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Apple announces new MacBook

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Apple has announced the new MacBook, described as “a new line of notebooks reinvented in every way to deliver the thinnest and lightest Macs ever”.

The new notebook weighs just two pounds and is 13.1 mm thin, features a 12-inch Retina display that is the thinnest yet on a Mac, an Apple-designed full-size keyboard that is dramatically thinner and a new Force Touch trackpad. It also sports a compact USB-C port for data transfer, video out and charging in a single connector, and a new battery design that maximises every space to deliver all-day battery life. And, for the first time, MacBook is available in three aluminium finishes: gold, silver and space grey.

“Apple has reinvented the notebook with the new MacBook, and at just two pounds and 13.1 mm, it’s the thinnest and lightest Mac ever,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Every component of the MacBook reveals a new innovation. From its fanless design, ultra-thin Retina display and full-size keyboard that’s 34 percent thinner, to its all-new Force Touch trackpad, versatile USB-C port and breakthrough terraced battery design, the new MacBook is the future of the notebook.”

Measuring just 13.1 mm at its thickest point, the new MacBook design is 24 per cent thinner than the 11-inch MacBook Air. With a new precision-milled unibody enclosure featuring integrated Wi-Fi antennas and a top case with polished stainless steel Apple logo, it is the first MacBook with an all-metal enclosure.

The new MacBook is designed around a new full-size keyboard. Fitting the full-size keyboard into the thin MacBook meant completely re-engineering how a notebook keyboard works. The new keyboard is 34 percent thinner and uses an Apple-designed butterfly mechanism that is 40 percent thinner than a traditional keyboard scissor mechanism, yet four times more stable, providing greater precision no matter where a finger strikes the key. New stainless steel dome switches located beneath each key deliver a crisp and responsive feel when typing, and every key on the new keyboard is individually backlit with its own single LED to deliver precisely calibrated, uniform brightness behind each keycap.

The 12-inch Retina display, with a 16:10 aspect ratio, measures just 0.88 mm thin. With a larger aperture for each pixel, the new Retina display is also extremely efficient and uses 30 percent less energy than existing Mac notebook Retina displays, while delivering the same level of brightness. It offers a resolution of 2304 x 1440.

The new Force Touch trackpad features built-in force sensors that allow users to click anywhere and haptic feedback that provides a responsive and uniform feel. Users can customise the feel of the trackpad by changing the amount of pressure needed to register each click. The Force Touch trackpad also enables a new gesture called Force Click, a click followed by a deeper press, for tasks like pulling up the definition of a word, quickly seeing a map or glancing at a preview of a file.

Applying miniaturisation techniques used in iPhone and iPad, MacBook features the most compact logic board yet in a Mac, measuring 67 per cent smaller than the logic board of the 11-inch MacBook Air. With no moving parts or vents, the new MacBook was designed from the ground up to be the first fanless Mac notebook for silent, efficient performance. MacBook features the new fifth-generation Intel Core M processor that runs at just 5 watts and Intel HD Graphics 5300. The highly efficient processors work in conjunction with optimisations throughout OS X to make the new MacBook what is claimed by Apple to be the world’s most energy efficient notebook.

It features a breakthrough terraced battery design that is layered in individual sheets that are precisely contoured to fit the MacBook’s sleek, curved enclosure. As a result, the new MacBook has 35 per cent more battery capacity than would be possible with traditional battery cells and delivers up to 9 hours of wireless web browsing and up to 10 hours of iTunes movie playback.

MacBook is equipped with the latest wireless technologies, including built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for fast wireless connectivity.

The new MacBook also features a next-generation USB-C port that is incredibly small, yet extremely versatile and user friendly. A new industry standard, USB-C supports higher wattage charging, USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) data transfer and DisplayPort 1.2, all in a single connector that’s one-third the size of a traditional USB port.

Every new Mac comes with OS X Yosemite, a powerful new version of OS X, redesigned and refined with a fresh, modern look, powerful new apps and Continuity features that make working across Mac and iOS devices more fluid.

iMovie, GarageBand, iPhoto, and Pages, Numbers and Keynote come free with every new Mac.

Availability

The all-new MacBook will begin shipping on April 10 through select Apple Authorised Resellers. MacBook comes with a 1.1 GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.4 GHz, 8GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage and Intel HD Graphics 5300; and with a 1.2 GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.6GHz, 8GB of memory, 512GB of flash storage and Intel HD Graphics 5300. Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at www.apple.com/macbook.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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