Author: James Croft

James Croft receives a telegram from his friend Raj Deut saying he’s in danger in Alaska and needs help. He also suggests bringing his brother’s friend Anthony Agius. They arrive in Alaska and set up camp. During a search of the island they find a knapsack, a map, and a piece of jade.

Later, at The Devil’s Paw they lean of an ancient burial site where people would steal gold and jewelry. They use the map to locate the site, find the camp of the gang, and recap a bunch of tech news. The gang is captured, but escapes with the help of their friend Larry Page. The boys learn the true meaning of friendship.

Apple Watch Series 4 
iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max, iPhone XR
iPhone X, SE and 6s are out 
Where is AirPower exactly?
Cheap battery replacement program ends by Dec 31st – get your battery done
Bunch of HomePod updates

Dates
Watch Series 4 – Pre-order Sept 14, on sale 21st
iPhone Xs – Pre-order Sept 14, on sale 21st
iPhone XR – Pre-order Oct 19, on sale 26th Oct
watchOS 5 & iOS 12 – Sept 18
tvOS 12 – Sept 17
Mojave – Sept 24

I don’t own the latest iPhone & I’m OK with that (I think) 
Inbox is dead 
We are all searching for the perfect headphones. Maybe they are here…? 
OLED TVs are getting crazy cheap again… 

Join James Croft, Anthony Agius and Raj Deut as we discuss E3 from the long-long ago, busted keyboards on MacBooks, Samsung sexting your whole crew, HealthEngine sending your deets to the ambulance chasers, and Amazon Prime: Australian Special Edition.

Join James Croft and Raj Deut as we discuss iOS 11.4, Sonos, Airplay 2, and then seamlessly segue into WWDC speculation. We also get Raj to sign up for Beem It, and talk Pokemon and Dad Kratos.

iOS 11.4 is out just before WWDC 

The Sonos One is the cheapest AirPlay 2 speaker you can buy 

Beem It app 

1Password 7 is out for Mac and Windows too 

New Pokemon Games Ahoy

God of War Review 

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To get you in the holiday spirit the Reckoner team have each compiled a list of holiday gift ideas. James, otherwise known around here as “The Bread Whisperer”, is up today. He’s put together a cracker list and even better broken it down into a series of price brackets for you. Good one pretzel! – Raj

< $100

James “Bread Maker” Croft

Artemis by Andy Weir ($25)

Andy Weir’s first novel was the critically-acclaimed novel The Martian (which was quickly turned into a blockbuster movie with Matt Damon). His second novel continues the practical-science-but-cool-scifi theme by focusing on humanity’s first moon colony. I haven’t read it yet, so don’t send me any spoilers.

 

Saga Book One ($57)

By the time you finish this sentence, the Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples comic series Saga will have won another fifteen awards. If you haven’t started yet, now’s the perfect time. It’s inventive. It’s funny. It’s gorgeous. It’s touching. Book One collects issues #1-#18.

 

Captain Sonar ($75, 2-8 players)

Get your captain’s hat. Two submarine crews hunt each other down on grid-based maps of varying complexity. Players (2-8) assume different roles within their team’s subs, like captain, engineer, or radio operator. The best part? It can also be played in real-time! This game is short, frantic, shouty fun, and one of those rare board games where more players equals more fun for everyone.

 

Middle Earth: Shadow of War (PS4, Xbox, PC – $80)

This sequel expands on the terrific gameplay ideas in the original Shadow of Mordor (like the Nemesis system), and gives you more, more, more. A no-brainer for anyone who likes open-world games that make you feel like a badass.

Anker 5 port USB charger

Anker PowerPort+ 5-Port Charger ($99)

Any nerd who travels with more than one device should have one of these in their bag. Get one from a reliable brand like Anker which probably won’t explode or start a fire. This one has 4 fast-charging standard USB ports, and 1 USB-C port.

 

Aesop Marrakech Intense ($85)

Don’t go through life smelling like a teenage change room. This fancy scent from Aesop is woody, spicy, but not too over-the-top. A bottle gets me through a year easily. Works for bros and ladybros alike.


