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IFA 2016: Lenovo unveils Yoga Book

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At the IFA 2016 expo in Berlin this week, Lenovo launched the Yoga Book, claimed to be the world’s thinnest and lightest 2-in-1 tablet, designed for productivity while on-the-go.

The Yoga Book is built for mobility and to solve the most common challenge among tablet users: how to achieve productivity and entertainment in one device.

“Until now, we’ve been using tablets in ways we weren’t meant to: for productivity, for example, which becomes painful when typing or applying a stylus onto a touch screen that you’re using on-the-go,” Lenovo declared in a statement it released on Thursday. “The Yoga Book removes that difficulty by taking the fundamental building blocks from the DNA of what makes a great tablet – namely portability, long battery life and a rich app ecosystem – and entwines it into a strand of creativity and productivity through a suite of powerful new hardware and software features.”

These include:

• Instant halo keyboard

• Dual-use stylus that writes on paper and screen

• Productivity-driven Book UI

“We set out to redefine the tablet category conundrum, namely that consumers no longer separate their activities into productivity and entertainment – it all blends together, and so should the device they use,” said Jeff Meredith, vice president and general manager, Android and Chrome Computing, Lenovo. “The Yoga Book introduces keyboard and handwriting input capability in an elegantly simple, unconventionally slender tablet design. We believe our unique design will offer tablet, 2-in-1 and traditional notebook buyers a first-of-its-kind option for evolving usage trends.”

Lenovo provided the following information:

With two panels that open up like an ultra-thin notebook, the Yoga Book is unconventionally slender and light years removed from the tablet that you’re accustomed to using on the go or while sitting in your home. As the world’s thinnest 2-in-1, the Yoga Book is 9.6mm closed, tapering to 4.05mm at its slimmest edge – a thickness of just under three pennies. And because it’s also the lightest 2-in-1 in the world at 690 grams (1.52 pounds), the Yoga Book is made to match the mobility of a smartphone, so you can easily hold and carry, just like a book. Users who take the Yoga Book with them on day trips have the option to work anywhere – on a busy commute, in a packed waiting room or on a crowded countertop – if and when they feel like it, thanks to the thin and light design, 15-hour battery life and a watchband hinge that folds 360 degrees. And if users don’t feel like working, they’ll have a top-of-the-line entertainment tablet to keep them company, with a 10.1-inch IPS FHD screen, high-quality sound enhanced with Dolby Atmos and 64GB of memory.

Instant Halo Keyboard

The Yoga Book’s first productivity feature is also what makes the thin and light design possible: the halo keyboard, a full touch screen backlit keyboard that weaves software and hardware into one fluid interface. The touch screen is made with glass that was meticulously chosen to give a rough, matte feel and finish, along with anti-glare coating to ensure the best possible touch-typing experience. The keyboard lacks any physical keys, showing up as a solid white outline on the Yoga Book’s second panel only when it’s needed. The halo keyboard constantly ‘learns about and adapts to’ the typing habits of its user, with built-in prediction and artificial learning software. This software also allows for continuous optimization. Along with built-in, sensitive haptic technology, which enables touch feedback to guide typing and reduce mistakes, the halo keyboard far surpasses the typing experience and speed of a normal tablet, and is comparable with that of a physical keyboard.

Real-Pen Accessory – Dual Use Stylus

The flush surface of the halo keyboard feature also allows for a few additional uses when paired with the Yoga Book’s standard real-pen accessory, a dual-use stylus. Inspired by the elegance and simplicity of real notebooks, Yoga Book is an acknowledgement that we all still love to write and draw on paper. Users can now write with the real-pen accessory that holds real ink tips onto a piece of paper or notepad covering the multi-use keyboard panel, or as a stylus when applied straight onto the panel. Everything they create, from doodles and drawings to notes, is instantly digitized and saved with the Lenovo note-saving app. Roughly the size of a conventional ink pen, the real-pen accessory is powered by Wacom feel IT technologies to work with the state-of-the-art electro-magnetic resonance (EMR) film housed within the multi-use keyboard, which enables this real-time digitization.

The multi-use keyboard and real-pen accessory recreate the natural feel of drawing flat on a paper surface instead of directly onto a computer screen, without having to block parts of the art work with the hand or stylus. Or you can draw directly on the screen as well, depending on preference. The real-pen accessory can draw with the precision of a pencil or paintbrush, with 2,048 pressure levels and 100-degree angle detection. In addition, you’ll never have to charge or replace it – the real-pen accessory doesn’t require batteries and its ink can be replaced with standard ink tips, just like that of a conventional pen.

Book UI and Hinge

As a 2-in-1 that weaves together both hardware and software, Yoga Book truly brings work and play into one tablet through the Book UI, the Yoga Book’s specially adapted Android 6.0 operating system that draws from the best UI features of laptops and tablets. The Book UI allows several apps to run at once through multiple windows that can be pinned, maximized or minimized, as well as a taskbar that keeps track of your apps and common Windows keyboard shortcuts and action keys. This additional new workload is easily handled by the Yoga Book’s powerful Intel Atom X5 processor and 4GB of memory. And Windows users also have the option to work on that platform, as the Yoga Book is available on Windows 10.

Constructed from a combination of magnesium and aluminium alloys, the Yoga Book is robust in build and guaranteed to turn heads. As with all Yoga products, it has the distinctive watchband-style hinge. This time, the hinge is engineered to be smaller and features a custom-made three-axis hinge, with 130 different mechanical pieces comprising five different materials. Lab tested more than 25,000 times, the Yoga Book form offers a smooth, seamless transition between the four modes – Browse, Watch, Create and Type. The Yoga Book with Android is available in Gold or Gunmetal, while the Yoga Book with Windows comes in Carbon Black.

Pricing for the Yoga Book will start at €499 for the Android version and €599 for the Windows version. Pricing and availability may vary from country to country. All will be globally available beginning in September. In the US, the Yoga Book will be sold online and at Walmart stores nationwide by the end of October.

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Samsung S10 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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