ISSUE 232 FEB ’24

WIN! STACK Issue 232 FEBRUARY 2024 “We’re live. Smile! It’s why we have teeth.”


ISSUE 232 FEB ’24


ISSUE 232 FEB ’24



TEKKEN™8 & ©Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. ©2023 Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC. “PlayStation Family Mark”, “PlayStation”, “PS5”, “Play Has No Limits” and “Play like never before” are registered trademarks or trademarks of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.


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ISSUE 232 FEB 2024

TECH 6-7 Samsung Unwrapped 8-22 It’s time to back to Uni 24-30 Hot tips to greenlight your content creation ambition 32-36 Set up your own movie club at Uni 38-43 CES 2024 44 What’s new in tech at JB Hi-Fi MOVIES & TV FLIP MAG AND READ FROM BACK 3 Intro /Take 5/Filmmaker's Signature/On the Radar/In Development/Bob J's quiz 4 Merch of the month/Charts/Socials 5 Magic: The Gathering 6 Force of Nature: The Dry 2 / Madame Web 7 Freelance 8-9 The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes 10 Five Nights at Freddy's 12 Silent Night 13 After Everything 14 Revisiting Rio Bravo 16 New from Imprint 18 Out This Month MUSIC 24-29 The Music Room: Middle Kids, Mick Mars, The Smile and more 30 Vital Vinyl 31 Second Spin 32-33 Cover feature: Jessica Mauboy 34 Album reviews 36 This month at JB GAMING 38 Take 5/Merch of the Month/Game changers! 40-42 Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League 44 Mario vs. Donkey Kong 46 PlayStation Portal 48 The PS5 faceoff: OG vs. Slim 50 Out this month/ Wham, bam, game exam! 52 STACK Recommends 54 Fast forward/Q5


We’ve grown accustomed to annual pomp and ceremony showcases from the leading smartphone brands. Journalists from across the globe are jetted into exclusive reveal events, hopeful that whatever is hidden behind the huge black velvet curtains will inspire the previews they’re about to write. But we’re a cynical lot, and that level of anticipation is rarely fulfilled. However, last month’s Samsung Unpacked did produce some genuine interest with the announcement of the new Samsung Galaxy S24 range. Features like the introduction of Galaxy AI occupied the column inches, and rightly so. The Samsung S24 is our cover this month, and you can read about the myriad new features in this issue. From a home entertainment perspective, our coverage in our second issue of the year doesn’t disappoint. Heading up movies, the Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes leads the way, while in games, we look at the new PlayStation Portal, a handheld extension of our PS5 you can play anywhere in the house. Finally, in music, Jessica Mauboy brings fresh music to the table with new long player, Yours Forever . Paul Jones, Editor-in-Chief

Founder Nic Short Editor-in-Chief Paul Jones Tech Editor Scott Hocking Music Editor Zoë Radas

Music Consultant Mike Glynn Marketing Manager Fleur Parker

Social Media Manager Glenn Cochrane Production Manager Craig Patterson Correspondence STACK

Chief Contributors Gill Pringle, Bob Jones Contributors Bryget Chrisfield, Jeff Jenkins,

Games & Online Editor Amy Flower Movie & TV Editor Glenn Cochrane Creative Director Gary Siewert Movies Consultant Kerrie Taylor Games Consultant Sachi Fernando

Simon Lukic, Billy Pinnell, Denise Hylands, Simon Winkler, Jake Cleland, Holly Pereira, Adam Colby, Bec Summer, Dan Nicholson, Alex Deutrom, Michael Irving, Jacqui Picone


Parental guidance recommended

Recommended for mature audiences

Not suitable for people under 15. Under 15s must be accommpanied by a parent or adult guardian

Restricted to 18 and over


Disclaimer STACK is published by Scribal Custom Pty Ltd (ACN 092 362 135). © Copyright Scribal Custom Pty Ltd, 2024 All rights reserved. All material appearing in this publication is copyright unless otherwise stated or it may rest with the provider of the supplied material or advertisement. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of Scribal Custom Pty Ltd. No responsibility is accepted for accuracy of advertisements or information. Whilst care has been taken in the research and preparation of this publication, the publishers, writers or anyone else associated cannot accept any responsibility for any loss, injury or hardship arising from the content contained herein or reliance therefrom, howsoever caused, and it remains your responsibility to evaluate the accuracy, completeness and usefulness of any such content. Views expressed are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher or the editor. By the very nature of this publication, things change daily and we cannot take responsibility for any changes or inaccuracies that occur subsequent to going to press.

For all the latest in TECH , MOVIES , TV , GAMING and MUSIC


STACK Magazine






STACK ’ s TECH tips

As we upgrade our tech around the home, we’ll inevitably have e-waste we need to dispose of. Forget about throwing it in the bin, though – these are some options available to you.

Some devices like smartphones could still carry a trade-in value, so before you recycle, it’s worth investigating. Alternatively, trying to sell your veteran treasures secondhand could help fund that new purchase. Everything from computers, printers, batteries,TVs, monitors, keyboards, and more can be responsibly recycled. A simple search online will bring up a list of local recycling centres where you can drop off your e-waste. Before you hand over your items for recycling, ensure any data is erased. When you do buy your new upgrade, recycle all the retail packaging. Many companies have actively moved to supply new devices in recyclable materials, making separating them easy.



