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HP brings world firsts to new PC lineup

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HP Inc. has introduced bold new additions to its Personal Systems portfolio that enable more natural and intuitive experiences across work and life. Today’s PC users lead busy on-the-go lifestyles and demand beautiful designs and seamless productivity that allows them the freedom for inspiration and the exchange of ideas.

With this in mind, HP is delivering the new HP Envy Wood Series, delighting customers with thoughtful, personal, and sophisticated designs. HP’s latest HP EliteBook 1000 series – including the HP EliteBook x360 1040 G6 with up to 24 hours of battery life – and powerful ZBooks redefine modern workstyles for mobility, versatility, and productivity. And HP further elevates the world’s most comprehensive commercial VR solutions portfolio with the HP VR backpack.

“Today’s consumers, workers, and creators desire products that provide authentic and personalised experiences that adapt to the way they work and live,” said Anne-Sophie Hadberg, General Manager, EMEA Personal Systems Business, HP Inc. “Our newest additions to the HP portfolio – premium EliteBooks, powerful Z workstations, immersive VR, and premium one-of-a-kind ENVY PCs – is why HP leads the way in creating the world’s most exciting devices and intelligent solutions.”

Personalisation for Consumers

Expanding on the innovative use of unique materials like the use of leather in the HP Spectre Folio, HP is delivering the world’s first convertible PCs with authentic wood1. The HP Envy 13, HP Envy x360 13, HP Envy x360 15 and the HP Envy 17 Wood Series builds on the durability and performance of the previously announced metal versions, but feature a choice of all new, next-gen Intel Core processors or 2nd Generation AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics.

Each PC is accented with one-of-a-kind authentic wood inlay in two exquisite combinations: Nightfall Black with Natural Walnut, or Natural Silver with Pale Birch. The HP Envy Wood Series includes features like Amazon’s Alexa Service, Modern Standby, Wake on Voice, Wake on Fingerprint reader, along with privacy and peace-of-mind with HP Sure View and the HP Webcam Kill Switch solution.

The new laptops can be paired with the stylish HP Envy Uptown Tote, for added protection, mobility, and RFID security. For seamless and intuitive connection to dual 4K monitors, network, and accessories, the HP Thunderbolt Dock G2 with HDMI Adapter allows for full power, productivity and device expansion that works across HP and other non-HP laptops through a single USB-C cable connection.

Designed for All Workstyles

The next generation of HP’s EliteBook PCs are designed for mobile business leaders who require premium, and enterprise secure experiences whenever inspiration strikes. HP continues to raise the bar as the world’s most secure and manageable PC provider by adding HP Sure Sense to the new EliteBook and ZBook line-up. Co-engineered with Deep Instinct, HP Sure Sense offers customers PCs with deep learning malware protection built-in. This leap forward in security innovation complements HP’s broad stack of hardware-enforced security.

Solutions announced today:

The HP Elite x2 G4 turns heads with style and versatility with its ultra-mobile design and authentic craftsmanship. It is the world’s first business detachable with a leather keyboard folio, offers superb privacy as the world’s first business detachable with integrated dual camera privacy shutter, and is the world’s only business detachable with privacy screen.

The HP EliteBook x360 1030 G4 raises the bar for productivity anywhere as the world’s smallest and lightest business convertible with next-generation connectivity Gigabit Class 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.

The HP EliteBook x360 1040 G6 offers the world’s longest battery life in a 14-inch business convertible under three pounds with up to 24 hours of battery life5. Work where inspiration takes you with world’s only outdoor viewable display in a 14-inch diagonal business convertible and new 4K HDR screen option and have the power for productivity with the world’s only 14-inch business convertible to support 32 GB system memory.

Natural handwriting on both the HP Elite x2 and full-line of HP Elite convertibles with the optional HP Rechargeable Active Pen G3 for the world’s most precise writing experience, made possible by engineering the lowest starting pressure ever in a PC active pen.

