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LG hits the G-round running

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Korean electronics manufacturer LG has spent the last two years proving its high-tech credentials as a smartphone technology leader. With the release of the G4, it is ready for more, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

When the LG G4 smartphone arrives in South African stores in mid-June, it won’t dazzle the market with the latest in technology breakthroughs. That would be so, like, yesterday, for a brand that has already shown its technology smarts, with advances ranging from 3D visuals several years ago to curved  screens over the past year.

This time round, LG wants to impress the market with something more basic: market share.

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While specific sales figures for South Africa have not been released, LG says the G3 sold double the number of the G2, and the target for the G4 is to double up again on the G2. To put that in context, the most recent market research from World Wide Worx and GeoPoll shows that LG has about 2,7 per cent market share in South Africa, almost exactly on a par with Sony. While other LG models contribute to that share, doubling G3 sales with the G4 will contribute significantly.

LG has something of a hill to climb, though, as the intended next purchase of South African consumers, revealed in the same study, shows it dropping a percentage point and Sony rising substantially.

For this reason, the timing of a phone like the G4 could not be better. The latest G-round comes across as a culmination of several years of development, fine-tuning and learning from the customer.

On the most basic level, LG has repaired a flaw in its previous devices, namely an overtight SIM slot, which tended to shred SIM cards when they were swopped to other devices. It still has an old-style slide-in wire-frame SIM slot, but the fit is more comfortable, and not designed to prevent one from ever removing it. On such basic foundations are positive experiences built.

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It’s the first phone I’ve used where the switching process from one device has worked seamlessly, as advertised. Using NFC (Near Field Communications) on the phone, one holds it to another phone also running NFC to capture all settings, files and profile of installed apps.  Aside from a few prompts and logging into an e-mail account on the new device, it all happens automatically.

So far so similar to Samsung and HTC. The difference is that, once logged into Gmail or the Play Store, it begins automatically downloading all apps installed on the previous phone. With other devices, most have to be selected individually, and accepted one by one. The saving in time and energy can be enormous.

The user interface is also simpler and more satisfying than on most Android phones, thanks to an avoidance of “bloatware”, as proprietary software add-ons are known.

On the hardware side, the phone naturally also outdoes its predecessors but, more important, much of the competition.

Most noticeably, the battery is removable, and it has giant-sized 3000mAh capacity – allowing for full-day usage despite the large screen – in what has the appearance of a standard-sized battery.

The camera is especially impressive, and a quick test against the iPhone 6 Plus and MTN One M9 give it a clear edge. At F1.8, it has the widest aperture lens on a major brand phone in this market – edging out the F1.9 aperture of the Samsung Galaxy S6 – which means it lets in more light and allows for more precise focus. Unlike many comparisons between phone camera lenses, the difference here is obvious even to the untrained eye.

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The display dazzlingly sharp, in an environment where there is no longer such a thing as a screen that is NOT sharp. This is largely thanks to Quad HD resolution (four times high-definition, or 2,560 x 1,440 pixels) of its 5.5-inch display, and something called IPS Quantum Display, which allows for better control of the liquid crystals that make up the screen. More light is emitted, contrasts are sharper, and blacks are deeper, allowing for a richer, more defined colour.

Deon Prinsloo, General Manager LG Mobile, summed up the marketing position of the G4 like this: “We wanted to give consumers a truly human-centric device that combined the analog sensibilities with technologies that delivered real world performance. From the design to the camera to the display to the user interface, this is the most ambitious phone we’ve ever created.”

Hand-in-hand with LG’s highest ambitions yet for market presence, it takes the concept of “flagship phone” into a new category we can call the “standard-bearer phone”.

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The Specifications of the G4, as supplied by LG, are:

• Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 808 Processor

• Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)

• Memory: 32GB eMMC ROM, 3GB LPDDR3 RAM / microSD slot

• Camera: Rear 16MP with F1.8 Aperture / OIS 2.0 / Front 8MP with F2.0 Aperture

• Battery: 3,000mAh (removable)

• Operating System: Android 5.1 Lollipop

• Size: 148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3 – 9.8 mm

• Weight: 155g

• Network: 4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21 Mbps (3G)

• Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac / Bluetooth 4.1LE / NFC / USB 2.0

• Colours: (Ceramic) Metallic Gray / Ceramic White / Shiny Gold /

(Genuine Leather) Black / Brown / Red / Sky Blue / Beige / Yellow

• Other: Manual Mode / Gesture Interval Shot / Quick Shot

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee, and subscribe to his YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/GGadgets

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Acer gaming beast escapes

Acer this week unveiled two notebooks that take portable gaming to new extremes.