YouTube was initially conceived as a dating site. The founders expected users to upload videos introducing themselves to potential matches. When no profile

Technology has become an integral part of Australian lifestyles and continues to advance in leaps and bounds. From smartphones to smart homes, STACK keeps you up to date on the latest consumer tech in user-friendly terms, along with key points to consider before you buy. If you love tech, you’re in the right place.

videos were uploaded, they reconsidered and opened it to all videos.

What tech has been floating the boat of the writers at STACK recently? You can find it right here every month.



What was the hottest tech in…

Logitech G Pro Superlight 2 The Logitech designers have wisely honed rather than changed all that made the original special. It’s light for a mouse and tips the scales at just 60 grams. It isn’t tiny, either, measuring 63.5mm by 125mm and with a height at the top of its palm bump of 4mm. Being a wireless mouse with a pure goal of gaming performance, there’s no Bluetooth connectivity. However, Logitech’s Lightspeed wireless connectivity is a doddle to get going. Its ergonomic shape isn’t too flat and is comfortable for longer periods. While there are five preset options for DPI - 800, 1200, 1600, 2400, and 3200 – there’s no physical selector switch. To change it, you’ll need to dive into Logitech’s G Hub software, where you can also make numerous setting tweaks and map the programmable buttons.

We take message banks for granted these days. If somebody calls when you’re busy or, more likely, when you can’t be bothered to take it, that annoying call can be despatched to voice mail in a satisfying stab of the finger. But for many, before 1971 if you missed an important call from a hospital or a job interview, there’d be no way of knowing that someone had called – unless you sat beside the telephone in anticipation. Enter Mark Brooks, the CEO of NovaTech. He had been developing an idea for a home answering machine

in the mid-'60s, but the concept was dropped when his company was bought out. Undeterred, Brooks severed ties to pursue his idea, kickstarting PhoneMate in the late '60s. His simple design incorporated a reel-to reel tape recorder from Japan housed in a chipboard box covered in wood veneer vinyl. With the other necessary electronics included to make it operate, the PhoneMate weighed a hefty 4.5 kilos and could store 20 messages before being rewound to start again. It retailed for US$300 (a whopping AU$3400 today). It was a masterstroke of domestic

Under the hood, there’s an upgraded HERO 2 sensor, increased polling rate up to 2000Hz, and new hybrid optical-mechanical switches. The already impressive battery life has been boosted by around 25 hours to 95, depending on whether you have engaged power saving mode and what polling rate you’ve set. If you’re serious about your competitive gaming, or just want to use what many of the pros use, then the Logitech G Pro X Superlight 2 is well worth a look.

On The Radar

What a bumper tech issue we’ve got coming your way in March! On top of our usual deep dive into the latest in smart home tech, we’ll also be covering what’s hot in smartphones for 2024.

necessity, and while not the first answering machine, it

was the first to be sold in mass quantities, freeing people from

the wired telephone and ensuring that a phone call would never be missed again!






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Summary of Terms and Conditions: For full terms and conditions, please visit Only JB Hi-Fi Perks members who are Australian residents may enter. The Promoter is JB Hi-Fi Group Pty Ltd (ABN 37 093 114 286) of Podium Level, 60 City Road, Southbank VIC 3006 (“Promoter”). The Entrants must answer the question at Entrants must remain a JB Hi-Fi Perks member until the date the competition is drawn. Entries must include all requested contact details and a 25-word or less answer to be eligible to win. The competition commences on 01/2/24 at 12:00 AM and closes 29/02/24 at 11:59 PM. The winners will be the best valid entry as judged by the judging panel, having regard to skill, creativity, and originality, at the Promoter’s Premises on 12/03/2024 at 11:00 AM. The total number of competition winners in this competition is two. The winner will be notified by email and their names will be published online on our winners page for 90 days from the date of verification of the winner. Only one entry per person will be permitted. Total prize value is up to $2,593 (including GST), as at 1/2/24. 5




By now we’re used to incremental improvements in new smartphones year by year.This time around, however, Samsung have gone all-in with three epic new Galaxy S24 5G models, introducing several enhancements, and some exciting AI-assisted helpers.Welcome to the next generation, and the first AI phones! Words Bec Summer T he clever people at Samsung are calling it ”a new era of smartphone technology”, and when you look at what’s new it’s very hard to argue with them. Introducing Galaxy AI* to type text to find what you want, now you can simply draw a circle with your finger around a picture onscreen, and your S24 series smartphone will start scouring the internet. Who’s that celeb? Where can I buy that frock? Where on Earth is that place? Whatever you’re wondering, leave it to Circle to Search and you’ll have your answer in no time. Live Translate is set to be an absolute

