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MWC: HP aims to keep workers on the go

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At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, HP announced a new commercial 2-in-1 detachable notebook along with a range of accessories for its existing devices.

The company said it “continues to deliver stylish and functional devices that empower employees wherever their work takes them” . The new HP Pro x2 612 G2 “is designed to let mobile professionals use applications to automate business workflows while delivering productivity with enterprise-class security and serviceability.”

“As people continue to work outside the office on a more frequent basis, we are delivering devices and accessories that bring traditional PC-based productivity to a more mobile experience in a way that IT can securely manage and service,” said David Rozzio, Managing Director, HP Africa.  “These solutions allow workers to be more productive in a mobile-first environment, enabling a richer experience for workforces across all industries while helping IT realize a lower total cost of ownership with no compromises to security.”

The Pro x2 is a versatile 2-in-1 detachable, featuring multiple modes ideal for commercial use, including presentation mode, inking mode for taking notes, tablet mode for data collection, and notebook mode. The Pro x2 can be configured with a choice of 7th generation Intel processors, to meet a variety of end users’ needs.

HP provided the following information:

The design goals for the Pro x2 were built around mobile productivity, which includes WLAN and optional WWAN, with a fast-charging battery that offers up to 11 hours of battery life. The device’s magnetically attached Collaboration Keyboard features dedicated keys to directly manage voice and video conference calls. For drawing and taking notes, the HP Active Wacom Pen with App Launch combined with the extended 165-degree kickstand make it easy to present and share. The Pro x2 includes a USB-C connection for quick charging and data transfers and USB-A for accessing traditional legacy peripherals.

IT requirements for security, manageability and lifecycle management were also key focus areas for the Pro x2. The device was built from the ground up for secure work environments and includes a built-in smart card reader, a removable SSD, and the HP Client Security Suite Gen3[, along with an optional fingerprint sensor and optional Near Field Communications (NFC). IT lifecycle management includes a removable back cover and enterprise-class serviceability for the display panel, kickstand and other key components, along with dedicated 24/7 commercial support. And the Pro x2 is designed to last for the traditional enterprise 3- to 5-year lifecycle, passing MIL-STD testing for drops, dust, humidity, temperature changes and functional shock.

HP’s x2 and x3 devices are designed with versatility in mind, featuring a wide range of optional accessories to help mobile professionals be productive and remain connected whether they are in the office or on the go. New accessories launching at Mobile World Congress include:

  • HP Pro x2 612 G2 Rugged Case: Ideal for customers in extreme work environments, this case features a 360-degree rotating hand strap, shoulder strap, stylus holder, optional port plugs and is compatible with the Pro x2’s keyboard.
  • HP Elite USB-C Dock: Turn your device into a desktop and connect to multiple displays and devices while charging with this enterprise IT ready dock, compatible with devices like the Pro x2, HP Elite x2 1012 G1, or HP Elite x3 that have a multi-function Type-C™ USB port and devices that support Thunderbolt.
  • HP USB-C Travel Hub: For mobile professionals who need access to additional peripheral ports while on-the-go, this solution delivers pass-through connectivity for displays and USB devices and charging for the Pro x2, Elite x2 or the Elite x3 while the device is being used – with one USB-C cable.
  • HP Retail Case 12: Announced at NRF, this solution combines with the Pro x2 to create a portable solution for store associates to sell and conduct mobile transactions on the sales floor.
  • HP Elite x3 Mobile Scanning Solution: This solution extends the benefits of the HP Elite x3 beyond the mobile professional to mobilize vertical workflows for healthcare, field and retail workers. The integrated barcode scanner can be used to check prices, access inventory and CRM information on the go and then seamlessly transition to the back-office with the ability to dock and connect to a display, mouse, and keyboard for a full PC experience.

Pricing and Availability

  • The HP Pro x2 612 G2 starting at R15 999.00
  • The HP Pro x2 612 G2 Rugged Case, starting at R799.00.
  • The HP Elite USB-C Dock, starting at R1 999.00
  • The HP USB-C Travel Hub starting at R1 499.00

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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