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

The Wrap – Gear from Sonos, Apple, Amazon and more

This week on The Wrap, we’ll check out what’s new and coming from Amazon, Google, and BlueAnt, while also reviewing the Sonos Sub Mini and the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd-gen, all in the space of five minutes.

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It’s the beginning of October 2022 and you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and with only a few months until 2022 becomes a has been and 2023 rocks up, the tech is coming thick and fast.

Just take what happened this week, which we’re going to have a hard time stuffing into our regular five minutes. But let’s give it a try anyway, starting with what’s new from Amazon, because there’s a bit to unpack.

Amazon had its typical yearly product release, and while Aussies won’t see everything our American counterparts will find, there’s still a bit to unpack.

There’s a new Kindle you can scribble on, as Amazon joins Remarkable and Rakuten’s Kobo with a eBook reader that supports a magnetic pen. The Kindle Scribe will offer note taking capability while also bringing a 10 inch size to the eBook, an increase on the typical 6 and 7 inch models you can find. Those other models, the regular Kindle, Paperwhite, and Oasis will still stick around, but at $549, the Scribe will be the premium eReader.

Amazon’s home security division Ring also has a couple of new spotlight cameras for folks keen to keep an eye out on their property, and Amazon also has an updated premium speaker plus an updated budget model, coming in the new Echo Studio and Echo Dot, respectively.

The big one is a minor update with hardware changes on the inside, mostly built to deliver a more spatial sound, refreshing a three year old model for a little over $300. Meanwhile, the tiny model, the Echo Dot, will retain its sub-hundred dollars price, but get a new speaker system inside made to make the sound better, whether you’re listening to music, a podcast like this one, or really anything.

There’s also a new Fire TV cube, kind of like an Apple TV of sorts, but made for Amazon with similar apps, and made to compete with the likes of the Google Chromecast, which, speaking of, also has a new model.

Google already has a 4K Ultra HD Chromecast, so its latest isn’t for that. Rather, there’s a more budget friendly edition for folks who only want Full HD, like if they have an older TV.

If that’s you and you’re not a fan of the smart TV operating system you have – or your TV is so old that you don’t have one – Google’s Chromecast with Google TV HD is more or less what the name says: it’s a Google TV version of the Chromecast without 4K, and a saving of forty bucks in Australia. You’ll find it at $59 online and in stores shortly.

The Fire TV and Chromecast are mostly for video, but what about audio?

Well, aside for the new Amazon speakers, there’s new stuff from BlueAnt, too, as the Aussie audio brand offers up affordable soundbar with Dolby Atmos, if there ever was such a thing.

BlueAnt’s XT100 doesn’t come with a sexy name, but it is built for the virtual form of Dolby Atmos, using a two channel system and psychoacoustic brain trickery to make you think you’re hearing sound in three dimensions. They’re not alone in this, mind you. Lots of companies use this style of 3D sound, and in the BlueAnt model, it’ll save you big time, with the soundbar fetching $350 when it launches shortly.

Meanwhile, we’re checking out two other sound gadgets worth talking about, coming from Sonos and Apple.

We’ll talk Sonos first, because it’s a potential addition if you have a Sonos soundbar or speaker in your home. Called the Sub Mini, it’s basically what the name says: a smaller and less expensive version of its thousand dollar Sub Gen 3.

It’s not quite as pretty, missing the slick shiny paint job, but it does something similar: adds bass.

Big rooms won’t work as well with it, but this is more made for smaller family rooms with a Sonos Beam or Ray, though we found it worked with the Atmos capable Arc, too.

There’s a big boom on offer in either, and it’s a good addition to rooms with just a single soundbar. And at $699, it’s actually not bad, but we feel it should be at a little less. At $549 and below, the Sub Mini would make even more sense.

That’s distinct from the Apple AirPods Pro second gen, which are just tremendous value, and excellent in just about every way.

They’re comfy, offer great sound, and deliver some of the best noise cancellation and transparency modes we’ve heard yet, all in the same design as the original and for the same 399 price point.

There’s also support for spatial audio with head tracking, a new volume slider in a touchpad, and up to 30 hours of battery life. They’re small, offer excellent sound, and really just deliver.

These things are so good, they’re basically our new favourites, and possibly Apple’s best gadget all year.

About the only thing they need is an app for android. And look, we get it, Google is just as bad with no iOS app for its Pixel Buds Pro. But Apple should do what sound companies do – what Bose and Bang and even Apple’s Beats do – and be platform agnostic for its earphones.

The new AirPods Pro are so good, Android owners should get to experience them the best way, too.

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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