days of desperately scrabbling for universally understood words – or frantically acting out things like you’re playing charades! Photo Assist is set to make the Galaxy S24 photography experience even more of a dream. Whether it’s resizing, retouching, or even moving things around in an image, Galaxy AI is ready to assist, even suggesting possible improvements for the perfect pic. Add the ability to remove reflections or unwanted objects from that otherwise perfect snap and we’re talking serious power at your fingertips. Note Assist is ready, willing, and able to help you sort your life out to perfection. Well, your productivity at least! It can take anything from general notes to a shopping list, and handily summarise it, ready for sharing, or just for keeping things sorted. All thanks to Galaxy AI. Screen time! No matter which new Galaxy S24 you opt for, you’re getting the latest in smartphone screen technology, all AMOLED, and all supporting up to 120Hz refresh rates. The Galaxy S24 features a 6.2” FHD+ display – that’s a generous 2340 x 1080 pixels - that works brilliantly both inside and

Some of the most exciting new features across the entire S24 range come thanks to the introduction of Galaxy AI. This brings with it a raft of lifestyle enhancements, ranging from the convenient to bordering on lifechanging. Here are four of the biggest game changers… Circle to Search introduces a whole new way to search online – and it’s super cool! Forget trying to guess the best way

revelation for frequent travellers, especially when you don’t speak the local language. Yes, language barriers are a thing of the past, with Live Translate allowing you to have phone conversations converted to the language of your choice, as long as it’s one of the many that’s supported. Gone are the

* Galaxy AI features will be provided for free until the end of 2025 on supported Samsung Galaxy devices. The use of some AI features provided by third parties may require a service fee.




Meanwhile, the Galaxy S24+ continues the new familial appearance, seamlessly designed and also in hot, modern colours. At the top end of town, the Galaxy S24 Ultra combines quality with personal expression. Also available in a range of appealing hues, the frame is strengthened with titanium, delivering a lighter device that is also built to last. Performance to match All the looks and features in the world aren’t worth having if there isn’t performance to match, and the Galaxy S24 series has that base well and truly covered, no

outside, even in bright light. Larger than its predecessor, that means more screen real estate for everything that you do on the go. Step up to the Galaxy S24+ and say hello to a bigger – and brighter - 6.7” QHD+ display. With a resolution of 3120 x 1440 pixels, you’ll marvel at the screen every time you look at it – and with it’s handy always-on display, that may be quite a lot! The flagship Galaxy S24

Say yes to S! The power of the Galaxy S24 Ultra is of Samsung’s epic S Pen. Be it effortless notetaking, doodling, or editing images, you may be amazed at how handy this little device really is. You can even use it as a remote for taking photos! further enhanced with the inclusion

Epic colours! Colour-wise, the Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24+ offer Onyx Black, Marble Grey, Cobalt Violet, and comes in Titanium Black, Titanium Grey, Titanium Violet, and Titanium Yellow. Amber Yellow, while the Galaxy S24 Ultra

Ultra goes one bigger, delivering a 6.8” QHD+

display, which Samsung claim is their brightest and clearest yet. And while the screen is bigger, the phone isn’t, as the screen bezels have been reduced. Also featuring an always-on display, it’s ideal for the multitasker on the go. Shutterbug heaven Whether you opt for the Galaxy S24 or Galaxy S24+, the Galaxy AI powered Pro Grade 50Mp rear camera is ready to dazzle you with incredible photographic memories. Even if it’s dark, your S24 or

matter which model you go for. Inside both the Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24+ beats the new Exynos 2400 processor

Galaxy S24

chip, designed to deliver optimised performance for the new AI phone

generation, coupled with 8GB of memory. An enhanced cooling system is also on hand for keeping things chill even in the most heated gaming encounters. Both models are available with 256GB or 512GB of inbuilt memory. The Galaxy S24 Ultra, meanwhile,

S24+ has you covered, thanks to Samsung’s clever Nightography

packs a supercharged Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip and 12GB of RAM for even more advanced performance, also coupled with efficient

technology which brings detail and clarity to low-light photos in a snap.

Galaxy S24+

Add 12Mp front, plus 10MP telephoto and

cooling upgrades. As well as 256GB and 512GB models, you can also opt for a mammoth 1TB of inbuilt storage. As for keeping things juiced-up, the Galaxy S24 features an all-day 4000mAh battery, while the Galaxy S24+ ups the ante to even more peace of mind with a 4900mAh number. Go for the S24 Ultra and you’ll receive a huge 5000mAh battery, designed to deliver whether you’re streaming, gaming, or just going about your everyday – and night - business. All models feature fast charging, be it wired or wireless. Even more features! Adding to the impressive features that we’ve outlined above, whether you opt for a Galaxy S24, Galaxy S24+, or Galaxy S24 Ultra, you can expect features that others can’t beat. These include Android 14 as standard, Dolby Atmos audio support, top-level Knox Matrix security, IP68 ingress protection, NFC support, and Bluetooth v5.3.

