Intel meets AMD, Porsche and Huawei, Foxtel with Android, and Sony and “awesome”. It’s a collaborative Wrap.
For the 10th of November, this is The Wrap, Australia’s most Novemberiffic technology cover all, covering— wait, Novemberiffic? Did I seriously say that? Well we’re covering what’s going on in Australian technology for this second week of November, and that starts with some big news of a couple of collaborations worth talking about.
First, there’s big news between chip makers Intel and AMD, and it’s good news for laptops coming soon to store shelves near you, as the two rivals of the processor world come together for a new chip sure to make gamers and creatives happy.
For pretty much the past five or ten years, you’ve really only had the choice of a super slim laptop with no dedicated graphics, or an option with dedicated graphics that wasn’t quite as thin. Understandably, that doesn’t appeal to everyone, and while Intel’s graphics are gradually getting better, they don’t really hold a candle to the sort of things AMD has been doing.
But almost like Mario teaming up with Sonic — which did happen — or X-Men with Star Trek — which also happened in a comic (we’re geeks, we know this) — Intel is teaming up with AMD to bring the power of the Radeon graphics technology to its processors, essentially ensuring that laptops will be able to do a little more than they can now, like maybe play games or render video and 3D, plus some of that virtual reality stuff, all without making a bigger and meatier laptop.
As for when you’ll see this team up, the smart money is in new laptops being shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas early next year, and as usual, we’ll let you know something when we do.
Next up is another collaboration of sorts, as Foxtel teams up with Android, because while cable TV is struggling to really make a dent against online giants like Netflix, Amazon, and local hero Stan, Australia’s one last cable TV provider of Foxtel still wants to show it knows it can play.
And how will it do that? Well, it’s getting into the whole 4K thing, or it kind of is, releasing the Foxtel Now box, a packaged up media player with support for Foxtel’s streaming media service that’ll let you watch Foxtel’s service provided you pay for one of its many packages.
Now fortunately you can do this on a month to month option, so you won’t be stuck into a two year contract — which is good news for folks who like to dabble — and the $99 price tag isn’t bad especially given this media player supports 4K.
It also comes with a version of Android and support for Google Play apps, which is only a good thing, but the 4K aspect is where things get tricky.
You see only apps that work through the Foxtel Now box run in 4K, while Foxtel itself does not, with Foxtel’s services running on 1080p for on-demand movies and TV shows, while live TV only runs at 1080i.
And that’s the confusing aspect: the Foxtel Now box is a 4K version of something you’d expect from Foxtel, and yet it’s also not. Very not, with the only 4K media coming from any source not owned by Foxtel.
It’s a little confusing, so we’re just going to have to see how this thing goes and performs. We’ll say that is a fair sight more compelling than say signing up for a two year cable plan with a service you may not want past two months, which given shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, not to mention the random times you might want to watch sporting events, well, at least you won’t be locked in.
Another collaboration this week as Huawei and Porsche team up for something made for very rich blood, and a fashionable phone.
We don’t see these very often these days, and honestly after the days of there Armani and Prada phones, we’re kinda glad of that, but Huawei is making it happen with a very special edition of its Mate 10 Pro, which is heading to Australian shores very, very soon.
And while the phone is largely the same as its not-so-car-themed edition, the Porsche phone looks a little different, has more storage at 256GB, and comes with some accessories, but they’re not really the thing that makes it stand out.
No, for that you have to turn to the price, which sits at a staggering $1899.
Yep, close to two grand, making it pretty much the most expensive phone you can find in the country, because good luck finding the iPhone X, and that tops out at a maximum of $1829.
We’re not really sure who this one is for, because the Mate 10 Pro regular offers 128GB of storage and is practically identical outside of this, saving you a good $800 given the price differences.
Really, it’s probably just for people with too much money, or for folks looking for a phone that matches their car. Special editions can be confusing, and this one isn’t dramatically different. We’re confused, but we’ll reserve judgement until we’ve seen one.
Meanwhile, our Mate 10 Pro review is almost done, so look for it in the coming weeks.
We do have a review this week, though, because after looking at Bose’s new noise cancelling QC35 generation two headphones last week, it’s time to check out their competition this year, and it’s from Sony in the WH-1000XM2, a real mouthful of a name that we don’t really want to say again.
Instead, we’re going to call them the best headphones around, because they’re kind of the best headphones around.
Technically, they’re the sequel to last year’s MDR-1000X, what was arguably one of the best pairs of noise cancelling headphones we’d ever come across, and in this year’s iteration, Sony has basically taken things and knocked them into twelfth gear.
For starters, the sound is still excellent, offering fantastic balance and clarity, and a real warmth to the audio that just makes music come alive.
They’re wired and wireless depending on what you prefer, though we’ll stick with wireless because that’s where all the cool features are. In fact, what’s cool about Sony’s WH-1000XM2?
Well for starters they go to a lot of trouble to make it hard for you to walk into traffic, kicking on a mode that works with your phone to work out where you are: are you on a train, walking around, or are you sitting in an airport and need to listen to announcements?
Sony’s headphones will adapt, and you can tweak it if you disagree. They also support a custom equaliser, great for tuning the headphones, as well as the ability to change where the audio is coming from, simulating not just environments, but also where the sound comes from, front and back.
And the noise cancellation is one of our favourite types, with the ability to be reconfigured at a moment’s notice for your changing environment.
And Sony packs all of this technology into a pair of headphones that sits at a hair under $500, which is more wallet friendly than last year, and something we definitely like to see.
Sufficed to say, the Sony WH-1000XM2 headphones sound excellent, and are comfortable, and are feature packed, and while they lack the Google Assistant of Bose’s QC 35 II, it’s hard not to call these the best headphones we’ve heard this year.
Seriously, this is the new benchmark, and this is what Bose and Beats and everyone else has to take on.
And that’s all we have for this week. We’re going to go and listen to some more headphones, and maybe we’ll find something that can properly challenge these headphones.
For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, the official super quick Novemberrific podcast of Pickr.com.au.
We’ll be back this time next week with more news and hopefully a review. Until then, take care and have a great week.