$100-250

Aesop Proximity Gift Set ($110)

Let’s face it, we’re all getting older. I should be looking after my skin properly. I use it practically every day! People smarter than me say you should wash, tone and moisturise your face to prevent it from looking like a crumpled duffel bag. This kit has all 3, and it’s all high-quality stuff. I want you to feel a little fancy every morning. I want that for you.

 

Logitech MX Master 2S ($109)

This is an excellent mouse. It’s real comfortable to use. It charges via a sensibly-located micro-USB port, and lasts for ages. It has a bunch of buttons that can be mapped to useful things. It doesn’t look like a Transformer possessed a mouse. It doesn’t light up in weird colours. It isn’t made ‘by gamers, for gamers’. Thank god.

 

Super Nintendo Mini ($119.95)

I don’t know if these are even available anymore, but if you can find one, you should buy it. I have heard from a good friend that they can be easily hacked and a bunch of other fantastic retro games added. This good friend (who isn’t me) recommends buying the cable extenders too, those controller cords are stupidly short. He said that. Not me.

Pandemic Legacy Season 2

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 ($130)

Our board game crew just finished playing Season 1, and man, what a trip. What’s a Legacy game? Think of it like a board game campaign, where a storyline unfolds, rules change over time, the board itself is altered, cards are ripped up, new items introduced, and many actions have permanent consequences. When it’s done, it’s done. A totally difference experience from a regular board game, but well worth the price of entry.

 

Headspace Yearly Subscription (~$130)

There are a lot of meditation apps, but I think this is the best one. Andy, the main instructor, is apparently a Tibetan Buddhist monk. I dunno about all that, but he definitely has a gentle lilting British accent that I find calming. The pro version of Headspace unlocks all sorts of different focused sessions, like anxiety, motivation, stress, commuting, sleeping and heaps more. Try the freebies before jumping in.

Rosé Soirée

12pk of wines (Rosé Soirée – $139)

I like drinking a fucking fancy chilled Rosé in summer. There, I said it. This is a 12 pack of mixed Rosé from Vino Mofo, but really, I’m just endorsing the general idea of drinking more Rosé. Come at me.

 

AirPods ($229)

These are the best truly wireless earbuds, for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into. If you’ve got someone in your life with an iPhone and no AirPods, boom. This is your window to be a god damn gift hero. Take it.


$250-500

DJI Osmo Mobile ($299)

Cameras in phones are really good now. However, our stupid meat-filled bodies are constantly jittering from all that coffee you drank. Do you want to make vlogs on your phone that don’t look like they were filmed in an earthquake? Get a gimbal like the DJI Osmo Mobile, and make your footage buttery smooth.

 

Sonos One ($299)

I know, Alexa isn’t here yet. I know, they don’t have Google Assistant support yet. All that aside, Sonos is still the king of home speakers that don’t suck. Buy this one so that in twelve months you don’t have to buy an Echo or a Google Home thingy. (Edit: since I wrote this, the Sonos Play:1 has dropped in price to $229, and the Google Home Mini is $55. So I’d do that instead. – James)

Seiko SKX007

Seiko SKX007 ($270-$300)

It’s not easy to find a great mechanical watch for under $500. Seiko makes amazing diver’s watches, and the SKX007 is a steal for the price. Let me count the ways. It’s automatic. It’s well-made. It’s accurate. It can take a beating. It’s got a date window. It looks great on pretty much any strap you care to wear. I wore this watch at my wedding. No regrets.

 

iPad 32GB Wi-Fi ($469)

This might be obvious, but isn’t the not-pro iPad a total steal now? What other mobile device can you buy that can easily do the following: browse the web, read books, watch youtube, take photos, take videos, make documents, make music, edit movies, do multi-tasking, and has access to a huge ecosystem of other apps and games? And the battery lasts for days? Sure, it doesn’t have the fanciest screen, or a weird foldy keyboard, or a pen, but who cares? It’s the everything gadget for normal humans, and it’s under five hundy!

Join James Croft and Raj Deut as we rubberneck Amazon launching in Australia, Uber spilling out all our data like so much goop from a Nickelodeon game show, Apple delays their HomePod because of reasons that I will speculate on, and EA have created a perfect god machine of evil and death which will descend from the heavens and consume us all into its open craggy maw. Can renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon crack the code of Battlefront 2’s monetisation strategy before time runs out?

