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Intel brings i9 to laptops

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Intel last week unveiled a mobile range of its powerful Core i9 series processors. The new line-up brings desktop performance to laptops, writes BRYAN TURNER.

Since Intel’s announcement of the first Core i9 processors in early 2017, consumers have considered it to be desktop-exclusive, because of the power it requires to operate. At a global event in Beijing, Intel claimed that the Core i9 series for laptops will deliver the best gaming and content creation that the market has ever seen.

The new 8th generation Core i9, i7, and i5 processors for laptops are based on the Coffee Lake platform, which brings up to 41% more frames per second in gameplay and a 59% speed increase in rendering 4K video, compared to the previous Kaby Lake mobile processors.

The new processors compete directly with AMD’s mobile lineup. Last year’s launch of the AMD Ryzen series of processors gave Intel’s rival a massive lead in mobile processing power.

The top-of-the-range Core i9 for laptop processors are the first mobile processors to use 6 cores and 12 threads.

This means that software can make use of an additional 2 cores and 4 threads, compared to the previous top-of-the-range Core i7 series. This translates into more processing power and faster performance.

This level of processing will only be economically viable to consumers who need to make heavy use of mobile gaming or video editing while on the go. Intel also only allows utilisation of the processor’s full 4.8GHz if the laptop is in a well-ventilated area and is plugged in to charge. Without this, Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost will not kick in.

The 8th generation Core i5+, i7+, and i9+ processors represent the Intel Core extension platform, which allows external chipsets to develop Intel-approved processor extensions for specific applications. This extension platform is powered by Intel’s Optane memory extension, which provides on-demand acceleration of everyday tasks. 

The implementation of Optane memory in the previous generation of processors has shown a browser launch speed increase of up to 5 times and a Microsoft Office program launch speed increase of up to 3.8 times. This high performance is described by Intel as revolutionary, because acceleration is exclusively on-demand and does not affect the battery life of the laptop.

Intel is shifting a large amount of its processor attention to mobile computing, as the demand grows for mobile gaming and streaming those games from non-desktop environments. This shift in attention has been welcomed by the PC gaming industry, says Intel, as it has a track record of delivering sharp and immersive graphics experiences on desktop computers.

However, gaming is not the focus of Intel’s offerings for the Core i9 for laptop processors. Editing and rendering of 4K video, digital publications, digital art, and other digital content creation have quickly moved to the mobile space. Creators of this content are finding themselves less and less behind desktop computers and interacting with their colleagues and clients on the go. Intel is tapping into this market with the Core i9’s graphics delivery, with desktop-grade VR experiences on a mobile device.

Intel’s chipsets have also been improved, with the introduction of the Intel 300 Series Chipset, bringing on-board gigabit AC Wi-Fi. This chipset has a Wi-Fi transceiver that is twice as fast as the previous series chipset. This is huge step forward for local area networks which need to transfer files quickly, but the average home network infrastructure will not yet be able to maximize this chip’s potential. For example, MWEB’s current offering of gigabit fibre-to-the-home, which will match the Wi-Fi card’s speed, costs R2500 per month – unlikely to gain much consumer uptake in the short term.

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Samsung clears the table with new monitor

For those who like minimalism and tidy desks, Samsung’s new Space Monitor may just do the trick, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The latest trends of narrow-bezels and minimalist designs have transcended smartphones, spilling into other designs, like laptops and monitors. 

The new Space Monitor line by Samsung follows in this new design “tradition”. The company has moved the monitor off the desk – by clipping it onto the edge of the desk.

It can be put into three configurations: completely upright, where it sits a bit high but completely off the desk; half-way to the desk, where it is a bit lower to put some papers or files underneath the display; and flat on the desk, where it is at its lowest.

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The monitor sits on a weighted hinge at the edge of the desk, providing sturdy adjustment to its various height configurations. It also swivels on a hinge at the point where the arm connects to the display. This provides precise viewing angle adjustment, which is great for showing something on screen to someone who is standing.

Apart from form factor, there are some neat goodies packed into the box. It comes with a two-pin power adapter, with no adapter box on the midpoint between the plug and the monitor, and a single cable that carries HDMI-Y and power to prevent tangling. 

