The Wrap – April 6, 2018

Apple meets MTV, Sphero meets The Last Jedi, Intel and Microsoft meets gaming, and Lenovo meets AMD. Meet The Wrap.

Transcript

For the first week of April 2018, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round-up, and if you’ve been listening since the beginning, we’d just like to say thank you, because with this episode, The Wrap turns one. Happy birthday, here’s to many more, because as long as technology needs reporting on, we’ll be wrapping up the week in as short a time as possible.

This week, that starts with a bit of music, though it’s not something we’re cleared to play. However, if you have an Apple Music subscription, you don’t really need us to tell you, because you can watch it yourself.

Yes, music videos have arrived to Apple’s all-you-can-hear and now “see” music subscription service, as Apple takes on the likes of MTV, Vevo, and even YouTube with its own music video service.

Not every music video is there yet, but if you have a hankering to watch some tunes as opposed to merely listening, it’s worth taking a gander as Apple starts to bulk up the catalogue.

Honestly, we’re kinda curious what YouTube and Vevo have to say, since they have typically served music videos up until this point, though they’ll probably tell us that they’re free and Apple is not, which would be a fair call.

Good things rarely come free, mind you. Facebook is free, but as users are currently learning, there is a catch, and generally you have to pay for something very cool. You know those freemium games with the ads? They tend to be much more enjoyable when you don’t have ads popping up every few minutes.

Yes, good things can be bought, and if you bought any of Sphero’s Star Wars droids in the past couple of years, and you happen to be a Star Wars fan happy to sit through “The Last Jedi” one more time, you can now make that Sphero droid do a little something else: talk through the movie.

Much like how Sphero’s Lightning McQueen can talk through a sitting of Cars as if he was there with you — because he kind of is — the droids of Star Wars can do the same, with BB-8, BB-9e (the evil one), and everyone’s favourite R2D2 able to talk through “The Last Jedi”.

Now normally we don’t like people talking through our films, but for these guys, we can make an exception, just don’t take over the show again.

This week was also interesting in the computer world, as Intel showed off new chips, and even found a few gaming PCs to throw them into.

Specifically, there are some new meaty Intel four- and six-core processors made for laptops, meaning even faster gaming will be possible very, very shortly.

Dell and Alienware were the first to chime in with new hardware, offering 15 and 17 inch laptops that boasted the new chips, and they arrive with quite a bit of graphics hardware, too. You know, all the things you need to be a happy gamer that isn’t yelling at the screen.

Gamers can be like that, mind you, especially if they’re competing for cash. you might not realise it, but the esports phenomenon is here to stay, and the chance for your kids to actually become video gaming athletes is genuinely becoming a thing.

But it’s not just a case of sitting in front of your TV and churning out a gamer that thinks they’re awesome, because there’s apparently training for it.

This week, Microsoft chimed in to say that it will be running training events in both its New York and Sydney stores the week of April 16 to April 22, so if you fancy yourself a competitive gamer, you may want to get down there.

Microsoft will provide the experts, and probably the hardware, because not all hardware is made to game.

Take the laptop we checked out this week from Lenovo, the IdeaPad 720S. While Lenovo typically builds a laptop made for business, the IdeaPad feels like it’s made for uni, for school, and for folks keen to see what life is like outside of Intel.

You know those chips we mentioned earlier? Well this one doesn’t rely on Intel. Instead, it uses Intel’s competitor AMD, a brand we don’t normally see in laptops outside of graphics.

Now in the graphics world, AMD does insanely well. AMD is in both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, and so it’s tried and trusted, but in laptops, it’s usually a budget chip maker, so the IdeaPad makes for an interesting approach, because it’s not. It’s Lenovo and AMD making a slim and light computer that aims to be powerful and also cost effective.

So does it succeed? Well, yes and no.

It’s definitely fast enough, and we like that it charges on USB Type C, but it doesn’t feel like Lenovo has made it portable enough.

We can live without the touchscreen, and that’s good because it doesn’t have one, but the power pack isn’t as portable as what you might get with other laptops, and it’s also really ordinary. The five hour battery life is acceptable, but not great, and you can only hit more if you start to turn features off. There’s also no card reader, but you do get both types of USB ports, so there is a trade-off.

At $1500, we’d suggest shopping around, though if the IdeaPad 720S dropped to the thousand mark, it would be a little more compelling.

And that’s it for the week. You can find more of us online through Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts, TuneIn, and we’ll be back next week for more that’s happening in tech.

Until then, have a great week and we’ll see you next time. Take care.

Star Wars droid noises of R2D2, BB-8, and BB-9E recorded from the Sphero Star Wars robots. Sounds belong to Disney and Sphero, of course.

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