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Gear VR goes beyong gaming

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Although the Samsung Galaxy Gear VR was initially launched mainly for entertainment uses, many companies are finding it useful in the restaurant, travel and hotel sectors.

The Samsung Gear VR, the virtual reality gaming and multimedia headset, is ‘gearing up’ to move into other realms. Users of the Gear VR are already comfortable with the plug-and-play device’s ability to transport users into new gaming arenas.

But, it turns out, the Gear VR has valuable uses over and above individual enjoyment.

“The Gear VR paired with Samsung devices delivers an entirely new level of immersive virtual entertainment,” says Craige Fleischer, Director of Integrated Mobility at Samsung Electronics South Africa. “Consumers can now download a collection of games, multimedia and movies in HD quality with a 360° view.”

The Gear VR is already bringing new entertainment dimensions in terms of home movies, games and numerous app capabilities. Where it really shows its flexibility is in the spheres of business and education.

The Samsung Gear VR is adding value to the business industry in sectors such as restaurants, travel agencies and hotels, while the possibilities for educational use keep rising. Giving students of all levels the opportunity to interact with content in 3-D learning environments can be enormously productive, whether looking at school-level science pupils ‘walking with dinosaurs’ in 3-D or medical students learning how to perform a delicate surgical procedure.

Futurists have been predicting the rise of immersive virtual reality headsets as instructional tool. The Samsung Gear VR, through its personal engagement with the student, helps to make learning even more meaningful. It can ‘bring the world’ to learners wherever they might be. Significantly, it also allows students to become creators of content and not only consumers.

The Samsung Gear VR has the ability to enhance business performance as well. For example, a major credit card company is discussing how it might use virtual reality technology to give customers insights into places they are considering visiting and hotels where they might like to stay. Similarly, this thinking can be extended into the areas of real estate and luxury brands, offering potential buyers a truly enhanced preview of property or items they might be interested in buying.

Another futuristic business opportunity lies in fine dining. By adding in a virtual reality facility, restaurants can enhance the sensory experience of dining even further. Instead of only enjoying the taste of a region’s food, you could enjoy a meal while ‘looking’ around the area from which it originated: Imagine eating French-inspired food while gazing at the vista of a Paris café setting, for example.

“The technology offered by the Samsung Gear VR offers more than simply individual enjoyment,” says Fleisher. “We are seeing that the possible scope is no longer limited to gaming and consuming multi-media. Today, we are becoming ever immersed in creating content and using virtual reality to provide business and education solutions as well.”

*The Gear VR is compatible with the Galaxy S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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