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However, it’s slightly disappointing that there isn’t a Mini Display Port and power cable “in one cable” option for Mac and newer graphics card users, who will have to run two cables down the back of the screen. Even worse, the display doesn’t have a USB Type-C display input; a missed opportunity to connect a Samsung device to the panel.

A redeeming point is the stunning, Samsung-quality panel, which features a 4K UHD resolution. The colours are sharp and the viewing angles are good. However, this display is missing something: Pantone or Adobe RGB colour certification, as well as IPS technology. 

The display’s response rate comes in at 4ms, slightly below average for displays in this price range. 

These negatives aside, this display has a very specific purpose. It’s for those who want to create desk space in a few seconds, while not having to rearrange the room. 

Final verdict: This display is not for gamers nor for graphic designers. It is for those who need big displays but frequently need to clear their desks.

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Can mobile fix education?

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By Ernst Wittmann, global account director for MEA and country manager for Southern Africa, at TCL Communications

Mobile technology has transformed the way we live and work, and it can be expected to rapidly change the ways in which children learn as smartphones and tablets become more widely accepted at primary and high schools. By putting a powerful computer in every learner’s schoolbag or pocket, smartphones could play an important role in improving educational outcomes in a country where so many schools are under-resourced.

Here are some ways that mobile technology will reshape education in the years to come:

Organisation and productivity

For many adults, the real benefit of a smartphone comes from simple applications like messaging, calendaring and email. The same goes for schoolchildren, many of whom will get the most value from basic apps like sending a WhatApp message to friends to check on the homework for the day, keeping track of their extramural calendar, or photographing the teacher’s notes from the blackboard or whiteboard. One study of young people’s mobile phone use in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa confirmed that many of them got the most value from using their phones to complete mundane tasks.

Interactivity

One of the major benefits smartphones can bring to the classroom is boosting learners’ engagement with educational materials through rich media and interactivity. For example, apps like Mathletics use gamification to get children excited about doing mathematics—they turn learning into a game, with rewards for practicing and hitting milestones. Or teachers can set up a simple poll using an app like Poll Everywhere to ask the children in a class what they think about a character’s motivation in their English set-work book.

Personalisation

Mobile technology opens the doors to more personalised and flexible ways to teach and learn, making more space for children to work in their own style and at their own pace. Not very child learns in the same way or excels at the same tasks and subjects – the benefit of mobile phones is that they can plug the gaps for children seeking extra enrichment or those that need some additional help with classroom work.

For example, teachers can provide recommended educational materials for children who are racing in ahead of their peers in some of their subjects. Or they can suggest relevant games for children who learn better through practical application of ideas than by listening to a teacher and taking notes. 

In future, we can expect to see teachers, perhaps aided by algorithms and artificial intelligence, make use of analytics to track how students engage with educational content on their mobile devices and use these insights to create more powerful learning experiences. 

Access

South Africa has a shortage of teachers in key subjects such as mathematics and science, which disproportionately affects learners in poor and rural areas. According to a statement in 2017 from the Department of Basic Education, it has more than 5,000 underqualified or unqualified teachers working around the country. Though technology cannot substitute for a qualified teacher, it can supplement human teaching in remote or poor areas where teachers are not available or not qualified to teach certain subjects. Video learning and videoconferencing sessions offer the next best thing where a math or physical science teacher is not physically present in the classroom.

Information

Knowledge is power and the Internet is the world’s biggest repository of knowledge. Schoolchildren can access information and expertise about every subject under the sun from their smartphones – whether they are reading the news on a portal, watching documentaries on YouTube, downloading electronic books, using apps to improve their language skills, or simply Googling facts and figures for a school project.

Take a mobile-first approach

Technology has a powerful role to play in the South African school of the future, but there are some key success factors schools must bear in mind as they bring mobile devices into the classroom:

  • Use appropriate technology—in South Africa, that means taking a mobile-first approach and using the smartphones many children already know and use.
  • Thinking about challenges such as security – put in place the cyber and physical security needed to keep phones and data safe and secure.
  • Ensuring teachers and children alike are trained to make the most of the tech – teachers need to take an active role in curating content and guiding schoolchildren’s use of their devices. To get that right, they will need training and access to reliable tech support.

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