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

The Wrap – Pixels aplenty and new gear, too

This week on The Wrap, we’ll get stuck into new soundbars, laptops, appliances, and more, plus review the Google Pixel Pro 7 and the Pixel Watch, all in under five minutes.

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It’s the middle of October 2022 and you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and if you’ve been trying to figure out what phone or watch or really anything to buy, the last couple of months of the year are certainly not making it easy.

There are scores of gadgets coming out, and we’re going to try to pack as many as we can into the space of five minutes, starting with soundbars.

There’s a new model on the way from Bose, as Bose tries to pack in an Atmos spatial soundbar into a small space, and a comparatively small price. At just under 800 dollars, the Bose Smart Soundbar 600 is surprising because it will use actual upfiring speakers, and not just rely on the psychoacoustic brain trickery that works in the Sonos Beam and other compact spatial soundbars.

It’s unusual, because you don’t typically see real 3D sound that fires sound at the ceiling for under a grand, and yet Bose is doing just that later in October.

A week or so later, expect some new computers to rock up, with three Surface models on the way, mostly offering minor updates through Microsoft’s tablet and laptop computer range.

First, there’s the Surface Laptop 5, a laptop with a new chip and not much else. There’s also the Surface Pro 9, which will offer either one of those new Intel chips, or if you’re a bit more daring, one made to be more mobile with 5G on-board. No prices yet for the 5G model, but Microsoft has sent word that its all-in-one desktop Surface with a huge 28 inch touchscreen will cost, no joke, seven grand locally. Yikes.

While new computers is more or less a given for Microsoft, there is something new and unexpected on the way, coming in Microsoft Designer, a web app modelled largely on what Canva has created, but with a twist: it can create AI art for your designs. It’ll use the Open Labs DALL-E platform for that, and it’ll go into beta very, very shortly, for you to try it yourself.

In the past weeks, there’s also a new rice cooker from Panasonic, a new hyper suction vacuum from Dyson, a coffee maker from DeLonghi that can make cold coffee too, ideal for the summer, and a couple of new phones and watches, which we’re looking at now.

Google’s Pixel 7 Pro is the phone probably worth looking out for, sporting a 6.7 inch OLED display, a sleek glass and metal body, Google’s latest Tensor chip inside, and a camera system made from a 50 megapixel wide camera, 12 megapixel ultra-wide, and a 48 megapixel telephoto, with the whole thing giving you roughly point five to five times zoom in the one device.

The camera is probably the standout feature to pay attention to, and as usual, Google’s attention to portrait shots is simple excellent. They’ll need a second or two of processing, but almost every portrait shot you capture is a winner, and some are just absolutely excellent, rivalling what a real camera can do.

The Pixel 7 Pro feels great in the hands, as well, and looks solid. It’s more or less one of the most premium Android phones you can find, and at under 1300 locally, it’s also comparatively affordable, priced where the high-end of the mid-range – or the low-end of the high-end – is.

But the battery life needs work, and you’ll struggle to hit over a day, which is a shame given the overall size.

Plus the camera tech could still be better. Google’s take on Apple’s cinematic mode is limited to one camera, and while the macro capability is good and the standard wide camera is lovely, we didn’t always find the telephoto gave us super sharp shots.

It’s a great Android phone, though, and like last year’s Pixel, probably the best Android we’ve seen all year.

It’s a shame we can’t say the same of Google’s Pixel Watch, which is the first wearable to sport the Pixel name.

Google is, of course, no stranger to wearables. It owned Motorola, which made the Moto 360 watches, and it makes Wear OS, the Android wearable operating system. Plus it also owns Fitbit.

With the Pixel Watch, the attempt is to make a sexy smartwatch with Fitbit inside, and if that’s the goal, mission success. There’s only one size, but the 41mm watch offer a slick circular design, easy interface, and looks lovely. You’ll find health tracking inside a great looking gadget.

But it barely lasts a day, with one day pretty much being consistent battery life in our tests.

It also doesn’t do as much as other Fitbit models, so while it’s a better looking Fitbit, it’s also slightly disadvantaged. While the Apple Watch is the premium health tracker and watch, and the Watch SE is the lower model, the Pixel Watch isn’t as advanced as its Fitbit cousin, and that’s confusing.

There are things to like about the Watch, such as how premium it feels, with a stainless steel body and Gorilla Glass screen. Google has definitely nailed the style for the Pixel Watch, but one day is frustrating.

It feels like in few generations time, Google will fix the Pixel Watch to be better, but right now, it’s not there. Maybe one day, just not today.

For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode can be found regularly 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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