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When 2-in-1 costs less than 1

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Two-in-one combination tablet/laptops usually come at a price that makes laptops more attractive, but now low-cost options are emerging, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

Tablets that are designed with docking keyboards and better known as 2-in-1 tablets have long been touted as an ideal compromise between the portability of a tablet and the productivity of a keyboard device.

However, the cost of most of the options available in the South African market is often higher than that of a reasonable laptop.

For example, a 15.6-inch HP Celeron notebook with a 500GB hard drive and Windows 10, can be had for as little as R4999. An Asus 2-in-1 Transformer Book with 11.6-inch screen costs more than R6000. Granted, it comes with the versatility of a detachable tablet that can also be flipped round on the keyboard to become an effective display or presentation device.

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The tablet portion can be used to continue working in settings that are often too cramped for a fold-up notebook – ranging from buses and taxis to economy class seats on aircraft. Laptops come into their own when the trackpad and keyboard are essential for productivity applications like Word and Excel.

The challenge is to get the best of both worlds at a down-to-earth price. Now, solutions are beginning to emerge.

A local company called Inclusive Solutions has become South African distributor of a new range of low-cost 2-in-1 laptops under the Venturer brand. It is offering a basic 10.1-inch model called the BravoWin, but it is more likely to make inroads with the EliteWin 11K, an 11.6-inch device retailing at under R4 000.

Aside from the regular laptop mode, as the 2-in-1 format implies, it can also be used in tablet mode and display mode – with the tablet section reversed on the keyboard dock. It also offers a presentation mode similar to that of Lenovo’s Yoga devices, in the shape of an open laptop overturned and resting on the edges of the keyboard and tablet.

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A multi-touch capacitive touch screen means the tablet screen is fairly responsive. Along with an Intel Atom 1.44GHz processor and 4GB RAM, the system is not too shabby either.

The one drawback is storage space, which comes in at a stingy 32GB. Once the operating system and basic apps are installed, that doesn’t leave much room for a modest collection of music, photos and movies. In North America and Europe, on-device storage is becoming less of an issue as access to cloud storage becomes cheaply and widely available.

However, Inclusive Solutions has come up with its own local solution, bundling the device with a 64GB micro SD card, making for a total 96GB capacity. That is still not massive but, considering the device also has both USB and micro-USB ports, storage on peripheral devices becomes a viable option. The drives are both positioned on the side of the tablet component, making this one of the few tablets on the market with multi-USB functionality.

A Mini HDMI port for connecting to a TV, 2MP front and rear cameras, 1366 x 768 resolution, and 8 hours battery life round out a set of fairly straightforward features. It is a sturdy unit that will appeal to students and those starting out in the working world.

It’s closest competition is likely to be the 2-in-1 Alcatel Plus 10, with almost identical features but a slightly smaller screen, at 10.6-inches. Launched in South Africa late last year, it also has slightly lower screen resolution, of 1280 x 800.

It’s standout feature is a keyboard that doubles as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 15 users. This all comes with a recommended retail price of R3600, positioning it as another alternative for students and young users.

Both the Venturer and the Alcatel options are ideal for school use when iPads are either too costly or do not meet productivity needs. But there is one more factor that gives these devices an edge at their price: they provide a laptop format with touch-screen capabilities – a feature that would add almost the cost of these devices to any standard laptop.

 

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Bring your network with you

At last week’s Critical Communications World, Motorola unveiled the LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. It allows rescue personal to set up dedicated LTE networks for communication in an emergency, writes SEAN BACHER.

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In the event of an emergency, communications are absolutely critical, but the availability of public phone networks are limited due to weather conditions or congestion.

Motorola realised that this caused a problem when trying to get rescue personnel to those in need and so developed its LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. The product is the smallest and lightest full powered broadband network to date and allows the first person on the scene to set up an LTE network in a matter of minutes, allowing other rescue team members to communicate with each other.

“The LXN 500 weighs six kilograms and comes in a backpack with two batteries. It offers a range of 1km and allows up to 100 connections at the same time. However, in many situations the disaster area may span more than 1km which is why they can be connected to each other in a mesh formation,” says Tunde Williams, Head of Field and Solutions Marketing EMEA, Motorola Solutions.

The LXN 500 solution offers communication through two-way radios, and includes mapping, messaging, push-to-talk, video and imaging features onboard, thus eliminating the need for any additional hardware.

Data collected on the device can then be sent through to a central control room where an operator can deploy additional rescue personnel where needed. Once video is streamed into the control room, realtime analytics and augmented reality can be applied to it to help predict where future problem points may arise. Video images and other multimedia can also be made available for rescuers on the ground.

“Although the LXN 500 was designed for the seamless communications between on ground rescue teams and their respective control rooms, it has made its way into the police force and in places where there is little or no cellular signal such as oil rigs,” says Williams.

He gave a hostage scenario: “In the event of a hostage situation, it is important for the police to relay information in realtime to ensure no one is hurt. However the perpetrators often use their mobile phones to try and foil any rescue attempts. Should the police have the correct partnerships in place they are able to disable cellular towers in the vicinity, preventing any in or outgoing calls on a public network and allowing the police get their job done quickly and more effectively.”

By disabling any public networks in the area, police are also able to eliminate any cellular detonated bombs from going off but still stay in touch with each other he says.

The LXN 500 offers a wide range of mission critical cases and is sure to transform communications and improve safety for first responders and the people they are trying to protect.

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Kaspersky moves to Switzerland

As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Kaspersky Lab is adapting its infrastructure to move a number of core processes from Russia to Switzerland.

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This includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates. To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland.

Global transparency and collaboration for an ultra-connected world

The Global Transparency Initiative, announced in October 2017, reflects Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing commitment to assuring the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. The new measures are the next steps in the development of the initiative, but they also reflect the company’s commitment to working with others to address the growing challenges of industry fragmentation and a breakdown of trust. Trust is essential in cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Lab understands that trust is not a given; it must be repeatedly earned through transparency and accountability.

The new measures comprise the move of data storage and processing for a number of regions, the relocation of software assembly and the opening of the first Transparency Center.

Relocation of customer data storage and processing

By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility, will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow. This information is shared voluntarily by users with the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) an advanced, cloud-based system that automatically processes cyberthreat-related data.

Relocation of software assembly

Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organisation and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.

Establishment of the first Transparency Center

The source code of Kaspersky Lab products and software updates will be available for review by responsible stakeholders in a dedicated Transparency Center that will also be hosted in Switzerland and is expected to open this year. This approach will further show that generation after generation of Kaspersky Lab products were built and used for one purpose only: protecting the company’s customers from cyberthreats.

Independent supervision and review

Kaspersky Lab is arranging for the data storage and processing, software assembly, and source code to be independently supervised by a third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. Since transparency and trust are becoming universal requirements across the cybersecurity industry, Kaspersky Lab supports the creation of a new, non-profit organisation to take on this responsibility, not just for the company, but for other partners and members who wish to join.

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