This week on The Wrap, check out two new laptops as we review the 2022 MacBook Air and Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2, plus dive into what’s new in spatial audio from Netflix, Sennheiser, and Apple Music, all in five minutes.
For the middle of July 2022, you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and much a David Bowie song, this week has been a bit about “Sound and Vision”, because there has been gear all about how you listen and what you can watch on.
Starting with “sound”, and if you’re a Netflix subscriber, the feeling of how you listen to your sound could get bigger shortly, even if you’ve never upgraded your sound before.
We’re probably not the first to tell you that great sound makes a big difference to what you watch, often more so than the quality of your TV, but it’s one area not everyone upgrades to. If you’re still rocking the speakers in your TV, you’re actually quite normal, and it’s an area soundbar makers are trying to influence lately, with more releases that aim to fit your wallet better, and still offer a great sound.
But a recent update from Netflix may not need you to, as the streaming service teams up with Sennheiser for a style of spatial audio that can work on a regular two channel system. It borrows the name of Sennheiser’s Atmos soundbar, and is called Ambeo two channel spatial audio, and basically it provides a spatial sound to stereo systems, so they’re able to experience the sound kind of in a way that bigger sound systems can.
If you have an Ambeo soundbar, a Sonos Arc, a Beam, or any other of the many spatial sound systems, you’ll get your proper 3D spatial sound, but if you have a standard stereo set, Netflix productions like Stranger Things, Resident Evil, and The Adam Project will now start to play in a sort of spatial sound, kind of like an intro pack to better audio on your TV.
It’s not the only spatial news this week.
Apple has added some spatial to its live sessions, a sort of unplugged music experience it’s been running over the years, with spatial audio likely to impart a little more feeling of you being there. It’s not the first time we’ve seen Apple dabble with the idea, and it has been adding Dolby Atmos spatial audio not just to its music service, but also to live concerts and DJ mixes in recent months.
This expands on that, turning an intimate style of music recording into one that adds the spatial sound. For folks with regular headphones, it’ll open up the sound stage some more, while those with supported Apple and Beats headphones, it’ll add some directional head tracking. And if you have one of those swanky new soundbars, it might sound like they’re playing in your home. Kinda, sorta.
Then there’s also the vision side of things, and for that we turn to phones and computers, because these are things you’re likely to look at.
Motorola has a new phone you might want to check out, especially if you’re keen to spend a small amount, coming in the G62. This is a 5G phone with a sizeable 6.5 inch screen, plus a few cameras on it, with the idea being it is made for budgets, basically made to keep costs down.
While the phone looks good on paper, one of our concerns is updates, with Motorola in Australia noting it would only get one major Android update, and that’s due later this year. You’ll get quite a few security updates, but we’re a little surprised Moto is only doing one Android update when at least two is normal, especially when they can come with new features.
Fortunately, you have a heap of choice here, and can vote with your wallet.
Which is much the case with laptops. There’s just so much more going there, and we have a couple of reviews for you, too.
First there’s Microsoft’s latest, the Surface Laptop Go 2, a sort of premium take on the economical laptop. It’s a 12.4 inch laptop with Intel’s Core i5 inside, a combined aluminium and plastic design, support for touchscreen, a decent keyboard and mouse, and for the most part, a great experience using it.
Small and light, the Surface Laptop Go 2 is a fairly friendly machine, save for a few things: the screen resolution is very low and the price feels quite high. You can get a better screen on the cheapest iPad, the battery life is hit and miss, and the thousand dollar starting price seems more expensive than it should be.
On the other side, there’s the new MacBook Air, which we’re also reviewing now, and it is a sterling example of near computer perfection.
There’s a new design which is somehow lighter, a new 13 screen that is marginally bigger, the new M2 chip that is faster than the M1 before it, plus one more port for charging and a solid battery life. It is marginally more expensive, starting at just under 1900 in Australia compared with the M1 which is just under $1500 locally, but it is just a lovely machine.
Apple gets top marks for nearly everything, with a better design, keyboard, screen, sound system, webcam, and even the power pack for charging, which is also smaller, too.
The new Air is so good, it boggles the mind to even guess how competitors plan to keep up, and highly recommended.
For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode can be found each week at Listener, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. For now, have a great week, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.