A week of launches from Dyson and Samsung, plus sound big and small as we check out Jabra’s tiny Elite 65t and Apple’s HomePod. This is The Wrap.
For the week ending March 9, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round-up, and this one might be a little bigger, because it has been a big week.
Take the launch of Samsung’s new TVs, which missed CES in January, and were announced this week instead, as Samsung introduced more QLED TVs.
This year, Samsung continues its work with quantum dot technology, a crystal that essentially improves the output from each pixel, providing more colour and contrast for TVs.
Called “QLED”, it’s Samsung’s competition to the OLED TVs put out by LG, Panasonic, and Sony, and this year, improvements include better contrast for better blacks and an almost wallpaper-like effect to make a boring off TV look like it’s part of the furniture. That’s just one of the ways Samsung hopes its Q-series will impress, and with sizes stretching from 55 inches to 88, it should fit in rooms of all sizes.
And that’s good, because the other major launch this week is all about room. Specifically, how much room you have to clean.
If you currently rely on a stick vacuum, there’s a good chance it runs out of battery before you’re done, and it’s one reason why so many households still rely on a vacuum you plug in.
This week, that changes as as the company that practically reinvented the vacuum — and certainly reinvented the hand dryer — has reinvented the vacuum once again.
This week, Dyson announced the V10, and while the name suggests it’s bigger than the V8 and V6 siblings, it’s also a little smaller.
The dust and debris tank? Bigger. The battery? Yep, that’s bigger too, hitting the 60 minute mark. Even the head and accessory supply is bigger.
But you know what isn’t?
The motor. It’s actually smaller and weighs less, running faster and moving more air and suction, making it perform better. It’s so impressive that Dyson isn’t going to make a plug-based vacuum anymore, making wireless better for all.
And when you go wireless, you never go back. That’s true of lots of things, not just your vacuum, and includes sound, like with wireless and cordless earphones.
One model last year even managed to impress us greatly, with Jabra’s Elite Sport Wireless, offering good sound, good battery life, and no cords for a little over $300. This year, Jabra is stepping it up a notch.
Called the Jabra Elite 65t, it’s an improved model that has been redesigned to let the air and sound move more, improving the audio quality and giving it more punch. The new design is also much more comfortable to wear, and they don’t let in a lot of noise from the outside, so you get the sound you want in something that is compact and user friendly. They’ve even managed to improve the battery life, topping out at 15 hours when used with the battery case.
We do wish the app was better and the bass was a little punchier, but at $299, they make a real impact.
And at $499, so does the Apple’s first smart speaker, the Apple HomePod, but not exactly for the reasons you might think.
You can call it Apple HiFi 2.0 if you want, but HomePod is a little more than that, offering one of the most well-developed small speakers we’ve ever seen, delivering real punch for its size.
First, there’s the design, and like a typical Apple product, it has that nailed with simplicity all around. On the inside, there’s seven tweeters, one woofer, six microphones, and a partridge in a pear tree. Well, not really the last one, but there is an Apple A8 processor like on the iPhone 6, and that’s there to analyse the sound coming out and compare it to what the room sounds like. It’s like having a sound guy constantly there to tell the speaker what it should be doing.
And it sounds brilliant. For the size, the amount of well balanced audio with real punch on the bass and oodles of volume is surprising, to say the least. We haven’t been this impressed by a small speaker in ages, and it blows away anything else in the size.
Where things fall down is usability, because it’s a very Apple sort of affair with the HomePod. You can only control it using an iOS device, which means an iPhone or iPad, and you can only listen through Apple Music. You might have an Android with Apple Music or an iPhone with Spotify, but neither will qualify. It’s iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Apple Music only.
That’s for setup and control, though you can always talk to Siri, as well. You can say “Hey Siri” and watch her spring to life on the top of the speaker, and give her a command, but she may not always get it. And she may even censor herself, because even though adults can use every word, Apple censors Siri.
The thing is we can overlook much of this because the speaker is so good, and it can control other HomeKit-enabled products, but we it worked with more than Apple products, and we wish the iPhone’s Siri, the Apple Watch’s Siri, and the HomePod’s Siri didn’t all try to interpret our commands. At once. Seriously, it happened. Several times.
For a first-gen product, the Apple HomePod is great, but it could be better, and probably will be when Sonos links up with it later in the year. We’ll let you know when that happens, but for now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round-up.
You can find out about these stories and more at the pickr.com.au website, and you can find more of this show through podcast networks like TuneIn, Stitch, Pocket Casts, and Apple’s own Podcasts. You can even ask HomePod to play “The Wrap” and it will. That’s one way of doing it.
The Wrap will be back next week for more technology in the space of five minutes, but until then, have an awesome week. We’ll see you next time. Take care.