The Wrap – Making technology exciting

Technology is rarely exciting, except when it is. This week saw some excitement in the form of dual-screen phones, mice with electromagnets, and a soundbar that turns your home into a theatre. All in five minutes.

Transcript

For the beginning of October 2019, this is The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and as we head into the final months of the year, you might be wondering, is this it? Is this whole thing that we’ve seen thus far all that we’re getting?

By this we mean is technology just going to stay somewhat predictable? Are we just going to see big phones with batteries take minor leaps forward, are we going to see computers and tablets and phones merge very gradually… are we ever going to see something exciting?

Making technology exciting isn’t necessarily easy, because what’s exciting to you might not be exciting to someone else, and vice versa. However technology can be very iterative and just follow version after version, so when something smashingly new and intriguing comes along, it can raise the spirits and tantalise.

Like this week, with Microsoft announcing some new products in its Surface computing line. There were two that are useful, but not exciting, with modest upgrades to the Surface Pro and Surface Laptop.

And then there were three that were, as the Surface Pro saw a thinner take with a bigger screen in the Surface Pro X, while Microsoft showed that it has been experimenting, basically playing with dual-screen foldable computers.

There’s a Surface Neo coming, which is is a dual-screen Surface that throws two 9 inch touchscreens together with a 360 degree hinge. The screens can be used like a dual screen computer or as a 13 inch tablet, and there’s even a physical keyboard that can be used on one of the screens, effectively turning it into a laptop of sorts.

Microsoft is also returning to phones, or kind of, anyway. The last time we saw a Microsoft phone, it was when Microsoft owned Nokia and was making Windows Phones of sorts. They didn’t go fantastically, and Microsoft has since pulled the plug on Windows Phone, even if it was interesting.

The Surface Duo doesn’t need to worry about Windows, though, because it’s an Android phone. In fact, it’s an Android phone with two 5.6 inch screens that unfold to an 8.3 inch tablet, and can run apps, take notes, and generally use it as a smaller Surface of sorts.

Think of it as Microsoft’s take on a foldable Surface, because that’s kind of what it looks like, especially in a year that was supposed to be all about foldables. Most are missing in action, certainly in Australia, but more foldable phones are expected next year, in 2020, and these are no different.

Microsoft has pencilled in a 2020 time frame for its foldable computers, which are a little more exciting than your standard phone or laptop might be.

Excitement is hard to measure, though it comes in different ways.

If you love magazines but find it frustrating they’re losing to the web, you might find the release of Apple’s News Plus exciting, because it provides magazines on an iPhone, iPad or Mac with a monthly subscription. There’s a one month trial to start with, but after that it’s a $15 monthly price for what is essentially an all-you-can-read subscription to magazines, though only the ones in the News+ subscription.

If you find mice exciting — which is probably just us — you could be interested in a new Logitech mouse that uses electromagnets to help spin the scroll wheel. It’s not THE most exciting thing of the week, but for folks who love this mouse, it could provide just a little more accuracy.

Some of the more exciting things we’ve checked out this week happen in sound, such as with the Sennheiser Ambeo, a soundbar made to work with movies by providing a true sense of dimensionality in sound.

You can already get 3D sound systems, but Sennheiser’s is special, and uses a microphone to setup your home. That’s all the mic does, and it comes with it in the box. Crazy.

When it is set up, you’ll find 13 speakers working to provide surround sound, all from the front. Eleven fire at you and two fire up, and the sound they can create is really impressive, working to bounce sound around you and in your room.

So what’s the catch? Well aside for the four thousand dollar cost, the Sennheiser Ambeo is big, really big, so much that it can actually impede what you see on your TV. If your TV is mounted on the wall or held up with a big stand, you’ll be fine, but if not, it can take up the bottom portion of what you see. It means subtitles are hard to read and parts of the picture will be lost to sound.

That’s a bit of a trade off, though it’s probably because of just how much Sennheiser has packed into this soundbar, which works with Dolby Atmos soundtracks on 4K movies.

Essentially, it has some of the best sound you can find on a soundbar, though the price and size are definitely things to be aware of.

But that’s all the time we have, so you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. The Wrap can be found every Friday on Podcast One, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. Until then, be sure to have a great week. We’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.