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HP launches new gaming family

HP has launched a new family of gaming products designed for an immersive gaming experience. HP’s new high-end gaming products – the OMEN X Desktop, OMEN 17 Laptop, OMEN X Curved Display and OMEN with SteelSeries accessories – are engineered to deliver great performance and flexibility.

“The OMEN X Desktop was built for serious gamers who need fierce performance out-of-the-box in a fully customizable chassis – something not typically available from traditional PC manufacturers,” said Louis Perrin, director, consumer products, Personal Systems EMEA, HP. “HP’s engineers combined a unique design that maximizes thermal management with support for industry standard components so that the true enthusiast can always be up to date with the latest hardware to maintain peak performance with a customized rig.”

The OMEN X offerings are an extension of HP’s unified gaming portfolio announced in May to maximize gaming performance per dollar. The OMEN X brand focuses on overbuilt and over-engineered products meant to deliver bold innovation for gaming customers.

HP provided the following information:

The OMEN X features the latest graphics technology up to dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 to elevate the performance of any game with stunning visuals. The 6th generation Intel Core i5/i7 processor with overclocking capability paired with a VR-ready GPU will enable flawless Virtual Reality (VR) and immersive 4K experiences for even the most demanding AAA games.

HP engineered superior thermal management allowing customers to stay cool under pressure and get the highest possible performance and full potential of the hardware. This revolutionary thermal management includes a tri-chamber design to separate components and optimize thermals with dedicated cooling in each chamber. The OMEN X Desktop also includes support for up to three 120mm liquid cooling radiators with top mounted exhaust vents and a stand that lifts the case off the ground to help pull cool air in, allowing for maximum ventilation.

Other top features include:

·       OMEN Control software provides complete design control, allowing for custom LED modifications and brightness adjustments in real time

·       Chassis adheres to industry standards for seamless upgrades and modifications

·       Tool-less access to the internals and a hidden toolkit in the chassis to accommodates upgrades

The ability to build a PC from the ground up is crucial for true enthusiast gamers and one of the most significant differentiators of the OMEN X Desktop. Builders and modders can purchase an empty OMEN X chassis as a standalone option for a completely immersive do-it-yourself (DIY) PC experience. The standalone chassis provides the same thermal benefits of the tri-chamber design and industry standards, making a custom build as seamless as end-users expect.

OMEN 17 Laptop Powered by New NVIDIA Graphics

The latest 17.3” (43.9cm) diagonal OMEN Laptop is designed from top-to-bottom with the performance gamer in mind. It’s now one of the highest performing gaming laptops on the market with the inclusion of the latest NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics, and one of the most portable measuring just 32.9 mm thin and weighing seven pounds (3.2kg).

The  OMEN 17 Laptop is engineered and designed for gamers and provides the immersive experience and versatility required for relentless competition. New features include:

·       The latest NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 and 1070 graphics technology deliver fast, smooth, and  power-efficient gaming experiences

·       G-SYNC display technology optimizes gaming by synchronizing the display refresh rates to the GPU

·       Quad speakers with audio by Bang & Olufsen and HP Audio Boost for realistic sound quality

·       The addition of a mini Display Port adds support for dual 2K or 4K output and streaming

·       Up to 4K display resolution with 300 nits for another level for sharpness that enhances gaming and entertainment

·       VR-Ready support for gamers who want to be ready for the next frontier of gaming with VR

·       A 95W polymer battery to support the latest GPUs from NVIDIA for up to 7.25 hours of run time

OMEN X by HP Curved Display – Be Immersed

Display quality affects the overall gaming experience and to round out the OMEN ecosystem, HP is introducing the OMEN X Curved Display, which adds a new level of realism and immersion for end-users. The curved display is the first from HP to offer NVIDIA® G-Sync™ Technology, integrating the latest technologies and more choices for customers seeking wide viewing angles and a smooth gaming experience.

