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August brought with it … not a lot of funky and/or cool gadgets, but there were a few that caught our attention.
We reviewed a bunch of things we included in July’s list, so let’s get stuck into the 33 gadgets (and things) that caught our attention last month.
Handheld speed round
August included a heap of news and reveals for handheld gaming devices. This was led by the PlayStation Portal, a $US200 (Australian price pending) companion device for the PS5 that allows users to play games from anywhere within the house, streamed from the PS5 – however, it doesn’t come with Bluetooth, and you’ll need to use Sony’s specialised gaming earbuds if you don’t want to use the internal speakers. Additionally, AYN revealed its newest Android-powered gaming handheld, the Odin 2, 8BitDo revealed an adorable controller that weighs less than an AA battery, we started seeing leaked images of Lenovo’s upcoming Windows-powered gaming handheld, and Gulikit showed off a pretty neat SNES-style handheld gaming cradle.
Reviewed: Samsung Galaxy Watch 6
Samsung announced the Galaxy Watch6 at its Unpacked event in July. There were two models – the Watch 6 and the Watch 6 Classic – but I reviewed the former, given the size of my wrist. The focus for Samsung with the Watch 6 is its health abilities: There are upgrades to heart tracking, including a new irregular heart rhythm notification and a personalised heart rate zone, and new sleep features, including sleep score factor, sleep analysis, and sleep coaching. I spent a little over a week with it and it was enough to make me consider switching to a Samsung phone. Speaking of Samsung phones…
Reviewed: Galaxy Z Fold 5 & Galaxy Z Flip 5
We included both the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Z Flip 5 in last month’s round up, but this time we’ve gone hands on with both. The Fold 5 is a productivity powerhouse that does too much and will charge you a cool $3,000 for the pleasure. The Flip, meanwhile, I fell in love with. We compared both phones over here.
The best phone you can’t buy
Options for foldable phones are expanding, but this type of phone has been available overseas for several years now. Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone brand, has been carrying the torch for some time. The Android phone maker revealed the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3 last month, and it’s got a leg up on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 as far as build and camera capabilities. You can’t buy it, though.
Fake foldable for an iPhone
With Samsung pouring its marketing money into those latest foldable phones, the company is trying to snatch up potential iPhone 15 customers by showing them all the fun and weirdness of using two screens, so long as they have an additional iPhone on hand and they’re easily distracted by playing a dull game of air hockey.
Aussie EVs go below $40K
Ahead of its Australian launch, we got to take the MG4 for a spin from Sydney down to the Southern Highlands. The MG4 is set to be Australia’s second-cheapest car at $38,990. It drove soundly, and it’s not a particularly huge EV (which is notable, considering most EVs are SUVs), but drivers may not like the infotainment system and the lack of space.
Furby is back
Hasbro announced the availability of the new generation of creepy af, yet cute, toys, with a very clear target of millennials who want to relive their childhood (and who now have adult money and/or kids they want to share the experience of owning a Furby with). They’re on sale now, for $99.99.
Twitter-branded soda dispenser
The Elon regime put a couple of Twitter HQ things up for auction last month. This was our favourite.
Go catch that squirrel
Google researchers may have finally found a tech solution for the laborious task of training stubborn dogs to listen to commands. That is, of course, if you’re willing to opt for a robot dog.
Samsung’s new curved gaming monitor
Samsung’s new gaming monitor, the Odyssey Neo G95nc, is a 57-inch QLED monster. It’s for the type of gamer that wants the most extra tech possible, including an 8K resolution and a 240hz refresh rate with a 1ms response rate. It’s yet to go on sale yet, but you can expect to spend quite a bit on it – in the U.S., it’s priced at $US2500, so expect to spend around $4,000 when it comes down under.
