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CES 2016: Acer styles up Chromebook

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Acer rolled out the newest model in its Chromebook 11 line, with a more durable design that features a nano-imprinted cover, at CES 2016 in Las Vegas last week.

“Acer’s position in the Chromebook market is unparalleled because we offer the range of Chromebook products that our customers want – including larger 15-inch displays and convertible models,” said Jerry Kao, president of Acer Notebook Business Group. “We know what our customers want most in a Chromebook are the attributes that complement the mobile lifestyle – great performance and a portable design at an excellent value – all this can be found in the Chromebook 11.”

According to data from Gartner, Acer Group is currently the world’s leading Chromebook brand with over 34% market share for the first three quarters of 2015.

Acer provided the folloiwing information on the new laptop:

The Chromebook 11’s cover is made with a nano-imprinted pattern which gives it a premium look and feel while also boosting durability. The Chromebook 11 has been reinforced like Acer’s models for commercial and educational customers to handle extra-stressful environments. It can handle up to 60kg of downward force on the top cover, while the corners can tolerate up to 60cm drops without damage. The reinforced case results in greater resistance to twisting and stress.

The slim and portable form factor makes the Acer Chromebook 11 ideal for use anywhere – at home, school, work and on-the-go. It measures only 0.73 inches (18.6mm) thin and weighs only 2.42 pounds (1.1kg).

The Acer Chromebook 11 has an 11.6-inch display that features non-glare Acer ComfyView, so it limits eye-strain even after long hours of use. The display has a 1366×768 resolution that ensures sharp and legible text as well as vivid, clear videos and photos.

Customers will enjoy video chats on Google Hangouts and capturing crisp, clear photos with the high-dynamic range (HDR) camera. The webcam experience is further enhanced by the two stereo speakers and integrated microphone for top-notch audio and video capabilities.

Solid Performance and All-Day Battery Life

The Acer Chromebook 11 delivers solid everyday performance using Intel Celeron quad-core processors. Further contributing to responsiveness and a fast boot time, the Chromebook 11 features 2GB or 4GB of memory and a 16GB or 32GB eMMC storage. Customers on the go will be able to experience all-day productivity and fun since it provides up to 9 hours of battery life.

Keeps Customers Connected on the Go

With the fast dual-band 2×2 MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi on the Acer Chromebook 11, customers can stay connected and in touch with up to three times faster wireless connectivity compared to 802.11n. The device connects easily to peripherals via Bluetooth 4.0, or the USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and HDMI ports. Customers can transfer files to or from the Acer Chromebook 11 and access media on SD cards with the SD reader.

Acer Chromebook 11 Simplifies Security and Collaboration

Chromebooks are simple to use and ideal for sharing by multiple users. Customers simply log into their own Google account to access Gmail, Google Docs, favorite bookmarks, and other information. Plus, the Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-131 can be used by customers to create, edit and collaborate both on-line and off-line in programs, such as Office documents.

Security is a key benefit of the Chrome OS, as it’s automatically updated to guard against ever-changing online threats. Every time Chrome OS boots, it checks the integrity and validity of system files. In addition, user files stored on the device are in a separate partition to keep data secure. Many customers prefer to keep all their files on Google Drive which protects files, documents, and photos safely in the cloud, and ensures that the most current version of the file or document is always available and safe, even if the Chromebook is lost or stolen. In addition, the Supervised Users feature helps get children online in a safe, controlled way.

Models, Availability and Pricing

The Acer Chromebook 11 line (CB3-131) will be available in South Africa from Q2 2016 at the suggested retail price of R 4 499,

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Epic Games brings a Nite-mare to Android

Epic Games’ decision to not publish games through Google Play inadvertently opens a market to Android virus makers, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, decided to take the high road by skipping Google Play’s app distribution market and placing a third-party installer for its games on its website. While this is technically fine, it is not recommended for the average user, because allowing third-party installers on one’s smartphone opens up the possibility of non-signed and malicious software to be run on the smartphone. 

In June, malware researchers at ESET warned Android gamers that malicious fake versions of the Fortnite app had been created to steal personal information or damage smartphones. A malware researcher demonstrated how the fake applications works in the Tweet below.

An example on how one can get infected by downloading the Fortnite app from Google Play.

While the decision to bypass Google Play was a bold move on Epic Games’ part, it has been a long time coming for app developers to move their premium apps off Google’s Play Store. The two major app distributors, Google Play and Apple’s App Store, take a 30% cut of every purchase made through their app distribution platforms. 