Amazon Australia opens tomorrow 

Uber pays off hackers to conceal data breach of 57 million users

Apple’s HomePod smart speaker delayed until 2018

EA removes all in-game purchases from Star Wars Battlefront II on the eve of its launch

Salvador Rodriguez at Reuters:

I.am+, the tech startup founded by pop star and entrepreneur will.i.am, has raised $117 million in venture funding, the company told Reuters on Monday as it announced its entry into the corporate computing market with a voice assistant for customer service.

Check the video for ‘Omega’, their new enterprise voice assistant.

This is worth $117 million?

Source: Will.i.am’s startup raises $117 million, enters enterprise market

Earlier this year, I started thinking about upgrading my TV.

The TV in question? A trusty Panasonic G10 plasma that has served me well for many, many years. Games, movies, TV. It did it all, with nary a complaint.

Smash cut to 2017; we’d moved into a new apartment, with a much larger living room. Suddenly, a 50 inch TV didn’t fill the space quite like it did before.

When gaming, I found myself having to perch precariously on a beanbag between couch and TV, just so I could read the menus. “This is no way to live.” I thought to myself while playing Zelda. Plus, you know, 4K? That’s a thing now!

Time for a new TV.

I’d never really even considered a new TV in the previous five years. Every time I wandered past the aisle in a JB HiFi, they were adopting a new unnecessary gimmick. Hyper-bright, garish LED panels. Blacks that were… dark grey. Weird 3D glasses. Curved screens.

In 2017, there are still some of those things out there. But you know what the new hotness is? You know what TV makers adopted this year as the thing to push their new tellies? (Hint: if you answered 4K, then you are a year too late. They are all 4K now.)

OLED.

Why should you care? Well, here’s a photo I took back in 2008.

This was in an airport Sony Style, back in 2008. That TV is a Sony XEL-1, the first OLED televison ever sold.

It was beautiful. Thin as a rake, with all the TV guts pushed into the base to show off that gorgeous screen. It was very expensive –  US$2499.

It was also 11 inches from corner to corner. Yep, eleven. Tiny. An iPad Pro is basically the same size now.

A full nine years on, you know what incredible technology advancements hath wrought upon us?

The iPhone. Facebook. Uber. AI. Wireless earbuds. Dumb computer watches. And, of course, mother fucking giant OLED televisions.

I love the future.

So what TVs are out there?

Let’s keep the LED vs. OLED bit brief. Samsung were the only large TV maker this year not to jump into OLED on their flagship TVs, instead opting for QLED. Let’s cut the marketing spin; QLED is a fancy name for edge-lit, quantum dot LED TVs. They’re nice! They’re totally fine.

Sony, LG, Panasonic, Hisense are also all still doing LED TVs as well. They’re cheaper than OLED. In many cases, they’re brighter. They’re bigger too.

But man, why settle for hamburger, when steak is right there?

“Hey dummy, what’s so great about OLED?”

Well, in a nutshell, the picture quality. It’s insane. When OLED TVs show you black, it’s not “black”. It’s literally, the pixel on the screen doing the black is not powered on. It’s off. So when black is displayed, it’s infinitely black.

It’s like, how much more black can it be? And the answer is… none. It can be none more black.

Coming from a plasma, that’s what I want. Ideally, in a dimly-lit Game of Thrones scene, I would like to be unsure of where the bezel ends and the TV begins.

Of course, your goals may vary, but that’s what I want out of a new TV.

So, if you’re considering OLED, there are three manufacturers in town. That number has tripled from last year! Why is this important? Because competition. Last year, LG had this market all to themselves. Prices fell, a little… eventually.

This year, the year of our lord 2017, OLED TV prices are falling, plummeting, screaming, through the floor. OzBargainers–bless those filthy jackals–are swarming around OLED TV prices like they’re the carcass of a dead antelope.

What was a four grand TV earlier today is probably three and a half by the time you read this sentence. So now’s a good time.

You should also know there are only two (financially responsible) sizes; 55-inch, and 65-inch. If you need smaller, or bigger, you’re out of luck for now.

OK, let’s break them down.