The HP Mini-In-One 24 maximises desktop experiences allowing you to work naturally and freely with the world’s most secure modular AiO with a display that fully encloses, secures, and powers a 65W ultra small form factor PC. The Mini-In-One display pairs seamlessly with the new HP EliteDesk 800 G5 Desktop Mini PC to enable clean desk aesthetics and the security of an all-in-one experience.

Make touching down at the office easy and intuitive by creating a comfortable workspace with universal USB-C™ or legacy USB-A connectivity for PCs or peripherals. The HP EliteDisplay E223d and the HP EliteDisplay E273d docking monitors fit naturally for tailored workspaces to deliver video, data, and power over a single USB-C™ cable. The HP USB-C™ Dock G5 and the HP USB-C/A Universal Dock G2 also offer enhanced system network manageability for PCs in any power state.

Power for Designers and Creators

Designers and creators are redefining the world around us and demand the best technology to solve complex problems, which require more powerful, high-performance solutions previously only found in desktops workstations. The next generation HP ZBook 15 G6 and HP ZBook 17 G6 are the ultimate laptops for architects, designers, video editors, and VR creators who need desktop performance and power with the freedom to work wherever and whenever. With the choice of 9th Gen Intel® Core™ and Intel® Xeon® processors, and next generation NVIDIA® Quadro RTX graphics, the new ZBooks power demanding workflows including 3D design and VR. Both ZBooks offer tool-less expandability to upgrade memory and storage in seconds. The ZBook 17 G6 – the world’s most powerful mobile workstation – achieves full, unthrottled performance for simulation and GPU rendering. For color-critical workflows it features the world’s first 17-inch mobile workstation display with 100 per cent DCI-P3, giving access to even more colors.

For architects, product developers, and creative professionals who require high performance computing and expandability that fits in increasingly smaller workspaces, HP is introducing powerful entry workstations – HP Z1 Entry Tower G5, HP Z2 Mini G4, HP Z2 Small Form Factor G4, and HP Z2 Tower G4. The new HP Z2 Tower, the world’s most powerful and expandable entry workstation, has been redesigned to provide two times the graphics power, and an epic 41 per cent more processing power over the previous generation. This enables creators to confidently tackle complex workloads like rendering photo-realistic 3D models and scenes with full performance and whisper-quiet acoustics.

To give creators new ways to leverage VR in their workflows, the new HP VR Backpack is the ultimate machine for both VR creation and consumption. Specifically designed to tackle VR engines including Unreal and Unity, the VR solution provides incredible shading and framerate support for more natural rending. Powered by 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 and Nvidia® GeForce® RTX 2080, the VR Backpack provides a 30 per cent performance boost and 25 per cent more powerful graphics over the previous generation. The free-roam tetherless experience is designed to address the needs of multi-user entertainment venues, architectural walk-throughs, and design simulations. While docked or VESA mounted, the VR Backpack acts as a powerful, super-slim desktop ready for intensive design work.

Pricing and Availability

  • The HP Envy Wood Series portfolio is expected to be available in Autumn 2019. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP Envy Uptown Tote is expected to be available in EMEA. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP Thunderbolt Dock G2 with HDMI Adapter is expected to be available in EMEA later this summer. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP Elite x2 G4 is expected to be available in EMEA in August. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP EliteBook x360 1030 G4 is expected to be available in EMEA in September. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP EliteBook x360 1040 G6 is expected to be available in EMEA in July. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP EliteDesk 800 G5 Desktop Mini is expected to be available in EMEA in July. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP Active Pen G3 is expected to be available later this summer. Pricing will be confirmed closer to availability.
  • The HP EliteDisplay E223d Docking Monitor is expected to be available in EMEA in June. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP EliteDisplay E273d Docking Monitor is expected to be available in EMEA in July. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP Mini-In-One 24 Display is expected to be available in EMEA in later this year. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP USB-C™Dock G5 is expected to be available later this summer for a starting price. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP USB-C/A Universal Dock G2 is expected to be available later this summer. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP VR Backpack is expected to be available in EMEA this summer for a starting price of €3,900.
  • The HP ZBook Mobile Workstations are expected to be available in EMEA. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.
  • The HP Z1 Desktop Entry Tower is expected to be available in EMEA in July. Pricing will be shared closer to availability for South Africa.