12MP ultrawide rear lenses, and 5x optical zoom to the mix and you have a dynamo of a camera in your hand. Step up to the Galaxy S24 Ultra and be wowed by its powerhouse rear 200MP camera with 5x optical zoom, coupled with 12Mp front, plus 10MP 5x telephoto, 10MP 10x telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide rear lenses. Expect closer and crisper shots from this marvel, during day, at night, whenever! Add the new Galaxy AI-driven Photo Assist on all models, plus the ability to shoot at up to 8K resolution, and we’re talking a real step up in the photography stakes with the Galaxy S24 range. It’s got the looks In designing the S24 range, Samsung have gone for a ”simple yet striking” ethos. The Galaxy S24 comes in a range of stylish colours, featuring a smart new satin finish, and a build quality that will help withstand the rough stuff.

Galaxy S24 Ultra




Four tech hacks to get you off on the right foot at Uni 1 Password manager. A password manager in many ways. They generate strong, encrypted, and unique passwords for many academic platforms you’ll be using daily. All passwords are in one easy-to access location, and a manager will save time by automatically filling in the necessary fields and eliminating the need to memorise them all. 2 Cloud storage. This one is a no-brainer. Cloud storage will allow access from a laptop, Chromebook, or a smartphone and will automatically back up work. Some cloud platforms allow access for multiple users to enable collaborative work and file sharing. 3 Apps designed for productivity. Many options are available to aid in productivity, note-taking, project organisation, and task management, so look for the shoe that fits. 4 Calendars. Chances are you’re already using one of these, but a digital camera with reminders will help you maximise your time effectively.


For some, it might be the first year on campus, while for others, going back to Uni signals the end of a gloriously long summer break and the return to another year of study. Either way, there’s a good chance that your tech requirements have changed or are due for an upgrade. This month in STACK , we lift the lid on the most suitable laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, monitors, and essential accessories you’ll need to stay ahead in 2024. Words Xxxxxx

Tips before you shop Like any investment, you don’t spend a chunk of cash before doing your research first. Here are a few of pointers before you go shopping. Set a budget and stick to it. While aiming for all the bells and whistles can be tempting, keep your tech budget on target. You’ll need to spend money on plenty more in your first year. Ensure you’re right across the course requirements before the hunt begins. You don’t want to sink vital finds into an under-spec model. If you’re attending lectures or working in locations where a power source isn’t readily available, a device with an excellent battery life is esasential. A lot of time will be spent walking around the campus or traveling from home to Uni, so the last thing you’ll want is lead weight in your backpack. Opt for devices that are light and portable. Tech isn’t cheap, so buy a device that will afford some level of future proofing – buy once, buy right.

Thrifty pointers for saving cash at Uni Hunt for student discounts like it’s the Treasure of San Miguel. Cook big batches of food and utilise that freezer! Ditch that gym membership and download a free fitness app or use the Uni gym. Share subscription services amongst your friends. Buy an entry-level coffee machine and say goodbye to the ever rising cost of café coffee. If commuting to Uni is close enough, consider investing in an e-scooter or e-bike. Set a weekly budget and stick to it by carefully tracking your spending.



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Always on guard With continuous scanning for online threats, Microsoft Defender1 works around-the-clock to maintain your online security. Always on guard With continuous scanning for online threats, Microsoft Defender1 works around-the-clock to maintain your online security.

Get things done together Get things done together Share your documents with anyone and edit them together at the same time on any device with Microsoft 365. Share your documents with anyone and edit them together at the same time on any device with Microsoft 365.

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Starting uni is an exciting time in anyone’s life – it’s a new chapter, the first steps into adulthood and often your first taste of real freedom. Your study needs will be different from high school, so it’s the perfect time to upgrade your kit, and a good laptop is a perfect place to start. Words Michael Irving

Our Laptop picks

Why would you need a Laptop? Sure, a desktop PC or Mac is powerful and customisable, but obviously you’re trading off portability there. Uni work needs more flexibility, and you’ll want something you can cart between home, tutorials, lectures, the library, cafes and even on the train. As such, weight and battery life are important to consider. Wherever you need it, a laptop is a tried-and-true form factor, versatile enough for any kind of study, whether that’s researching, taking notes, typing out essays, working on spreadsheets, putting together presentations, doing more creative work, or just chilling with a movie or game after the work is done. Better yet, these devices are self-contained with everything you’ll need, but are easy to accessorise as you need – just plug in an external monitor, a mouse, etc, and you can be even more productive.

HP 50R74PA If your course involves just the basics, like browsing the internet and running Office apps, then save your money for O-week and go with a simple – but still capable – laptop, like the HP 50R74PA. This device has everything you’ll need, crammed into a small form factor that weighs less than 1.5kg, and it’s equally light on your wallet. The battery life of up to 8 hours and 15 minutes will see you through a full day of study, no matter where you are. 14” HD display Intel Core Celeron N4500 processor 128GB SSD 4GB RAM HDMI/2x USB-A/USB-C/multi-card reader 8+ hours battery 1.47kg

HP 15s-fq5211TU Some laptops mean business, and the HP 15s-fq5211TU will help you knuckle down and get some work done. The 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1235U processor is running 10 cores to churn through pretty much any tasks you can throw at it, boasting clock speeds of up to 4.4GHz. The luxurious 15.6-inch Full HD display can help you kick back with a movie when you need a break. 15.6” Full HD display Intel Core i5-1235U processor 256GB SSD 8GB RAM HDMI/2x USB-A/USB-C/SD card reader 7.5 hours battery 1.69kg

Asus E510 Getting stuff done doesn’t mean you need to ditch style, and the Asus E510 gives you the best of both worlds. This slick package comes in Peacock Blue, Dreamy White and Rose Gold colour options, each with an eye-catching iridescent finish and an intriguing pattern on the back. Inside, a thin-bezel NanoEdge display lets the roomy 15.6 inch Full HD screen breathe, while the Enter key lights up in multiple colours. The 180-degree hinge lets the device open right out flat. Performance-wise, the E510 is running on a powerful Pentium processor and packs a generous 256GB of storage space. 15.6” Full HD display Intel Pentium Silver N6000 processor 256GB SSD 8GB RAM HDMI/USB-A/USB-C 8 hours battery 1.6kg

10 FEBRUARY 2024






Our Laptop picks

Lenovo IdeaPad Pro 5 Getting a bit higher-end now, the Lenovo IdeaPad Pro 5 is a beast that offers more grunt to handle demanding tasks. The AMD Ryzen 5 processor boasts clock speeds of up to 4.55GHz, backed up by a beefy 16GB of RAM, which should make short work of more intense tasks like data analysis and photo and video editing. The 16-inch display packs a high resolution of 2560 x 1600, which will make those photos, videos and art look stunning, plus there’s plenty of space to store them on the 1TB SSD, which can even be expanded with an extra SSD slot. Your data will stay secure behind an infrared camera that unlocks the device via facial recognition – and can be covered with a physical privacy shutter for peace of mind. 16” 2.5K display AMD Ryzen 5 7535HS processor 1TB SSD 16GB RAM HDMI/2x USB-A/2x USB-C/Multi-card reader 1.93kg

Asus ZenBook 14 The ultimate uni study buddy, the Asus ZenBook 14 is packed with smart features. The most unique is the large touchpad that doubles as a number pad – not only can you use it for quick data entry, but it accepts a range of finger gestures for shortcuts. You can also quickly and securely log in with a fingerprint scanner built into the power button. Creative projects will look fantastic on the OLED screen, with its 2.8K resolution and vivid colours that cover 100% of the sRGB colour gamut – and sound great through the Dolby Atmos speakers. It’s super portable too, weighing less than 1.4kg and packing enough battery power for two full work days. 14” 2.8K display AMD Ryzen 7 7730U processor 1TB SSD 16GB RAM HDMI/2x USB-C/USB-A/MicroSD card reader 22 hours battery 1.39kg

HP Pavilion Plus EVO The most eye-catching feature on the HP Pavilion Plus EVO is definitely the display, with its very high definition of 2880 x 1800 and OLED tech for richer color and deeper blacks. A silky smooth refresh rate of 120Hz will make videos run like butter, while the low blue light emission stays easy on the eyes after long study sessions. Elsewhere, the Thunderbolt port provides high data transfer rates of up to 40Gbps, and the Wi-Fi 6E compatibility offers high-speed connectivity. Tipping the scales at under 1.4kg, it’s easy to slip into a bag to take your study on the road, powered by an all-day battery. 14” 2.8K display Intel Core i7-1355U processor 512GB SSD 16GB RAM HDMI/2x USB-A/USB-C/Thunderbolt 4.0 13 hours battery 1.38kg

If you want to save some storage space on your device, you can sign up for cloud services like Google Drive or Microsoft’s Dropbox. These let you store documents, videos, photos and other files on external servers, freeing up your own drive while letting you access them via the internet as needed. Some devices will even offer free subscriptions to these services for a year or two, so keep that in mind.

Cloud cover

12 FEBRUARY 2024





Chromebooks: Study on a Budget There’s no denying that gearing up for uni is a major expense – but nobody knows how to stretch a budget better than uni students. Not every course will need a powerful, pricey laptop, so why not consider a Chromebook and save yourself some money to splash out on better meals than two-minute noodles everyday. Words Michael Irving

Why would you need a Chromebook? Unlike other laptops, which usually run Windows, Chromebooks are made by Google and so use that company’s own operating system, Chrome OS. The main advantage, especially to uni students, is the price tag – Google works closely with manufacturers to keep the cost as low as possible. That doesn’t mean Chromebooks

breaking a sweat. If your course mostly involves online research, emails, writing essays or documents, dealing with spreadsheets, taking notes, or other things that don’t need much computing power, choosing a Chromebook could be the best thing for your budget. Price isn’t the only pro – being smaller and lighter than most laptops, Chromebooks are even more portable. You can easily slip them into

a bag or backpack and barely notice them as you rush between lectures. Chromebooks cut out much of the software bloat that can bog down some laptops, leaving you with a lean, mean, study machine. They play nice with Google’s productivity apps, like Docs and Sheets, or you can download others like Microsoft Office if you prefer the classics. Google’s built-in virus protection keeps everything safe and secure without ongoing subscriptions.

