Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
The controls on the IKEA Symfonisk Picture Frame WiFi speaker.

The Wrap – Big Games & Small Earphones

This week on The Wrap, we’ll jump into what’s coming from IKEA, what’s coming in games, and all the audio goodness you can sink your ears into. All that and more in five.

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For the week ending June 18, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and this week we’ll start our gadget fest with IKEA.

You might not think that everyone’s favourite house of flat pack love could get into tech, but in the past few years, it has quite a few gadgets and surprisingly, not many require an Allen key.

This week’s addition is one Australians won’t see until next year, but it’s one that could make the sound in your home a little easier on the eyes.

You see right now if you have a speaker in your home, there’s a very good chance it’s on display. Whether it’s a dome or a cylinder or a box of some kind, speakers aren’t shapes everyone likes, and that’s where IKEA is trying something different, turning a Sonos-compatible speaker into a work of art… of sorts.

It’s a work of IKEA art, with the Symfonisk Picture Frame WiFi speaker being basically what it says in the name: an art frame with a flat speaker covered by a grill covered in art.

They’ll work with the Sonos system, in line with IKEA’s other Symfonisk speakers, but you can’t bring your own art yet, as these will only have IKEA art made for them. It also won’t be in Australia until next year, where we’re expecting a price of around $300 when it does see the light of day locally.

There was also loads of game news this week from E3. Granted, it was digital only for reasons you can probably guess, but it meant there was plenty on the cards for games on the horizon.

For instance, Xbox showed off 30 games, 27 of which will come to its subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, and includes some sequels to games that have been running for ages. A new Forza, a new Halo, a new Age of Empires, and a new Psychonauts, plus some originals.

Nintendo meanwhile announced quite a few games were coming to Switch, including a new Super Monkey Ball, Mario Party, Metroid, Mario Golf, a new Legend of Zelda title, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the latter of which is also coming to other consoles, too.

Sony didn’t partake in the big game shindig, but publishers did, so we know that there’s plenty coming for every major console, and PC and mobile, too.

It’s not just games, but other gear that could make games pop.

Bang & Olufsen has an expensive new TV in the Contour 55, a 55 inch LG OLED with B&O design and audio gear that’ll sort you back around 12K, while Razer has a new laptop in the Blade 14 sporting a high-speed AMD chip and GeForce graphics, with THX sound. It’ll start at around $3K in Australia for a 14 inch gaming machine.

And Razer also has a pair of $170 noise cancelling headphones in the way in the Opus X, but we’ve reviewed other earphones this week.

First, we looked at the Realme Buds Air Pro, AirPods clones that offer noise cancelling for the $200 mark with a little more bass than we normally Iike, but a comfort level we struggled with.

Realme is normally responsible for mid-range phones, but the Buds Air Pro show the company is trying out noise cancelling earphones, too, and that’s one area that isn’t too bad, provided you can get them to fit.

We found the shape of the earphones was so bulbous, we struggled to get them to hold, so the noise cancelling seal wasn’t amazing. The sound also lacked detail, but there was a low latency mode for mobile gamers, so that’s something.

You may be able to find Realme’s Buds Air Pro for less, and that may make them better value, but we’d probably keep our eyes open, because there’s a lot of choice in noise cancelling earphones.

Or you could skip noise cancellation and go with something different altogether, which is what we saw in a new brand launching, Ag.

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of Ag before, because we hadn’t either. It’s a new brand from high-end audio company Final which normally makes pricey headphones.

Its first earphones in Australia are the Ag TWS Zero Four K, a pair that offer a simple design and a slightly larger charging case. That charging case is big for a reason though: it features a big battery.

While the earphones can last for up to nine hours per charge, the case offers up to 20 charges, boasting as much as 180 hours of life. That may as well be several weeks of use, if you listen for a few hours per day, and the case holds a neat trick: it can also charge your phone.

Alongside those tricks, the Ag TWS04K is also a decent pair of earphones, offering detailed and spacious sound, but needing a little more bass. It’s basically the polar opposite of the Realme Buds Air Pro, because these sound very good, even if they lack noise cancellation.

But they come with near the same price, hitting $200 locally, which we think is very good given the value proposition.

Of course, there are loads of choices out there, but if you’re looking for an amazing battery alongside great sound, this new brand, Ag, might just have it. And otherwise, you can always wait, because it’s the middle of the year, and there’s plenty more on the way.

We’re still expecting a new generation of AirPods Pro, Beats has something new soon, and Sony just launched a pair of noise cancelling earphones. There’s a lot happening for sure.

For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode can be found every week at Listnr, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. Otherwise, have a great week, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap, and take care.

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