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Spotify hits sweet spot

Streaming has shifted the music industry away from ownership and towards customer experience, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Last week marked the end of the beginning of the streaming music revolution. Apple announced the closing of iTunes, the 18-year-old platform that helped shift the music industry from physical to digital. At its height, in 2014, close to a billion people were using it.

However, the business model was still based on traditional ownership of music. Users either converted their physical music into digital tracks, or bought songs from iTunes. Apple founder Steve Jobs said back in 2003, when the iPod music player was launched, that consumers “don’t want to rent their music… They don’t want subscriptions”.

History proved him spectacularly wrong, and when streaming subscriptions services like Spotify and Pandora began taking off, even as iTunes hit the 800-million user mark, the company launched Apple Music in a dramatic acknowledgment that subscriptions were the future. It was also an admission that iTunes, which had also become a download service for movies and TV shows, had become top-heavy and frustrating to use.

Apple’s late arrival in the streaming world has cost it: In January this year, Apple Music reached 50-million subscribers – exactly half the number paying monthly subs to Spotify.

Spotify took South African music by storm when it launched here in March 2018, thanks to close collaboration with local artists.  It has a dedicated South African team that creates playlists for South Africans, in genres that appeal to local audiences. It also has a local ad sales team, and achieved early success with automotive brands like BMW and Mini using the platform extensively.

The company does not break down user statistics by country but, says Claudius Boller, managing director for Middle East and Africa, uptake exceeded all expectations.

“It’s been an amazing year,” he told Business Times. “Engagement in South Africa has crossed the world average. Users are extremely active, lean forward, and engage with playlists on a daily basis. We are not running many campaigns to move people from our free service to the Premium offering, but people do it right away.

“The metric we look at is how often and how long people use Spotify on average per day, and we have already seen those on premium subscriptions using Spotify much more than Facebook per day.”

The South African audience has another key differentiator, says Boller: “The market is extremely loyal. We know other music services have been in the market for many years. But when people make up their minds to try Spotify, they fall in love with it and continue to use it. The drop-off rate of people using our service is one of the lowest of all the markets in which Spotify operates.”

One of the secrets of Spotify’s success is the close relationship it builds with what it calls “the creative community” – both artists and labels.

“They are extra engaged, because of the data they are able to get. We give them a huge amount of data in a way that is very easy to digest. Through Spotify for Artists, they can see in real time how many listeners they have, their demographics, where they are listening, and where their audience is growing. If Jeremy Loops is doing very well in Australia, he can adjust where to promote his music and how to plan his touring schedule.

“We also use that data to work more closely with the creative community. We bring artists, labels and managers together for educational events so that they can get to know how to use the data. We give them practical advice, for example that they should release music on the same day on all platforms, including radio and streaming services, to maximise monetisation.”

Music entrepreneur Siya Metane agrees that audience data is one of the greatest benefits of streaming music. Better known as Slikour, founding member of the legendary hip hop group Skwatta Kamp, he now runs SlikourOnLife, an online urban music site and community with well over a million regular users. Understanding user trends has been at the heart of the growth of the platform, and he believes Spotify and its competitors add yet another dimension.

“The analytics that the streaming platforms provide give artists more insight of where their music is being consumed,” he says. “It is therefore giving the artists and their managers insight on where to invest nationally or globally. Such information has not been readily available to artists and managers before. Historically, everything was based on the physical purchase of a copy in a region – most of the time locally.”

But there is a downside, he says: “The cost of the streaming sacrifice is losing a whole R100 per album to a streaming company that pays you based on their pro rata plays on their service. Therefore only a few people can benefit. But streaming has definitely shifted the business from music alone to everything else music can influence.”

Both Vodacom and MTN have recognised the potential of streaming music to add value to their services, which are becoming increasingly commoditised. MTN late last year bought the local music streaming service Simfy Africa, and Vodacom in April this year launched its own streaming music service, called My Muze. The latter invites aspiring musicians to upload their music, with the possibility of being discovered and signed to a music label.

