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MWC: Lenovo goes broad

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At this year’s Mobile World Congress, Lenovo unveiled a range of new devices, covering all its bases in the mobile industry.

Lenovo has introduced a broad new device portfolio at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona this week, spanning nearly all mobile form factors.

These include the detachable Miix 320, “blending affordability with connectivity on-the-go”, two convertibles, mobile powerhouses Yoga 720 and 520, four tablets, including the versatile Tab 4 family, and Moto G and Moto G Plus, smartphones that pair premium features with affordable prices.

At the same time, Lenovo is announcing an enhancement to Lenovo Connect with support for reprogrammable e-SIMs, which will allow customers to take advantage of their local telco contract for data when at home and the best local wireless pricing when they are roaming, without having to swap out their SIM.

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Lenovo provided the following information:

Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus

The newest members of the Moto G family bring together an unexpected combination of beauty and power. Both devices feature precision crafted metal design – a first for Moto G – and powerful octa-core processors that enable exceptional performance. Long lasting, all-day batteries mean less plugging in and more getting done, fingerprint readers keep user information safe and secure and advanced camera capabilities allow for the capture of stunning photos with faster focus. Unexpected is now extraordinary.

Lenovo Tab 4 Series Tablets

The Lenovo Tab 4 tablet family builds on the foundation of its mainstream tablets by making them even better: delivering four beautifully designed, powerfully built devices crafted for every member of the family. High on the multimedia experience, the Lenovo Tab 4 8 and Lenovo Tab 4 10 models have dual speakers and Dolby Atmos. The Lenovo Tab 4 family also introduces an all-new premium line for media buffs: the Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus and Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus, sporting a standout dual-glassdesign with full HD displays, powerful processors and up to 12 hours of battery life.

We take the tablet concept ever further with optional packs that transform the Lenovo Tab 4 series into dedicated kid’s tablets or productivity tablets. The Kid’s Pack comes with a shock-resistant bumper, a blue-light filter and a pair of colorful, scratch resistant 3M stickers, augmented by an optimized kid’s experience from the Lenovo Kid’s Account, which features up-to-date and curated kid’s content, a browser with whitelisted websites and scheduling tools for parents. The tablets can also transform into a 2-in-1 Android workhorse with the addition of the optional Productivity Pack with Bluetooth keyboard, which complements the experience of the Lenovo Tab 4’s productivity interface. This interface incorporates a taskbar for quick switching between apps, multi-window support, support for common keyboard shortcuts, and optimization for mouse and keyboard operations. (Read more about the Lenovo Tab 4 Series here.)

Miix 320 Detachable with Lightning-Fast LTE Option

The Miix 320 combines the productivity of Windows 10 with full keyboard in a lightweight, affordable detachable. Use it as a laptop with its up to FHD 10.1-inch display for work or detach and use it as a portable tablet on the go weighing only 550g. With up to 10 hours of battery life, you can catch up on a full season of Game of Thrones without a charge. Connect nearly anywhere with its optional LTE. The mobile multitasking generation will find its balance of size and weight particularly useful with its detachable screen to watch videos, its stable docking keyboard and full PC performance when needed to create content. (Read more about the Miix 320 here.)

Lenovo Connect e-SIM

Lenovo Connect e-SIM enhancement makes it easy to connect anywhere in the world – no more swapping out SIM cards. Lenovo Connect gives users a seamless connection and local wireless pricing even when they are abroad by taking advantage of local Telco contract for data. Users can even share the same plan across devices when those devices are enabled with Lenovo Connect.

Yoga Convertibles

There are times when mobile users want the full power and productivity of a PC in a thin and light machine. As these multitaskers constantly flip between work and play, we built the Yoga 720 and 520 for them, available in 13, 14 and 15-inch models. The 15-inch Yoga 720 is the most powerful convertible in its class and comes with up to the latest 7th Gen Intel Core i7 processors, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 discrete graphics, blazing-fast Thunderbolt 3 and up to nine hours of battery life. For those looking for a wafer thin device, we designed the 13-inch Yoga 720 that’s 17 percent thinner than before at just 14.3mm. All the convertibles give users the most freedom and flexibility to use Yoga the way that fits their on-the-go lifestyles best through multiple modes. (Read more about the Yoga 720 and Yoga 520 here.)

* For more information, visit www.lenovo.com/mwc

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Samsung unleashes the beast

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Most new smartphone releases of the past few years have been like cat-and-mouse games with consumers and each other. It has been as if morsels of cheese are thrown into the box to make it more interesting: a little extra camera here, a little more battery there, and incremental changes to size, speed (more) and weight (less). Each change moves the needle of innovation ever-so-slightly. Until we find ourselves, a few years later, with a handset that is revolutionary compared to six years ago, but an anti-climax relative to six months before.

