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Gaming monsters coming for you

As eSports takes off professionally and gaming becomes more serious for young and old, new machines from Acer take performance to new levels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Around May every year, Taipei-headquartered computer-maker Acer invades New York City with its latest machines. Every year, too, it raises the bar on its gaming machines, as it pursues market share in this high-margin sector.

At its next@acer global press conference in New York last week, it launched a series of specialist machines that can only be described as gaming monsters. Appropriately, they all came with branding of the Predator range, underlining their purpose as weapons of gaming war.

The new Predator Orion 5000 desktops offer both high performance and an adaptable chassis. The message? You can adapt and expand this machine as your need – and competitiveness – grows. The slogan Acer used for it at the launch left the audience in no doubt about the intention of the machine, both in the marketing war and in users’ own wars: “Win the battle”.

The Predator Orion range can be customised based on budget, which is just as well, since the 5000 starts at US$1500. That’s quite accessible for serious gamers in the USA, but in South Africa will translate into well over R20 000 when it arrives in the second half of the year. The top of the range version will cost around R30-40 000, and is expected to have niche appeal among serious gamers. 

It comes with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8700K processor, along with the Intel Z370 chipset, and 2-way NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphic cards in SLI. This allows both exceptionally high-resolution graphics and a decent virtual reality experience. 

According to Steve Long, vice president of client computing group sales and marketing at Intel, “The 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8700K is the best desktop gaming Intel has ever built and, when combined with the acceleration and responsiveness offered by Intel Optane memory, the result is incredible performance needed for the most demanding gaming experiences.”

He said that Intel collaborated closely with Acer to bring this performance to life on the Predator Orion 5000 and 3000 gaming desktops.

The monsters are designed for showing off too, thanks to transparent side panels on the chassis. The panels also open easily to allow users to swop out components and cables for quick upgrades. 

One of the biggest challenges of high-end rigs, heat dissipation, is addressed with a technology called IceTunnel 2.0, an airflow management design that segments the system into separate thermal zones, each expelling heat through its own  airflow tunnel. Another challenge, of dust being sucked in as the machine pulls in air, is warded off with a front mesh panel containing dust filters. 

The hard-core gamer can also opt for Killer LAN high-speed Ethernet, cradles for audio headsets, and even a carry-handle for portability.

“Getting the specs right is just half the fight,” said Jeff Lee, general manager for stationary computing at Acer. “Predator Orion desktops provide a well-rounded choice for gamers with a striking chassis, built-in airflow management, expandability, and award-winning software that brings everything together.”

To this end, a slightly scaled-down series, the Predator Orion 3000, offers wider choice for the more budget conscious, starting at around US$1000. For the beginner, however, it will be hard to tell the difference in performance between the two. The 3000 also offers options that include 8th Gen Intel Core i7processors and  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPUs. However, it is described as VR- ready rather than supporting VR out of the box.

Next: The Predator laptops (click on 2 below to read on)

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The future of the book… and of reading

Many fear that the days of the printed book are numbered. In truth, it is not so much the book that is evolving, but the very act of reading, argues ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Let’s talk about a revolutionary technology. One that has already changed the course of civilisation. It is also a dangerous technology, one that is spreading previously hidden knowledge among people who may misuse and abuse the technology in ways we cannot imagine.

Every one reading this is a link in a chain of this dangerous and subversive technology.

I’m talking, of course, about the printed book.

To understand how the book has changed society, though, we must also understand how the book has changed reading. That, in turn, will help us understand the future of the book.

Because the future of the book is in fact the future of reading.

Let’s go back to a time some may remember as their carefree youth. The year 400. 

(Go back in history with the links below.)

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Wearables enter enterprise

Regardless of whether wearables lack the mobility or security capabilities to fully support the ways in which we now work – organisations remain keen and willing to unlock the potential such devices have, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.

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The idea of integrating wearable technology into enterprise IT infrastructure is one which, while being mooted for several years now, has yet to take-off in earnest. The reasons behind previous false dawns vary. However, what is evident is that – regardless of whether wearables to date have lacked the mobility or security capabilities to fully support the ways in which we now work – organisations remain keen and willing to unlock the potential such devices have. According to ABI Research, global wearable device shipments will reach 154 million by 2021 – a significant jump from approximately 34 million in 2016.

This projected increase demonstrates a confidence amongst CIOs which perhaps betrays the lack of success in the market to date, but at the same time reflects a ripening of conditions which could make 2018 the year in which wearables finally take off in the enterprise. A maturing IoT market, advances in the development of Augmented Reality (AR), and the impending arrival of 5G – which is estimated to have a subscription base of half a billion by 2022 – are contributing factors which will drive the capabilities of wearable devices.

Perhaps the most significant catalyst behind wearables is the rise of Edge Computing. As the IoT market continues to thrive, so too must IT managers be able to securely and efficiently address the vast amounts of data generated by it. Edge Computing helps organisations to resolve this challenge, while at the same time enabling new methods of gathering, analysing and redistributing data and derived intelligence. Processing data at the edge reduces strain on the cloud so users can be more selective of the data they send to the network core. Such an approach also makes it easier for cyber-attacks to be identified at an early stage and restricted to a device at the edge. Data can then be scanned and encrypted before it is sent to the core.

As more and more wearable devices and applications are developed with business efficiency and enablement in mind, Edge Computing’s role will become increasingly valuable – helping organisations to achieve $2 trillion in extra benefits over the next five years, according to Equinix and IDC research.

Photo by Kathryn Bacher.

Where will wearables have an impact?

At the same time as these technological developments are aiding the rise of wearables, so too are CIOs across various sectors recognising how they can best use these devices to enhance mobile productivity within their organisation – another factor which is helping to solidify the market. In particular it is industries with a heavy reliance on frontline and field workers – such as logistics, manufacturing, warehousing and healthcare – which are adopting solutions like AR smart glasses. The use case for each is specific to the sector, or even the organisation itself, but this flexibility is often what makes such devices so appealing. While wearables for the more traditional office worker may offer a different but no more efficient way for workers to conduct every day tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls, for frontline and field workers they are being tailored to meet their unique demands and enhance their ability to perform specific tasks.

Take for example boiler engineers conducting an annual service, who could potentially use AR smart glasses to overlay the schematics of the boiler to enable a hands-free view of service procedures – meaning that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert. Elsewhere, in the healthcare sector smart eyewear may support clinicians with hands-free identification of patient records, medical procedures and information on medicines and results.

Such examples demonstrate the immediate and diverse potential of wearables across different verticals. With enterprise IT infrastructure now in the position to embrace such technologies, it is this ability to deliver bespoke functionality to mobile workers which will be the catalyst for continued uptake throughout 2018 and beyond.

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