Reviewed: A spaceship-like robotic litter box
I guarantee that you haven’t seen pet tech quite like this. Bella reviewed the Litter Robot 4 with her sweet friend Pearl (the cat), and found it to be quite a worthwhile device if scooping out kitty litter is not something you particularly enjoy or like the smell of. The integrated app is easy to use, and the self-emptying process works soundly, though it does remove quite a lot of litter. If you’re after a litterbox that looks like a sci-fi prop, and you reckon you can convince your furry friend to use it, then the Litter Robot 4 is worth considering.
An AI plays Mario
On TikTok, between the “get ready with me” videos, life hacks, and memes, a few robots are working on a challenge that many of us have faced at some point in our lives: beating Super Mario World. Last month, users were live streaming an AI’s attempts to learn to play Mario, and for one robot in particular, it went great. Its name is Rupert. Rupert, although not a gadget, gets some spotlight in this month’s wrap up.
This Pokemon absolutely does not look like a Pokemon
Here’s a weird-looking Wiglett plushy. Wiglett is one of the new Pokemon that was recently introduced in Pokemon: Scarlet and Violet, a cousin to Diglett, and oddly Phallic-shaped in plushy form. At 10-inches long, this girthy bastard haunts my dreams.
Reviewed: The Samsung Versatile Plus AX46 air purifier
Another one of the Samsung gadgets we reviewed in August, the Versatile Plus AX46 air purifier is an expensive way to have your home feeling less stuffy. It’s good, great, actually, but it’s $699 and we’re not sure we can sit here and say it’s not worth sussing out cheaper brands.
An honourable mention: $US100,000 mic
The saga of Cardi B’s microphone retaliation in Las Vegas came to an end last month. An audio technician sold the mic the rapper threw at a fan for almost $US100,000 on eBay, with the proceeds being split between two charities.
Reviewed: Razer BlackWidow V4
Razer has done an impressive job with its mechanical gaming keyboards, Razer BlackWidow V4 is no exception.
Nokia keeps the dream of the ‘90s alive
Nokia’s latest phones have this great new trick. They do not much.
Tempur’s ‘NASA Punk’ Starfield cockpit
It doesn’t matter how old you get. Planting your butt into a faux NASA cockpit is bound to excite the senses and imagination of any who once put a checkmark next to “astronaut” when asked what they want to be when they grow up. Now, Xbox and Tempur have their own fake cockpit setup that’s giving select players the opportunity to move around space with twin joystick controls. However, you’ll have to travel all the way to Germany (and eventually the U.K.) to plant your butt in the captain’s chair.
Reviewed: Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is absolutely gorgeous. But it’s made me realise bigger isn’t always better. Instead of fully immersing myself in the tablet, I constantly considered if it would just lay unusable to anyone who doesn’t use tablets like they would a laptop or second screen.
Cherry is going after keyboard copycats
Cherry, a leading company behind mechanical keyboard tactility (you might be familiar with the term ‘Cherry’ switches when buying a keyboard), announced a new range of switches with an eye on the competition. As mechanical keyboards grow in popularity, and in the years since its original patents expired, Cherry is looking to find the edge to maintain the relevance it once did in the niche gaming communities. It’s expected that these updated designs will cost about 10 per cent more than the current range.
You can now buy your own Dyson Zone
A recurring friend on this list is the Dyson Zone headphones/air purifier thing. But now, the Dyson Zone can be yours, with the thing for sale from Dyson for $999/$1,099 depending on your choice of colour. The funny thing about this is now Dyson is going hard with the message it’s about noise-cancellation, not air purification. Still apocalyptic chic in our eyes.
Australia’s first electric fire truck
The Australian Capital Territory unveiled its first electric fire truck in August, with it set to join the fleet in 2024. It’s unlike any emergency vehicle I’ve ever seen, and not because it’s electric, but because it’s so gosh darn yellow. Which is great – it’ll be easier to spot in an emergency situation. It’s also not going to fill the standard fire truck role – instead, its primary purpose is to supply oxygen to people when the air is thin.