aren’t capable, though. On the contrary, these reliable little workhorses can handle many of the usual uni tasks without


Our Chromebook p

If you already have a Google account, Chromebooks become even more useful. Once you log in, it will automatically carry across all your Chrome settings, Gmail, Google Drive files, etc from other devices. That makes it easy to sync between multiple work stations, like your Chromebook and library computers, for example. Get Going with Google

Asus CM3 The Asus CM3 is a cute little companion that’s kind of a 2-in-1 Chromebook. The main machine is a tablet, so you get the benefit of a touchscreen with an included stylus – but when you need to bang out an email or essay, you can attach the included keyboard. It’s a veritable featherweight too, at just half a kilo, and the 12-hour battery will keep you going for even the longest of study sessions. 10.5” WUXGA touchscreen MediaTek Kompanio 500(8183)

HP 15A-NA0 The HP 15A-NA0 is a professional-looking portable work station, with a big Full HD display and a speedy Pentium Silver N6000 processor to tackle tasks, even with a few running at once. The 128GB of internal storage can be bolstered with a cloud subscription, or through the microSD card reader.

The battery will give a good 10 hours of use, to power through those all-nighters. 15.6” Full HD display Intel Pentium Silver N6000 processor, up to 3.3GHz 128GB storage 4GB RAM USB-A/2x USB-C/microSD card reader 10 hours battery 1.69kg

processor, up to 2GHz 128GB storage 4GB RAM USB-C 12 hours battery 0.51kg

14 FEBRUARY 2024

Switch to Chromebook. Chromebooks run ChromeOS, the operating system made by Google.

12 hour battery life 1 Built-in virus protection

Google Docs, Sheets and Slides Works with Microsoft ® Office 2

1 Battery life may vary based on device and upon usage and other conditions. 2 Additional functionality available with Microsoft 365 subscription. Internet connection required to access the web version of Microsoft 365. Work on Microsoft Office files with Google Drive, Docs, Sheets or Slides. Microsoft, Excel and PowerPoint are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.




As handy as laptops are, some kinds of work just call out for a touchscreen. With a 2-in-1, you don’t have to choose! These devices give you the power and productivity of a laptop, as well as the convenience of a tablet when you need to scribble or scrawl on the screen. Words Michael Irving Best of Both Worlds


Our 2-in-1 picks

Why would you need a 2-in-1? A 2-in-1 is perfect for uni-goers dabbling in some creative subjects. The laptop format will help you knuckle down and get through regular coursework, but when you get to subjects like digital art or graphic design, you can fold the keyboard back and sketch right on the touchscreen. That almost 360-degree hinge also gives you more options for using your 2-in-1. You can, for example, stand it up in a tent shape to watch remote lectures, video call for group projects, or watch movies when you need a break (we won’t tell anyone).

Lenovo Flex 5 The Lenovo Flex 5 is a great starting point. This capable 2-in-1 can handle all your everyday uni tasks with its 12th generation Intel Core i5 processor, and Wi-Fi 6E compatibility for the fastest internet connectivity currently on the market. The 14-inch display is Full HD plus a few extra lines of pixels wider, giving more screen real estate for multitasking. 14” WUXGA touchscreen Intel Core i5 1235U, up to 4.4GHz 512GB SSD 8GB RAM HDMI/USB-A/Thunderbolt 4.0/4-in-1 card reader 1.5kg

HP Pavilion X360 The HP Pavilion X360 is not only a slick and professional-looking 2-in-1, but it’s

environmentally responsible too, with keycaps and other components made of recycled plastic. The battery boasts 8 hours of juice to keep you powered up all day, and if your study sesh is running long, the fast-charge option can recover 50% of the battery in just 30 minutes.

14” Full HD touchscreen Intel Core i5 1235U processor, up to 4.4GHz 512GB SSD 8GB RAM HDMI/2x USB-A/USB-C/microSD card reader 8 hours battery 1.51kg

Old-school note-taking

HP Envy X360 EVO The ultimate 2-in-1, the HP Envy X360 EVO is running on a more powerful 12th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, with clock speeds of up to 4.7GHz, and backed up by a generous 16GB of RAM, it can churn through demanding tasks with ease. Dual Thunderbolt 4.0 ports provide super-fast data transfer speeds. It’s perfectly portable too with a lightweight frame of just 1.32kg, and a beefy 17 hour battery life to get you through multiple study days.

A touchscreen isn’t just good for drawing – you can write on it too. Try handwriting notes during lectures, rather than typing them out. Not only is it quieter, but studies say that you’ll remember that info better!

13.3” WUXGA touchscreen Intel Core i7 1250U processor, up to 4.7GHz 512GB SSD 16GB RAM 2x USB-A/2x Thunderbolt 4.0/microSD card reader 17 hours battery 1.32kg

16 FEBRUARY 2024




Whether you’re studying at a desk at home or on the go, a good monitor is key for productivity. The beginning of the uni year is the perfect time to upgrade, but which type is right for you? Words Michael Irving Monitors


Why would you need a desktop monitor?

Why would you need a portable monitor?