LG OLED

Frankly, LG is the king of the OLED hill. The other manufacturers I’m going to mention may have OLED TVs on the market, but guess what — their panels are both coming from LG.

LG sells 4 different models. The C7, the E7, the G7, and the W7. First things first; all of them have the exact same panel. The exact same picture quality. The exact same format support (HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log-Gamma, Advanced HDR, etc etc). So all differences are cosmetic. They all run WebOS. They have a weird Magic Remote. It’s… not great.

I’ll start with the W7: it’s the one you’ve seen that’s so skinny, it can only be mounted on a wall. With magnets. The guts of the TV is in the accompanying soundbar. Futuristic. Lovely. It’s ten grand for the 65-inch. Forget it.

The E7 and G7: they have an attached soundbar, and slightly nicer design, for a lot more money. Me? I’ve already got a Sonos Playbar. Save yourself the cash, buy an external soundbar. Who’s looking at the back of the TV or the microscopic bezels anyway?

The C7: the same exact panel as the others. No attached sound bar. Has a plastic two-tone thing going on around the back. Black bezels instead of glass. Much cheaper. Like, fairly affordable. This is the one to get.

Also, I’ll make one other point. The LG TVs have no logo on the bezel. NONE. This is huge. I’m serious; I’ve seen some shocking Samsung TV where the logo is lit up and blaring in your face like it needs to be loved. Piss off.

For LG to have the design sensibilities to say, “Hey guys, let’s leave it off.” says volumes about how this TV hardware was designed with care.

Sony OLED

I dunno why it took Sony 9 years to circle back around to OLED TVs, but here we are – the Sony Bravia OLED A1. This TV is fantastic looking, even turned off.

It’s almost a work of art, with the unique A-frame design instead of a boring stand or legs. You might love this as an objet d’art.

However, if it’s on the wall, you won’t know any different.

Because of OLED, the A1 is able to use its own panel as an acoustic surface. Wild new tech. On its own, this may well be the best sounding TV.

However, if you are using a soundbar or surround sound, it’s totally redundant and you spent a bunch of cash on a feature you won’t use.

It runs on Android TV. If you’ve got an Android phone this may be an important point. It has all the format support you could ever want.

It’s more expensive, but not LG W Series expensive.

It has a tasteful small Sony logo on the bottom left of the bezel. It’s still there, but tucked away.

Panasonic OLED

Ah, Panasonic, my old mate. Panny. Panno (is that a thing?) is packing two models. The EZ1000 and the EZ950. The EZ1000 has an attached soundbar, and is more expensive. The EZ950 is only slightly more expensive than it’s LG C7 competition, and no soundbar.

But here’s where I pause on Panasonic; it doesn’t support Dolby Vision. I might be quite specific in my needs, but I am going to hook this TV up to a new Apple TV 4K (spoiler for a future article), and it does support Dolby Vision. There’s also quite a bit of stuff in the Netflix catalog that is mastered in Dolby Vision.

So man, apart from the picture (which is also spectacular) I don’t see quite enough to justify it from the LG, which has all dat support.

Also: bezel logo watch – it’s right there, dead-centre. Small, but ugh.

So what now?

Well, if you looked at the photo at the top of this article, you know I eventually ended up with the LG OLED C7 (in sixty-five inch, of course). To me, it had the right combo of amazing picture quality, solid design, all the format support, and affordable price.

However, please go into some bricks and mortar stores and take a look at them for yourselves. Adjust the settings. Fondle the remotes. Make the sales attendant put on Deadpool on Ultra Blu-ray. Make some kids cry.

I couldn’t notice a striking enough difference in the picture quality between these three, but maybe you can!

I have heard from some folks that they think Panasonic’s colour accuracy is superior. I have heard from others that the Sony has better image processing for busy scenes. I didn’t get hours with these TVs, to figure all that stuff out for myself. I just read a lot, and watched a lot of YouTube video reviews. I found the AVForums YouTube channel particularly helpful in this regard.

In the end, I’m happy with my choice (so far).

Part 2: Where’s it going?

So you’ve splashed a stack of pineapples, and got a brand-spankin’ new TV. It’d be a shame to leave it on a mere stand, surrounded by a rats nest of cables, wouldn’t it…?