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Acer  unveiled two new Predator Helios gaming notebooks this week at the next@acer global press conference in New York. They include the powerful Predator Helios 500, featuring up to 8th Gen Intel Core i9+ processors, and the Predator Helios 300 Special Edition that includes upgraded specs from its predecessor and a distinctive white chassis. Both feature VR-Ready performance, advanced thermal technologies, and blazing-fast connectivity.

“We’ve expanded our Predator Helios gaming notebook line in response to popular demand from gamers seeking extreme performance on the go,” said Jerry Kao, President of IT Products Business, Acer. “The Predator Helios 500 and Helios 300 gaming notebooks feature Acer’s proprietary thermal technologies and powerful components that, coupled with our award-winning software, deliver unparalleled gaming experiences.”

“The 8th Gen Intel Core i9+ processor for gaming and creation laptops is the highest performance Intel has ever delivered for this class of devices; purpose built for enthusiasts who demand premium gaming experiences whether at home or on the go,” said Steve Long, Vice President and General Manager, Client Computing Group Sales and Marketing, Intel. “Intel and Acer’s long relationship has produced amazing products over the years, and the new Acer Predator Helios gaming notebooks are powerful examples of what’s possible with this unprecedented level of performance.”

Predator Helios 500 is a gaming beast featuring overclocking, 4K 144 Hz panels

Designed for extreme gamers, the Predator Helios 500 is a gaming beast. It features up to overclockable 8th Gen Intel Core i9+ processors and overclockable GeForce GTX 1070 graphics. Intel Optane memory increases responsiveness and load times, while ultra-fast NVMePCIe SSDs, Killer DoubleShot Pro networking, and up to 64GB of memory keep the action going, making the Helios 500 the ideal gaming notebook for graphic-intensive AAA titles and live streaming.

Top-notch visuals are delivered on bright, vibrant 4K UHD or FHD IPS 17.3-inch displays with 144Hz refresh rates for blur- and tear-free gameplay. NVIDIA G-SYNC technology is supported on both the built-in display and external monitors, allowing for buttery-smooth imagery without tearing or stuttering. For those looking for maximum gaming immersion, dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, and display and HDMI 2.0 ports support up to three external monitors. Two speakers, a subwoofer, and Acer TrueHarmony and Waves MAXXAudio technology deliver incredible sound and hyper-realistic 3D audio using Waves Nx.

The Helios 500 stays cool with two of Acer’s proprietary AeroBlade 3D metal fans, and five heat pipes that distribute cool air to the machine’s key components while simultaneously releasing hot air. Fan speed can be controlled and customized through the PredatorSense app.

A backlit RGB keyboard offers four lighting zones with support for up to 16.8 million colors. Anti-ghosting technology provides the ultimate control for executing complex commands and combos, which can be set up via five dedicated programmable keys.

Acer’s PredatorSense app can be used to control and monitor the notebook’s vitals from one central interface, including overclocking, lighting, hotkeys, temperature, and fan control.

Predator Helios 300 Special Edition brings a sophisticated design twist to gaming notebooks

Acer’s budget-friendly Helios 300 gaming line sees the addition of a Special Edition model featuring an all-white aluminum chassis accented with gold trim, an unusually chic design for gaming notebooks.

The Helios 300 Special Edition (PH315-51) allows for ultra-smooth gameplay via its 15.6-inch FHD IPS display with an upgraded 144Hz refresh rate. The rapid refresh rate shortens frame rendering time and lowers input lag to give gamers an excellent in-game experience. It’s powered by up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7+ processor, overclockable GeForce GTX 1060 graphics, up to a 512 GB PCIe Gen 3 NVMe solid state drive, and up to a 2 TB hard disk drive.

The Helios 300 Special Edition also comes equipped with up to 16 GB of DDR4 memory, and is upgradable to 32GB. Intel Optane memory speeds up load times of games and applications, access to information and improves overall system responsiveness. In addition, Gigabit Ethernet provides fast wired connections, while Gigabit Wi-Fi is provided by the latest Intel Wireless-AC 9560 that delivers up to 1.73Gbps throughput when using 160 MHz channels (2×2 802.11ac, dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz).

The Helios 300 Special Edition also includes two of Acer’s ultrathin (0.1 mm) all-metal AeroBlade 3D fans designed with advanced aerodynamics and superior airflow to keep the system cool. They can be controlled with Acer’s PredatorSense app, which offers three usage modes:

1. Coolboost mode:

For heavy loading games, rendering, streaming, and extended video consumption

2. Normal mode:

For productivity tools like Microsoft Office

3. Silent mode:

For web browsing and online chatting

Price and Availability

Predator Helios 500 will be available in South Africa in June starting at R34 999.00

Helios 300 Special Edition will be available in South Africa in August 2018. Exact Price will be communicated closer to the time.