Screens that work even in a downpour
Modern smartphones have become incredibly water resistant, so much so that even foldables are boasting they can survive a 30-minute bath without crapping out. The one issue is that wet touchscreens are still a pain to control, and holding a phone out in the rain guarantees you’re not scrolling until you dry it off. Phone brand OnePlus now claims it has an edge on the competition with a phone that responds just as well in a storm as under a dry, summer sun.
Alienware gets sensible
Alienware, the Dell gaming subsidiary famous for its otherworldly aesthetic and high-performance computers, has announced a new PC with a chassis that… Looks pretty sensible, to be honest. That’s a compliment, as Alienware’s previous computers were quite heavily focused on their strong aesthetics, often to the detriment of the build quality. It’s set to ship with RTX 40 series GPUs and run 20 per cent quieter than previous models, so you’d hope that the build quality is as good as possible.
Google’s $300 Pixel Watch band
While less tech and more fashion, Google sent us its most expensive Pixel Watch band in August – a $300 titanium link strap. It definitely looks and feels more premium than the rest of Google’s straps, especially the rubber strap that the Pixel Watch comes with, however, it’s difficult to see the value in a band that’s about five times the cost of the cheapest option. If you want to make your Pixel Watch more of a status symbol, though, this is certainly one way to do it, as it effectively makes the price of the Watch between $850 and $950 all-up.
Mini shows off an electrified classic
Mini teamed up with Fellten Australia to convert a 1995 Mini Rover to electric, with the end-product producing go-kart-like handling, 175km top speed, and the classic Mini aesthetic everyone loves. It’s a pretty thing, with a performance bump from the conversion process (a 72kW electric motor was crammed into it), and it can be charged at any Type 2 charger. Fellten specialises with EV conversions, so to see the company officially team up with Mini Australia was very cool.
Reviewed: Dyson’s submersible (not actually a submarine)
We originally wrote about the Dyson v15s Detect Submarine back in July’s gadget round-up, but this time around, Alice has reviewed the new stick vac. It’s a very good vacuum cleaner and mop, one that’s easy to use and not a particularly unattractive device to have in a home, however, the trigger, the older tech inside it, and the difficulty in cleaning the mop roller definitely take away from it. It’s priced at $1,549 ($1,649 for the ‘complete’ version), and although it’s not perfect, it does what it says it will powerfully and efficiently.
Spotify AI DJ
Less gadget and more AI – Spotify’s latest push makes a personalised radio playlist for you. The kids don’t seem to love it, but for those of us who grew up only having radio, this thing rocks.
Atari resurrects the 2600 for modern TVs
Atari is again testing how many times users are willing to pay for that nostalgic, faux woodgrain-panelled game console, this time coming out with what seems like the most detailed recreation of its original Atari 2600 console since it first debuted close to 46 years ago.
Lay on your back and play games
The last entry from Samsung in this uber Samsung-heavy month is the Freestyle Gen 2 projector, which allows you to lay on your back and indulge in your favourite cozy game projected on the ceiling above.
Dell’s new student-friendly laptop
The Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 walks a fine line under premium laptop prices, but its value is definitely well-gauged. Aimed towards students and designed for lighter workloads, with a touch screen and a fairly standard CPU, Dell’s new $1,090 device is quite feature-packed. You can definitely pick up a slimmer or even nicer-looking device, but Dell’s 2-in-1 covers a lot of ground for a very reasonable price.
Audi’s new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle
We got to give Audi’s new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in August, and although it wasn’t an electric-only EV, which is what we typically review, it was certainly an eye-opener in terms of figuring out what a sandstone carmaker like Audi offers. Audi’s AWD feeling is unmatched, with a road presence on tight roads that’s just incredible. With 2033 marked as the year Audi wants to go all-electric in most markets, this is also likely to be one of the last PHEVs the company produces.
Meta, the benevolent maker of Facebook, is solving the most important problem in the tech industry, one that every person on the internet definitely knows and cares about. At long last, the characters in Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse are getting legs. (Sort of).
That’s all for August, but check out the others: