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Google Home and Amazon Echo come to South Africa

The devices are directly imported from the USA by Cellucity, but are ICASA-approved and carry a local warranty

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The Cellucity retail chain has announced that it will bring a wide range of Google and Amazon gadgets into South Africa for the festive season. It will be launching the Google home range of smart speakers, as well as Google’s Chromecast smart TV device and a range of Amazon products.

The company said in a statement: “Smart home speakers are all the rage right now – not only fun and entertaining; they are also useful at helping you plan your day. Set the alarm – no problem, check the weather – no problem. Check the traffic; yes, you probably guessed it – no problem! And, with the festive period around the corner, they make the ideal gift whether you are tech-savvy or a newbie to the world of IoT.

“We are not ones to shy away from trends and are excited to be able to offer a range of smart speakers. For our Google lovers, we are happy to be launching the Google Home range.”

The Google Home Mini is a stylish compact speaker with all the functionality of Google Assistant. Users can ask it questions or give it commands, hands-free. Although the Google Mini offers exceptional clarity of sound, those looking for a bit of oomph will probably look to the Google Home Assistant Smart Speaker. As with the Google Mini, the Google Home offers Google Assistant but offers enhanced sound, bass and far-field voice recognition.

“If you are looking for more than just a smart speaker, check out the Smart Home Hub,” advises Cellucity. “With all the functionality of the Google Smart Mini and Home, the Home Hub doubles as a digital photo frame and offers the advantage of video playback. 

The following Google Home products can be purchased either upfront or added on to selected Vodacom contracts at Cellucity:

  • Google Home Mini at R899, or from R40 per month as an add-on to selected Vodacom contract packages.
  • Google Home Smart at R2499
  • Google Home Hub from R2499, or R90 per month as an add-on to selected Vodacom contract packages.

For TV viewers, Cellucity has launched Google Chromecast, which connects to any smart TV. It’s compact and mobile so can br taken with on holiday. The Chromecast, which is ideal for bringing Netflix or Showmax to a smart TV, will be available from R849.

For those looking to Amazon products, Cellucity is launching the Amazon Echo speakers 2nd and 3rd Gen at R999 and R1499 respectively. It is also offering the Amazon Firestick 4K, allowing users to stream shows and content in 4K. The Firestick will be available from R1299.

 All the Google Home and Amazon products are easy to pair with both Android and iOS. 

It is important to note that all features may not yet be available in South Africa, particularly with Amazon products, but Cellucity says it is working on it. The devices have been imported directly from the USA, but have been ICASA approved and will carry a local warranty. 

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Vodacom cuts cost of smallest bundle by 40%

The country’s largest mobile operator has kept to a promise made last month to slash the price of entry-level data packages

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Vodacom has cut the data price of its lowest-cost bundle by 40%, reducing the price of a 50MB 30-day bundle from R20 to to R12. This follows from the operator’s promise in March, when it announced a 33% cut in the cost of 1GB bundles, to reduce prices of all smaller bundles by up to 40%.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels, with the new pricing as follows:

30-day bundle size New Price Reduction
50MB R12 40%
150MB R29 33%
325MB R55 33%
500MB R79 21%
1GB R99 34%
3GB R229 23%
5GB R349 14%
10GB R469 22%
20GB R699 31%

Vodacom confirmed it will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect. The value of these initiatives, it says, is R2.7-billion over the next year.

“Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit. “Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also went live this week. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs. The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2-billion in savings for customers in 2019.

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OneBlade shaves price of electric precision

Electric razors and their blades are usually quite expensive. But the Philips OneBlade shaves the cost, writes SEAN BACHER

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Electric razors come in all shapes and forms and their prices vary as well. When your nearest electronic retail outlet opens again, you will be able to pay a small fortune for a wet and dry razor that cleans itself, shows you when it needs to be recharged, and tells you to replace the cleaning solution – all via a little LCD panel in the handle.

But does everyone want that? Does everyone need that? Surely there must be customers who want an easy-to-use, no-mess, no-fuss razor that gets the job done just as well as a “smart razor”?

With this in mind, Philips has launched its OneBlade wet and dry electric razor. The razor is dead simple to use. It comes with three stubble combs – 1mm, 3mm and 5 mm –  which can be clicked onto the head much like one would with a hair shaver. Should you want a really close shave, simply the combs off. I found this to be the most effective as I don’t have a beard.

The razor’s blade is the size of the striking side of a matchbox and has 90-degree angles all round. This offers precise shaving and, because of its small size, it is able to get just about anywhere on a person’s face.

The blade has a usage indicator that shows when it is time to replace the blade – usually after four months – and an additional blade is included in the box.

The OneBlade’s battery takes up to eight hours to charge, and will give up to 45 minutes shaving time.

Overall, the Philips OneBlade will give a man a comfortable and precise shave. Its battery life, combined with its size, makes it a perfect travel companion as it is no bigger than an electric toothbrush. Its relatively low price compared to other electric razors also counts in its favour.

The One Blade can be bought from most electronic retailers or can be ordered online from websites like takealot.com. The razor retails for R650 and a set of two new blades will cost around R450.

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