The Wrap – December 21, 2018

Twas The Wrap before Christmas, and all through the show, we’ll cover gadgets galore, and a last minute gift guide to go. Hear it all in five, it won’t take long. It’s Australia’s fastest technology round up, marginally longer than some songs.

Transcript

Twas the week before Christmas, and this is The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup is here, helping you avoid the gadget trap. This week on the show, we won’t be doing it in rhyme. Frankly it would take too long, and we don’t have the time.

But this week we are starting the show with something Christmas oriented, because it’s only a few days until that day, which means there’s a good chance you’re finishing up the last of your present shopping, or possibly just starting.

So consider this your last minute gift guide, because with only a few days to go, you may need some help, and help is what we have, offering over a dozen gift guides on the pickr.com.au website, but condensing it down into a last minute guide.

Now normally, last minute means something like gift cards, because it’s hard to look past an iTunes or Google Play gift card, especially if someone is going to use them, but you don’t have to. While there’s nothing wrong with a gift card, you can get a little more creative, even if it seems like you don’t have the time to.

You can pick up some headphones if you like, as those are plentiful, as are wireless speakers, covering the music side of things, because everyone loves music.

There’s always a tablet, which is great for entertainment and these days range between seventy dollars to over a thousand, though if it’s a last minute gift, we bet you’ll edge closer to the budget side of things.

And there are also some useful gifts. Almost utilitarian, like improvements to WiFi with mesh networking from the likes of Google, D-Link, and Linksys, while a wearable like a Fitbit, Garmin, or TomTom tracker will work with Android or iPhone, and might even get that upcoming New Years resolution licked.

Another great option is in the world of coffee, and it’s a great little gift if you know someone with a coffee pod machine. If you don’t know if they have one, simply say “do you have coffee at home”, and see what they say, because if they have one, you can assemble your own little hamper.

Coffee pods of all varieties can typically be found at supermarkets, making it a really easy last minute gift. Grab a few boxes of pods, a bow, and call it a gift hamper. Easy.

And there’s always devices for the smart home, which are a fairly easy purchase.

While 2018 didn’t quite turn out to be the year the smart home made it big, at least not massively so in Australia, there’s a good chance it will improve lives next year, and that means a smart home purchase can be a very forward thinking present.

Devices for the smart home come in at various price points and different categories, but we break it down into three areas: lighting, security, and sound.

Lighting is easy, with smart lightbulbs found at office supply stores and electronics outlets, but a lightbulb isn’t really a fun present. The same is true with a security camera, but you can find these easily too, even for dogs.

But smart speakers and smart displays are. They’re fun, easy, and provide sound and possibly vision, and a foray into the world of the smart home. You can call on a smart speaker and have it play music, and if it’s a smart display, it can show pictures and videos, too.

And these days, they’re commonplace. Both the Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers are found in numerous stores, and the smart display is beginning to really kick up a storm.

It’s an area we’ve been reviewing quite a bit of lately, and we have another right now, with the Lenovo Smart Display, an appropriately named 10 inch display that comes with a surprisingly loud speaker and a connection to Google.

If you have a Google account, it will talk to the photos on your library and load them up as a slideshow with the clock, just like the other Google Home smart displays, and if you want to command Google to play music or control your home’s gadgets, it will do that, too. But Lenovo’s point of difference comes in sound output and design.

Simply put, the sound is much much bigger, and with the exception of needing a little more bass, it makes for one of the best sounding smart displays. It’s also really good looking, with a design that incorporates an almost folded origami-like look with bamboo on the back. Lenovo’s Smart Display is more furniture than smart speaker, and really nice.

It’s one major flaw is the plug: which is just too short, and makes it really difficult to place.

But at $399, the Lenovo Smart Display is one of the nicest smart displays around.

Smart displays like it seem an easy recommendation because of how they work, and because they’re an intro to the smart speaker world which is only going to get bigger.

Next week, we’re going to look at the year’s best devices, and you might even see one or two of the smart displays in there.

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

The Wrap appears every Friday at Podcast One and Apple Podcasts, and we’ll be back next week for more technology heard in five minutes, but until then, have a great week and a very merry Christmas, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.

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