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Fitbit debuts the Alta

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Fitbit has introduced the Fitbit Alta – a slim fitness wristband that can be personalised, while advanced health and fitness features improve tracking workouts and deliver positive motivation to keep users moving. 

Fitbit Alta is designed with a satin finish, stainless steel body and features a line of stylish interchangeable bands in multiple popular colours and premium materials. In addition to automatically tracking all-day activity, exercise and sleep, it’s equipped with Reminders to Move, nudging users to stay active throughout the day for better health, while providing visual feedback on progress and keeping users connected with smart notifications on a slender display.

The Alta seems to make up for the lack of elegance in the FIbit Blaze smartwatch, which was announced in January to a chorus of disapproval.

Fitbit Alta will be available in South Africa from April 2016, joining the Blaze in the local market.

“Fitbit Alta will turn heads as our most fashionable device yet. The attractive, versatile design of this new fitness tracker fits seamlessly into daily life – from the gym to the office to a night out,” said James Park, CEO and Co-Founder of Fitbit. “Alta features the everyday tracking Fitbit is known for, along with innovative and purpose-built features that push users to do more. Paired with our large, engaged global social community, Alta is an exciting product for everyday users who are looking for a simple way to stay motivated and connected, that also fits with their personal style.”

Fitbit provided the following information:

Fitbit Alta delivers all the most important activity stats you expect from Fitbit right on your wrist, along with new features deliberately designed to make health and fitness tracking easier and more motivating:

  • Reminders to Move help you stay active and reduce stationary time. Research shows that your metabolism can slow down after prolonged sitting and sedentary time is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Moving for a few minutes every hour can help you keep your metabolism up and help reduce the negative impacts of sitting. Using short, positive prompts, Fitbit Alta will encourage you to meet a mini-step goal of 250 steps each hour (approximately 2-3 minutes of walking), and will congratulate you when you achieve the goal. These prompts can be personalised to your schedule and can easily be put on “Do Not Disturb” during long meetings or appointments, ensuring that you only get reminders when wanted.
  • SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition provides a smarter, easier way to track workouts and see how exercise fits into your daily activity, giving you credit toward your weekly goals. It automatically recognises and records continuous movement activities including walking, running, outdoor biking, elliptical, as well as general categories of aerobic workouts (such as dance classes and cardio-kickboxing) and sports (including basketball, soccer and tennis).
  • Weekly exercise goals in the Fitbit app encourage you to find and embrace a more consistent fitness routine that works for you. These goals are tracked and displayed in the app on a daily basis, with a weekly goal for the number of days you plan to exercise to help keep you accountable. Weekly goals can easily be personalised to your fitness routine, allowing you to choose your target number of exercise days and the SmartTrack activities you want to count toward your goals.
  • All-day activity and automatic sleep tracking give you the foundational real-time health and fitness stats you need to track your progress, stay motivated and keep informed to reach your goals. View your step count, distance, calories burned, active minutes and the time on the easy-to-read OLED tap display, and use the Fitbit app to learn how long and how well you’re sleeping, plus set silent, vibrating alarms.

Versatile to Fit Your Style

Fitbit Alta lets you easily customise the slim, distinctive tracker to fit your personal style and create the perfect accessory for every occasion – day or night:

  • Sleek, modular design features a satin finish, stainless steel tracker with a custom, quick-release feature that allows you to wear Fitbit Alta as your favourite accessory at work and then swap your band instantly for a workout-friendly wristband. Available at launch in silver stainless steel, the tracker will also soon be available in a stunning, shiny gold stainless steel.
  • Stylish interchangeable accessory bands designed with attractive, premium materials including classic fitness wristbands, soft, premium hide leather bracelets with a beautiful natural grain, and a luxurious, hand-polished silver bangle – engineered to ensure all-day comfort, giving you the freedom to find the look that feels like you.
  • Easy-to-read, vibrant OLED tap display shows your activity stats and the time, which can be personalised using a variety of portrait or landscape clock face options. The tap display gives you quick and easy access to your all day stats and notifications.

