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IFA 2015: Lenovo ‘redefines’ tablet – again

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Lenovo has announced a range of the new products, including the PHAB Plus, which it says will redefine tablets at this year’s IFA conference in Berlin.

The Lenovo PHAB Plus is a beautifully designed premium phablet, optimized for single-hand use. Targeted at today’s millennials, the Lenovo PHAB Plus promises to eliminate the dilemma of choosing between costly smartphones with big screens and underwhelming small tablets by offering a sweet-spot 6.8-inch device with best-in-class entertainment, speedy Internet, and all-day battery life.

“With today’s tech-savvy millennial generation in mind, Lenovo is addressing the popularity of larger-screen personal devices, while acknowledging the portability struggles associated with tablet computers. The new PHAB Plus conquers these boundaries, merging the fun of a tablet with the portability of a smartphone in a stylish metallic uni-body casing. Unlike other phablets on the market, the Lenovo PHAB Plus boasts a full HD display optimized for one-hand usage and provides an unrivaled viewing and sound experience, all within an attainable and very competitive US$299 price tag,” said Jeff Meredith, General Manager and Vice President, Tablet Business Unit, Lenovo.

New ThinkPad Yoga and ThinkCentre Tiny

Lenovo announced a broad redesign of its ThinkPad Yoga and ThinkCentre portfolios. A recent Lenovo survey of more than 6,000 businesses suggested that security, mobility and reliability were amongst the top pain points today and more than a quarter plan to introduce convertible devices. The latest generation of thinner and lighter ThinkPad Yoga 260 and 460 convertibles and faster than ever ThinkCentre desktops have been designed to provide customers with solutions to their critical needs.

·         ThinkPad Yoga 260 is the world’s lightest 12.5-inch convertible notebook for ultimate mobility starting at 2.9 pounds

·         ThinkPad Yoga 260 and 460 are world’s first convertible notebooks to incorporate an LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) wireless WAN option

·         ThinkCentre M900 Tiny proves to be the most powerful desktop per cubic inch2

·         Lenovo also introduces new OneLink+ Dock and Pro WiDi adapter, designed to reduce or eliminate complex wired connections

·         New ThinkCentre desktops offer purposeful design and performance for end users with simple deployment and management tools

Lenovo Inspire PC refresh

Lenovo announced seven new desktops, laptops and tablets across its popular ideacentre and ideapad sub-brands, giving discerning shoppers multiple reasons to upgrade this holiday season. The fresh portfolio of devices include the new ideapad MIIX 700 2-in-1 tablet, new ideacentre AIO 700 desktop and five new laptops – ideapad 300 and 500 and their thinner and lighter cousins ideapad 100S, 300S and 500S.

The new ideacentre AIO 700 desktop delivers up to double the power, screen resolution and memory capacity from its three-year-old previous generation – ideal for watching videos and gaming. In addition to the performance leap, all the new devices boast state-of-the-art Lenovo design, significantly improved portability and the promise of intuitive, new technology like Windows 10 and Intel RealSense Cameras. The new trio of ideapad MIIX 700 2-in-1 tablet, ideacentre AI0 700 desktop and ideapad 500 laptop are all available with optional Intel RealSense Cameras so users can explore, discover and create new and intuitive ways to 3D game, video chat, scan and print through gesture-based computing.

The computing trifecta of Lenovo design, performance and the latest advancements in software and hardware offers consumers a completely refreshed computing experience.

·         New Lenovo design paired with Intel RealSense Cameras and Windows 10 deliver fresh PC performance

·         New ideapad MIIX 700 12-inch 2-in-1 tablet is recognizably different with a unique dual watchband hinge kickstand for those who value stylish design

·         New ideacentre AIO 700 desktop makes this holiday season twice as nice for music and movie lovers, with up to double the CPU performance, screen resolution and memory capacity than three years ago

·         New ideapad 300 and 500 laptops are thinner and lighter than three years ago – debuting with their even thinner and lighter cousins ideapad 100S, 300S and 500S for those on the move

Lenovo Y Series gaming PCs

Lenovo announced the company’s trio of new premium PCs and accessories designed exclusively for gamers: the Lenovo ideacentre Y900 and Y700 desktops and ideapad Y700 laptop with Windows 10. Crafted for the growing population of working gamers who now demand a powerful and stylish machine that can move with them through their life from day to play, the family of new Y series devices and accessories have been built from the ground up to serve mature gaming enthusiasts’ professional and social life. The new ideacentre Y900 and Y700 desktops look as distinct as their performance – an edgy design with internal and external red LEDs turns heads while inside the box includes extreme gaming performance and ample room for future upgrades. For the business traveler, the new ideapad Y700 provides the mobility of a laptop with plenty of horsepower to swap between spreadsheets and graphics-heavy game time.

·         New ideacentre Y900 and Y700 desktops offer a wide range of choice in a sleek, edgy design for busy gamers who demand hassle-free performance with Windows 10 and the latest Intel processors, but want the option to upgrade in the future.

·         New ideapad Y700 offers power and portability for gamers on-the-go, combining the latest Intel or AMD processors, discrete graphics and optional touch or Intel RealSense 3D camera (on the 15-inch laptop).

·         Five new ways to accessorize the gaming experience, including: Lenovo Y Gaming Surround Sound Headset, Lenovo Y Gaming Mechanical Keyboard, Lenovo Y Gaming Precision Mouse, Lenovo Y Gaming Active Backpack and Lenovo Y Gaming Mouse Mat.

ThinkPad and Lenovo PCs

Lenovo announced its latest portfolio of laptops and desktops specifically designed for the small and medium business. Loaded with the latest technology and stylish designs, the portfolio includes the ThinkPad E Series, the updated Lenovo M, B and E line of laptops and S series desktops including elegant all-in-ones. Small and medium businesses are looking for PC solutions to reduce IT headaches and increase efficiency and collaboration between employees in the office and on the road. They need to keep business data safe and ensure critical data protection as they look towards expanding their business information and services to the cloud.

Lenovo Entertainment Tablets

Lenovo unveiled the latest line-up of its award-winning YOGA tablets, the YOGA Tab 3 Pro and YOGA Tab 3. Designed as the ultimate video tablets, the new series offers a best-in-class multimedia experience while retaining its signature multimode design.

The series premier offering – YOGA Tab 3 Pro – boasts a built-in 70” projector and is optimized for Netflix. The YOGA Tab 3 Pro features four front-facing powerful JBL speakers to reproduce high-octane sound, and for the first time ever, a virtualized Dolby Atmos experience over built-in speakers that creates a sensation of sound moving in all three dimensions around the listener. The tablet comes loaded with a Netflix app to deliver personalized recommendations and content, right from the home screen of the tablet, in high-quality optimized HD. The YOGA Tab 3 Pro also features Dolby Digital Plus, which Netflix streams with its HD content, allowing for crisper dialogue and immersive sound on Netflix.

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Samsung in lock-step with its rivals?

Tonight Samsung will kick off the next round in the smartphone wars with the S10 range, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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When Samsung unveils the new S10 smartphone at an event in San Francisco today, it will mark the beginning of the 2019 round of World War S. That stands for smartphone wars, although Samsung would like it to be all about the S.

Ever since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 in 2013, Samsung has held both technology and thought leadership in the handset world. Back then, Apple’s iPhone 5 was the last device from the American manufacturer that could lay claim to being the best smartphone in the world. With the 2013 launch of the iPhone 5s, Apple entered an era of incremental improvement, playing catch-up, and succumbing to market trends driven by its competitors.

Six years later, Samsung is fighting off the same threat. Its Chinese rival, Huawei, suddenly wrested away leadership in the past year, with the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro regarded as at last equal to the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy Note 9 – if not superior. Certainly, from a cost perspective, Huawei took the lead with its more competitive prices, and therefore more value for money.

Huawei also succeeded where Apple failed: introducing more economical versions of its flagship phones. The iPhone 5c, SE and XR have all been disappointments in the sales department, mainly because the price difference was not massive enough to attract lower-income users. In contrast, the Lite editions of the Huawei P9, P10 and P20 have been huge successes, especially in South Africa.

Today, for the first time in half a decade, Samsung goes into battle on a field laid out by its competitors. It is expected to launch the Galaxy S10 Plus, S10 and S10 e, with the latter being the Samsung answer to the strategy of the iPhone XR and Huawei P20 Lite.

Does this mean Samsung is now in lock-step with its rivals, focused on matching their strategies rather than running ahead of them?

It may seem that way, but Samsung has a few tricks up its electronic sleeve. For example, it is possible it will use the S10 launch to announce its coming range of foldable phones, expected to be called the Galaxy X, Galaxy F, Galaxy Fold or Galaxy Flex. It previewed the technology at a developer conference in San Francisco last November, and this will be the ideal moment to reclaim technology leadership by going into production with foldables – even if the S10 range itself does not shoot out the lights.

However, the S10 handsets will look very different to their predecessors. First, before switching on the phone, they will be notable by the introduction of what is being called the punch-hole display, which breaks away from the current trend of having a notch at the top of the phone to house front-facing cameras and speakers. Instead, the punch-hole is a single round cut-out that will contain the front camera. It is the key element of Samsung’s “Infinity O” display – the O represents the punchhole – which will be the first truly edge-to-edge display, on the sides and top.

The S10 range will use the new Samsung user interface, One UI, also unveiled at the developer conference. It replaces the previous “skin”, unimaginatively called the Samsung Experience, to introduce a strong new interface brand.

