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The latest news

Amazon is making Alexa amps, subs & microwaves now

Amazon held a “surprise” product launch overnight showcasing a bunch of updates to existing Alexa products as well as introducing some very interesting new ones.

The Echo Dot was the first cab off the rank, it’s got a new material exterior not unlike the rest of the Echo speaker family and now looking very, very similar to the Google Mini. The new version remains at A$79 but has reduced its microphone count from 7 to 4 but from all reports it hasn’t affected its ability to pick up your voice.

The Echo Show, which remains at A$349 has a new exterior design and looks a little more “home friendly” instead of tech put in your home, if you know what I mean. It’s also got a new set of speakers in it, which apparently sound a lot better but YouTube still block it and Amazon’s video offerings suck so “meh”?

The Echo Plus, is the least exciting of the updates. It’s getting a new set of speakers and remains at A$229.

A new Echo Sub was announced. Looking like a giant ottoman this guy pairs with a single or pair of Echo Plus speakers to provide some much needed chest thumping bass to your home.

Amazon not having the best reputation for sound quality in their smart speakers appear to be making a real play for the entertainment space by updating all their speakers and introducing the sub at the acceptable price point A$199.


Away from their speakers they also announced a bunch of home appliance products that integrate with Alexa in different ways.

Image: The Verge

A new Echo Link brings your existing receiver or amp into the Alexa fold. Whilst an Echo Link Amp adds a 60W 2-channel amplifier to the equation. Amazon further copying the cohort Sonos in the home entertainment space. There’s no word on Australian pricing or availability for these as yet.

Image: The Verge

A new US$30 wall clock from Amazon is one of the more quirky product announcements Amazon made. The clock looks like any other and instead of having Alexa built in like you think it might, it simply display active timers you’ve set around the face of the clock. Weird?

Lastly the US$60 Alexa enabled Microwave from Amazon similarly to the clock doesn’t allow you to ask your Microwave what the weather is but it will let you tell it how long you want it to microwave something for.

A dedicated “Ask Alexa” button on the front invokes the voice assistant to wait for your command or you can bark orders at it as you might a normal Echo speaker. The microwave will understand bits and pieces like “frozen vegetables” and other microwave-related phrases but requires you to have a fully-fledged Echo device to pass up the request to the Amazon cloud to process and does not have any in-built Wi-Fi or ethernet.

Source: Amazon: The Echo family

Wearables based ‘interactive’ life insurance is replacing existing policies & that’s worrying

John Hancock, one of the oldest and largest North American life insurers, will stop underwriting traditional life insurance and instead sell only interactive policies that track fitness and health data through wearable devices and smartphones…

In case you haven’t heard of “interactive life insurance” before, it’s a new policy type that’s already prolific in Britain and South Africa with inroads now being made into the US.

The policies are sold as a theoretical “win-win” with policy holders incentivised to be healthier and fitter by monitoring their exercise & habits whilst the issuers pay less in claims should you live longer.

The realities and fear of the policy type is that the reported data allows insurance companies to potentially pick and choose whom they offer policies to even further, whilst raising premiums for those not adhering to potentially mandated reported data.

Source: Strap on the Fitbit: John Hancock to sell only interactive life insurance

Apple couldn’t put TouchID under a screen but Xiaomi’s new M8 Pro has

Tags: tech

The newly announced Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro & Mi 8 Lite smartphones come with all the promise and speed increases you’d expect from a phone announcement in 2018. The new models include an OLED screen, Snapdragaon 845 CPU, dual 12MP cameras on the back & so on an so forth.

The Mi 8 Pro however comes with an additional feature. Announced overnight it was confirmed the Pro version would be offering not only the ability to unlock the phone using Xiaomi’s version of Face ID but it could also be unlocked using a fingerprint sensor that’s embedded beneath the phone’s screen. A feature Apple has long been rumoured to be working on but unable to achieve.

Another interesting feature of the Mi 8 Pro to note is its price tag. Retailing in China for CNY 3,200 (A$647) for the base model you’re getting a hell of a lot of phone for A$1k less than the newly released iPhone XS.

The Mi 8 lineup begins shipping in China on September 28th with no official date or price set for Australia as yet.

Source: 小米8 屏幕指纹版 – 小米商城

Oh look Sony has a mini console too…

Tags: gaming, tech

Today, we are so excited to announce that we are bringing back the original PlayStation experience in a new miniaturised version – PlayStation Classic!

Available December 3rd, the new PlayStation Classic will come with 20 pre-loaded games and retail for A$149.99.

At the moment only 5 of the 20 games that will be included have been revealed. They are: Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, R4 Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3 and Wild Arms.

No doubt Sony will dangle the carrot by revealing more as we get closer to the launch date. So keep an eye out for that if mini dust collectors consoles are your thing.

Source: Introducing the PlayStation Classic, with 20 pre-installed games

Tesla shares plummet off the back of DOJ criminal probe

Tesla Inc. is under investigation by the Justice Department over public statements made by the company and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, according to two people familiar with the matter. The criminal probe is running alongside a previously reported civil inquiry by securities regulators.

All of good ole Elon’s tweeting work has come undone in spectacular fashion.

Last month the Tesla CEO said he had the funding to make the company private and would do so should its stock hit US$420.

The SEC launched an investigation into the CEO’s claims who quickly abandoned the privatisation efforts, which earned the company a very nice little price bump.

Today we learn the DOJ has commenced a criminal inquiry requesting documents from Tesla whom have complied. Shareholders, not particularly fond of the idea that their company is being investigated have jumped ship in droves, the stock dropping 4.4% in today’s trading alone.

