This week on The Wrap, we’ll get through a couple of final reviews — the Amazon Echo 4 and the Apple AirPods Max — plus news from Oppo, Sonos, Leica, and more, on one of the last five minute roundups of the year.
It’s the week before Christmas, and you’re tuned into The Wrap, we could rhyme just like Dickens, and give ourselves a pat on the back. But we’ve got a lot of stuff to get to, so let’s not waste time. Because there’s only so much of it here and we’ll quickly run out of rhyme.
All right, that’s our poetic license for the year, and good thing too, because there’s only a handful of days left of 2020 to get through, a year we’re fairly sure most people will be happy to see the tail end of.
2021 is right around the corner, and with it, a whole heap of new gadgets and ideas, as the world gets ready for an all-digital CES. That’s right, this one’s happening entirely online, and while Aussie journos are going, we’ll be doing it from a place with better WiFi and fewer lines: our homes.
We’re already getting a glimpse of what we can expect, but mum’s the word, and with all the details coming just before the middle of January, you’ll want to stay tuned.
Before that happens, we’ve got a few last things to get to, with news and reviews to end the year on.
Starting with news from Oppo and Samsung about potential new phones on the way next year. That’s kind of the first drop of phone news for 2021, with word Samsung’s Galaxy S21 will launch in January, making it one of the first phones of the year, while Oppo is experimenting with a new take on foldable phones with a rollable screen held together in hinges.
It’s been designed with the help of the Japanese “Nendo” studio, and basically is a phone with several hinges to allow it to be small like a phone, but then unfold to be longer like a gaming system, creating something more unique.
There’s no word on if or when this Oppo concept will come to life, not like the expected January timeframe for the next Galaxy, but we’ll let you know if Oppo drops a date for this idea.
That’s like the expected release date to a new gadget gracing CES, which will be like a Nespresso pod machine, but for ice cream, making soft serve in seconds. It’s called the ColdSnap, and we don’t know much about it yet, except that like most CES things, it’s coming some time next year.
There’s only a few weeks before gadgets like that and other cool ideas get announced, but there’s more out now, as well.
Leica has a new expensive camera for photographers and filmmakers alike in the Leica SL-2s out in Australia now, bringing a 4K sensor and 24 megapixels of camera goodness for around $7500.
Small telco Mate has joined forces with the Tidal music service to give its customers a free music subscription plan for the life of their mobile plan, though the downloads aren’t unmetered.
Sonos has something coming for owners of the Sonos Sub, as well. If you’re someone with one of those, you can now have two subwoofers for even more oomph. To make this work, you’ll need at least one of the subs released this year, but it does mean more bass to get you moving.
And Apple’s Fitness Plus service launches this week in Australia, needing an Apple Watch to work, but giving customers a tailored video fitness program to help them get fit.
It’s not the only thing Apple launched this week, with the Apple AirPods Max arriving alongside, a $900 pair of headphones we’ve already reviewed. They’re big, shiny, and well made, offering some of the best balance, bass and volume we’ve ever heard, in a design that is very premium and very comfy.
The AirPods Max are your typical high-end Apple gadget, and feature a lot of technology to accompany that big price tag, with several sensors, lots of mics, and a big 40mm driver, plus a way to stabilise the sound and keep distortion low. Downright nonexistent.
But they’re also expensive, and that’ll make them harder for some to commit to. We’ve found they’re more like audiophile headphones which can justify the price, but feel they’d be an easier spend if they are closer to $700.
That’s distinct from the Echo gen 4, Amazon’s mid-range speaker that offers a lot of volume and balance in a spherical design. At a hair under $150, the Echo 4 is a small speaker with a big sound, and a design that is entirely distinctive in a home.
We think the app could be a little better, as could its controls, but it’s a great little speaker for a pretty solid price, too, and helps draw the conclusion that 2020 has seen some great sound gadgets. From those AirPods to the new Echo, Sony’s new headphones, the thoroughly excellent Sonos Arc, earphones from Bose and BlueAnt and Technics, and more, plus a bunch of others, there has been some solid sound tech this year, but we’ve run out of time to talk about it all.
Good news, though: we’re not done for the year. The Wrap will be back for two more episodes in 2020, getting in with the best phones and best tech of the year. We’ve reviewed a lot this year, and we’re going to talk to some of Australia’s best tech journalists to find out what they think of this year in tech.
That’s all coming up in the final days of December. For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round-up. A new episode goes live every Friday at Podcast One, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, but for now, have a great week. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.