Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

The Wrap – A sleek smartwatch & Google’s pocket Pixel

This week on The Wrap, what is Google’s pocketable Pixel 6a like, and is it worth the price? Plus can you get a smartwatch to last a month? And what’s new for gamers on the way? All that and a little more in five minutes.

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It’s the end of July 2022, and you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and as we head into August, we’re getting ready for new devices, starting with new foldables next month.

Yes, it looks as if Samsung is set to announce two new models in the next few weeks, likely including a fourth generation Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Flip, and maybe some more, as well.

Before then, Samsung has new screens on the way, at least in the desktop space.

While you’ve probably seen Samsung TVs before, and maybe even Samsung screens without realising it – because Samsung’s screens aren’t just used on its phones, but also on iPhones – you mightn’t think about Samsung screens for your computer.

But if you’re a gamer, you may well want to, with a few big new monitors on the way, one of which looks set to offer a 4K resolution at a staggering 240 hertz. That mightn’t mean all that much to you, but if you’re a gamer, it means potentially super silky smooth and slick animations. It’s coming on a 32 inch screen from Samsung, the Odyssey Neo G8, a curved display with some neat light up bits at the back designed to draw attention, provided you don’t mind paying two grand for the privilege.

It’ll be joined by a slightly slower 165 hertz model in the G7, while the 240 hertz refresh rate will be offering in a Full HD model or two for substantially less in the 550 dollar G4, which will be flat but inexpensive.

It’s a similar situation in gaming laptops, which will see twice the refresh rates in new Alienware laptops with a 480 hertz screen option in 17 inches. Sure, they’re going to be big computers to carry around, and likely pricey, too, but if you need something made for games, it seems like there are plenty of options this year, for sure.

There are, of course, plenty of options for lots of things, too. There are new TVs from Philips in Australia as another player looks set to offer OLED screens locally, while 5G providers locally are also expanding beyond the main three, Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone.

Optus and Telstra have both been dabbling with 5G in its mobile virtual network operators, and now Vodafone is bringing 5G to its operators, as well. It means if you subscribe to one of the smaller players in the market, you may well see 5G support on your phone very shortly, provided you subscribe to the right plan.

You will need one of those recent 5G phones, but they’ve been popping up quite a bit over the years, so if you’ve upgraded in the past couple of years, you may even have one, even if you don’t realise it yet.

There are new models, though, and one that we’re reviewing right now, the Google Pixel 6a. It’s a new entrant in the Pixel range, but it’s a little bit different, as Google returns the “Pixel a” series to Australia, which is basically its low-cost entry. Or lower cost, because at 750 locally, the Pixel 6a isn’t cheap, merely smaller.

It’s a 6.1 inch 5G phone distinct from the 6.4 inch of the standard Pixel 6, or even the 6.7 inch of the 6 Pro, and it sports a similar look. It’s the same chip as in the bigger models, but the screen isn’t as slick and the camera isn’t as solid. Rather, you’ll get the camera out of the Pixel 5 from a couple of years ago. That’s not bad, just different, and you won’t get wireless charging or a decent battery, likely needing a nightly charge, even though we expect more from mid-range mobiles in this day and age.

That might be enough to make the Pixel 6a worthy of a compromise or two – you’re saving a little bit of money between the models – but we’d consider your options carefully, as the mid-range offers quite a bit to choose from, and Google is a few months away from upgrading its Pixel range, likely in October.

It’s a little like that in wearables, which are also seeing some updates of sorts right now.

Even though a new Apple Watch is likely turning up in September, with Android wearables on the way, too, there’s also another option. And it’s one that doesn’t look like your conventional smartwatch.

Withings has updated its ScanWatch model, a style of smartwatch that looks more like a standard analogue watch, but comes with a small screen. Its hands are electronically controlled and your time comes from your phone, but glance at the watch and it’ll look just like a regular analogue watch.

Inside, though, it’s all smarts. It’ll get your phone’s notifications and track a whole heap of health metrics, looking at heart rate, blood oxygen, and perform an ECG – an electrocardiograph – letting you check your vitals in a watch that also doesn’t lose out on battery life like a regular smartwatch, going for as much as a month.

You’ll miss out on some things, though. You can’t talk through it, there’s no GPS, it doesn’t store music, and you can’t pay for things with it. The ScanWatch does miss out on some aspects, but if you’re after a watch that looks and feels like one, and doesn’t need a nightly charge, the ScanWatch Horizon is one wearable worth checking out.

For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode can be found each week at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get podcasts from. For now, have a great week, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.

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