In Something on the Side, SEAN BACHER tries out the Vox Guardian Eye Lite camera, Oakley Gearbox, Astraphobe Lightning Protection System, Beats Pill XL and My Friend Cayla doll.
Vox Guardian Eye Lite
This IP camera is quite possibly one of the easiest to set up at home. Simply download the mEZViewer app on an iPad, iPhone or Android device, plug the camera into a network to gain an IP address, and authenticate it through the app. The camera can be placed anywhere in a home – that is, anywhere within Wi-Fi range and close to an electrical outlet. The device uses a 3.2 mm day/night lens that offers a viewing angle of 60 degrees and a maximum resolution of up to 640×480 pixels. It can be set to start recording to a built-in SD card should it detect any motion and can even alert users. Up to ten cameras can be monitored through the app, serving as an ideal home-security system.
Stockists: Visit www.voxtelecom.co.za for ordering information.
Expect to pay: The camera is available with three pricing plans: R150 p/m for a 24 month contract or R265 p/m for a 12 month contract or R2 550 for a once-off purchase.
The Oakley Gearbox watch doesn’t display tweets or e-mails; it doesn’t even pair with a phone. So what does it do? Exactly what the watch was originally designed to do: tell the time. It does however employ a gearbox, meaning that the battery is recharged with the slightest wrist movement. Furthermore, a fully recharged battery will last up to five years. The watch features an over-sized crown on the left side, making it a little confusing when first putting it on your wrist. It’s also waterproof up to 10bars.
Stockists: Visit www.oakley.com for ordering information.
Expect to pay: Prices range from R3 000 to R16 000 depending on the model chosen. The R16 000 version is for a limited edition titanium edition.
Astraphobe Lightning Protection System
The Astraphobe Lightning Protection System is designed to protect an ADSL router from getting fried during a lightning storm. Jacstech, the company that manufactures the device, says that the lightning arrester is able track storms up to 40km away. When a storm is detected it displays a warning message on the LCD and disconnects the router from the phone line.
Stockists: Most reputable electronics retail outlets nationwide.
Expect to pay: R1 400
Beats Pill XL
The Beats Pill XL is an upgrade on the previous Beats Pill in that it is louder and offers clearer sound, even when the volume is pushed to the max. The Pill will connect to most Bluetooth devices and is even able to pair with other Pills to give stereo sound. The Beats Pill XL has a microphone, so it can be used as a conference speaker. The battery will last up to five hours.
Stockists: All major retail stores nationwide.
Expect to pay: R4 499.
My Friend Cayla doll
Although Cayla looks like an ordinary doll, she does much more than just look pretty. The doll connects to a Wi-Fi network through an Android or iOS device and is able to answer questions about general knowledge, her likes and dislikes, and even sports results. Parents don’t have to worry about her answering inappropriate questions, as the doll will only take answers from trusted sites. Cayla also has a pre-defined list of bad words and topics that she will not talk about. When not searching the Internet, Cayla can play games, tell stories and discuss photos.
Stockists: Toys R Us Stores nationwide.
Expect to pay: R1 000
* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher
Samsung unleashes the beast
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)
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.
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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.