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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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When will we stop calling them phones?

If you don’t remember when phones were only used to talk to people, you may wonder why we still use this term for handsets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, on the eve of the 10th birthday of the app.

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Do you remember when handsets were called phones because, well, we used them to phone people?

It took 120 years from the invention of the telephone to the use of phones to send text.

Between Alexander Graham Bell coining the term “telephone” in 1876 and Finland’s two main mobile operators allowing SMS messages between consumers in 1995, only science fiction writers and movie-makers imagined instant communication evolving much beyond voice. Even when BlackBerry shook the business world with email on a phone at the end of the last century, most consumers were adamant they would stick to voice.

It’s hard to imagine today that the smartphone as we know it has been with us for less than 10 years. Apple introduced the iPhone, the world’s first mass-market touchscreen phone, in June 2007, but it is arguable that it was the advent of the app store in July the following year that changed our relationship with phones forever.

That was the moment when the revolution in our hands truly began, when it became possible for a “phone” to carry any service that had previously existed on the World Wide Web.

Today, most activity carried out by most people on their mobile devices would probably follow the order of social media in first place – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all jostling for attention – and  instant messaging in close second, thanks to WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and the like. Phone calls – using voice that is – probably don’t even take third place, but play fourth or fifth fiddle to mapping and navigation, driven by Google Maps and Waze, and transport, thanks to Uber, Taxify, and other support services in South Africa like MyCiti,  Admyt and Kaching.

Despite the high cost of data, free public Wi-Fi is also seeing an explosion in use of streaming video – whether Youtube, Netflix, Showmax, or GETblack – and streaming music, particularly with the arrival of Spotify to compete with Simfy Africa.

Who has time for phone calls?

The changing of the phone guard in South Africa was officially signaled last week with the announcement of Vodacom’s annual results. Voice revenue for the 2018 financial year ending 31 March had fallen by 4.6%, to make up 40.6% of Vodacom’s revenue. Total revenue had grown by 8.1%, which meant voice seriously underperformed the group, and had fallen by 4% as a share of revenue, from 2017’s 44.6%.

The reason? Data had not only outperformed the group, increasing revenue by 12.8%, but it had also risen from 39.7% to 42.8% of group revenue,

This means that data has not only outperformed voice for the first time – as had been predicted by World Wide Worx a year ago – but it has also become Vodacom’s biggest contributor to revenue.

That scenario is being played out across all mobile network operators. In the same way, instant messaging began destroying SMS revenues as far back as five years ago – to the extent that SMS barely gets a mention in annual reports.

Data overtaking voice revenues signals the demise of voice as the main service and key selling point of mobile network operators. It also points to mobile phones – let’s call them handsets – shifting their primary focus. Voice quality will remain important, but now more a subset of audio quality rather than of connectivity. Sound quality will become a major differentiator as these devices become primary platforms for movies and music.

Contact management, privacy and security will become critical features as the handset becomes the storage device for one’s entire personal life.

Integration with accessories like smartwatches and activity monitors, earphones and earbuds, virtual home assistants and virtual car assistants, will become central to the functionality of these devices. Why? Because the handsets will control everything else? Hardly.

More likely, these gadgets will become an extension of who we are, what we do and where we are. As a result, they must be context aware, and also context compatible. This means they must hand over appropriate functions to appropriate devices at the appropriate time. 

I need to communicate only using my earpiece? The handset must make it so. I have to use gesture control, and therefore some kind of sensor placed on my glasses, collar or wrist? The handset must instantly surrender its centrality.

There are numerous other scenarios and technology examples, many out of the pages of science fiction, that point to the changing role of the “phone”. The one thing that’s obvious is that it will be silly to call it a phone for much longer.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
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MTN 5G test gets 520Mbps

MTN and Huawei have launched Africa’s first 5G field trial with an end-to-end Huawei 5G solution.

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The field trial demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa. Speeds of 520Mbps downlink and 77Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.

“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks. We have gleaned invaluable insights about the modifications that we need to do on our core, radio and transmission network from these pilots. It is important to note that the transition to 5G is not just a flick of a switch, but it’s a roadmap that requires technical modifications and network architecture changes to ensure that we meet the standards that this technology requires. We are pleased that we are laying the groundwork that will lead to the full realisation of the boundless opportunities that are inherent in the digital world.” says Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, at MTN Group.

Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA said: “Next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, and cloud gaming require massive capacity and higher user data rates. The use of millimeter-wave spectrum bands is one of the key 5G enabling technologies to deliver the required capacity and massive data rates required for 5G’s Enhanced Mobile Broadband use cases. MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa will also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.”

“Huawei is continuing to invest heavily in innovative 5G technologies”, said Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei. “5G mmWave technology can achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access. This trial has shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications. With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions.”

“We are excited about the potential the technology will bring as well as the potential advancements we will see in the fields of medicine, entertainment and education. MTN has been investing heavily to further improve our network, with the recent “Best in Test” and MyBroadband best network recognition affirming this. With our focus on providing the South Africans with the best customer experience, speedy allocation of spectrum can help bring more of these technologies to our customers,” says Giovanni.

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