Thursday, 30 April 2015

What is the future of wearable technology?

"Apple Watch Sport" by Yasunobu Ikeda via Creative Commons.
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The Apple Watch was finally released to excited tech fans last week to mediocre reviews. Critics described the watch as sleek in appearance, but lacking in the functionality to make it a necessity in the same way that the iPhone is today.

Hype around the release of the watch has sparked questions about the future of wearable technology: will it ever be mainstream? How much are people willing to pay for it? And how can we combine high-level technology with high fashion, to make pieces that people with no interest in technology will want to buy?

Only time can give us the answers to these questions, but the reception of the Apple Watch over the next few months may reveal much about how the public will react to wearable technology in the future.

According to News Limited, 1 in 5 Australians already own wearable technology, but to take a closer look at the current climate, we’re taking a look at some of the popular products already on the market.

Some of the contenders:

Apple Watch: The latest and greatest in wearable technology, the Apple Watch aims to combine Apple’s sleek designs with a highly functional watch. The watch offers a range of apps including fitness, email and maps, and allows you to choose from two different sizes in three sleek designs. It sounds great, but first reviews indicate that the first generation watch doesn’t quite hit the mark in the same way that iPhones currently do.

Moto 360 watch: Motorola’s answer to the Apple Watch, the Moto watch is a fully customisable smartwatch that (for a price) allows you to choose the face, band and case of your watch. Reviews have praised the watch on its looks and quality, but critics were disappointed with the short battery life.   

Fit Bit Charge HR: I'm currently testing one of these. Although it looks a bit like a watch, the Fit Bit is (unsurprisingly) a fitness tracker. If you’re looking to track how much exercise you do on a daily basis, the Fit Bit is a great option for counting your steps, telling you how many calories you’ve burned and tracking your sleep quality.  Critics like it for its accuracy and subtlety, but dislike its display and tendency to scuff.

Garmin Vivoactive: Unlike the Fit Bit, the Garmin VIvoactive is a sports watch - a cross between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch - that is supposedly more suitable to sport than the Fit Bit.  The Vivoactive allows you to accurately track running, swimming, cycling and even golf yardages. Despite its impressive features however, the Vivoactive has been criticised for its bulky and unattractive design.  

 And then there’s Google Glass:
Google’s disappointing experiment has been met with scathing reviews around the world. Worn as glasses, Google Glass responds to voice command. It allows you to take pictures, access flight and weather information (displayed in the right-hand corner of your vision) and undertake a range of other tasks that you could do on your smartphone, all at your voice command. It’s supposedly comfortable, but is very expensive, has a short battery life and looks quite ridiculous.

Do you own any wearable technology?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

What is the “Netflix tax” and how will it affect me?

Online streaming services are the latest and greatest thing in Australia at the moment, with services such as Netflix, Stan and Presto allowing consumers to watch hundreds of films and TV series from as little as $8.99 a month.

These services are revolutionising how Australians watch TV. We no longer have to face the long wait for series to be released in Australia, or take part in illegal downloading, to stay current with our American friends. We have access to the latest episodes of popular shows as soon as they’re released.

If you’ve watched the news recently, you would have heard of the ominous sounding “Netflix tax”, the proposed GST extension targeting your digital media habits.

So before you decide if you’d prefer to watch Orange is the New Black or Better Call Saul, you may wish to consider how the “Netflix tax” could affect your viewing habits.

What is it?

Last week, Treasurer Joe Hockey announced that the GST might be extended to “intangible” online services in an effort to increase economic “integrity”.

Not just targeted at video streaming customers, consumers may pay 10% more for a range of online purchases including music and e-books, as well as ride-sharing services such as Uber.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the tax is expected to raise approximately $400 million in GST revenue.  

Why now?

The proposed GST extension follows the controversial Dallas Buyers Club pirating case, in which a number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were ordered to hand over the names of customers who had pirated the film.

Dallas Buyers Club LLC alleged that over 4000 Australians pirated the 2013 film.

This case highlighted the risks of illegal downloading, forcing many Australians to consider legal streaming services. 

So why are we being taxed?

While Netflix have stated they are willing to comply with the GST changes, Australian-based streaming services are unhappy that this has not yet been implemented.  

"They have been able to price themselves below the company that we have, which is Presto…So this is an unfair, unlevel playing field and we would certainly be looking for Parliament to fix that problem," said News Corp CEO Julian Clarke at a Senate meeting. 

Consumers are also up in arms, with many people questioning why consumers, and not large corporations, are being taxed.

What do you think of the “Netflix tax”?

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Online Movies - April Newsletter

Our latest Monthly Newsletter has just been released for April, and can be found on our website here: