The Wrap – November 16, 2018

WiFi lightbulbs and The Wiggles come home, Dyson cools down, new OLED TVs and wireless earphones, and Google’s Pixel 3 XL reviewed. It’s a well-packed Wrap.

Transcript

For the week ending November 16, you’re listening to the The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and it’s a couple of weeks until Chanukah and a few more until Christmas, and that means more products are on their way out for all parts of your life.

Like the home, because there are now a few more options for a smart home with bits and pieces you can control using your voice, like WiFi lightbulbs.

Philips added a couple of those this week, releasing the small E14 lightbulbs in Australia, which means if you have an IKEA lamp in your home, you can now pretty much equip it with smart lighting, which has been missing locally.

IKEA has its own smart lightbulbs coming, arriving in the Tradfri, which we’re pretty sure we’ve mispronounced. IKEA’s range is supposed to include light bulbs, but right now it’s only dimmers, controllers, and a remote.

You don’t need a remote, though. You can do this with your phone, or even a smart speaker, and there are quite a few of these out. Amazon has its Echo range, including the screen-based Echo Show, and Google has its Home devices, including the smart display Home Hub. And this week, Google’s speakers have a new trick: they talk to The Wiggles.

If you have kids in your life that can’t get enough of the big red car and its four singing passengers, they now have Australia’s Wiggles on Google Home speakers. They’ll work on the a Google Home, Home Mini, Home Max, and Home Hub, but just don’t expect any video outside of a transcription, because it’s all audio, and all about The Wiggles talking to your kids from a speaker.

The Wiggles is only on Google’s Home speakers, but Amazon’s Echo speakers get their own little bit of exclusivity, too, and it’s the sort of thing that might cool down your home.

We took Dyson’s Pure Cool Link fan for a spin this week, and it’s an interesting little evolution of the fan that not only cools down your home a little, but purifies the air and connects to Amazon’s Alexa for Echo speakers. We spent more time with the app than we did Alexa, but thanks to Dyson’s connection to the cloud, you can control the Pure Cool Link remotely, meaning you can start cooling your home simply by speaking.

There were other big announcements, too, such as Hisense entering the OLED TV world in Australia, releasing a 55 and 65 inch OLED to take on the likes of LG, Sony, and Panasonic. At a starting price of $3499, they could provide some competition to the others, though we’ve seen other OLED TVs starting from $2500, so Hisense may have to lower its price to truly compete.

Sony has new wireless and cordless earphones that you can go swimming with, because water resistance is cool, but if you can swim with your music and keep your phone on the side of the pool, that’s sure to make things interesting. That’s coming in the WF-SP900, which will cost $500 locally.

And Google has a new phone, which we’re checking out now. You might have heard about it, because it’s Google’s Pixel 3, which we looked at in the big version, the Pixel 3 XL.

Understandably, the Pixel 3 XL is basically Google’s showcase for the latest Android, version 9, also known as Pie, and it’s basically the cleanest version of Android yet. It’s slick, easy on the eyes, and adapts to how you use it, with the Pixel 3 XL offering some of the best hardware for it.

There’s a fast Snapdragon processor, either 64 or 128 gigs of storage, and some very fast 4G internet, but the focus on Google’s new phone is really on the camera, or all three of them.

While some phones have two cameras on the back, Google went with one on the back and two on the front. They’re all quite powerful, but the idea is to let the software do the work, making some spectacular portraits on either side, and letting the front camera go extra wide to capture all of your friends.

For the most part, the Pixel 3 XL shines because of that camera and the cleanest version of Android Pie, but it doesn’t have as much to lean on. It has wireless charging, a lovely design, a 6.3 inch screen and a fingerprint sensor, but it still feels like it needs more.

It delivers excellent images and its new Night Shot mode is one of the best low light cameras ever, making it a phone to get if you love a good camera that also takes great portraits. We wish it had something that gave it more oomph, but the Pixel 3 XL is better than we expected, it just needs something else.

For now, 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 in the space of five minutes.

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

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