Tag: tech

Fire TV Cube is a hands-free 4K Ultra HD streaming media player with Alexa, allowing you to control your TV from across the room. Just ask Alexa to turn on the TV, dim the lights, and play what you want to watch from over 500,000 movies and TV episodes.

The Cube is essentially a mashing of an Echo speaker with Amazon’s Fire TV stick & a universal remote to control your TV & cable box.

Unfortunately for us Aussies Fire TV is a North American thing and the Cube is the same. It’s a shame because the new product has a lot of promise and in having it plugged into your TV means you get contextual responses similar to the Echo Show but then at the same time doesn’t require the TV to be running and works as a regular Echo also.

The new Fire TV Cube is on sale now and ships June 21 for US$119.99 to North American customers only.

Source: The Verge

Sonos has unveiled a new soundbar speaker that, in an industry first, will be compatible with Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant.

Significantly cheaper than the original Playbar the new Beam will retail for A$599 and be available in July.

Other differences include the smart speaker capabilities (obviously) as well as the input on the rear being a single HDMI port instead of toslink/optical in. It does come with an adaptor however to convert HDMI to optical should your setup not support the HDMI remote control functions and you don’t want to waste/use a HDMI port on your TV or receiver.

The new Beam, reportedly has a solid level of sound quality however anecdotally the Playbar remains king.

Sadly the new version also doesn’t include support for Dolby Atmos, which many have been holding out for. It appears the battle for a lower cost has won out in order to see Sonos engrain itself in more consumers’ lives.

As impressive and as nice as it is to see the new product emerge I’ll likely be giving it a miss. Not hitting the mark on Atmos and providing a sound quality that doesn’t improve on my existing Playbar doesn’t coerce me to up/down-grade. Event Sonos’ own creative lead Jedd Derderian doesn’t think you should stating that “[Sonos] don’t believe in the replacement cycle…”, suggesting users buy the Beam to add on to their current setups instead of replace what they have.

For more details check out our good mate Peter Well’s article on the launch for SMH or check out The Verge’s exclusive in-depth hands on.

Source: Sonos announces Beam, a lounge room speaker it says can do it all

Image: The Verge

Unveiled at Computex 2018, the Asus ZenBook Pro is the new pinnacle of Asus’ premium laptop range, and it comes with an attention-grabbing new feature: a smartphone-sized touchscreen in the place of the regular touchpad.

They’re calling it the “ScreenPad”. The Verge has a full hands on preview and their reviewer describes it as being “not terrible” it’s hardly a glowing endorsement.

The ScreenPad is controlled via a cursor and not just a tap and activate sort of deal, which when you think about it makes sense because it’s still being used as your mouse/touchpad.

I’ll reserve judgement until I get hands on myself and hats off to ASUS for innovating. At least they didn’t remove a bunch of keys that people rely on to do it!

Source: Asus replaced the new ZenBook Pro’s touchpad with a touchscreen – The Verge

Image: The Next Web

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to acquire GitHub Inc., the code repository company popular with many software developers, and could announce the deal as soon as Monday, according to people familiar with the matter.

Didn’t see that one coming, but then Microsoft is apparently the top contributor to GitHub with over 1000 employees pushing to it.

GitHub was last valued at a lazy US$2b back in 2015 and is reported to have an estimated annual income of $200m.

Searching for a new CEO for 9 months now the company has, in true Silicon Valley fashion, never been profitable and a buyout by Microsoft (or anyone) would be a solid win.

As for developers whom make use of the wildly popular service religiously the shift to Microsoft may not be as well received. However with advents of tools such as VisualCode and other initiatives led by MS CEO Satya Nadella the company has made huge inroads into restoring developer faith of late.

Source: Microsoft Is Said to Have Agreed to Acquire Coding Site GitHub – Bloomberg

ASUS is excited to announce the new H370 Mining Master motherboard that increases density with support for up to 20 graphics cards, simplifies connectivity by letting USB riser cables plug directly into the PCB, and reduces downtime by making problems easier to diagnose.

They say it right on the box “Mining Master”, this board is a beast.

