Saturday, 12 December 2015

The Best Tech Podcasts of 2015

First of all it's hats off and thanks to all those creative people making the podcasts listed below.

However good or bad I claim the podcasts reviewed below to be their creators are doing something I couldn't do which is to make a podcast.

P.S. If you click on the podcast titles below you'll get the rss.xml file.

The 361 Degrees Podcast

Ben Smith, Ewan MacLeod, Rafe Blandford

An oddity of this podcast is that it insists on having "seasons" like "Breaking Bad".

That said the chemistry and production is just exactly right. If BBC producers listened to this podcast and learned here how to do tech podcasts properly they would make stuff like this and we would be spared the irretrievably dire BBC 'Click' and the better but a bit bland 'Tech Tent'. 

It's entertainingly waspish and never better than when the panellists are having a go at each other. There's a high wittertainment factor and constant leg-pulling of Rafe Blandford. 

Recent laugh-out-loud moments include when Rafe visited Africa between "seasons" and Ben Smith speculated that this was to see how much of it Rafe's family still owned.

Very high technical knowledge on show on the panel and it has Rafe, one of the gentlemen of the industry. Really, what's not to like?

An important note for folk either too busy or too bored already by this blog to read any further; this is the best tech podcast out there.

All About Windows Phone

Steve Litchfield and Rafe Blandford

This is the thinking man's or woman's guide to Windows mobile tech and is so civilized and sounds again like the kind of tech podcast the BBC should be making (but can't seem to manage). It also features the genial industry expert Rafe Blandford. My oh my, Microsoft owe a debt of gratitude and about a million pounds to the two presenters for their steadfast and unswerving promotion of and devotion to the Windows Mobile Phone world.

The Phones Show Chat

Steve Litchfield and Ted Salmon

This is the thinking man's or woman's guide to general mobile tech. Again, civilized, knowledgeable and charming. Easily makes my top three tech podcasts of the year. See below. Guest of the year for me (notwithstanding some excellent other guests) was the simply wonderful Holly Brockwell, whom I hope Steve could persuade to become a regular. 

CNET UK Podcast

Luke Westaway and others

Well, whenever it takes itself a bit more seriously it can sound just about all right as recent episodes have shown. Also, whoever gives a platform to Katie Collins to strut her tech stuff as this podcast does from time to time gets a vote and a listen from me. Otherwise it can suffer from the presenters feeling they have to turn every news item into a "larf". I wish they wouldn't do this. It gives it a lads-down-the-pub feel.

Tech Talk UK podcast

Kevin Wright, Nick Robinson

Whenever the adulation of Apple starts as it sometimes does this podcast can get just a little cringeworthy and predictable.


In a rather touching way and with charming honesty the main presenter revealed in the Autumn he had given up doing this podcast "finally" but then decided to continue. I'm rather glad he did because for all the eulogizing of Apple I realized I would miss this podcast if it wasn't there and I think I should not be so quick to find fault with people.

Mostly Android

Kevin Wright, Richard Yates

This is a new and goodish tech podcast and worth a listen except that on the downside you have to accept that Microsoft can do practically nothing right according to its two presenters, and their anti-Microsoft stance can be a little wearying at times.

Don't take my word for it.

Take Richard's.

"I hope Microsoft give up fairly soon." - in the podcast of 06 December 2015.

Tech Weekly podcast

Olly Mann

It has got a whole lot better of late having been placed in the safe hands of Olly Mann. It can still get a little earnest and worthy - a kind of watered down "In Our Time" but it's much better now than the disastrous outings of before after Alex Krotoski left and new presenters appeared using Uptalk

As you might expect from the Guardian, this podcast has a leaning towards stories about women making it big in the Tech world. Hooray! And lots of stories about university computing departments being full of males. Boo! 


Gareth Mitchell, Bill Thompson

I wrote a savage review about this and then deleted it. Suffice it to say this podcast is not for me. Here's a bit I didn't redact...
It takes a lot to put me off a tech podcast but this show manages it. I no longer listen. I can't bear it. Where to start? If you remember Blue Peter in the 60s and 70s, Petra the dog, the Blue Peter Garden and Ukrainian folk dancers endlessly appearing in the studio you will get a feel for this podcast is put together. The aforementioned represented what the Beeb decided children liked. This podcast is what the BBC think appeals to techie listeners and if it doesn't, well it jolly well should do.  On its website Click is described as "BBC’s flagship technology programme". 

Ora pro nobis. podcast

Its presenters seem to last about as long as Premier League Managers. Olivia Solon left the show to go the Mirror. A loud boo. The show reached a dizzying peak when suddenly it was left in the hands of its three female presenters in summer 2014. The chemistry of these three women giggling with some hefty technical insight to boot at stuff going on in the tech world was very, very good. Condé Nast should have taken note of how well the podcast worked with its gifted 3 female presenters in charge but didn't. I must just name check the others; Katie Collins - see above and Liat Clarke. (Congrats, Liat, on your baby!)

Tech Tent

Rory Cellan-Jones

Picking up and showing signs of life but as it's on the BBC World Service there's a distinct BBC World Service drag factor the podcast has to battle with constantly. 

You know the kind of thing.

"We're in Cambridge in England this week."

(And it has all prices translated into dollars as pounds are clearly just too hard for WORLD SERVICE listeners to understand.)

This BBC World Service feel gives it all the family-friendly, comfortable homeliness of an international airport and the presenters feel the need inevitably to go globe trotting to report back from somewhere. The producers might be better off sticking a panel round a microphone. The best tech podcasts do it.


Leigh Geary and others

Not bad if a little lacking in pace and downbeat. Definitely worth a listen, though, the presenters might cheer up a bit. Must listen to more episodes.

Tech's Message

Nate Lanxon, Ian Morris

Although the pun in the podcast title lands with a bit of a thud this podcast isn't half bad and Nate Lanxon seems more at home here than on Wired. Interesting and worth listening to. Good co-presenter too and importantly for a good podcast the presenters can and do disagree with each other sometimes.

The TechXpats Podcast 

Stephen Penny and others

I have heard only a couple of these so I'm not well-placed to comment. A very long tech podcast (One I heard clocked in at a staggering 1 hour 48 minutes) which tends, probably inevitably, to meander. Well-informed presenters though but, and I want to be as kind as I can here, one of them has such an accent that it is difficult sometimes to follow what he says. I intend to listen to a few more episodes.

[Cue small fanfare]
And the winners are...  

1) The 361 Degrees Podcast

2) All About Windows Phone

3) The Phones Show Chat


They are my top three tech podcasts of 2015


A Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. 

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