I’ve been very busy…

Once again, it’s time to wrap up nearly-all the work I’ve been doing over the past month. There’s quite a lot of it.

Vertical Hold

My weekly podcast rolls ever onwards, and there’s been a lot of news to dig deeper into.

In episode 302, we looked at the finer details of who the early winners (and losers) of the NBN’s Fibre lottery would be, as well as Vodafone’s announcement of its fixed-line-replacement home broadband 5G plans:

Optus then had a big week of announcements, bringing its Gomo brand down under while also opening up its wallet to buy amaysim. Speaking of buying things, Open Banking is a term you’re going to hear a lot more about from now on — and it’s got nothing to do with the hours that your local branch is open.

Gamers had been waiting a LONG time for next-gen consoles — and then two of them came along at once, as Microsoft launched the Xbox Series X/S and Sony launched the PlayStation 5 in the same week. Look, ordinarily that might have been enough content for an entire show, but then Apple also announced and launched its first M1 “Apple Silicon” MacBooks and Mac Minis with lots of technical detail — and more than a few questions to answer:

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a huge sports fan — but then most Australians really are. As Stan gobbles up sports right, our latest episode looks into the way that streaming platforms deal with live and on-demand sports. More in my usual playbook (that’s a sports reference, right?) was “Green” telco Felix — but what does “Green” mean in the context of telco, exactly?

You can of course keep up with everything Vertical Hold over at the Vertical Hold web page, and you totally should subscribe at well. Here, have some subscription links to make it even easier!

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/vertical-hold-audio/id971993513?mt=2

Pocketcasts Click here to launch Pocketcasts and subscribe today!

Spotify: You can stream every episode on Spotify right here.

iHeartRadio: Subscribe here!

All we hear is Radio Gaga

Speaking of talking, my regular Tuesday tech chat with Jo Printz on ABC Radio across regional Victoria took in a wide array of topics (and a rare Wednesday appearance, courtesy of some kind of horse race), including dating chatbots, potato powered gaming machines, the death of “free” Google photos storage, Apple Silicon laptops, flying cars, the future of batteries, why Android phones might find it harder to surf the web next year… and exploding whales. Because there’s nothing that says radio quite like an exploding whale.

You can catch me chatting to Jo every Tuesday at around 10:40am on ABC Central Victoria and across regional Victoria.

I’ve also been popping up on ABC Radio Adelaide, talking smart phone tips and tricks. This month’s tips included fast scrolling, using the back of an iPhone as a virtual button and selfie-taking tips, amongst others. That one’s not yet at a set weekly time, but if you pay attention to my twitter feed, you should be able to keep up with upcoming appearances.

A man with a face for radio

I’m also still producing video for my YouTube channel. First up this month, a deep dive into Samsung’s intriguing (but not inexpensive) Galaxy Z Fold 2 handset:

Having tested out the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, I pondered which iPhone most consumers should buy:

As well as giving my unboxing and early impressions of the little and large of the iPhone world:

True story: This is only the second time I’ve written about wallets on this blog. The other time is a hell of a story, probably a little more impressive than Apple’s Magsafe wallet, really.

Blah blah blah, like and subscribe (please — I’m starting to get some nice traction with these)

You still write actual words, right?

Oh yes, indeed I do.

Since I last wrote an update post, I’ve analysed the value of Telstra’s NBN 50 plans, ranked the best 2-in-1 laptops available for Australians, been generally impressed with the quality and features of the Google Pixel 4a 5G and written up the launch of “green” telco Felix as well.

But hey, I’m just getting warmed up! Oppo sent me a device that looked a lot like a certain fruit-themed-company’s watch, but wasn’t, so I reviewed that too, as well as the company’s Enco W51 headphones. I had probably-too-much-fun with the Lenovo Legion 7i in my review, and then pondered long and hard about the whole US 5G iPhone thing. They’re more functionally capable on 5G networks than the models we get here — but are they worth buying?

Speaking of being worth buying, Huawei’s produced some of the very finest handsets money can buy over the past two years, but I just couldn’t recommend anyone buy the otherwise AMAZING Huawei P40 Pro+.

Smart TVs aren’t always that smart, so which one should you buy? I listed out your best smart TV options, and then considered the other way to make your TV smart with a plug in device, courtesy of the Google Chromecast with Google TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is one fascinating device — but nobody sane is calling it “cheap” — and it got the full review treatment. I can’t say I did a “full” review of the Nextbase 522gw Dashcam, but that’s largely because actually testing its SOS function would involve being in a very serious car accident. Even I have my limits, so if you can forgive that, my otherwise-comprehensive review is here.

As mentioned earlier in the Vertical Hold section, Optus got busy with news, announcing Gomo and buying amaysim. While writing those up, the words just kept flowing, by way of my full review of the Apple iPhone 12 and the Apple iPhone 12 Pro. There were (in my opinion) a lot of very early, very fluffy reviews that didn’t really tell you what you need to know about a phone, and that’s just not my style.

While working at a feverish pace, I also tested out Sony’s BASS-heavy WF-XB700 headphones, had a ball with the Amazon Echo 2020, and a slightly slightly smaller ball with the Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen.

Then it was time to get up early again (pass the coffee!) to cover all the aspects of Apple’s “Apple Silicon” MacBook launch, which of course also formed part of that’s week’s Vertical Hold episode. On the phone front, reviews of the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus (harder to say and reliably type than you’d think), Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (way better than I expected) and Acer Predator Triton 500 (less alien-murdery than you might think) were penned.

Felix made good on its launch promises, but only with a single green plan (I guess that’s more… green?), so I analysed the wider value of its $35 prepaid offering. Gomo also hit go on its Australian offering, again with a single plan and an attention-grabbing $1 deal.

At Geeks2U’s Geekspeak, I explained the detail in Google’s impending battle with the DOJ and its implications for online search, dug into the details of Intel’s new Iris XE integrated graphics, pitted the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite against the Google Chromecast with Google TV and explained the big changes inherent in Apple’s new “Big Sur” version of macOS.

Am I done yet?

Nearly… nearly. On this very blog, I also wrote some additional thoughts in my own style. A video of mobile phones in the 1970s tickled my fancy, as did a damned fine new Stevie Wonder track.

November was also (finally!) Lizzies month, and ahead of the annual IT Journo awards night, I wrote about my thoughts and experiences with the whole process. Some folks liked the piece, others seemed to ABSOLUTELY hate it. I’ll let you read it and make your own conclusions.

Side note: I didn’t win in any of the categories I was finalist in, although I was highly commended in the Best Reviewer category. The winner? My brother, Angus Kidman. Maybe it’s in the genes?

Nintendo put out its first Game & Watch since either 2010 (if you count remakes) or 1991 (if you don’t), and of course I had some thoughts on that, especially as so many people seemed to be keen to hack it. Do what you like with your own hardware (you paid for it!), but I feel that’s a little beside the point.

Apple’s move to slice “small” developer fees in half looks like a very friendly effort, but there’s more to the story if you dig a little deeper — so I did, probably earning myself no fans at all in Cupertino in the process. Then again, I’m here to be an independent journalist, not an arm of any company’s marketing machine, so that’s probably for the best.

Speaking of the best, it’s probably best that I wrap this up. I mean, I clearly have more writing to do…

Want to hire me to write words, appear on camera or in audio form? Drop me a line!

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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