The App Store is currently the only way to get apps on a non-modified iOS device, which is why Epic Games had no choice for Fortnite to be in the App Store. On the other hand, Android phones can install packages downloaded through the browser, which makes the Play Store almost unnecessary for the gaming company. 

The most interesting part of this development is that Google is not the “bad guy” and Epic Games is no saviour to other game developers. Epic Games is a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation and has resources like large-scale servers to distribute and update its games, a big marketing budget to ensure everyone knows how to get its games, and server security to protect against malware. 

Resources of this scale allow the game company to turn a cold shoulder to Google’s Play Store distribution and focus on its own, in-house solution. 

That said, installing packages without the Google Play Store must be done carefully, and it is essential to do homework on where a package is downloaded. Moreover, when a package is installed outside of the Google Play Store, a security switch to block the installation of third party apps must be turned off. This switch should be turned back on immediately after the third party package is installed. 

This complex amount of steps makes it less worthwhile to install third party apps, in favour of rather waiting for them to reach the Play Store.

From a consumer perspective, ESET recommends not installing packages outside of the Google Play Store and to ignore advertisements to download the game from other sources.

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How to take on IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming, whether you like it or not and organisations today will look to platforms and services that help them manage and analyse the streams of data coming from connected devices, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.

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Today, we are witnessing an explosion in IoT deployments and solutions and are moving towards a world where almost everything you can imagine will be connected. While this opens the door to many possibilities it also comes with its own challenges such as privacy and security.

The Internet has become an integral part of everyday life; it has been a free for all on a daily basis. IoT is a difficult concept for many people to wrap their minds around. Essentially, nearly every business will be affected.

Managing vast quantities of data across increasingly mobile workforces can be tremendously beneficial if done well, but equally can be cumbersome and ineffective if not managed properly. This is why technologies such as mobile edge computing are becoming increasingly popular, helping to increase the prevalence of secure mobile working and data management in the age of IoT.

Unlocking IoT

The evolution of IoT, despite rapid and ongoing technological innovation, is still very much in its fledgling stages. Its potential, though, is demonstrated by the fact that by 2020, Bain anticipates a significant shift in uptake, with roughly 80 per cent of adoptions at that point to have progressed to the stage of either ‘proof of concept’ or extensive implementation. This means that technological innovation in IoT for the enterprise is progressing at a similarly fast rate with many of these solutions being developed with utilities, engineering, manufacturing and logistics companies in mind.

Processing at the edge

For IoT to be adopted at the rate predicted, technology which does not overwhelm current or even legacy systems must be implemented. Mobile edge computing solves this. Such solutions offer processing power at the edge of the network, helping firms with a high proportion of mobile workers to reduce operational strain and latency by processing the most critical data at the edge and close to its originating source. Relevant data can then be sent to the cloud for observation and analysis, thereby reducing the waves of ‘data garbage’ which has to be processed by cloud services.

A logistics manager can feasibly monitor and analyse the efficiency of warehouse operations, for example, with important data calculations carried out in real-time, on location, and key data findings then sent to the cloud for centrally-located data scientists to analyse.

The work of wearables

The potential of IoT means it not only has the scope to change the way people work, but also where they work. While widespread mobile working is a relatively new trend in industries such as banking and professional services, for CIOs in sectors where working on the move is inherent – such as logistics and field maintenance – mobility is high on the agenda.

Wearables – and specifically smart glasses – have started to gain traction within the business world. With mobile edge computing solutions acting as the gateway, smart glasses such as Toshiba’s assisted reality AR 100 viewer solution have been designed to benefit frontline and field-based workers in industries such as utilities, manufacturing and logistics. In the renewable energy sector, for example, a wind turbine engineer conducting repairs may use assisted reality smart glasses to call up the schematics of the turbine to enable a hands-free view of service procedures. This means that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert and have additional information sent through, thereby saving time and money by eradicating the need for extra personnel to be sent to the site.

The time is ripe for organisations to look to exploit the age of IoT to improve the productivity and safety of their workers, as well as the end service delivered to customers. In fact, Toshiba’s recent ‘Maximising Mobility’ report found that 49 per cent of organisations believe their sector can benefit from the hands-free functionality of smart glasses, while 47 per cent expect them to deliver improved mobile working and 41 per cent foresee better collaboration and information sharing. Embracing IoT technologies such as mobile edge computing and wearable solutions will be an essential step for many organisations within these verticals as they look to stay on top of 21st century working challenges.

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