The Sizzle

Issue 493 - Thursday, 5th October 2017


New Google Pixel smartphones
Loads of new Google stuff today from their Made by Google Event in San Francisco. I'll start with the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. The Pixel 2 is still 5" and but the Pixel XL 2 is now .5" bigger at 6" and has a "Plastic OLED", which is supposed to give 100% DCI-P3 coverage. Due to being OLED, they're also "always on" for notifications and shit. The cameras are top notch as usual and have hardware based image stabilisation, unlike the previous models. Both units are IP67 water and dust resistant (they weren't previously), there's no headphone jack, they have an eSIM like the Apple Watch and feature a "squeeze" action like HTC's recent units (HTC made the XL2, LG made the XL). My favourite feature: These phones will get three years of guaranteed software updates. There's no AU date yet, but Telstra will let you pre-order the new Pixel phones on the 20th of October or you'll be able to get them from JB or Google directly soon-ish.
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New Pixelbook, Google Home speakers, Pixel Buds, Clip camera & more
Now for the rest of Google's new gear! There's a major update to the Pixelbook - which is essentially a high end Chromeobok with a stlyus that'll cost US$1000 (no AU pricing or date). The Google Home Mini and Google Home Max are little and big versions of the Google Home. The big one sounds better. The small one is $79 and out now, the big one, no local info. Google Pixel Buds are Google's answer to Apple Airpods - wireless bluetooth headphones that have Google Translate built in for real time translation, which if it works like it does in the demo, will be fucking amazing. They're $249 and will be out in November. The Daydream VR headset thing got updated and Google made a little hands-free camera called the Clip that takes random photos and is probably the most likely thing I'd buy out of all the stuff Google announced today, but there's no AU price or date for fucks sake. Watch the entire event on YouTube.
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State govts agree to feed fed govt all our drivers licence pics into "The Capability"
The state governments have all agreed to give the federal government access to their drivers licence databases so the national facial biometric matching capability gets even more powerful. None of the state leaders offered any resistance to the idea,except the ACT Chief Minister. He "conditionally" agreed to give the feds access t to driver's licence images, as the ACT has its own Human Rights Act and needs to check if participating in the federal government's scheme will contravene it. Turnbull wanted to stress that the database would consist only of "photographs that are already being accessed" by agencies. No big deal guys, relax - it's just data we've already got! Don't worry about the perverted ways we can use it!
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The EU is sick of tech companies dodging their tax obligations
The EU has cracked the shits with American tech companies dodging their tax obligations in Europe. Amazon needs to pay €250m in taxes the EU reckons it owes because Luxembourg gave it a tax deal far too sweet. Amazon is saying it didn't get any special treatment from Luxembourg, of course. Meanwhile, the EU is taking Ireland to court over the fact Ireland is refusing to make Apple pay it €13bn that the EU reckons Apple owes Ireland, but Ireland insists Apple doesn't owe. You'd think Ireland would be keen for a few billion Euro, but it's afraid that if it makes Apple pay, all the other cosy arrangements its set up with other multinationals to be an EU tax haven will disappear and Ireland's already weak economy will go down the shitter.
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Sonos makes a smart speaker that semi-works & promises AirPlay 2 support
Sonos has new stuff too, mainly, the Sonos One. It's the same Sonos Play:1 you know and love, but with mics in it so it'll support Alexa or Google Assistant. It comes out October 24th and will cost $299. Bad news is that Google Assistant support isn't coming until some time in 2018 and Alexa isn't out in Australia, so, I don't know why you'd bother buying one now. Just wait until that shit works before handing over your cash. What could be bigger news for some people is that Sonos will support Airplay 2 on most devices (there's no list supported Sonos gear yet), meaning you can simply play stuff from your Apple device to the Sonos speaker without needing explicit Sonos support!
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Symantec made a Norton branded router and it is awful
Norton, the brand that instils fear into any one who supports computers for a living, have made their own router. Not content to infiltrate your desktop devices or your smartphones, the Norton Core will secure your entire network with Symantec's special mix of bullshit. It looks more like a decorative piece you'd find at Target for $15 than a router, which is nice, but the actual product sucks. It has shocking wi-fi performance and can't keep up with 100mbit routing. The actual security stuff was able to be evaded pretty damn easily. The Norton Core one of the worst routers Small Net Builder has ever reviewed. Do not buy.
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Catch up on the Apple vs Qualcomm beef
I've mentioned it a few times, but Apple and Qualcomm are going to head in court over costs about the most important part of the most important product Apple has - the LTE radio in the iPhone. Bloomberg have a great summary of why these two behemoths, that are set to each make billions if they could get along, are at each others throats. It all centres around patents and Qualcomm and Apple's perceived rigging of each side's negotiations over use of those patents and the cost of buying chips that use those patents. One fascinating tid-bit from the story: Qualcomm has a two-story high installation dedicated to its patents, called Patent Wall and they printed out the CDMA spec and patent and have it in a corporate museum. They even own the patent for airplane mode.
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Cheap monitor, Macs, hobby electronics, Voda SIMs, iPhone SE & Telstra plans
Hey look, it's some non-eBay bargains! HP are selling the EliteDisplay E272q 27" QHD monitor (which is apparently quite good) for $529, with a $70 Visa Gift card and $100 cashback if you have an AMEX and a further $12 off if you use Cashrewards. JB has 10% off Macs for the next few days, which you can often get Officeworks to price match for a further 5% off. For today only, Little Bird Electronics has 10% off a bunch of stuff - good if you want some Arduino/Pi bits and don't want to wait for the slow Chinese shipping. Harvey Norman has $30 Vodafone starter kits for $3 and $50 kits for $5. HN also has the iPhone SE 32GB (locked to Telstra) for $399, as does Officeworks. Want to move to Telstra? Port your number over and connect at JB to this $49/m for 20GB plan and you'll get a $100 gift card, nice.
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Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers.