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Dynamite comes in CloudGate package

CloudGate’s latest mini-computer packs a powerful punch and redefines what it means to be a great desktop computer, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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With the dimensions of a sandwich, the CloudGate X delivers more on speed and responsiveness than most desktop towers in its price range. The practical engineering of the X demonstrates how tower PCs no longer have a place in the typical home, office, or classroom.

Compared to the previous generation of this device, the CloudGate X is a little bigger, at 12cm², but adds all the necessary functionality which makes it a feasible desktop replacement. The X weighs a quarter of a kilogram, around 32 times lighter than a run-of-the-mill tower PC. The X runs off just 10W of power, drawing less than 5% of the power a typical tower PC would.

The front of the mini-computer provides two USB ports, an SD card slot, and the power button. The side holds more ports, like the power jack, another USB, an HDMI, an Ethernet, and an audio jack. A VGA port on the back of the device is a pleasant surprise: a nice addition for those who want a computer replacement without getting a new screen.

The computer houses an Apollo Lake Intel Celeron Quad-Core CPU, clocked at 1.1GHz, which can be boosted to 2.2GHz. It contains 64GB of eMMC solid state storage and 4GB memory. The internal storage can be bumped up by another 128GB on request or replaced with up to 320GB with m.2, one of the fastest storage standards.

The chipset provides 802.11b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. For office environments, a gigabit LAN port is available.

Once the screen, mouse, and keyboard are set up, Windows 10 starts with the usual setup options at Microsoft account sign-in. This was easily replaced with Ubuntu 18.10 in a matter of 12 minutes.

Thanks to its fast solid state drives and quad-core CPU, the speed at which the computer set itself up after the installation was remarkable.

This continues to be a theme while using the computer: its snappy performance leaves most budget tower desktop configurations feeling sluggish. We ran a storage benchmark test against another tower desktop with a 7200rpm hard drive and the CloudGate X come out 4.5 times faster at reading data from its solid state drive.

In terms of Office applications, this means that the X delivers on performance with fast application start-up times of around 3 seconds for Word and responsive document editing. The X has no performance issues with running other business-critical applications, like Pastel, SalesForce, and Sage. Typical office applications had great performance and multitaskingl.

For playing HD video, it does well without stuttering, which could prove useful when used as a media centre computer. This is due to the latest integrated Intel HD Graphics, which now decodes H.265/HEVC video more efficiently than previous processors. Media centre applications are generally good for HD video playback.

Keeping in mind that this computer is not a gaming computer, it handles most pre-2013 games well on medium settings. The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion saw around 30 frames per second on medium graphics settings. The Sims 3 scored around 35 frames per second on medium-high graphics settings. Overall, less graphics-intensive games perform well on the X.

Development tools fare well on this computer. Visual Studio 2017 V15.8 was used to create, edit and build web applications with a few other apps open. Creating and editing web page code was smooth but the builds were surprisingly fast.

“Even though the Intel Core CPUs may have higher clock speeds and more cache, the N3450 in the CloudGate X will outperform them due to the extra cores – especially when it comes to multitasking,” says Xavier Nel, head of product at CloudGate and CloudWare.

Ranging between R3 500 and R5 200 (depending on the chosen configuration), the CloudGate X is a powerful system that delivers on several use cases across industry sectors. Even more significant, the cost of the Windows-based device includes a Windows 10 Professional licence (priced at R2 500).

Outperforming most office desktop towers, the CloudGate X shines as an affordable option to replace traditional tower desktop computers.

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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search

From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.

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Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.

In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.

Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.

Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.

As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.

South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday  as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019

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According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”

Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”

Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion

Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024

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