“Whether I’m working or playing, my lifestyle keeps me in constant motion. Fitbit Alta helps me fit fitness into my busy life and looks great no matter what I’m doing, with swappable bands that let me match my style,” said Julianne Hough, dancer, singer, actress and Fitbit Ambassador. “Staying active is at the core of my lifestyle and having a fitness tracker helps keep me motivated and mindful of my health.”

Stay Connected to Maximise Your Day 

Fitbit Alta was designed to allow you to live your daily life without distraction, giving you the tools and motivation you need to take action and make the most of every day.

  • Stay connected with the smart notifications you need. Using Bluetooth® Smart connectivity, Fitbit Alta delivers call, text and calendar notifications right on your wrist when your phone is nearby through on-screen messages and a gentle vibrating alert.
  • Long battery life of up to 5 days[4] on a single charge lets you live your life, track your activity all day and your sleep all night, with the assurance you won’t lose a step.
  • Compatible with more than 200 Android, iOS and Windows mobile devices and computers so you can access your stats and motivational interactive tools to set goals, see your progress, and cheer or challenge friends, family and co-workers.

Pricing & Availability

Fitbit Alta will be available in South Africa from April 2016. At launch, Alta will be available in a black, blue, teal or plum high-performance fitness band with a satin finish, silver stainless steel tracker; shiny gold stainless steel tracker option coming soon. The following accessories will also be available at launch:

  • Classic fitness bands available in black, blue, teal and plum
  • Luxe soft, premium hide leather bands available in graphite and blush pink; camel coming soon
  • Luxe hand-polished stainless steel silver bangle coming this summer and shiny gold bangle coming later this year

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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Ford begins production of high-tech Ranger in SA

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Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria has officially commenced production of the new Ford Ranger, bringing a raft of product upgrades and refinements to one of South Africa’s best-selling vehicles and export models.

“Following the investment of over R3-billion in our local operations and extensive upgrades to our plants over the past 18 months, we are delighted to see the first of the new Ford Ranger models coming off our production line,” says Neale Hill, managing director for Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

“This is an extremely important and exciting year for the Ford Ranger, which will also see the launch of the first Ranger Raptor that is undoubtedly one of this year’s most highly anticipated new models,” says Hill.

“The 2019 Ford Ranger will deliver more power, greater fuel efficiency, enhanced refinement, and additional advanced technologies when it goes on sale in the coming months, and we are confident it will once again set the benchmark in the extremely competitive pickup segment.”

Selected range-topping models, including the Ranger Raptor, will be powered by the all-new 2.0 Bi-Turbo diesel engine assembled at Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth. This unit produces 157kW and 500Nm of torque – up by 10kW and 30Nm compared with the current 3.2 TDCi – and delivers up to a nine percent improvement in fuel efficiency when combined with the advanced new 10-speed automatic transmission.

Certain derivatives will feature a 2.0 Single Turbo version of this engine, producing 132kW and 420Nm of torque, mated to the same 10-speed transmission. Various other models in the line-up will retain the proven 2.2 and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engines and existing gearbox options – thus giving customers the widest choice yet in this category. As usual, the line-up includes Single Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab body styles to suit customer requirements.

Along with freshened design cues, range-topping Ranger models will raise the bar once again with industry-defining safety features on the Wildtrak such as Pre-Collision Assist and Active Park Assist. SYNC 3® with Navigation remains one of the Ranger’s technology highlights as a fully featured infotainment system with intuitive voice control.

Following the launch of the ‘standard’ new Ford Ranger models, the attention will be shifted to the locally assembled Ranger Raptor that is set to create an entirely new segment in the pickup market when it makes its eagerly anticipated debut.

“There is a lot of excitement and hype around the Ranger Raptor, and this exhilarating new model will occupy a white space in the pickup market when it goes on sale in the second quarter of this year, creating a much-needed performance model in this crucial segment,” Hill states.

“We can’t wait to get the Ranger Raptor to market, enabling our customers to experience unrivalled off-road performance, cutting-edge technologies and the most muscular design yet seen in this class.”

Some of the defining features of the Ranger Raptor include Position Sensitive Damping (PSD) shock absorbers exclusively manufactured by FOX, and an advanced Terrain Management System (TMS) that includes an exciting Baja mode for fast off-road driving. It also boasts a toughened reinforced chassis, powerful all-disc braking system and specially developed BF Goodrich tyres.

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