And then came Samsung. Probably stung by the “incremental improvement” phrase that has become almost a cliché about new Galaxy devices, the Korean giant chose to unleash a beast last week.

The new Galaxy Note 9 is not only the biggest smartphone Samsung has ever released, but one of the biggest flagship handsets that can still be called a phone. With a 6.4” display, it suddenly competes with mini-tablets and gaming consoles, among other devices that had previously faced little contest from handsets.

It offers almost ever cutting edge introduced to the Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones earlier this year, including the market-leading f1.5 aperture lens, and an f2.4. telephoto lens, each weighing in at 12 Megapixels. The front lens is equally impressive, with an f1.7 aperture – first introduced on the Note 8 as the widest yet on a selfie camera.

So far, so S9. However, the Note range has always been set apart by its S Pen stylus, and each edition has added new features. Born as a mere pen that writes on screens, it evolved through the likes of pressure sensitivity, allowing for artistic expression, and cut-and-paste text with translation-on-the-fly.

(Click here or below to read more about the Samsung Galaxy S Pen stylus) Samsung Galaxy S9 Features)

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SA ride permit system ‘broken’

Despite the amendments to the National Land Transport Act, ALON LITS, General Manager, Uber in Sub Saharan Africa, believes that many premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

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The spirit and intention of the amendments to the National Land Transport Act No 5  (NLTA), 2009 put forward by the Ministry of Transport are to be commended. It is especially pleasing that these amendments include ridesharing and e-hailing operators and drivers as legitimate participants in the country’s public transport system, which point to government’s willingness to embrace the changes and innovation taking place in the country’s transport industry.

However, there are aspects of the proposed amendments that are, at best, premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

Of particular concern are the significant financial penalties that will need to be paid by ridesharing and e-hailing companies whose independent operators are found to be transporting passengers without a legal permit issued by the relevant local authority. These fines can be as high as R100 000 per driver operating without a permit. Apart from being an excessive penalty it is grossly unfair given that a large number of local authorities don’t yet have functioning permit issuing systems and processes in place.

The truth is that the operating permit issuance system in South Africa is effectively broken. The application and issuance processes for operating licenses are fundamentally flawed and subject to extensive delays, sometimes over a year in length.  This situation is exacerbated by the fact that it is very difficult for applicants whose permit applications haven’t yet been approved to get reasons for the extensive delays on the issuing of those permits.

Uber has had extensive first-hand experience with the frustratingly slow process of applying for these permits, with drivers often having to wait months and, in some cases more than a year, for their permits.

Sadly, there appears to be no sense of urgency amongst local authorities to prioritise fixing the flawed permit issuing systems and processes or address the large, and growing, backlogs of permit applications. As such, in order for the proposed stringent permit enforcement rules to be effective and fair to all role players, the long-standing issues around permit issuance first need to be addressed. At the very least, before the proposed legislation amendments are implemented, the National Transport Ministry needs to address the following issues:

  1. Efficient processes and systems must be put in place in all local authorities to allow drivers to easily apply for the operating permits they require
  2. Service level agreements need to be put in place with local authorities whereby they are required to assess applications and issue permits within the prescribed 60-day period.
  3. Local authorities need to be given deadlines by which their current permit application backlogs must be addressed to allow for faster processing of new applications once the amendments are promulgated.

If the Transport Ministry implements the proposed legislation amendments before ensuring that these permit issuance challenges are addressed, many drivers will be faced with the difficult choice of either having to operate illegally whilst awaiting their approved permits and risking significant fines and/or arrest, or stopping operations until they receive their permits, thereby losing what is, for many of them, their only source of income.

As such, if the Ministry of Transport is not able to address these particular challenges, it is only reasonable to ask it to reconsider this amendment and delay its implementation until the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure it does not impact negatively on the country’s transport industry. The legislators must have been aware of the challenges of passing such a significant law, as the Amendment Bill allows for the Minister to use his discretion to delay implementation of provisions for up to 5 years.

Fair trade and healthy competition are the cornerstones of any effective and growing economy. However, these clauses (Section 66 (7) and Section 66A) of the NLTA amendment, as well as the proposal that regulators be given authority to define the geographic locations or zones in which vehicles may operate, are contrary to the spirit of both. As a good corporate citizen, Uber is committed to supplementing and enhancing South Africa’s national transport system and contributing positively to the industry. If passed into law without the revisions suggested above, these new amendments will limit our business and many others from playing the supportive roles we all can, and should, in growing the SA transport and tourism industries as well as many other key economic sectors.

What’s more, if passed as they currently stand, the amendments will effectively limit South African consumers from having full access to the range of convenient transport options they deserve; which has the potential to harm the reputation and credibility of the entire transport industry.

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