The Wrap – February 9, 2018

Audio everywhere with Apple, Amazon, Bose, and visual with Olympus and Samsung. Plus we’ll review “Monster Hunter: World”. It’s the AV episode of The Wrap.

Editor’s note: “The Wrap” is a day late this week due to family sickness, and looking after the family as such. Apologies!


For the week ending February 9, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. In fact, we’re the only technology roundup that lets you listen to the week’s tech news in practically no time, and this week, listening is a pretty important thing, because much of the week’s news has been about listening.

For instance, this week has seen the release of numerous pieces of technology made for folks who like to stop, chill, and listen.

Take the release of Apple’s HomePod, which is essentially a 360 degree speaker made to work with Siri, which is now in stores, and only works with Apple’s iDevices. That means if you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, you’re probably not going to be able to play with Apple’s new $499 wireless speaker, as it’s built for the iGeneration only.

Apple’s HomePod has also been joined by Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo speakers, which this week landed in Australia.

There are three of them, and you won’t have to spend close to the $500 mark to try them, either, with Amazon’s Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus providing an experience more like what Google is trying to do in its Home and Home Mini speakers.

That means Amazon’s Echo speakers are smart speakers, but the difference here is that instead of Google, you’ll be talking to Amazon’s assistant, Alexa, and she will connect with quite a few services.

While it’s still early days for Australian support of the service, the amount of connections is fairly impressive.

We’ve published a guide to what you can do with Alexa in Australia at launch, and the list isn’t small, with NAB and Westpac supporting voice commands to check your bank balance, Logitech letting you control the TV using only your voice, Philips doing the voice controlled lightbulb thing, Hoyts giving you the opportunity to find out what’s playing nearby, Qantas to tell you your next flight’s details, or even order a pizza using Domino’s and your voice.

Hey, you can even call for an Uber simply by shouting to Alexa. Don’t be too aggressive, though; she’s there to help, not there to be yelled at.

Bose also joined in on the audio love, with its take on the cordless wireless earphones we’re all beginning to love.

Sure, Apple’s AirPods might be the ones you see everywhere, though we still think they look kind of strange. Really, our love for the cordless wireless earphone world goes to the ones that look like they belong in your ears, with small ovular devices made for your ear holes, the likes of what Jabra and Bang & Olufsen have each made.

This week, Bose joins them with the release of the $300 SoundSport Free, independent cordless and wireless in-earphones that deliver a good 15 hours of battery life with the case, and a water-resistant design.

We haven’t tried them yet to tell you what they’re like, but the last Bose wireless earphones, the SoundSport Wireless, were amongst our favourites last year, so we have high expectations for these.

Audio wasn’t the only thing to look forward to in the news this week, with news on the video front, and a video game reviewed, too.

For instance, Olympus announced a compact mirrorless was on the way in its new Pen E-PL9, and it’s Olympus’ first compact interchangeable lens camera to sport a 4K sensor, meaning 4K filmmaking is now a little more portable.

Samsung also has a new 4K screen to play those 4K productions on, with a smaller 43 inch version of its “Frame” TV designed to look like a piece of art.

Samsung’s Frame was launched last year in 55 and 65 inch sizes, and moves away from the typical TV design to something a little more artsy, complete with artworks that show on the screen while it isn’t on, using 30 percent of the electricity needed while it’s on to create a muted artwork feeling.

The new TV is a little smaller, and therefore a little less expensive, with Samsung’s 43 inch 4K Frame TV sporting a $1799 price tag.

But if you don’t want artwork only on your TV, consider a game, because this week, we have one of those in reviews.

Pickr’s passionate gamer Rhys Gillmer spent some time with the latest in the “Monster Hunter” series, “Monster Hunter: World”, and while he initially told me that it just didn’t look good, he later grew to like it.

In fact, he grew to the game’s nature of finding monsters from across the land and slaying them so much, that Rhys gave it a staggering 4.5 stars, starting with finding flaws in the technical representation of the game, but really enjoying the gameplay, so much that it provided him the opportunity to hunt down beasts with 14 classes of weapons, different types of combat, and a customisable cat. Because that’s the sort of thing that matters in a game.

There aren’t many games that offer you that, except maybe the dog you take with you in Fallout, but that’s a totally different game for a totally different day, and we’ll have another episode of The Wrap on another day, too.

You can find out about everything we’ve spoken about at the website, and you can, of course, subscribe to this show through several ways online, including Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Pocket Casts.

The Wrap will be back next week for more that’s happening in the world of technology in Australia, all in the space of five minutes. We’ll see you then. Take care.


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