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Acer expands fanless Switch 2-in-1 range

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At a global launch in New York this week, Acer announced new 2-in-1 notebooks that are compatible with Acer Active Pen and Windows Ink.

Acer has expanded its popular Switch 2-in-1 notebook line with two new models, the Switch 5 and Switch 3, featuring Windows 10, with versatile, highly-mobile designs for work, school and fun.

Launched at the Next@Acer global press conference in New York this week, both new Acer Switch 2-in-1 notebooks can be used with an Acer Active Pen on the touch screen to sketch, take notes or annotate documents or photos with Windows Ink.

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The Acer Switch 5 builds on the industry-leading innovations of its predecessor, the Acer Switch Alpha 12, providing a fanless, quiet experience through Acer LiquidLoop cooling, and performance enhanced with up to 7th Generation Intel Core i7 processors. Acer’s patented auto-retracting kickstand allows for easy one-handed adjustments to the viewing angle. It also supports Windows Hello with a fingerprint reader for fast and secure access.

The Acer Switch 3 features a 2-in-1 design that is well-balanced with a large 12.2-inch display, Intel processors and a quiet, fanless design.

“Customers have embraced the flexibility of 2-in-1 designs to help them get more done throughout the day in both notebook or tablet modes,” said James Lin, General Manger, Commercial & Detachable Notebooks, IT Products Business, Acer Inc. “Acer’s Switch line is now able to reach more customers, whether they are looking for something that provides the latest in performance and features, or if they need a more accessible option for studies, work and play.”

Fanless Switch 5 is Performance-Minded, Quiet, and Reliable

The Switch 5 is Acer’s first 2-in-1 to be offered with 7th Generation Intel Core i7 and i5 processors to deliver the top-rated performance needed for serious tasks, presentations and entertainment on the go. The built-in fingerprint reader on the power button authenticates users and provides quick access to their projects. Users can be assured their information will remain secure and private when using the fingerprint reader for logging on thanks to Windows Hello.

With Acer’s patented auto-retracting kickstand, the Switch 5’s viewing angle can be easily adjusted one-handedly, providing added convenience in any scenario. Also, the Switch 5 uses Acer’s proprietary fanless LiquidLoop cooling system to keep it running efficiently without fan noise, making it ideal for shared spaces such as meetings and open offices. Plus, the LiquidLoop Cooling System doesn’t require venting that can compromise reliability due to airflow issues and dust accumulation. The fanless design supports powerful 7th Generation Intel Core processors to deliver excellent performance and day-to-night 10.5-hour battery life.

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The Switch 5 has a vibrant 12-inch wide-view FHD+ touch display with IPS technology, an impressive 2160 x 1440 resolution and support from Intel HD Graphics 620. Customers will enjoy vivid colour and crisp detail on the display for video and fun that can be shared on wide 178-degree viewing angles. Acer TrueHarmony and Smart Amplifier provide enhanced audio performance for clarity and robust volume to complement the exceptional display.

The Switch 5 has an anodized aluminum chassis that is elegant and modern. The brushed hairline texture complements the design while enhancing the comfort of the device during transport.

The Switch 3 brings excellent usability and performance to students, families and anyone looking for an excellent all-around value. The device runs on Intel Pentium  and Celeron processors that deliver solid every day performance and up to 8 hours of battery life. The 12.2-inch display is designed to deliver incredible precision and a responsive 10-point touch experience. It has a wide 178-degree viewing angle and 1920×1200 FHD resolution with IPS technology. The front-facing speakers complement the stunning visuals with enhanced volume and quality for rich, expressive tones. The sleek metallic top cover has a distinctive yet subtle design with complementary etched edging.

The Acer Switch 3 has won a Red Dot Award: Product Design 2017, one of the most prestigious product design awards.

Versatile 2-in-1 Design is Sturdy, Comes with Attachable Keyboard

Both the Acer Switch 5 and Acer Switch 3 come with an attachable keyboard that snaps on with ultra-secure magnets and can be adjusted to an ergonomic angle for customer preference. The Switch 5’s keyboard is backlit for added convenience while working in darker environments. Measuring just 5.85 mm thin, the keyboard delivers 1.4 mm of travel to ensure comfort and productivity while typing. Plus, the keyboard protects the screen and ensures easy transport. The large trackpad supports convenient and intuitive navigation with Precision Touchpads supporting Windows 10 gestures to provide a smooth and responsive experience.

The versatile and stable U-shaped kickstand holds up the display and can be adjusted fluidly to any angle up to 165 degrees. The anti-slip design holds the display upright when customers touch or write on the display. Plus, the Switch 5 can be adjusted effortlessly with a single hand thanks to the auto-retracting kickstand. Both systems work with the Acer Active Pen, which enables accurate and detailed direct-to-screen digital ink input for a natural pen-on-paper experience that’s perfect for notetaking, sketching and capturing ideas and taking advantage of Windows Ink. The Acer Active Pen provides palm rejection and 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity.

Both the Switch 5 and Switch 3 have front and rear cameras for videoconferencing and capturing memories. Both systems’ front webcams provide 720p Full HD video recording.

Optional USB Type-C Dock Facilitates Business Use

For commercial customers, the Acer Switch 5 can be purchased with the Acer USB Type-C Dock that transforms the device into a powerful workstation. This compact dock enables high-speed video, audio and data transfer and keeps the work area clutter-free with immediate connectivity to an additional display and other devices. It includes the ports and connections commercial customers need: DisplayPort, HDMI, two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and three USB Type-A ports, as well as audio input for microphone and audio output for speakers.

Slim, Lightweight Designs; Ready to Connect

The Switch 5 and Switch 3 are available with ample storage and memory options. The Switch 5 supports a 256GB or 512GB PCIe SSD and up to 8GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM. The Switch 3 supports 32GB, 64GB or 128GB eMMC memory and up to 4GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM. Both models can access additional files through the MicroSDXC slot. The devices both feature a thin and reversible USB 3.1 Type-C port for fast data transfers of up to 5Gbps from connected peripherals, to share video and also to power other devices. Both lines also have an additional USB 3.1 Type-A port and Bluetooth 4.0.

The Acer Switch 5 is thin and light, measuring just 292 (W) x 201.8 (D) x 12 (H) mm (11.5 x 7.94 x 0.47 inches) and weighing 1.27 kg (2.8 pounds) when the tablet and keyboard are connected. The Switch 5 tablet alone measures just 9.6 mm (0.38 inches) in height, and weighs 0.92 kg (2.03 pounds). The Switch 3 measures just 295 (W) x 201 (D) x 16.3 (H) mm (11.61 x 7.91 x 0.64 inches) and weighs 0.9 kg (1.98 pounds) when the tablet and keyboard are connected. The Switch 3 tablet alone measures just 9.95 mm (0.39 inches) in height, and weighs 0.9 kg (1.98 pounds).

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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