Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Thursday, 1 October 2020.
1. Launched: Google’s new hardware
Google launched its Pixel 5, Pixel 4a 5G, new Chromecast with Google TV, and new Nest Audio at its short and sharp event yesterday.
- We didn’t get many surprises but that’s not a knock against Google, given the times we’re living in.
- And Google’s mercifully fast 30-minute presentation did show some unexpectedly good details from the new Google TV and Pixel, and had Mark Ronson offering some praise of the new Nest Audio.
- Google published a 90-second recap which is all you need if you missed the full presentation because you were living your life in some way.
Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G:
The new Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G were exactly as Google told us in advance, plus the full details around pricing and availability:
- The Pixel 5 will be $699 (€629), available to pre-order now in the US, plus UK, Canada, Germany, France and several other countries with a release date of October 15.
- The Pixel 4a 5G starts at $499 (€499) with a release date of October 15 in Japan, and November 9 elsewhere.
The differences between the two are fairly small but the Pixel 5 (above) is the more fully-featured device:
- They both have the same Snapdragon 765G processor and 5G capabilities, same camera setup, now with an ultrawide secondary lens, and very similar display size and battery.
- The major Pixel 5 bonuses are a 90Hz refresh rate display, 8GB of RAM over 6GB, bigger battery, wireless charging, and IP rating for waterproofing.
- The Pixel 4a 5G has a slightly bigger screen, and a headphone jack.
Google did give us a nice table graphic to aid comparisons, too:
- Google Pixel 4a 5G buyer’s guide: Know before you buy
- For me, the single thing pushing me towards a Pixel 5 over a Pixel 4a 5G is the 90Hz refresh rate screen. I’m not a huge wireless charging guy, I tend to put a case on my phone so don’t usually consider waterproofing essential. Just wish it had the headphone jack!
- Also: How to get a free pair of Bose QC 35 II with your Pixel 5 or 4a 5G, a pretty great deal.
- (Just know, unfortunately, this promotion is only available in certain countries, and the US isn’t one of them.)
- Overall, I want to see some reviews and get the phone into my hands. Google’s Pixel strategy has never really been clear. It hasn’t sold many, it hasn’t really tried to sell many. and now Google is playing safe by offering decent mid-range phones, well down from the scary $1000 price tag.
- It’s possible the success of the Pixel 3a showed the company that it is much better mixing value, not trying for excessive premiums. Missing the Soli radar here and going back to fingerprint is a sign of something.
- It could mean the next flagship in the likely Pixel 6 is being given time to develop premium features as a flagship with all the tech. It’s unclear. But these new devices are good enough, if reviews hold up.
- The new Chromecast with Google TV looks spectacular.
- It’s $50 (€69), it has a great remote, and by comparison, the Apple TV is $180 with a bad remote.
- Early impressions are already wondering if it is the best streaming device, given the way it can bring in other services seamlessly, aiding content discovery.
- The Google Assistant options will be useful — you can press a button and tell the remote to ‘Play The Mandalorian on Disney Plus,’ and it will.
- It’s slightly painful you need to remember which service and specify it (you can’t just say play ‘The Mandalorian’) but hey, maybe it’ll get there in time.
- And it does offer a module for connecting ethernet, if that matters to you, for another $20.
- My take: Would I get one? Yes, if I didn’t already own a Chromecast Ultra. It looks like it’ll beat out much of the competition if you need something new, and might make your Smart TV better than ever.
- More: Chromecast with Google TV: Everything you need to know about the new streamer
And the Google Nest Audio:
- The new smart speaker is now completely encased in fabric, and has some new punchier speakers, now with 19mm tweeter and 75mm mid-woofer included.
- Google says it gets 75% louder and has 50% stronger bass response than the original Google Home.
- It’s 6.89 inches tall, 4.8 inches wide, and 3.07 inches thick.
- With that extra punch comes weight: It also weighs just over 1kg, making it heavier than the 180g Nest Mini, but lighter than the 4kg Google Home Max.
- There are some adaptive features too via Media EQ to autotune the speaker depending on what you’re listening to (music, podcasts, etc) and Ambient IQ, which throttles the volume up or down depending on the ambient noise level.
- The new round Amazon Echo (4th generation) will be a close competitor at a similar price point, but Google’s Assistant is generally smarter.
- More: Google Nest Audio: Everything you need to know about the smart speaker
2. Xiaomi’s Mi 10T series was also announced yesterday, with some turbo features including: 144 Hz screen, big battery, Snapdragon 865, and starting at 500 euros (Android Authority). The Mi 9T series was pretty solid, so I’m hopeful that the 10T keeps the run going.
3. Draft EU law would let you remove the bloat of preinstalled phone apps. There’s plenty of valid criticism of EU laws, but this would be a huge win (Android Authority).
4. Windows on Arm will support a lot more Windows apps starting next month, with 64-bit app-emulation coming soon (Android Authority).
5. Google says the Pixel’s Soli radar and Motion Sense will return, even if the Pixel 5 left them out (The Verge).
6. Oppo Reno 4 Pro 5G hands-on: Premium at a price (Android Authority).
7. Microsoft is set to announce a Surface Laptop Go today, and figuring out where it fits in the Surface lineup and against competitors is going to be interesting (notebookcheck.net)
8. Facebook takes a big step in linking Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, which creates intriguing scenarios if Facebook is forced to rip apart at any point (CNN).
9. Google’s new machine learning tool turns your awful humming into a beautiful violin solo (The Next Web).
10. These robots use AI to learn how to clean your house (Wired).
11. “Why does “k” mean “thousand” ?” (r/nostupidquestions).
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