This week on The Wrap, it’s about the little things in big packages, covering 5G, Netflix, Kobo, small phones, and pint-sized earphones including the latest AirPods reviewed. All in five.
For the beginning of November 2021, you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and with all of the big phones out of the way, it might seem like it’s getting quiet out there, but there’s plenty still happening. It’s more like lots of little things having a big impact, so basically small things in big packages.
That starts with small things you can’t see that can impact you in a big way, such as 5G. You can’t actually see 5G — it comes from the towers and improves your mobile speeds if you have a 5G device, and there are a lot more of those out there this year than in prior years.
Optus announced its 5G network is coming to more customers, while Telstra announced its 5G network was coming to home broadband subscribers happy to pay $85 per month for a thousand gigs of bandwidth monthly. It’s more of a trial, with the offer only available to a handful of people per post code, something Telstra says will improve as 5G density gets better.
The telco also talked up what looking at the world could soon look like on 5G, or even on 4G, partnering with an augmented reality provider to show stats and information about landmarks around you through your phone. It’s in testing at the Opera House and Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium in an app by Tagspace, basically providing little bits of visual information for the real world in a digital way on your phone.
This is all small stuff that can impact you in a big way, and that’s the general theme for today’s episode of The Wrap, because it’s what the week has held.
For instance, Kobo launched an all-you-can-read book service for its small eReaders meant to compete with the Kindle, coming in the $14 Kobo Plus, while Netflix jumped into games properly this week. It’s a small beginning, with five games available on Android to start with, though more are coming, and may well come to iPhone later on.
Samsung launched a pair of pants for something small, its Galaxy Z Flip 3 phone. They don’t really need a special pair of pants, but if you fancy something unique, Samsung teamed up with local jeans brand Dr Denim for a pair with only one pocket made just for the phone. At $1500, you’re basically getting the phone with a pair of jeans, but it’s still a little crazy.
Australian microphone and audio specialist Rode also has a small 20 gram box made to capture sound for folks who want to record good audio on their phone. Called the AI Micro, it’s a $130 gadget that can turn your phone into an interview and music capture machine, with a microphone all that’s required alongside. From there, you just capture what you want to listen to later on.
And if you need something to listen with, that’s handy, because we’re ending this show with earphones aplenty. There just seems to be so much happening in that category right now, so we’re diving in with things that go in your ear and things that sit outside. But mostly in your ears..
Last week, we mentioned that Technics and Belkin both had some options on the way, and they’re clearly not alone, with more this week, as well.
JBL is joining Belkin in the entry-level space with $80 and $100 earphones, neither of which have noise cancellation, but do offer truly wireless sound on a budget with 20 hours of battery life and either no water resistance or a tiny amount made to handle your sweat.
That’s coming in the JBL Wave models, while Amazon is bringing its second-gen Echo Buds to Australia, which get noise cancellation and Alexa support in a set that costs $169 without a wireless charging case, or a good 30 dollars more if you want that feature.
And there’s also what Beats is launching in the US, but hasn’t been announced for Australia yet, the Beats Fit Pro.
These are a fitness pair of earphones made with noise cancellation in mind, kind of making them like the Apple AirPods Pro but that they’re made to hold tight thanks to a special wing that keeps the earphones in place.
Also new is what we’re reviewing now, the third-generation AirPods, which now look a little like their noise cancelling sibling, the AirPods Pro.
At $279, the 2021 AirPods miss out on noise cancellation, but get a lot of other features. The fit is a little better though still loose, but they sound much, much better. It’s a great sound accompanied by water resistance, good battery life, and some automatic volume tweaking in Adaptive EQ.
What it needs, though, is noise cancellation or a better price. $280 is a lot to pay for earphones without cancellation, and we’re not sure the value is necessarily there. But if you love the AirPods and want them to be better, these are definitely that.
For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode appears every week on LiSTNR, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. Otherwise, have a great week, and we’ll see you next time. Stay safe, stay sane and take care.