training everyone in what a good password is, why you should be careful what you click, and that everything online is there pretty much for good, so take a bit of caution when going online.
We’ll get through this together, people. None of this “password123” crap, and no burying of heads in the sand.
And there’ll be no burying of heads in the sand if you have an old TV, either, because this week, everything is old, even if you just bought one. You see, the plug we all use for our TVs — HDMI — has this week changed.
OK, it hasn’t changed plugs, and the cables you buy this year should still be good. No, it’s more about the hardware for HDMI, because in 2018, HDMI will go next-gen and support bigger resolutions than just 4K.
“Just 4K?” I hear you rightfully scream, “but I just got 4K!”
Well, that may be true, but 4K is this week kind of like the middle ground for HDMI, with the technology now supporting the much bigger 8K and 10K resolutions. You can’t find those yet, but that’ll probably change when CES rolls around early January, and we’ll let you know when it happens.
Right now at the end of the year, the focus is on phones and headphones, and that’s fitting, because we have one of each to get through, both from Google.
First there’s the Google Pixel 2 XL, the latest phone from the search giant, and it is more or less what you might expect from a Google-made flagship, sporting a big and sharp 6 inch screen that runs from top to bottom, new fast hardware, and the latest version of Android, also known as Oreo.
And that is primarily the big deal about the new Google Pixel 2 phones, acting as the sort of benchmark phones for the new Android operating system, which is easier to use and feels so much better.
Except for the bugs, because oh my, we ran into quite a few. There’s a blue cast on the screen that you can’t unsee, some bugs that cause the screen to randomly stop working and then start again, and we even found our Pixel 2 occasionally restarted randomly, making it just that much harder to like.
That is if it weren’t for the camera, which is absolutely amazing. While Google went with a single lens wide-angle camera, the tweaks Google made to its 12 megapixel camera make it one of the best in the business, offering solid colours, superb balance, and some of the best clarity, complete with a defocus mode for portraits that shows Apple this can be done with only one lens, something the iPhone 8 desperately needed.
It still feels like it needs more polish, but you might have more luck than we did, anf we’ve heard these bugs can be random, as not every reviewer has seen the same thing.
However, one thing we all seem to agree on is that Google’s first wireless earbuds definitely need work.
Called the Pixel Buds, they’re essentially Google’s first take on wireless audio for your phone, and kind of feel like they’re meant to take on Apple’s AirPods, only they just don’t feel up to scratch.
Now we are not big fans of earbuds. They let too much noise in and out, and they get pretty uncomfortable quickly, but we get why people don’t move on from the Apple wired EarPods: they’re free.
Better earphones are out there — loads of them — just not the ones made by Google.
In fact, Google’s Pixel Buds are overly fussy and sensitive, have weird volume issues, don’t translate language anywhere near as well as Google implied at the launch, and generally just are uncomfortable and fiddly to wear.
And this awkwardness is kind of punctuated by the small case they come in, which only takes the Pixel Buds in one specific way: Google’s.
It’s really disappointing, because while the Pixel 2 XL smartphone is buggy, it’s still quite good overall, and yet the Pixel Buds are both buggy and not worth your time.
Seriously, there are much better earphones out there, and we’ll get to some more next week.
Until then, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology podcast. We’ll be back next week with more news and reviews, wrapped up in the time it takes to order and drink your regular cup of whatever.
From all of us here at Pickr and The Wrap, be sure to have a tremendous weekend and a lovely week, and we’ll see you next time. Take care.