If you’re doing much of your study at home, it’s important to set up a good work station – and the core of that is a decent monitor. Regardless of whether you’re working on a desktop PC or Mac, a laptop, MacBook, Chromebook, 2-in-1 or tablet, being able to plug in your device and work on a larger screen can really help you spread out your work flow, multi-task and see the bigger picture.

Some people never study in the same place twice. One day you might be in the library, the next a cafe, while alternating between home and classes. But why sacrifice the productivity that comes from a bigger screen or dual monitor set-up? With a portable monitor, you won’t have to – these handy little things maximise screen size in a small, lightweight package and can plug into a range of devices to expand your workspace, wherever it may be.

Our desktop monitor picks

Our portable monitor picks

Lenovo G27C-30 Curved Gaming Monitor Okay, so this one’s

Samsung M7 Smart Monitor When Samsung says

Lenovo ThinkVision M15 This affordable, freestanding

Asus ZenScreen MB16ACE Weighing just 710 grams and with a slim profile of just 8mm, this portable monitor provides stunning colour reproduction and contrast, with flicker-free and anti-glare technology. The foldable case can also prop the monitor up in either portrait or landscape mode, with the monitor automatically sensing and orienting the image depending on the content.

“smart,” they mean it – the M7 Smart Monitor is self contained with work and entertainment apps, so you don’t even need to plug anything in to be productive. If you do have a device though, you have a wide choice of plugs or wireless connectivity options to use. This big, detailed display will really make your creative projects pop.

portable monitor plugs into devices via USB-C

technically a gaming monitor, but as they say, “work hard, play hard.” Whether you’re deep in focus on an essay or losing yourself in a game or movie when you need a break, the clear, sharp picture, smooth refresh rate and curved screen will provide total immersion.

to transmit both data and power. The large, Full HD display provides plenty of room for multi-screen multi tasking, while its thin profile of just 6mm will let you get more done anywhere. Built in Low Blue Light technology takes it easy on the eyes for those long study sessions. 15.6” Full HD portable display 60Hz refresh rate 6ms response time 2x USB-C 860g 6mm

27” Full HD curved display 165Hz refresh rate 1ms response time 2x HDMI/DisplayPort

15.6” Full HD portable display 60Hz refresh rate 5ms response time USB-C 710g 8mm

32” 4K smart display 60Hz refresh rate 4ms response time 2x HDMI/3x USB-A/USB-C

18 FEBRUARY 2024




continued Laptops may seem like the default tech for uni, but they aren’t the only option. Tablets have their own advantages – they’re light, fast, easy to use and more portable for zipping around campus. Words Michael Irving Tablets

Since tablets are running off the same operating systems as the phones we use every day, they can feel more familiar. Most of the kinds of work you can do on a laptop can be done just as easily on a tablet, especially with app stores at your fingertips. Of course the main draw (pun intended) of a tablet is the touchscreen, which is a must

for students doing creative courses. Being able to sketch right on the screen is crucial for subjects like visual arts, animation, architecture or graphic design, plus you can jot down notes during lectures. To cap it all off, tablets are usually very light and thin, so they’re easy to slip into a bag and carry between classes.

Why would you need a tablet?


Our top Tablet pic

Samsung Galaxy Tab A9+

Lenovo Tab P11

Lenovo Tab P12

Google Pixel Tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

A great place to start is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A9+. This light and inexpensive tablet taps into Samsung’s extensive experience for seamless productivity, supporting up to three apps open on screen at once. The 16-hour battery life and lightweight body will let you study anywhere at anytime. Octacore processor 64GB/128GB SSD 4GB RAM USB-C/headphones/MicroSD 8MP/5MP cameras 16 hours battery 480g 11” WUXGA touchscreen Snapdragon SM6375

If you already have a laptop, the Lenovo Tab P11 is the perfect partner – just sync it to use it as a touchpad for drawing or writing with the included Lenovo Precision Pen 2. If not, you can grab the keyboard accessory to turn it into a light, simple laptop.

Need a bit more grunt? The Lenovo Tab P12 upgrades the P11 with a larger, higher definition display, more storage space and a faster processor and RAM. It’s study-ready with a Reading Mode that gives the screen a paper-like grayscale mode, for deeper focus. 12.7” 3K touchscreen MediaTek Dimensity 7050 processor 256GB SSD 8GB RAM USB-C/headphones/ MicroSD 13MP/8MP cameras 10 hours battery 615g

If you need a tablet that’s more of a home-body, the Google Pixel Tablet sits on a dock that’s a charger and speaker, where it can act like a smart home hub. Set a productive mood with music, use voice commands to research topics, or you can easily undock it and take it to uni. 11” 2K touchscreen Google Tensor G2 processor 128GB SSD 8GB RAM USB-C 8MP/8MP cameras 12 hours battery 493g

The ultimate productive powerhouse, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra sports a large, high definition screen with an included S Pen for creative works. The meaty processor and RAM combo will chew through the most intensive apps, even with a few open on screen at once. 14.6” WQXGA+ touchscreen Snapdragon SM8550 Octacore processor 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD 12GB RAM USB-C/MicroSD 13MP/8MP/12MP/12MP cameras 9.5 hours battery 732g

11.5” 2K touchscreen MediaTek Helio G99 Octacore processor 128GB SSD 6GB RAM USB-C/headphones/ MicroSD 13MP/8MP cameras 10 hours battery 520g

20 FEBRUARY 2024



Extra Essentials



Alongside your big tech buys, there are some further essential accessories you’ll want to add to your tool kit to ensure you hit the road to university life with your feet running.

