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CES: Dynabook, Lenovo, in war for lightest laptop



At CES 2020 in Las Vegas this week, Dynabook (formerly Toshiba) declared itself winner in the war for the lightest fully-featured 13″ laptop. It unveiled the Portégé X30L-G, weighing just 870g, and running on Intel 10th generation processors. However, it fell short of the mark, edged out by NEC and Lenovo’s LaVie Z HZ550, launched at CES back in 2015, and weighing in at 780g. This year, Lenovo and NEC introduced the new version, the Lavie Pro Mobile, an 840g flyweight. However, it is no lightweight when it comes to price, with a hefty $1599 pricetag in the USA – also the starting price for the new Portégé.

Lenovo has been sketchy on the details of the Lavie Pro Mobile, but Dynabook has waxed lyrical on its contendor.

“The Portégé X30L-G has been engineered to be the perfect companion for the modern day professional, both in the office and on the move,” it said in an announcement this week. “Balancing mobility and durability, its magnesium chassis is incredibly light but also robust, having been carefully engineered for rigidity.”

Since Sharp bought out Toshiba in 2018 and changed the brand name to Dynabook, it has also brought its display heritage to bear on its new property. Sharp developed the X30L-G’s non-reflective 13” IGZO FHD LCD screen, which offers high brightness with 470NIT, but with reduced power consumption compared to a standard LCD. The combination of its 14.5 hour battery life (with the IGZO screen) and a Quick Charge function, which provides 4 hours’ battery on just 30 minutes charge, means that worries about conserving battery will wane faster than the power itself.

The Portégé X30L-G offers a wide selection of SSD storage options, including SATA, fast PCIe and Intel Optane. A Micro SD card reader gives further portable storage options, while fast DDR4 RAM memory means the device can withstand the demands of most business applications.

The device benefits from an extensive range of network and peripheral connectivity options. A USB Type-C port enables users to charge, connect to displays or transfer data through one connection. Although ultra slim in design, the device is also equipped with a full-size HDMI port and 2 x USB 3.0 ports. An optional USB-C dock also allows one-click connection to minimise cable clutter and rapid hook up to peripherals. For network connectivity, the latest Intel 802.11ax (WiFi 6) + BT 5.0 WiFi module supports faster speeds and increased bandwidth, while a Gigabit-LAN port powers high speed access to network resources.

The device is equipped with face and fingerprint biometric authentication via Windows Hello and Intel Authenticate. Other security components, like Trusted Platform Module 2.0 (TPM) and Dynabook’s BIOS, engineered in-house, provide a further layer of protection.

The Portégé X30L-G will be available in South Africa from Mustek in mid-February 2020. For more information about the Dynabook range, visit


SA’s Internet goes down again

South Africa is about to experience a small repeat of the lower speeds and loss of Internet connectivity suffered in January, thanks to a new undersea cable break, writes BRYAN TURNER



Internet service provider Afrihost has notified customers that there are major outages across all South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as a result of a break in the WACS undersea cable between Portugal and England 

The cause of the cable break along the cable is unclear. it marks the second major breakage event along the West African Internet sea cables this year, and comes at the worst possible time: as South Africans grow heavily dependent on their Internet connections during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

As a result of the break, the use of international websites and services, which include VPNs (virtual private networks), may result in latency – decreased speeds and response times.  

WACS runs from Yzerfontein in the Western Cape, up the West Coast of Africa, and terminates in the United Kingdom. It makes a stop in Portugal before it reaches the UK, and the breakage is reportedly somewhere between these two countries. 

The cable is owned in portions by several companies, and the portion where the breakage has occurred belongs to Tata Communications. 

The alternate routes are:  

  • SAT3, which runs from Melkbosstrand also in the Western Cape, up the West Coast and terminates in Portugal and Spain. This cable runs nearly parallel to WACS and has less Internet capacity than WACS. 
  • ACE (Africa Coast to Europe), which also runs up the West Coast.  
  • The SEACOM cable runs from South Africa, up the East Coast of Africa, terminating in both London and Dubai.  
  • The EASSy cable also runs from South Africa, up the East Coast, terminating in Sudan, from where it connects to other cables. 

The routes most ISPs in South Africa use are WACS and SAT3, due to cost reasons. 

The impact will not be as severe as in January, though. All international traffic is being redirected via alternative cable routes. This may be a viable method for connecting users to the Internet but might not be suitable for latency-sensitive applications like International video conferencing. 

Read more about the first Internet connectivity breakage which happened on the same cable, earlier this year. 

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SA cellphones to be tracked to fight coronavirus

Several countries are tracking cellphones to understand who may have been exposed to coronavirus-infected people. South Africa is about to follow suit, writes BRYAN TURNER



From Israel to South Korea, governments and cell networks have been implementing measures to trace the cellphones of coronavirus-infected citizens, and who they’ve been around. The mechanisms countries have used have varied.  

In Iran, citizens were encouraged to download an app that claimed to diagnose COVID-19 with a series of yes or no questions. The app also tracked real-time location with a very high level of accuracy, provided by the GPS sensor. 

In Germany, all cellphones on Deutsche Telekom are being tracked through cell tower connections, providing a much coarser location, but a less invasive method of tracking. The data is being handled by the Robert Koch Institute, the German version of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In Taiwan, those quarantined at home are tracked via an “electronic fence”, which determines if users leave their homes.  

In South Africa, preparations have started to track cellphones based on cell tower connections. The choice of this method is understandable, as many South Africans may either feel an app is too intrusive to have installed, or may not have the data to install the app. This method also allows more cellphones, including basic feature phones, to be tracked. 

This means that users can be tracked on a fairly anonymised basis, because these locations can be accurate to about 2 square kilometers. Clearly, this method of tracking is not meant to monitor individual movements, but rather gain a sense of who’s been around which general area.  

This data could be used to find lockdown violators, if one considers that a phone connecting in Hillbrow for the first 11 days of lockdown, and then connecting in Morningside for the next 5, likely indicates a person has moved for an extended period of time. 

The distance between Hillbrow and Morningside is 17km. One would pass through several zones covered by different towers.

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that South African network providers have agreed to provide government with location data to help fight COVID-19. 

Details on how the data will be used, and what it will used to determine, are still unclear. 

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