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

The Wrap – July 10, 2017

The robot revolution is coming, as is online music education, a holographic display, and a mid-range metal mobile. It’s The Wrap, a little later than expected.


It’s the weekend ending July 9, and this is The Wrap, Australia’s fastest serving of technology news wrapped into the space of time it takes to get your morning coffee and get that caffeine kick right.

And this week, The Wrap is a little late thanks to a new arrival, as Pickr’s editor Leigh Stark – that’d be me – now has a child, as his first born made its way into our world.

That means Pickr is running a little behind this week, but that’s fine, because big news is always a big deal, and it’s not the only big news for this week, with the possibility of something massive in the mobile world arriving from camera maker RED next year.

You may not know RED, but if you’ve ever wanted to make a film or have worked on one – or maybe you just so happen to be a camera nut, because that’s cool too – you’ll probably have heard of the company.

Different from your typical camera brand, RED makes the sorts of cameras used for making movies, with big sensors, solid bodies, and the ability to capture in ultra high resolutions like 4 and 8K.

RED isn’t a brand known for phones, and yet that’s exactly what the company will apparently produce next year, announcing the Hydrogen, a unique concept that could have the potential to not only change mobiles, but media as well.

RED’s Hydrogen shares some things in common with other phones, and it will run on Android, including USB Type C, and the ability to play back 2D media, but it will also apparently handle 3D media with what REd calls a holographic display.

What this exactly is, we’re not really sure. The initial expectation is that it will either be some form of micro or Pico projector, or possibly a development on the parallax barrier and lenticular 3D displays devices have had for a few years now.

3D mobile technology can be rare, but if RED can pull it off, it may have a device that has the potential to shape where phones are going, not just delivering a big and thin and bright LCD screen, which is one of the main developments these days.

Also far off in the distance is the field of robots, and with edutainment robot maker Sphero spinning off into Misty Robotics recently, we were able to talk with the company’s Head of Products, Ian Bernstein, who told Pickr basically where the company would be going with its impending robot revolution, and this is both one part science fiction and another science fact.

So you can forget about the jet packs, the flying cars, and drones that deliver your groceries for you, at least in the short term, with Misty’s robots focused more on robots that can help.

That’s part of what we expected a few weeks ago when we mentioned it, but now we have a firmer idea of what the company is working on, and assistance robots seems to be the go here.

Bernstein told Pickr this week that much of what Misty is working on is inspired by science fiction, listing Wall-E, Big Hero 6, Her, and Ex Machina as required watching for new employees, and yet despite that modern take, the first robot that we’ll be seeing from the company is based on Rosie from The Jetsons.

Essentially, Misty’s first will be a robot that does a little more than your basic robotic vacuum cleaner, with cleaning part of its work, but also cooking, running errands, and even being a friend and companion. It’s kind of like that movie Bicentennial Man, only it will probably be a little more memorable.

A little closer to home, guitar maker Fender has this week launched a program designed to make learning instruments a little easier.

It’s called Fender Play, and the concept kind of takes what you can do on YouTube by finding instructional videos of your favourite songs, but mixes it up with the sort of material handled by Udemy and other eLearning courses to give you a bit of structure, allowing you to learn not just music, but also the instrument through the musical style.

Given how often people give up on musical instruments in the early days of finding one they like, this concept makes a lot of sense. Instruments are rarely easy, what with finger positions, strumming, chords notation, and more, and so any system that can make the required learnings more in reach is definitely welcome.

Like any good modern service, it’s also the sort of thing you can run from within a web browser, with a personalised program developed from the sort of musical choices you make and the $20 USD per month pricing.

However, if you have an iPhone or an iPad, you can log on using an app, though it’s an app that cannot be found yet in Australia.

Fender did tell Pickr that it’s working on getting the apps available outside of America, Canada, and the UK, and that Android is also on the schedule, likely appearing next year.

And finally, while we didn’t spend as much time out in the field as writers this week – you know, birth of our first child and all – we still had a review ready to go with Motorola’s metal mid-range, the Moto G5 Plus.

And if you’ve been following the resurgence and return of Motorola for a while, you may know that the G series is one of the company’s most successful phone lines. Since its inception a few years ago, the Moto G phones basically stood for value, offering budget to mid-range pricing and offering a fair amount of bang for your buck, something few companies tackled with similar vigour.

Recently, Motorola’s latest G rocked up, and it aims to improve the G even more, boasting a 5.5 inch Full HD screen not unlike that of the big iPhone 7 Plus, a fingerprint sensor, a metal body, 4GB RAM, either 16 or 32GB of storage depending on how much you want to spend, and some nice 4G speeds, too.

And for the most part, you’ll struggle to find anything really to complain about this one, with solid performance, support for two SIMs which is ideal if you happen to be someone who travels frequently, and the stock version of Android making it not only like the way Google imagines Android should be, but also about as up-to-date as smartphones get.

Our one quibble with this otherwise great handset is the camera, which didn’t feel as strong as it probably should have, especially since it comes with a 12 megapixel dual autofocus camera. Daylight was fine, but low light just seemed to lack that clarity we go for, and while Instagram and Facebook will probably be fine with it, that’s kind of it.

Still there’s a solid value here and a great build, not to mention two whole days of battery life. For us, that’s really the big deal about the phone, because how often do you ever get more than one? Moto’s G5 Plus nets two days of battery life, and that’s a stellar effort.
For now, that’s all we have for this week’s belated Wrap. We’ll be back Friday barring any major dramas, with the latest news and reviews wrapped up in as short a time as possible. From everyone here at Pickr including the newest member of the Stark family, take care and have a great week!

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