The Wrap – Improving WiFi & Surface-to-go

Is your home WiFi speed getting you down? We’ll check out a new technology that could help and review Microsoft’s Surface Go. Plus news from space, Sonos, and more in five.

Transcript

It’s the near the middle of April, and you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and we end this week looking to the stars where scientists have captured the world’s first photo of a black hole, an image that can’t really be described, except to say it’s as big and elusive as the black hole itself. Over 200 people were needed to make it happen, and it’s a staggering achievement.

Back home on earth, people are making other things happen. They’re not necessarily as big as capturing a black hole for the first time, but they’re still useful.

For instance, if you’re in Canberra, one of Google’s companies, Wing, has announced that it is using drones to deliver food and pharmacy goods to select houses and suburbs in the nation’s capital.

It’s a first for Australia, and probably much of the world, as engineers embrace what is very likely to be our drone-led future, using remote control flying machines to make deliveries easier and possibly more economical. There aren’t many places Wing will make those deliveries in the beginning, but it’s a start, and will likely pave the way for other drone delivery services.

At home, there are more gadgets coming designed to speed up wireless, helping to solve that massive question we’re regularly asked: how do I make WiFi better at home?

The fast answer is to check your wireless gear and possibly update it, making it work better for your home and not necessarily using the basic gear you got with your internet connection, though this week’s release from Netgear might be overkill.

That is unless you need the fastest router out there, because the Nighthawk AX8 is an 802.11ax WiFi router, a new high-speed technology that goes further and faster, and is backwards compatible with practically every WiFi technology there is. That means it’ll work with your iPhone and Android and Windows and Mac, but if you happen to have something with 802.11ax on-board — like the Galaxy S10 — you’ll get even faster speeds and more range.

And really, that’s what we all want: wireless without worries and woes, because it can benefit everything, from phones to consoles to TVs and speakers.

You can expect more movement in the audio world from wireless speakers, as they make a big part of the smart home. Sonos and IKEA this week finally revealed exactly what the two have been working on, and while we kind of knew about the bookshelf Symfonisk speaker, the other news is that IKEA has a Sonos speaker with a lamp built in.

Call it the convergence of light and sound, because that’s what it is, with the result almost like being a Sonos Play 1, but with a lamp up top.

Both the IKEA bookshelf and lamp speaker look like they’ll see release in Australia later this year, and we’re hoping the prices stay relatively low when they do. After all, good speakers are rarely cheap.

Good anything is rarely cheap. A good phone? Over a grand. A good TV? Over two or three.

Bang & Olufsen introduced something just like that this week, with the Beovision Harmony, a TV without a price tag that if we had to guess will probably cost over ten thousand dollars locally.

It’s made with oak and aluminium, and is an elegant take on an LG 77 inch OLED screen with speakers that fan out in front of the TV, moving the screen into place, almost as if the TV were performance art itself. It won’t be cheap — B&O rarely is — but it will be unique, and probably quite good.

Good technology doesn’t always have to cost an arm or a leg, though.

We’ve been checking out the Microsoft Surface Go 4G this week, and it offers a persuasive play for portability, getting the laptop back to 10 inches, even if the cost can be a little prohibitive.

The hardware can seem a little low end under the 10.1 inch screen, and while laptops normally get Intel Core or Atom chips, or something by AMD, this is an Intel Pentium, which is just enough processor power, but not much more. It’s also accompanied by Windows 10 S, which fortunately you can turn off, because it doesn’t really let you install much.

Do that, and the Surface Go starts to become useful, and when combined with the optional TypeCover keyboard cover, the tablet really makes an impact. It may be small and underpowered, but it will do the basics, and then a little bit more.

Add to it the 4G connection, and the Surface Go makes a compelling case. The performance could be a little better, and we wish Microsoft would include things like the keyboard and pen which cost extra, but given it’s about taking Windows to go, we liked it more than we expected.

But that’s it for this edition of The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. The Wrap appears every Friday at PodcastOne and Apple Podcasts, and you can find more about these stories and more at the pickr.com.au website. The Wrap will be back next week for more technology in five, but until then have a great week. We’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.

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