The Wrap – May 4, 2018

Mobile plans go unlimited, VR gets easier with Oculus, B&O updates legendary earphones, LG’s new phone detailed, and Amazon’s Alexa finds the force. May the Fourth be with you on this edition of The Wrap.

Transcript

For the first week of May, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and being that this is being recorded on May the Fourth, we think it’s only right that we say May the fourth be with you, because today it is.

And if you have an Amazon Alexa enabled device like the Echo, Sonos One, or UE Blast, you can even get Alexa to join in on the Star Wars vibe simply by asking it a question.

You can ask for a Star Wars joke, a Star Wars limerick because apparently they exist, and you can even ask Alexa to come to the dark side.

But ultimately, if you just tell her to play music around your home or control your smart lights, she’ll do that, because that’s what smart assistants on smart speakers do.

This week, there wasn’t much in the way of new smart speakers — we had too many of those last week — but you’ll find a new phone from LG on the way very soon, coming in the LG G7. Yes, we’re on the seventh generation of LG’s flagship products, and this year, it’s hard not to feel it’s a bit same-samey.

Launched in New York, LG’s new phone features a fast new chip, a lot of storage, water resistance, WiFi, Bluetooth, two cameras on the back, and a screen on the front that stretches for most of the display complete with the notch that the iPhone X made famous.

But while it looks like a capable enough phone, we’re not quite sure what’s stand out unique about it. LG has said there’s a super bright new screen and some of the loudest speakers a smartphone has seen, but that’s the bulk of what’s new.

Frankly, we’re keen to see what the deal is with LG’s G7 when it launches in Australia in June, and that’s the same with a phone of a different kind.

Bang & Olufsen has a phone of a different kind ready, and it’s an update of some legendary earphones hanging around since the 90s.

There’s a good chance you’ve seen the B&O Earset: they hang around the ear and use a metal arm to strap an earbud in place in the ear. It was one of the first earhook earphones, and now it’s back, as the Beoplay brand brings a much desired update, cutting the cords and going wireless.

The Beoplay Earset isn’t the only gadget to go wireless this week. It’s joined by the Oculus Go, a portable self-contained VR headset with the screen and hardware all built into the one unit.

Think of it like a Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream where you don’t need a separate phone, because that’s exactly what it is. There’s no Aussie price on this one, sadly, but if you have a spare three or four hundred, you’ll find the US price of $239 does ship to Australia.

And Australia is in the technology news for a pretty big reason this week: we’re finally going down the unlimited data path on mobiles.

It’s taken some time, but if you’ve ever complained of mobile data bill shock — you know, when you spend too much on your phone because you’ve downloaded too much — new plans from Telstra and Vodafone could be just what you’re after.

They’re built specifically to be unlimited, but there is a catch. Of course there is, right?

The catch on these plans is that while you have unlimited data, the moment you go over a certain amount, your 4G speed drops. That means if you have a new phone like the iPhone X or any of the many new Androids, you’ll have crazy fast speeds for the first 30 or 70 gigabytes, but then it will drop.

In fact, it goes right down to 1.5Megabit, or almost a fifth of a megabyte per second, compared to the 12 megs per second it should normally work at.

Telcos are doing this as a way of stopping downloaders from going crazy, while providing something they want: unlimited downloads.

When it comes to what you can choose, Vodafone will have three options, Telstra has one, and while Optus did have an unlimited plan a few weeks ago, it has since retired it and wouldn’t say if or when it would be bringing it back, but they all have that 1.5 megabit catch. Fast speeds for a set amount of data, and then the rest of your unlimited at a fair bit slower.

As to whether the unlimited plan is better off for you, that’s something we’ll be looking at in the coming weeks, but you’ll have to decide that for yourself.

Mobile downloads are super important. They let you talk to friends, share photos, and do a whole lot more, so making sure the speed is good is a big part of that.

Why you can even use it to download podcasts, podcasts like this one, which is also now over. You can find out about everything we’ve spoken about at the Pickr website, and you can find a whole lot more there as well, including a Mother’s Day gadget gift guide, because mum loves gadgets, too.

Australia’s fastest technology roundup is available every Friday on PodcastOne, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, and more, and we’ll be back next week for more of what’s happening in the world of tech.

Until then, have a fantastic week, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.

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