OMEN by HP with SteelSeries – Victory is at Hand

To complement and enhance users’ experience with the new OMEN line-up, HP is collaborating with SteelSeries to introduce a line of accessories designed to heighten gameplay and provide the utmost competitive advantage.

·       OMEN Headset with SteelSeries features lightweight suspension construction to evenly spread the weight over the entire band, allowing gamers to play longer, more comfortably.

·       OMEN Keyboard with SteelSeries enables personalization with over 16.8 million colours to create unique colour schemes and allow for colour changes in response to gameplay action.

·       OMEN Mouse with SteelSeries includes features for unmatched performance including customization like RGB illumination, 6 fully programmable buttons for quicker action, and zero hardware acceleration for 1:1 tracking and precise movements.

·       OMEN Mouse Pad with SteelSeries provides a high quality; non-slip rubber base and the precision professionals rely on with a durable smooth, surface.

The OMEN platform software is pre-installed on OMEN PCs and is offered for both the OMEN keyboard and OMEN mouse letting gamers easily take advantage of its many features by offering cross platform support, and features a cloud syncing system to make sure customers always have their favourite settings.

OMEN Challenge by HP at Gamescom 2016

HP will host its third OMEN Challenge in Europe at Gamescom 2016, featuring one of the world’s most popular PC games, “CS:GO” by Valve. The first live action game on Twitch, the OMEN Challenge will see Mousesports’ CS:GO team taking on Flipsid3 Tactics where the teams will endure ‘tortures’– including elements such as wind blasts and cold environments – to test the physical agility and skill of these elite gamers. Armed with the latest OMEN by HP PCs, the pro gamers will be pushed beyond their absolute limits as both the live and online Twitch audiences vote on how to distract them.

The OMEN Challenge will take place at the ESL Arena in Hall 9 at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, at 22:00 CET on Thursday, 18 August. It can also be viewed on Twitch at www.twitch.tv/omenchallenge.

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Personal computing devices sales still decline in MEA

The Middle East and Africa (MEA) personal computing devices (PCD) market, which is made up of desktops, notebooks, workstations, and tablets, suffered a decline of -7.3% year on year in Q2 2017, according to the latest insights from International Data Corporation (IDC).

The global technology research and consulting firm’s Quarterly PCD Tracker for Q2 2017 shows that PCD shipments fell to around 6 million units for the quarter.

“As forecast, the market followed a similar pattern to recent quarters, with the downturn primarily stemming from a decline in shipments of slate tablets and desktops,” says Fouad Charakla, IDC’s senior research manager for client devices in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. “This was the result of desktop users increasingly switching to mobile devices such as notebooks or even refurbished notebooks, while users of slate tablets shifted to smartphones. These trends translated into year-on-year declines of -21.9% for desktops and -15.7% for slate tablets in Q2 2017, while shipments of notebooks and detachable tablets increased 11.0% and 63.3%, respectively over the same period.”

“Market sentiment in the region remained low overall, although an aggressive push from some slate tablet vendors meant the market declined much slower than expected,” continues Charakla. “At the same time, heightened competition has also made it harder for certain players to sustain their slate tablet businesses and generate profits, causing them to lose interest in the slate tablet market altogether. Despite this, slate tablets are still the most popular computing device among home users in the region.”

Looking at the region’s key markets, IDC’s research shows that when compared to Q2 2016 overall PCD shipments were down -11.4% in the UAE, -8.9% in Turkey, and -6.7% in the ‘Rest of Middle East’ sub-region (comprising Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, and Afghanistan). South Africa and Saudi Arabia bucked this trend, recording year-on-year increases of 3.5% and 9.6%, respectively.

A massive education delivery in Pakistan acted as a key driver for notebook shipments in the region overall. Similarly, the education sector was the biggest driver of detachable tablet shipments, triggered by a huge delivery in Kenya, as well as two other deliveries in Pakistan and Turkey, which enabled this category to achieve the fastest growth of all the PCD categories.

