Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

The Wrap – December 22, 2017

Telstra to let you phone home for free, LG talks up sound and vision, and Acer’s Spin 5 reviewed.


For the weekend before Christmas, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest roundup of technology…

And ‘twas the weekend before Christmas
And tech became slow
And the and the new releases low.
But it wouldn’t be long
Before something new arrived
As CES was just around the corner,
Ready for technology to thrive.

And we start the show with that bit of poetry because that is quite the state of technology this week, as product releases slow down as the year winds up, and that means not much news… and more crickets. We knew that sound effect would come in handy.

But the week hasn’t been completely empty, and so let’s look at what’s happened, starting with Telstra, because if you happen to be in Australia over Christmas and you have someone to call, you might want to find yourself a phone booth.

Yes, we know they’re a bit rare these days, but the phone booth will be useful once more as Telstra opens up its phone booth network to free local, national, and mobile calls from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, providing a good 16,000 phone boxes we free service over those three days.

This is basically something Telstra did last year, and it’s doing it again, providing the same service to folks at home with a Telstra home phone, making it possible for people to connect with friends and family over the holiday season without paying anything for it.

It gets a little better, because Telstra’s phone boxes mostly work as Telstra Air WiFi hotspots these days, and so for those same three days, WiFi will be free, too.

That’s a handy little gift, even if it’s short lived, and something you can make use of provided you’re not planning on dialing international or a service.

Once that’s over, though, there’s the new year to look forward to, and you can pretty much expect news ahead of CES to roll out before then.

CES is, of course, the place where all the new technology for 2018 is expected to be announced, and while it’s still a few weeks away, LG is already talking up some of the things it’s planning on pushing out, like a partnership in audio and some developments in the visual department.

In many ways, LG’s pre-Christmas efforts are all about the AV department you didn’t join at school, and yet also not, as LG joins forces with English audio legend Meridian for new soundbars next year, embracing a professional audio company in a similar way to Samsung. Well, kind of: LG is working with Meridian, while Samsung flat out bought Harman and AKG. They’re not quite the same, but a start’s a start, you know?

LG is also talking up screens, with a new type of display technology on its way to make 4K displays even better.

LG calls it Nano IPS, which basically uses nanometre-sized particles on an In-Plane Switching panel to absorb excess light to increase the intensity of colour on screen. While that might come across as jargon — and it does — the idea behind LG’s 2018 Ultra HD 32 inch monitor is that the colour will be better, clearer, and more useful for doing creative things with, even using Thunderbolt 3, the port seen on the MacBook Pro.

LG’s Nano IPS technology will actually be seen across a few monitors, and we’re sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg for new hardware set to be announced in the next few weeks.

For now, let’s talk about current hardware, and for that we look at Acer’s Spin 5, a laptop we’ve spent some time with this week that offers Intel’s latest eighth-gen Core processors inside with a design that makes it not just a laptop, but a tablet, too.

Making this happen is a special hinge that allows the screen to fold back on itself, and while this isn’t terribly new or unique, Acer has made the package work surprisingly well.

For starters it’s fairly slim, is made with aluminium, and includes a staggering 512GB of solid-state storage in the 13.3 inch tablet laptop, something few tablets hit, and something most laptops charge an arm and a leg for.

Acer hasn’t, though, sitting at $1799 for the fairly well-priced feature set, and even including a fingerprint scanner in the mousepad.

Overall, Acer’s Aspire Spin 5 is a fairly strong balance, compromising the efforts with a battery that just doesn’t nail the results, coming in with a little less than we expect.

But if you don’t have a problem keeping a charger or charging brick with you if you’re out for longer than a day, Acer’s Spin 5 isn’t a bad little laptop. Hey, it even has a Thunderbolt port on-board, so if you have a Thunderbolt port on your phone, guess what, you can charge it from that too.

That’s one of those things we wish more companies would actively support. It’s beginning to happen, but more standards for everyone is a good thing.

Also good is that we’ve run out of time, which is good not because we don’t want to spend time talking to you, but because we still have Christmas shopping to do. And if you do, be sure to head to the Pickr dot com dot au website to see one of our many holiday gift guides to help out, as well as anything else mentioned in this show.

For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest roundup of technology.

We’ll be back next week with more news and a review, capping the year that was.

Until then be sure to have a great weekend, a lovely Christmas and Boxing Day, and be sure to look out for Santa. We’ll catch you next time on The Wrap. Take care.

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