“The music industry has changed rapidly in recent times in that everything now lives digitally,” says Rehana Hassim, portfolio manager for music at Vodacom. “We also hope to attract new young consumers, to whom music remains one of the biggest passion points, providing various ways to engage with and consume the music they love.”

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AI reveals SA domestic abuse trends

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By Kriti Sharma, leading global voice on ethical technology and founder of AI for Good and Joanne van der Walt, Director, Sage Foundation 

Digital abuse, infidelity, and alcohol abuse are emerging as common conversation topics between victims of domestic violence in South Africa and rAInbow, an artificial intelligence-powered smart companion.

Developed with funding partner, Sage Foundation, and social justice organisation, The Soul City Institute, rAInbow allows users to ‘chat’ to a non-human over Facebook Messenger. It provides a safe space for domestic violence victims to access information about their rights, support options, and where they can find help – in friendly, simple language.

When we launched rAInbow in November last year, we didn’t expect that it would facilitate over 200,000 conversations with 7,000 users – 150,000 of those within the first three months of launch. One of the reasons we believe Artificial Intelligence (AI) can fill a gap in victim support is because many victims are uncomfortable talking to another person about their experience – due largely to social and cultural taboos, embarrassment, and shame.

The data gathered from anonymised rAInbow conversations** providesinvaluable insight into this complex issue; insight that we can use to improve our communication and prevention strategies.

Digital abuse: Behind the screens

Around 30% of rAInbow users believe it’s acceptable for their partners to check their phones and to insist on knowing who they’re talking to at all times.

Yet this constitutes a form of verbal and/or emotional abuse because abusers exploit technology and social media to monitor, control, shame, stalk, harass, and intimidate their victims. In conversations with rAInbow, many victims reveal that they don’t know what constitutes digital abuse because they can’t recognise the signs.

You could be a victim of digital abuse if your partner demands to know your passwords and who you’re talking to, reads your messages, and dictates who you can be friends with on social media.

The bottom line is, when you’re in a relationship, all communication with your partner – be it digital or face-to-face – should be respectful. You should never feel pressured into doing anything you’re uncomfortable with.

Infidelity: Is cheating really abuse?

Infidelity emerged as one of the main challenges facing rAInbow users in abusive relationships. In such cases, the cheating partner usually blames you for his/her cheating, does it intentionally to hurt you, or threatens to cheat again to control you. Infidelity is often accompanied by lying, manipulation, and blame-shifting – all recognised abusive behaviours.

Technology has exacerbated the problem. It’s now easier to access dating sites, pornography, and chat platforms, facilitating behaviour like ‘sexting’, which some people may consider infidelity.

‘Alcohol made me do it’

Alcohol and drugs are common triggers for violent episodes, with rAInbow users saying their partners were more likely to lash out at them verbally or physically after they’d been drinking. While alcohol itself doesn’t cause domestic violence, it can aggravate already tense situations.

Alcohol impairs people’s judgement and behaviour, to the point where they may lose control and become aggressive, short-tempered, and abusive. In most situations, the abusive partner will blame the alcohol for their actions and may not remember what they did or said the next day. The abused partner, however, has to live with the memories and after-effects of the abuse.

Everyone’s responsibility

In his State of the Nation Address earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said violence against women and children has reached “epidemic proportions” and that ending abuse would be made an urgent national priority. Corporates, NGOs, and ordinary citizens also have a responsibility to end the scourge.

Technology like rAInbow provides the vital information needed to start driving radical change – at policy and societal level. The conversations that rAInbow is having with users is making us think differently about how to approach this issue. It’s apparent that we need targeted, personalised education drives that help victims identify abuse and explain how and where to get help. It’s also apparent that there’s a strong need for information that can be accessed in a safe, anonymous, and non-judgemental space.

We need to use the aggregated data that’s available to us to make better decisions about action plans and strategies. Solutions like rAInbow can provide governments with the information they need to tackle abuse.

To find out how you can contribute to the rAInbow project, e-mail humans@aiforgood.co.uk.

** All conversational data is anonymised. It is used to improve rAInbow and help organisations make better decisions about where to focus their efforts to combat abuse.

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