ASUS was under pressure to deliver at this year’s Computex expo in Taiwan, and responded by pushing the edges of transforming notebooks once again, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
The Computex expo that goes down in Taipei, Taiwan, every June has yet to create the buzz of events like International CES in Las Vegas and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, despite being the only one of these shows that occurs in a technology heartland.
This year was no different, but it wasn’t for want of trying. And few tried harder than the hometown team, ASUS. One of the world’s biggest manufacturers of computer motherboards, it also leads the global market in hybrid ultramobile laptops. According to Gartner, it took 41 per cent of the world market in 2014. That only amounted to 3,1-million units, but it was up 263 per cent on the previous year.
As a result, the ASUS keynote address at Computex earlier this month was expected to be an important pointer to the next phase in the transformation of the laptop. Sure enough, it unveiled the Transformer Book T100HA, which takes the 2-in-1 concept to a new level of performance – and will be one of the first laptops to ship with Windows 10 pre-installed.
It is both a 10.1-inch ultra-light notebook and a 8.45mm super-thin tablet , and offers 14 hours battery life to cement its mobility credentials. ASUS promises that the transformation between laptop and tablet modes is completely seamless, and that the Windows display automatically adjusts to the appropriate mode.
The device highlights how quickly ASUS is moving to reinforce its claims to the hybrid market. Two years ago, the equivalent device lasted less than 12 hours and was anything but seamless in its transformation.
That won’t be immediately relevant in South Africa, but a wide range of transforming devices from the Taiwanese company has been available on local shelves for some time. One of the more impressive, the Transformer Flipbook TP300L, was first announced at last year’s Computex, drawing applause for its innovative design. The Flipbook’s 13.3-inch screen swivels through a full 360 degrees, turning it into a large tablet, or slate, running Windows 8.1.
That’s pretty big for a tablet, and it’s pretty heavy too, weighing in at around 1.75kg. The equivalent device from ASUS’s main competitor in this category, Lenovo, is the 1.2kg Yoga Pro.
Clearly, the intention is not for it to be used in the same mobile fashion as smaller tablets, but rather as a portable device designed to be moved from desktop to desktop – and perhaps even to tray tables in an aircraft, where economy seats no longer allow easy use of foldout laptops.
The specs are decent, with Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia GeForce 820M graphics processor, 4GB RAM and Full HD 1080p display. Depending on those specs, it could cost upward of R12 000, as much as the Yoga Pro or even the Macbook Air – still the first laptop choice in ultra-mobility.
A more serious issue is the fact that the machine is not particularly fast or responsive, meaning that the serious gamer is not going to be persuaded by the graphics chip. Battery life is good for a heavyweight laptop, at four hours, but well behind its ultra-notebook siblings.
It’s not intended to compete in that category, but any suggestion of compromised performance could have a knock-on effect across the brand.
Little wonder, then, that the pressure was on ASUS at Computex. Lenovo is breathing down its neck: it is world leader in PC sales and second in hybrid
ultramobile laptops, with 1.9-million units shipped last year – not massive, but up 331 per cent on the year before.
Such competitive pressure will ensure that we will see a continued transformation of the laptop. Judging by Computex 2015, there is little doubt that the Transformer range will continue to be at the forefront of this transformation.
Dell plans 50/50 gender split; 1:1 recycling and reuse
Dell Technologies has unveiled an ambitious 2030 target for a social impact plan called Progress Made Real.
Dell Technologies has declared a decade of responsibility and innovation to ramp up the company’s social impact worldwide. At the company’s Dell Technologies Summit in Austin, Texas, last week, chairman and CEO Michael Dell unveiled a set of ambitious goals in a plan called 2030 Progress Made Real.
“Unlocking the power of data will advance humanity more than any other force over the next decade,” said Dell. “We are committed to making that power broadly available to communities around the world, so we can all move forward together.”
Over the next decade, he said, Dell Technologies will use its global scale, broad technology portfolio and expertise to yield meaningful and measurable impact on society and the planet.
The plan sets the following goals for the company:
· Recycle an equivalent product for every product a customer buys
· Lead the circular economy with more than half of all product content being made from recycled or renewable material
· Use 100% recycled or renewable material in all packaging
· Deliver future-ready skills development for workers in their supply chain
· Drive a comprehensive science-based climate program, setting emissions goals across facilities, supply chain and operations to customer use of our products including partnering with suppliers to meet a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 60% per unit revenue by 2030
· Acquire, develop and retain women so they account for 50% of the company’s global workforce and 40% of global people managers
· Acquire, develop and retain black/African American and Hispanic team members so they account for 25% of the company’s U.S. workforce and 15% of U.S. people managers
· Educate 95% of all team members on an annual basis about unconscious bias, harassment, micro-aggressions and privilege
· Advance the health, education and economic opportunity of 1 billion people
· Digitally transform 1,000 nonprofit organisations
· Achieve 75% team member participation in charitable giving and volunteerism in communities
The company says ethics and privacy are foundational to its corporate and social impact strategies and are essential to executing the 2030 goals. To this end, it is fully automating data control processes, making it easier for customers to access, delete or share their personal data. The company will use digital tools to make it easier to get insights from, measure and monitor compliance issues using digital data.