Source: Tesla Facing U.S. Criminal Probe Over Elon Musk Statements – Bloomberg

iOS 12 is out today

Tags: tech

iOS 12 is designed to make your iPhone and iPad experience even faster, more responsive, and more delightful. Here are the latest features and improvements in the world’s most advanced mobile operating system.

Being off the beta train this year round I can’t really comment on what’s hot and what’s not in iOS 12.

Gleaming over Apple’s page on the OS update it looks to be mainly focused around performance improvements, it’s new “Screen Time” digital wellbeing stuff and Notifications getting a very, very overdue cleanup.

If you’re in the mood to update today, without waiting for it to prompt you. You can do that via your iOS device’s “Software Update” option hidden away in the Settings app.

Source: iOS 12 – Apple

We’re giving away a Plantronics RIG 500 PRO headset

Part of the perks for being one of our amazing Patreon supporters is having the chance to win some very cool, very sexy, schwag from time to time.

This month, off the back of our glowing review of them, we’re happy to announce that we’ll be giving away a brand new set of the Plantronics RIG 500 Pro – Esports Edition headset to one lucky Patreon supporter.

The winner will be randomly drawn from a list of currently active Patrons and announced before month’s end.

If you aren’t a Patreon supporter and would like to be, automatically putting you in the running to win the headset, simply head on over to our Patreon page (https://reckoner.com.au/patreon) and click on the “Become a Patreon” link.

Best of luck!

Apple rockets past A$2k with the launch of the iPhone Xs & Xs Max

iPhone XS. With an all-screen design. Super Retina display in two sizes. TrueDepth camera. Face ID. Dual-camera system. And A12 Bionic chip.

Holy [email protected]#k the new iPhones are expensive.

Its lowest capacity (and ultimately useless) 64GB version starts at A$1,629 for the Xs & A$1,799 for the larger Xs Max.

Next is a 256GB that will set you back A$1,879 for the Xs and a casual A$2,049 for the Xs Max and finally the gob smacking 512GB version for A$2,199 & A$2,369 respectively. Jebus-H-Christ.

What does spending the price of used car get you? Well not a lot more different to last year’s iPhone X to be honest. Of course the Xs “Max” includes a larger 6.5″ OLED display in a bigger enclosure to the Xs and that means a larger battery too.

The phones are faster, they’re using Apple’s new A12 SoC, which is the world’s first 7nm chip. It’s GPU component is reportedly 50% faster than it’s predecessor the A11 and the CPU side of things is more efficient and includes something called a “Neural Engine” that Apple claims to bring real-time machine learning to the iPhone. Scary?

The rumoured dual-SIM came to fruition… in China. They’ll be getting two SIM trays in their new iPhone Xs’ while the rest of the world will have to settle for one and an inbuilt eSIM, so we kinda get it too.

Lastly the camera has seen some love but it’s nothing ground breaking. I’d argue it’s more in the processing side of things with an upgraded Image Signal Processor that works with the aforementioned Neural Engine for betting image processing.


Putting that all aside Apple also announced the iPhone Xr. This guy is essentially exactly the same as the new Xs but comes with a 6.1″ LCD screen, single lens rear camera instead of dual and a metal, glass-free enclosure. It’s also significantly cheaper with 64GB, 128GB & 256GB options available for A$1,229, A$1,299 & A$1,479 respectively.

Source: iPhone XS – Apple (AU)

US$600 of gear will let you steal a Tesla in seconds

Tags: tech

Weak encryption in Tesla Model S key fobs allowed all-too-easy theft, but you can set a PIN code on your Tesla to protect it.

Any key-fob (and their connected car) made prior to June are vulnerable to the weak encryption attack.  There’s nothing particularly fancy about the attacks, watch the Nicholas Cage classic “Gone in 60 seconds” and you essentially see them do the same thing on a garage remote (from memory).

Telsa introduced a new PIN feature in an update a couple of weeks ago. That plugs the hole for now but Tesla haven’t really told their customers about the dangers in not setting a PIN in detail.

Another solution for car owners is to buy a new key-fob. That’s a cost though and considering Tesla knew of the hack a year ago (and paid a US$10k bug bounty for it) you’d hope they start a program to swap out old for new – at a reduced cost at least!

Source: Hackers Can Steal a Tesla Model S in Seconds by Cloning Its Key Fob | WIRED

The Spider-Man in-game marriage proposal: A tragedy in three parts

Tags: gaming

Part 1:
Tyler “@topnotch1210” Schultz tweets Spider-Man developers Insomniac Games in April of this year about the possibility of adding a marriage proposal into their upcoming game.


Part 2:
Insomniac, being the legends that they are, do so! Adding the proposal to Tyler’s five year plus girlfriend after confirming with him that he’s happy to wait another five months until September.


Part 3:
The game releases and Tyler creates a now removed Youtube video detailing the tragedy of the proposal and that his now ex-girlfriend has run off with his brother.

Tyler seems to have taken the whole thing in his stride though and has thanked Insomniac for doing it in the first place and let everyone know he’s enjoying the game.

Insomniac have since come back and asked if he’d like the sign changed to anything else and have it changed in an upcoming patch.


UPDATED – The other side:

Tyler’s ex, Madison Gamble, whom he claims “go with [his] brother”, has told her side of the story to a local paper. Madison provides a concise account of the relationship and the reasons for it coming to an end. She also provides context around the half-brother, whom she’s now become close to saying:

As far as his half-brother goes, Tyler had asked him to check in on me and ask me how I was doing after I broke up with him, so of course we got close. And our relationship just built from there.