This week on The Wrap, we’ll dive into how 5G and WiFi are changing, and how Telstra plans to make you pay your phone bill on time. Plus reviews of the Bose sunglasses earphones and a new laptop from Dynabook. All in five.
It’s the middle of February and you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round up, and we’re in that period where it seems like not much is happening, even though stuff is, so pay attention, particularly if you’re a Telstra customer, because the times they are a changing.
In fact, if you’ve been used to paying your bill when you feel like it, those times are indeed changing as the telco moves to a quote-unquote “upfront” approach to plans that’ll debit you directly when it comes time to pay.
It’s not a total deviation from Telstra’s tendency to charge before the month begins, because that’s how its postpaid plans work. However it is new to take the money immediately, and will be something its postpaid customers will transition to in the coming months ahead.
At the moment, Australia’s biggest telco is just making it about plans, though a spokesperson for the company told us it would eventually apply to handset repayments, too, which may well be something to think about if you’re not used to paying mobile bills on time.
We’re not sure if this is something everyone in the industry will be doing. However if Telstra is starting it, you can bet it’s not the only telco thinking about it.
Fortunately, Australians have plenty of choice there, much like they do in phones and internet connections. And while you might be tempted to upgrade both this year, if you wait around until next year, you might find something faster.
Chipmaker Qualcomm announced a hyperfast update to 5G this week heading to phones and wireless modems by next year, with a ten gigabit 5G connection. To put that into perspective, current 5G modems tend to max out at two gigabit, or what is the equivalent of 250 megabytes per second. At 10 gigabits per second, you’re effectively looking at over a gigabyte per second, which is all kinds of crazy.
At home, your WiFi could be improving, too, thanks to some changes coming from the Wi-Fi Alliance. They’ll come in two ways, with the mesh networking standard EasyMesh now set to support WiFi 6, delivering more range and speed, both equally important, while a new technology called “Easy Connect” will mean smart gadgets in the home can connect with fewer troubles.
That’ll be handy if you plan on adding a smart light bulb or a smart security camera or a smart anything else you can think of for the home. The more gadgets we have, the more we’ll be connecting, and Easy Connect aims to make it easy simply by relying on that phone of yours to help smooth the connection over.
And shock horror, there are more phones on the way, though quite what we’ll see and when we see it, well that we’re not too sure about. Mobile World Congress is normally in Spain in late February, and yet the Shanghai edition is first in late February with the Spanish MWC coming in the middle of the year.
Of course, no one is leaving the country yet for obvious reasons, but that’s not going to stop new phone releases from coming in over the course of the year.
Before that happens, there’s plenty of other gadgets coming out, some of which we’re reviewing right now.
Starting with the return of a laptop you might have grown up with. If you grew up with Toshiba laptops in the 90s and early naughties, congratulations, because like me, you’re old. You are officially old. But you also might not have seen Toshiba laptops in quite some time, and that’s because… it doesn’t make them anymore, having sold its laptop business to the Sharp-owned Dynabook.
But Dynabook has arrived in Australia with two of the old Toshiba ranges reworked for today, with the Satellite and Portege, the latter of which we checked out this week.
And at 989 grams, Dynabook’s Portege is remarkably light, almost stupidly so. It comes with a 360 degree hinge and a military spec level of durability, even though it’s made out of plastic and can feel a little cheap.
But it is sure light, and comes with a lovely matte screen and solid performance, even if the battery life could be a little better. While you should be able to see up to 16 hours, we found half that was more likely, which isn’t a great result for a two grand laptop.
If Dynabook could get that battery going better, the Portege X30W-J would be a little more like its $2099 price. Right now, though, it’s a little overvalued. Light and lovely, but over valued.
That’s not far from another exy gadget we checked out this week, the Bose Frames Tenor, Bose’s latest take on sunnies that work as headphones.
It’s actually the second model, and Bose has made them a little smaller, but with more sound. Basically, they’re speakers for your ears so you can walk unencumbered, taking calls and listening to music without wearing obvious earphones.
But the sound is good, and you can replace the lenses, an important part of making glasses, and something Bose didn’t support in the first gen.
For $400, they’re not going to be earphones for everyone, but if you can’t stand earphones and wish they came as sunnies, well, the new Bose Frames make sense, even if they cost more dollars and cents than other headphone choices.
For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode can be found every week at PodcastOne, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, but for now, have a great week. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.