In addition to seeking customer input, Dell Technologies engaged third parties, considered the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, and surveyed team members to assess the most critical issues and opportunities they see in their work and the world.
“We have a great responsibility to apply the full power of Dell Technologies to transform lives and society,” said Karen Quintos, chief customer officer at Dell Technologies. “By combining our technology portfolio, global scale, team member talent and customer partnerships, we can drive significant positive impact. Our 2030 agenda is comprehensive and deeply embedded across the business. The moonshot goals stretch us to go far beyond incremental change. In some cases, we’re still working to uncover how we’ll get there – but we know that significant change and innovation starts with deep commitment.”
In June 2019, Dell Technologies announced early completion of many of its 2020 goals. For example, through a global recycling network, it reached a 2020 goal of recycling 2-billion pounds of used electronics. Through partnerships with the Government of India and Tata Trusts, it deployed a cloud-based analytics solution to deliver preventive healthcare to remote villages, reaching 11 million people who would otherwise not have these services. A range of additional social impact goals have also been reached (see graphic below)
* For the full list of 2030 goals, see delltechnologies.com/2030goals.
Behind the scenes of Netflix SA’s Queen Sono
South Africa’s first Netflix Original TV show, Queen Sono, is almost ready to air. Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER spoke to the show’s creators on set.
In the heart of Johannesburg, a house is about to make history as one of the first homes to have a South African Netflix Original filmed inside. During filming, it’s surrounded by a dozen large trucks that carry props, camera equipment, set equipment and equipment needed to make this production a reality.
We chatted with Queen Sono’s writer, director, and showrunner, Kagiso Lediga, on set recently. He also heads up Diprente, the Johannesburg-based production company behind the show.
“[Being writer and director] gives one the ability to carry out the vision,” says Lediga. “I mean, it’s not just that I’m wearing many hats. But there’s the other creators, other HODs: from production designer to cinematographer, to the other writers that I work with. So it’s great, I guess that being a showrunner you kind of have to touch on all of those.
“It’s a huge responsibility in terms of carrying out the narrative. You know, sometimes what’s great is when you come up with an idea, and then when you see it when, either you’re sitting behind the monitor, directing, or while you’re sitting and editing, and you’re like ‘Whoa, that’s exactly how we imagined it’.”
The show is an action-packed series that follows Queen Sono, a highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life.
Of course, the gravity of being a Netflix Original means that Queen Sono will be put on a global stage, and will be available to stream in over 40 countries. We asked the show’s Director of Photography, Motheo Moeng, how the show’s image has been carefully crafted for a local and global audience.
“Overall, the treatment of the show is based on the characters we have written, naturally, and other spy films that we have looked at,” says Moeng. “So the treatment of her visually, and the look to the show visually, had that in mind. So as much as you wanted to treat it as an African show, we were well aware that it had to have international appeal.”
It’s also dangerous work getting the show to be perfect, Moeng says.
“It’s like being in a boxing ring, so there are days when you’re getting punched, there are days when you have to stand up and go. But overall, I guess the banter between myself and the first aiders is interesting. Our jobs are a direct contrast to each other; I’m trying to constantly light and make things look pretty, and he has to make sure we make the day, so if you stick around for long enough, you’ll see the love-hate relationship between us.”
Stunt Coordinators Grant Powell and Filip-Ciprian ‘Chip’ Florian have us a quick insight into how to get the actors (and film crew) ready for a spy movie’s action.
“[Most productions] have the same demands because they all have the same elements,” says Powell. “It doesn’t matter how big the movie, they’re still an actor. An actor still has to be trained. I still have to deal with the psychology of that. Convincing them that they can do it. So it really doesn’t matter the scale of the film, you’re still dealing with the same elements, which is training an actor from scratch sometimes.
“There was a combat scene with Queen Sono and the baddies, and she kicks one of them out the window, which is Chip by the way. So he goes through plate glass, goes over the balcony, three stories up and lands on a car. I thought that was cool. We had three weeks prep, which is great for a local show. You never get that, you’re usually learning on the day. That’s why the audience will instantly see the quality will be better because of this preparation. That’s what’s going to make this show stand out over and above anything that’s ever been done locally.”
Queen Sono is expected to be released exclusively on Netflix in 2020.