Keyboard and Mouse These go together like Mulder and Scully. We’d recommend going wireless for a keyboard for ease of use and portability. Just make sure to keep it charged. A wireless mouse also offers the same portable benefits, but look for one that is comfortable to use over lengthy study sessions. Gamers might want to consider buying a keyboard and mouse that can double for those long sessions of Diablo.

Power Banks A power bank will be your best mate when vanishing battery life threatens your flow. These are measured in milliamps per hour (mAh), and a 20,000 mAh power bank will charge multiple

GaN Charger Want fast juice? GaN chargers are not just fast (expect a phone to charge in a third of the time it usually takes), they’re energy-efficient too, helping keep the power bills low.

devices simultaneously. As a rule of thumb, buy the biggest your budget will allow.

Headphones or earbuds Choosing headphones or earbuds comes down to personal preference, but there are some key features you want to look out for. Firstly, whether you’re studying on campus, traveling to it, or trying to work in a share house, active noise canceling (ANC) is an absolute must for

Device protection

Storage While cloud storage is a necessity, there’s nothing quite like having a

It stands to reason if you’re splashing the big bucks on new or updated tech, you’ll want to protect them. Look for quality screen, case, and sleeve protection, and keep your treasures safe.

blocking out unwanted noise. Long battery life, as is water

physical drive at your fingertips that you can quickly share with friends. A handy flash drive will provide a storage solution from 32GB up to 512GB. However, an SSD (solid state drive) ups the ante with storage space holding terabytes of data for projects or even some gaming during downtime.

protection from the elements, is a non-negotiable. Sand, finally, don’t compromise on sound quality. If you love your music, you’ll want the best sound quality representation your budget will stretch to.

Network Good connectivity is a must wherever you reside, so investing in a mesh network for ultimate coverage is a wise move. Plus, you can share expenses with your flatmates! Eero offers an affordable entry point here with Wi-Fi 6 single or triple set packing a heap of bandwidth for study, streaming, and gaming.

For the record Nothing displays your love of music more than records. Having a collection opens the door to conversation, social interaction, and sonic discovery. For a cost-effective solution that doesn’t sacrifice sound quality, look for a combo like the Marley One Love turntable paired with a Marley Get Together two portable Bluetooth speaker. Built with sustainable materials in mind, the portability of a Bluetooth speaker makes it an ideal choice for living areas where space is at a premium.

22 FEBRUARY 2024






Amongst lectures, Chess Club, campus parties, and and getting to library early to secure your favourite spot, your uni life still has room for your most cherished pursuit: content creation! And just because you’re living on noodles and navigating a sharehouse, it doesn’t mean the quality of your podcast or TikTok videos has to suffer. Words Zoë Radas

Lilith Lane

CHOOSE YOUR SPOT If you live on campus, you probably don’t have many options as to where you record – though you can check with your RA to see if there’s a janitor’s cupboard going begging (see our ’Next to Narnia’ tip below)! Different universities have all different kinds of living arrangements available to students of course, but you may need to go with the only room you have at your disposal if you’re in a one-bedroom (or even shared bedroom) situation. If that’s the case, never fear: you can still arrange your space into a very worthy little audio studio. If you’re in a sharehouse, think beyond your own bedroom. Is there a shed in the garden? A walk-in pantry? A large storage cupboard of some kind? Bear in mind, of course, you don’t want to be half-way through recording a passionate monologue when your housemate bursts in looking for the Cornflakes. W e’re looking at how you can transform your space on a budget – as well as the best bits of gear to spend your hard-earned clams on – to ensure your content continues to get better and better alongside your uni essay-writing skills. We’ve enlisted the help of Naarm/Melbourne singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, audio engineer and producer Lilith Lane to deliver the very best tips for your set-up.

PRIORITISING POSTURE Now’s the time to clear the clutter and prep your space. Good posture is important whether you’re recording for one minute or one hour, so ensure your sitting arrangement is comfortable! Much like the wardrobe situation, straining your body in weird ways will a) tire you out, and b) affect the cadence and tone of your voice. Try to position your set-up away from windows to minimise outdoor noise.

Next to Narnia? Many podcasters choose to record in their wardrobe! The reason becomes crispy-clear once you think about the basics of acoustics: a small space filled with soft fabrics will keep ambient sound and echoes at bay, resulting in top-notch recordings. The downside is that most wardrobes aren’t magically larger on the inside than the outside; creators can end up twisting themselves into godawful shapes trying to fit their equipment in between jumpers and shoes.

Photo credit: Sincerely Media - Unsplash

24 FEBRUARY 2024

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