Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Panasonic GZ1000 OLED TV

The Wrap – Tech Takes Its Toll

The beginning of February takes its toll, as Panasonic departs TVs, TCL and BlackBerry say no more, and we go ears-on with Huawei’s noise cancelling wireless earbuds. All that and more in five minutes.

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For the beginning of February 2020, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and while new technology can be exciting, it can also draw feelings of the opposite. This week has been a little like that, as companies end agreements, pull out of markets, and deal with what’s happening in the world.

There’s a lot happening right now, but what’s not happening is TCL and Alcatel making more phones with BlackBerry, at least not for the foreseeable future. If you were excited or intrigued by the idea of a new BlackBerry Key model, or maybe thought TCL or Alcatel could redeem with a new model this year, neither seems to be on the cards.

This week, BlackBerry announced that it and TCL had ended its licensing agreements, and wouldn’t sell phones past August. That means you probably shouldn’t expect a new BlackBerry made by Alcatel or TCL at Mobile World Congress this year, though we could be surprised if BlackBerry teams up with another maker. Could it be Nokia or Sony, or maybe BlackBerry will just make a BlackBerry-inspired case for other phones.

We may find out at Mobile World Congress in Spain in the coming weeks, just like we’ll find out what quite a few other phone makers are doing. We won’t be hearing from LG, though, because LG has pulled out of Mobile World Congress citing concerns with the Coronavirus.

It’s the first company to pull its presence completely from the world’s biggest mobile phone show, and we’re not sure if it will be the last.

There’s little surprise that the novel Coronavirus is affecting the world, threatening human life and travel, and making a dent on events such including Mobile World Congress in Spain, but it’s affecting mobiles in a different way, too.

Many of the components that go into making phones are made in Chinese factories, especially with the iPhone. Like many other manufacturers, Apple relies on Foxconn to build some of its components, yet in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic affecting China, Foxconn has shut some factories down.

That could easily affect what happens for the next iPhone, and possibly for other devices, as well. It does mean that while the next iPhone is due for announcement in September, depending on what happens with the Coronavirus, it could either be delayed or released in short supply. We’re not sure how the virus will affect other devices, but right now the concern is clearly on solving the pandemic.

At the same time, a “pan” of another kind is leaving Australia, as Panasonic’s TV department calls it quits locally. Panasonic will still be in Australia, available in cameras, air conditioners, appliances, and audio gear, but its 2019 TVs will be its last in Australia, as the the company pulls out.

You’ll still have plenty of choice for buying TVs, with Samsung, LG, Sony, Hisense, and TCL, among others, with new models expected in March, April, or May, likely lowering the current prices a little beforehand. That means if you’re in the market for a new TV now, you might want to wait, as the prices could be a little better within the next few weeks.

If you don’t need a new TV, you might be in luck with an update that can make your old TV feel new again. In fact, if you have a recent LG TV, you might be getting a bit of an update that makes it just that much better.

LG announced this week that its 2019 TVs would get an update bringing the Apple TV app and the iTunes movies and TV show library to LG TVs without an Apple TV. It’s kind of like getting access to what’s in an Apple TV, but without needing an Apple TV, and something Samsung has been adding to some of its TVs, too.

Slightly older TVs in the 2018 line will see an update, too, but that’s coming later in the year.

That’s a bit of positive news near the end of the week, and it arrives alongside a new smart display, as Amazon releases an 8 inch Echo Show. There’s a five, a ten, and now there’s an eight sitting in the middle with a price tag just over $200, making it basically a middle ground for the Echo Show range.

We’ve not heard that, but we have heard a new pair of earphones, or earbuds, anyway. We’ve had a listen of Huawei’s FreeBuds 3, a pair of wireless and cordless earbuds a little like the AirPods, but with noise cancelling… and they’re not amazing. While the idea of a pair of earbuds that can cancel noise is intriguing, particularly a pair that uses intelligence to work it out, the results are a little subpar. Noise cancellation off and the FreeBuds 3 sound decent. But with cancellation on, and they seem to focus more on the noise than anything else.

It’s a real shame, as the effort is a bit of a failure, and the ease of use only works well with a Huawei phone. It’s kind of like what Apple does with its AirPods, but even Apple’s earphones work well across brands, and these aren’t as solid.

It’s a nice idea, but the FreeBuds 3 aren’t super effective, and frankly, you could do better with a lot of other earphones.

And that’s all the time we have for The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. The Wrap is released every Friday at Podcast One, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, but we’ll be back next week for more tech in five. Until then, have a great week and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.

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