“While a component shortage prevented market players from reducing their prices too much, the average price of consumer notebooks experienced a considerable year-on-year decline in Q2 2017,” says Charakla. “This played a key role in driving demand from the consumer segment, and was reflected in the growing popularity of lower-priced notebook models.”

Looking at the PC market’s vendor rankings, each of the top five vendors maintained their respective positions compared to the previous quarter, with the top four all gaining share.

Middle East & Africa PC Market Vendor Shares – Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2017

Brand Q2 2016 Q2 2017
HP Inc. 23.7% 27.6%
Lenovo 19.8% 21.5%
Dell 16.3% 16.7%
ASUS 8.7% 9.4%
Acer Group 5.9% 4.1%
Others 25.7% 20.7%

Although Samsung continued to lead the tablet market, the vendor rankings in the space saw quite a few changes, with Huawei catapulting itself to second place. Lenovo also climbed up a position compared to the previous quarter, causing Apple to drop to fourth place.

Middle East & Africa Tablet Market Vendor Shares – Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2017

Brand Q2 2016 Q2 2017
Samsung 20.5% 18.9%
Huawei 11.2% 15.8%
Lenovo 12.7% 9.8%
Apple 9.1% 8.8%
Alcatel 2.9% 5.0%
Others 43.5% 41.7%

“Looking to the future, the MEA PCD market is expected to decline at a faster rate than previously forecast for 2017 as a whole,” says Charakla. “Technological shifts are playing a pivotal role in deciding the future of this market, with demand for certain products shifting to other PCD products and beyond (i.e., smartphones). Accordingly, shipments of slate tablets are expected to continue declining over the coming years as demand is cannibalized by smartphones. Meanwhile, the ongoing shift to mobile computing will see growth in the desktop market remain close to flat throughout IDC’s forecast period ending 2021. Notebook shipments will experience very slow growth beyond 2018, while detachable tablets will remain the fastest growing PCD category, eating away share from other computing devices.”

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Gazer cyber-spies exposed

ESET has released new research into the activities of the Turla cyberespionage group, and specifically a previously undocumented backdoor that has been used to spy on consulates and embassies worldwide.

ESET’s research team are the first in the world to document the advanced backdoor malware, which they have named “Gazer”, despite evidence that it has been actively deployed in targeted attacks against governments and diplomats since at least 2016.

Gazer’s success can be explained by the advanced methods it uses to spy on its intended targets, and its ability to remain persistent on infected devices, embedding itself out of sight on victim’s computers in an attempt to steal information for a long period of time.

ESET researchers have discovered that Gazer has managed to infect a number of computers around the world, with the most victims being located in Europe. Curiously, ESET’s examination of a variety of different espionage campaigns which used Gazer has identified that the main target appears to have been Southeastern Europe as well as countries in the former Soviet Union Republic.

The attacks show all the hallmarks of past campaigns launched by the Turla hacking group, namely:

  • Targeted organisations are embassies and ministries;
  • Spearphishing delivers a first-stage backdoor such as Skipper;
  • A second stealthier backdoor (Gazer in this instance, but past examples have included Carbon and Kazuar) is put in place;
  • The second-stage backdoor receives encrypted instructions from the gang via C&C servers, using compromised, kegitimate websites as a proxy.

Another notable similarity between Gazer and past creations of the Turla cyberespionage group become obvious when the malware is analysed. Gazer makes extra efforts to evade detection by changing strings within its code, randomizing markers, and wiping files securely.

In the most recent example of the Gazer backdoor malware found by ESET’s research team, clear evidence was seen that someone had modified most of its strings, and inserted phrases related to video games throughout its code.

Don’t be fooled by the sense of humour that the Turla hacking group are showing here, falling foul of computer criminals is no laughing manner.

All organisations, whether governmental, diplomatic, law enforcement, or in traditional business, need to take today’s sophisticated threats serious and adopt a layered defence to reduce the chances of a security breach.

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