On show at Computex in a custom mining rig and on sale in Q3 of this calendar year the H370 is sure to be a favourite amongst crypto miners worldwide.

Pricing TBA.

Source: ASUS Announces H370 Mining Master Motherboard

Apple engineers have been working on an initiative dubbed Digital Health, a series of tools to help users monitor how much time they spend on their devices and inside of certain applications.

Whatever Google can do, we can do better…

Apple very rapidly returning to old ways becoming the reactor instead of the innovator.

To quote Matthew Machonhay, “Time is a flat circle”.

Source: Apple Is Set to Unveil AR Upgrade, Software to Manage iPhone Use – Bloomberg

Australians will be blocked from shopping on Amazon’s international websites and restricted to using its smaller local platform as the e-commerce giant responds to the government’s new GST rules on online purchases.

Of course old mate Gerry Harvey had plenty to say on the self imposed  redirection that Amazon announced yesterday.

“They’ve done the dirty on the government. They’ve done the dirty on the public.” cried Mr Harvey, no doubt with his head angled towards the sky and his fist pumping in rage.

Not only will Australians be unable to access the US (or any other) Amazon store should they gain access through other technical methods will be unable to ship their items to Australian addresses.

The end result is access to an awfully poor selection of items in the current store at inflated prices four times or more above the cost of buying it from the US and shipping it here currently.

The new redirection will start July 1st at the same time as the government’s new GST collection rules for overseas vendors begin.

Source: Amazon to block US website for Australian shoppers over GST rules

We’re excited to be launching Podcasts in beta inside Plex today on iOS, Android, Roku, and Plex Web, (more to come, of course!)

Plex gave their app a bit of a refresh today but on top of that they also added a new podcast feature in beta form.

The new podcast section allows you to search, discover and add podcasts from their directory as well as your own custom feeds.

Synced across your devices (with a paid Plex Pass) you get your usual podcasting features such as playback speed control.

The update is rolling out today and has just hit the Aussie App Store.

Source: Have Plex Your Way | Plex

iOS 11.4 includes AirPlay 2 multi-room audio, support for HomePod stereo pairs, and Messages in iCloud. This update also includes bug fixes and improvements.

It’s like waking up on WWDC morn only that’s still a week away and these features should be fully tested and functional.

AirPlay 2 has been one of the longest software announcements to production rollout I’ve ever seen from Apple. Finally the new software implementation of their media streaming protocol will allow you to use AirPlay 2 compatible speakers to play to both singularly and together in a multi-room scenario. Sonos have announced support for AirPlay 2 with some of their newer speakers with many more manufacturers expected to add the functionality in updates and new products.

Another feature in today’s update includes support for two HomePod’s to be connected in the same room as a stereo pair. Going by the estimated sales figures of Apple’s smart speaker and despite its audio superiority I don’t imagine there’s a huge market of people rushing to do this, but hey at least you can now, like they promised.

Finally the feature I’m most excited by is the integration of Messages into the iCloud platform. No, this doesn’t mean you can log into the iCloud website and bang out messages (although that should be a thing or they should release a Windows client), it’s the integration of the service to record and sync your messages properly across your devices.

In addition to syncing your conversations the new implementation will shift message attachments to the cloud – freeing up space on your phone/iPad.

Source: About iOS 11 Updates – Apple Support

Beem It quietly launched in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store earlier this […] May.

The app enables sending and receiving money, with an interface reminiscent of a social media app.

Comm Bank, Westpac & NAB (AKA the cry-babies that still wont implement Apple Pay) announced “Beem It” last October, a new platform that would enable users to pay one another with a new, modern user experience.

The app makes use of Australia’s Eftpos and Visa’s debit card networks to allow the funds to be transferred from one party to another.

Noticeably absent is Australia’s newly available New Payments Platform (NPP). A system that all banks in Australia now use and offers near-instantenous transactions. Beem It CEO, Mark Wood has said that NPP may arrive in the future however.

Australians will you Beem It?

Source: ​Big bank-backed Beem It launches Aussie payments app | ZDNet