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LG G7 arrives in SA

LG this week introduced South Africa to its latest premium smartphone, the LG G7 ThinQ, focused on bringing useful and convenient AI features to the smartphone experience.

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Powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform, the LG G7 ThinQ offers 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage to run demanding tasks and apps with. It is equipped with a 6.1-inch Super Bright Display, but the LG G7 ThinQ remains compact enough to use with one hand.

Sporting a new design aesthetic for the G series, the polished metal rim gives the LG G7 ThinQ a sleeker, more refined look, complemented by Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and the back for enhanced durability. Rated IP68 for dust and water resistance, the LG G7 ThinQ is also awarded MIL-STD 810 c certification, having been subjected to a range of extreme temperature and environment tests designed by the United States military.

The LG G7 ThinQ has an 8MP camera up front, rendering clear and natural selfies, with two 16MP cameras at the back that deliver higher resolution photos with more detail, as well as a Super Wide Angle configuration.

As with other leading brands, LG has evolved its signature camera by including AI functionality. The AI CAM offers 19 shooting modes for intelligence-optimised shots. Users can also improve their photos by choosing from an additional three effect options should the AI CAM recommendation not suit their taste.

The new Super Bright Camera captures images that are up to four times brighter than typical photos shot in dim light. Through the combination of pixel binning and software processing, the AI algorithm adjusts the camera settings automatically when shooting in low light.

Live Photo Mode records one second before and after the shutter is pressed for snippets of unexpected moments or expressions that would normally be missed. Stickers uses face recognition to generate fun 2D and 3D overlays, such as sunglasses and headbands, that can be viewed directly on the display.

New to the G series is Portrait Mode, which generates professional-looking shots with out-of-focus backgrounds. This effect can be generated using both front and rear standard lenses as well as the rear Super Wide Angle lens.

LG G7 ThinQ offers further AI functionality with the inclusion of Google Lens features. Google Lens is a new way to search using the AI and computer vision. Google Assistant and Google Photos allow users to access more information on objects such as landmarks, plants, animals, and books. It can identify text or visit websites, add business cards to contacts, events to the calendar or look up an item on a restaurant menu.

A button just below the volume keys launches the AI functionality. A single tap of this button launches the Google Assistant, while two quick taps launches Google Lens. Users can also hold down the button to start talking to the Google Assistant without the repetition of the OK Google command.

With Super Far Field Voice Recognition (SFFVR) and the highly-sensitive G7ThinQ microphone, the Google Assistant can recognise voice commands from up to five meters away. SFFVR is able to separate commands from background noise, making the LG G7 ThinQ an alternative to a home AI speaker, even when the TV is on. Commands for the Google Assistant have been increased in the LG G7 ThinQ so users can get more done with their voice alone.

“The LG G7 ThinQ is strongly focused on the fundamentals and its launch marks a new chapter for our company,” said Deon Prinsloo, General Manager for Mobile Communication, LG Electronics S.A Pty Ltd. “Through the combination of personalised and useful AI functionalities with meaningful smartphone features, this is LG’s most convenient and in the moment smartphone yet.”

Key Specifications

  • Mobile Platform: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform
  • Display: 6.1-inch QHD+ 19.5:9 FullVision Super Bright Display (3120 x 1440 / 564ppi)
  • Memory:
    • LG G7 ThinQ: 4GB LPDDR4x RAM / 64GB UFS 2.1 ROM / MicroSD (up to 2TB)
  • Camera:
    • Rear Dual: 16MP Super Wide Angle (F1.9 / 107°) / 16MP Standard Angle (F1.6 / 71°)
    • Front: 8MP Wide Angle (F1.9 / 80°)
  • Battery: 3000mAh
  • OS: Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Size: 153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9mm
  • Weight: 162g
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac / Bluetooth 5.0 BLE / NFC / USB Type-C 2.0 (3.1 compatible)
  • Colours: New Aurora Black
  • Others: Super Bright Display / New Second Screen / AI CAM / Super Bright Camera / Super Far Field Voice Recognition / Boombox Speaker / Google Lens / AI Haptic / Hi-Fi Quad DAC / DTS:X 3D Surround Sound / IP68 Water and Dust Resistance / HDR10 / Google Assistant Key / Face Recognition / Fingerprint Sensor / Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 Technology / Wireless Charging / MIL-STD 810G Compliant / FM Radio
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