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CES: Sony supersizes new 8K TV range at 98″

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AT CES 2019 in Las Vegas last week, Sony Electronics announced the new MASTER Series Z9G 8K LCD and A9G 4K OLED televisions, which it intends to standardise larger displays on TV.

Larger TVs, it believes, are becoming more popular, and Sony’s goal with delivering new Z9G 98″ and 85″ class (97.5″ and 84.6″ diagonal) TVs is to maximise the super-large screen experience in the living room. In order to deliver premium picture quality in such extra-large screens, Sony is introducing extra resolution with its first consumer 8K television. With twice the number of horizontal lines and vertical lines, 8K provides four times the pixels of 4K (or 16 times the resolution of HD). This higher resolution results in a more immersive viewing experience, as 8K resolution means the larger-sized TVs look great up close with virtually no pixel differentiation.

Experts know that picture quality is not only about resolution. As screen sizes get larger, the processor plays an even more critical role in delivering premium picture quality. Using a proprietary algorithm, Sony’s Picture Processor X1 Ultimate has been optimised to handle the 33 million pixels of 8K. The same processor also enables the newly developed 8K X-Reality PRO to upscale any content using a new, dedicated 8K database for reference, resulting in more precise, detailed upscaling.

With a long history and expertise in developing professional cameras and monitors, Sony says, it recognises that “precision in constructing fine signal processing components results in an immediately visible difference to the whole image”.

In addition, new 8K technologies have been developed for the Z9G series, including a Backlight Master Drive feature with full-array local dimming and 8K X-tended Dynamic Range PRO. The Backlight Master Drive on the Z9G has ultra-dense LED modules that are independently controlled, delivering contrast with punchy brightness and pitch blacks. To optimise this backlight system, 8K X-tended Dynamic Range PRO uses the saved energy to boost brightness in the areas where it is needed.

Accurate sound position is another key factor as TVs get larger, says Sony:

“Taking the experience gained from its OLED Acoustic Surface Audio, Sony has expanded the concept to the Z9G LCD TV with Acoustic Multi-Audio. To deliver the Sound-from-Picture Reality experience, the new Acoustic Multi-Audio on the Z9G uses four front-facing speakers—two on the bottom and two on the top—to deliver a faithful sound position. Viewers will hear the sound coming from the screen, and not where the speaker is located. In addition, the Z9G has a TV Center Speaker Mode for people who have a home theatre setup, whereby the TV becomes the centre speaker. The sound experience is also enhanced by the TV’s compatibility with Dolby Atmos1, which adds a wide, rich sound field.”

The Z9G also features X-Wide Angle to ensure the picture retains its quality regardless of the viewing angle. This feature enables a wider viewing angle that reduces colour shifts when viewing the screen off-axis, so colours stay true no matter the viewer’s position, while X-Motion Clarity minimises motion blur without sacrificing screen brightness.

Sony also released a new flagship 4K OLED TV, the A9G, in 77″, 65″ and 55″ classes (76.7″, 64.5″, and 54.6″ diagonal).

Click here to read more detailed information and specs for the new Sony TVs.

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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, which features a built-in virtual private network service.

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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