One UI went live on the Note 8 last month, giving us a foretaste, and giving Samsung a chance to iron out the bugs in the field. It is a less cluttered interface, addressing one of the biggest complaints about most manufacturer skins. Only Nokia and Google Pixel handsets offer pure Android in the local market, but One UI is Samsung’s best compromise yet.

It introduces a new interaction area, in the bottom half, reachable with the thumb, with a viewing area at the top, allowing the user to work one-handed on the bottom area while still having apps or related content visible above. One UI also improves gesture navigation – the phone picks up hand movements without being touched – and notification management.

The S10 range will be the first phones to feature the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip, at least for the South African and American markets. That makes it 5G compatible, for when this next generation of mobile broadband becomes available in these markets.

They will also be the first phones to feature Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of the Wi-Fi mobile wireless standard. It will perform better in congested areas, and data transfer will be up to 40% faster than the previous generation.

The phones will be the first to use ultrasound for fingerprint detection. If Samsung gets it right, this will make it the fastest in-screen fingerprint sensor on the market, and allows for a little leeway if one pushes the finger down slightly outside the fingerprint reader surface. It does mean, however, that screen protectors will have to be redesigned to avoid blocking the detection.

Not enough firsts? There are a few more.

Most notably, it will be the first phone range to feature 1 Terabyte (TB) storage – that’s a thousand Gigabytes (GB) – at least for the top-of-the-range devices. Samsung last month announced that it would be the first manufacturer to make 1TB built-in onboard flash storage. Today, it will deploy this massive advantage as it once again weaponises its technology in the fight for smartphone domination.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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IoT set to improve authentication

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By Sherry Zameer, Senior Vice President, Internet of Things Solutions for CISMEA region at Gemalto

As it rapidly approaches maturity, the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to continue a transformational trajectory, introducing new efficiencies in multiple fields by allowing measurement and analysis on a scale that has never been possible before. From agriculture to logistics, from retail to hospitality, from traffic to health, from the home to the office, the applications for monitoring ”things” are limited only by the imagination.

And South African (and African) businesses are showing abundant imagination in their practical deployments of IoT solutions in multiple settings, creating a better tomorrow through almost universal measurement and the introduction of new levels of convenience – including how to access locations, devices and services securely.

Any company, whether South African or international, should bear in mind that understanding consumer expectations can be the key to unlocking the full potential of IoT devices and related smart services.

According to Gemalto’s latest Connected Living study, improving the way consumers authenticate themselves to services is one of the most anticipated benefits of IoT, highlighting a desire for a more seamless and secure IoT experience.

Consumers are interested in advanced ways of authenticating themselves through automatic (based on behavioral patterns) or biometric techniques, lessening the need to have to intervene manually, all in the name of a much more streamlined authentication process. Smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have already placed fingerprint and facial recognition high on the agenda. There is also a widespread positive sentiment towards IoT’s potential for improving the quality of home life through connected, smart appliances.

Personalised services is something else that wins consumers over. In fact, a fluid, personalised and unified experience with continuity of services, together with security and privacy, is critical for the successful implementation of any technology.

And those types of services are today quite possible. With everything being connected – from small gadgets to digital solutions for large enterprises – IoT is no longer just a buzzword. That much is clear in a piece from Vodacom IoT managing executive Deon Liebenberg. Writing for IOL Online, Liebenberg provides insight into the sheer range of applications for IoT: the 20 use cases he cites range from the obvious, like transport and logistics, to the connected home and wearables; he even suggests tagging pets with IoT transmitters, for those who always need to know the whereabouts of the family cat.

Low-cost tags fitted to cats, dogs, lamp posts, shipping containers or other items are just one part of the puzzle, however. There are other two pieces; arguably the most complex part is the availability of communication networks in areas where there aren’t any WiFi networks, or indeed, anything else.

And that’s where the bigger takeaway from Liebenberg’s piece and other IoT trends articles becomes apparent. The communication networks are there, as are those tags: dedicated IoT networks (like LoraWAN, SigFox and narrowband IoT) are all available in South Africa.

So, too, is the third and final essential component. Software which is able to process the data generated by the tag and transmitted over the IoT network and into the internet. In this regard, there’s no shortage of solutions available from cloud providers like AWS and Azure; electronics giant Siemens, too, is in on the action, having recently launched a new cloud-based IoT operating system to develop applications and services for process industries, including oil and gas and water management.

This combination means it is quite possible right now to enable just about any use case. Business owners, who will know best how IoT can add value in their organisation, can now see their ideas becoming reality. Most crucial of all, IoT solutions delivering new levels of efficiency and convenience are not only possible, they are able to be offered with the simple and effective security that will drive consumer acceptance.

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