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Gaming Expo returns to Canal Walk

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Canal Walk’s Gaming Expo, backed by BT Games and Good Hope FM, is to return for the third year.

Taking place in Centre Court at Canal Walk Shopping Centre (CWSC) from 24 to Sunday 29 October, it offers gamers, eSports fans, and Cosplayers 12 hours per day to immerse themselves in the latest the industry has to offer.

The Football Tournament, a highlight for the past two years, will see PlayStation and BT Games present the winner with a R10 000 cash prize and a PlayStation 4 PRO console worth R8000. The runner-up will receive R5000, a copy of GT Sport and R3000. EEntrants must register online (at Friday and Saturday). The top players from each qualifier stage will return for the semi-final and grand finals on the  Sunday.

October is a big month for the gaming industry, with a number of new releases from all the console houses.  For Super Mario fans, Nintendo will be launching the latest in the series, Super Mario Odyssey (due out on 27 October), on its globally successful new console, the Nintendo Switch.  Other new titles for the Switch include Pokken Tournament, Mario Kart and FIFA 18. Expect to try out other new releases across varying genre’s and for various consoles – from South Park to Assassin’s Creed Origins from Just Dance 2018 to Middle Earth: Shadow of War.

Virtual Reality followers will have their share of the latest offerings to experience.  BT Games has confirmed that GT Sport will be playable for the first time in Cape Town using PSVR. Gaming merchandise like collectable figures will be available at the show.

Cosplay returns to the centre stage, with a competition on Saturday 28.  Cosplay (a contraction of “costume” and “play”), is more than just dressing up.  It is a creative form of self-expression and requires hours of designing, sewing and making of incredible outfits.

“The appetite for gaming and game-related products and materials is voracious,” said Vanessa Herbst, Marketing Manager, Canal Walk Shopping Centre. “We saw this last year with a packed-out centre, from the sports competitions to children dancing and even taking on their parents in the old arcade games such as Pacman, which will also make a welcome return in this year’s event.

“It’s very clear that we are living in a digital world, so we have made every effort to compile a broad array of exhibits to appeal to as many aspects of the digital gaming spectrum as possible  in this year’s show.”

Says Karl Klöpfer, Head of Marketing at BT Games, “We are also conscious that it has been a tough economic year for many people, so once again we will offer big savings on consoles, games and related items during this Expo, in time for the upcoming festive season. There will be special offers for gamers who pre-order selected upcoming games, and free gifts with selected purchases. Expect killer deals, like Xbox One or PS4 consoles from R3999 and deals on hot new games too! Expect lots of fun competitions and many give-aways all week long.”

Confirmed exhibitors include Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, Megarom Interactive, Electronic Arts and a number of others, with more announcements to follow that will showcase just how broad the industry of gaming has become and how it appeals to people from all walks of life.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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