Star Wars goes home, Android Pay changes, Aussie ingenuity strikes again, and Microsoft’s Surface Book is given a gander. It’s The Wrap.
It’s the last Friday of February, and you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round-up.
And this week, that starts with news from everyone’s favourite movie franchise, Star Wars with big news this week. While we haven’t activated R2 to make the announcement, we’re sure he’d be delighted in knowing that last year’s big Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, is on its way to DVD, Blu-ray, and digital on March 28 in Australia.
While the release of a movie itself isn’t usually a big deal, there’s something interesting about this release, as it’s the first Star Wars film to go 4K.
That means “The Last Jedi” is going to be a 4K release on Blu-ray and Apple, and that’s good news for Star Wars fans everywhere, because it means that Ultra HD releases of the other Star Wars films will probably happen.
That’s definitely something to look forward to, though we hope the movies that find their way to release first are either the really new ones — you know, JJ and the bunch — or the properly old ones. Those ones about young Darth, they don’t really count. You know what we’re talking about.
If you don’t know what we’re talking about, well, you can always rent or buy them, but however you choose to pay for those films, this week we explored how Australian banks are handling the move to mobile payments.
Right now, if you’re a banking customer in Australia, it might seem like some banks are dictating the phones you should buy in order to use mobile tap and pay services. ANZ seems to lead the choice offerings, while most of Australia’s banks are divided between Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Garmin and Fitbit Pay, and even Android Pay.
Wait, we can’t call it that anymore, because this week Android Pay is actually Google Pay. The experience is slightly different bringing Google Wallet and Android Pay together, and unless you’re with ANZ, CommBank, Westpac, Macquarie, ING, or one of the smaller banks, there’s a good chance that you can’t use it anyway.
We’ll just have to wait until more players support these standards, and with Mobile World Congress just around the corner, we have to hope some do, because with new phones on the way, this mobile payment thing is definitely not going away.
Also not going away is the threat of a water crisis. Seriously, there are places around the world where water shortages could easily become a problem in our lifetime, and yet an Aussie invention could now put those fears to rest.
Australia’s CSIRO — basically our amazing science division of the government that patented WiFi as we all know it — has come up with something very, very cool.
It’s called “graphair”, and it’s a really interesting water filter made of graphene, a material made of carbon atoms arranged in a lattice that is being used to make some pretty cool things.
For the CSIRO, its cool graphene thing makes it possible to filter water, so when waters that aren’t safe to drink pass through it, the filter leaves the stuff you do want to drink, and ditches the rest.
That could mean that Sydney Harbour will be safe to drink when used with the CSIRO’s graphair, but more importantly, places without clean drinking water could have access to something good for them in the not too distant future.
That’s for the future, mind you, but for something found today, we’re talking computers, because we’ve had one for review this week, with the Microsoft Surface Book 2, the sequel to a laptop that appeared a couple of years ago.
It’s a proper sequel, too, with a slight change in the design and a USB Type C port thrown in complete with the ability to charge the laptop, which is super handy.
And the overall update isn’t bad either, offering new guts from Intel, fast memory and storage, and still the ability to separate the 13 inch touchscreen computer from the keyboard section, where the second battery and all the ports are.
We reviewed Microsoft’s top of the line model, and found unsurprisingly it was a solid little beast, complete with a larger than average charging block. That didn’t dent our feelings though. What did was the price and the lack of a pen, because starting at a little over two grand and making that Surface Pen now optional cuts down the value.
Make no mistake, Microsoft’s choice to get rid of the included stylus makes this a less compelling choice, especially since that incurs a good $140 purchase if you want to buy it.
The casing is still very easy to scratch, too, and while the machine is still good, it doesn’t feel as strong a value proposition as the first time we saw the Surface Book.
Still, if you need a powerful laptop that is also a tablet when you need it to be one, Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 has you covered, even if it’ll cost you a bit to get that coverage.
And that’s it for this week’s show. You can find out about these stories and more at the pickr.com.au website, and you can find more of this show through Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, and Pocket Casts.
The Wrap will be back next week for more of the world of technology in Australia, with next week likely being all about phones thanks to Mobile World Congress. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. We’ll see you then. Take care.