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Huawei throws the book at P8

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This week, Huawei unveiled the latest addition to its P series of smartphones, the Huawei P8. The dual-SIM, unibody device is available in four colours and is designed to resemble the pages, bindings and hardcovers of books.

Huawei Consumer Business Group yesterday unveiled the Huawei P8 smartphone, which it describes as “a perfect blend of technology, sleek styling, usability and revolutionary low light camera features”.

It says the P8 is based on a deep understanding of human-machine design, delivering a new level of usability for applications impacting everyday life “at work and at play”.

Introduced in 2012, the Huawei P series has redefined the style of the company’s phones. The P6 introduced a new and elegant sleekness in 2015, as the thinnest smartphone in the world, and last year’s P7 maintained that positioning.

The Huawei P8 design, on the other hand, is described as being “deeply rooted in literary tradition, combining elements of ancient manuscripts, illuminated books and the essence of sunlight in stained glass library windows”.

The one-piece aluminium body with diamond shape blasting craftsmanship is intended to highlight the texture of the metal and, says the company, “the design details of the Huawei P8 are said to evoke the pages, bindings and hardcovers of traditional books”.

The phone comes with four colour options: silver, gold, black and grey. The devices come in a translucent package and the unboxing experience is intended to evoke the experience of taking a book from the shelf.

Highlights, as supplied by Huawei, include:

  • • The nano-injection moulding process results in an industry-leading seamless tight junction connecting a 1.5mm thin plastic bar with one of the industry’s largest screens.
  • • The phone is 6.4mm thin, with dual SIM cards, and works seamlessly with a 4G network (where the service is available).
  • • The triple-layer shark-gill design enhances the reliability and robustness of the device.
  • • Inside, the new Kirin 930 64-bit Octa-Core chipset boosts performance by approximately 20 percent compared with other phones with similar levels of battery life.
  • • The body’s sleek back cover is constructed of steel, for reinforced structural rigidity.

“The Huawei P8 is designed to have a natural connection to human nature, providing solutions to common pain points and meeting consumers’ needs – both simple and complex,” read a company statement. “The Huawei P8 has a revolutionary touch screen experience that is innate to consumers.”

Double-tapping a knuckle captures a full-length screen shot, while drawing a circle on the screen quickly captures content. Additionally, a “search phone by voice” function allows users to call out to their misplaced smartphone, which will respond through its speaker to identify.

Power management tools create a bridge between the Huawei P8’s slim design, power efficiently and stunning performance. The device contains a 2680mAh battery and, with Kirin 930 Octa-Core 64-bit chipset, delivering performance that outpaces the smartphone market.

In loud environments users can increase volume up to 58 percent above normal level. In a windy environment, the smartphone can eliminate 90 percent of the sound of wind when using a headset or earphones with a single microphone. Additionally, hands-free functionality supports hands-free speaker calls within a range of 2 meters, while a built-in independent audio decoder chipset enables music volume to double while maintaining the same quality.

Considering the user habits as well as upcoming trends, the Huawei P8 provides a comprehensive line-up of solutions:

  • • For 4G SIM card users, the device features dual 4G SIM card support with two flexible card slots.
  • • Once the Huawei P8 has identified and connected with a Bluetooth device such as the Huawei TalkBand B2, the phone can be remotely unlocked without entering a password.
  • • With network roaming performance optimized for 4G, the Huawei P8 connects with network roaming services approximately three times faster than average phone models.
  • • Additionally, with an optional E-ink screen on the back of the phone, the metal back cover can switch to an eBook in just seconds.

“The goal of Huawei P8 is to become the most user-friendly smartphone for consumers globally” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, “Through in-depth market research, Huawei has addressed the most pressing pain points for premium smartphone users today.

“Huawei seamlessly combines the best elements of style and durability in this device, delivering a revolutionary user experience – especially in terms of camera capabilities and network connectivity. Building on the outstanding market performance of Huawei’s P series, we fully believe the Huawei P8 will become one of the most popular smartphones of 2015.”

The following information was supplied by Huawei

The Huawei P8 introduces a new philosophy for camera design leveraging a combination of hardware, software and proprietary algorithms to help users capture beautiful photographs, even in the worst lighting conditions. Features include:

  • • Industry-leading Optical Image Stabilizer technology up to 1.2°, enabling high-quality photos and videos, and managing camera shake so images are consistently sharp.
  • • The world’s first four-color RGBW sensor enhances brightness by 32 percent in high contrast lighting situations, reduces it by 78 percent in low light environments. DSLR-level independent image processor enabling noise reduction when shooting and intelligent detection of a high-contrast lighting environment.
  • • Four professional quality low-light shooting modes giving users access to a virtual photo and video studio to capture artistic inspirations.

For example, the Light Painting mode, one of the four professional quality low-light shooting modes, leverages the Huawei P8’s manual camera shutter to capture broad swaths of light. Light Painting mode can capture a rolling ferris wheel at night, showing the circular streams of light in an artistic photo. Users can also “light paint” their own freehand pictures using a small torchlight in the dark. Another industry first low light technology is the light check and preview mode. By giving users a preview of what the shot will look like, the device makes it easier to experiment creatively with light sources in the dark.

The Huawei P8’s Director mode is the industry’s first professional-level video capture function on a smartphone. It allows consumers to direct and control up to three other Android phones when shooting a video scene from four angles simultaneously, while also synchronize video clip editing.

The Huawei P8 also introduces a powerful new Selfie mode, which allows preset image enhancement settings to capture and customize everyone’s unique beauty, enabling even more people to get in on the fun.

Setting New Standards for Mobile Connectivity

During the process of researching and listening to the needs of elite smartphone users, Huawei has addressed emerging pain points around dropped calls and signal degradation. Building on Huawei’s DNA of world-class communications technology, the Huawei P8 has re-defined the industry benchmark for seamless network connectivity.

The Huawei P8 has re-defined the industry benchmark for seamless network connectivity through proprietary Signal+ technology. The compact and powerful dual-antenna design plus rapid switching technology allows the smartphone to instantly switch between antennas, ensuring a continuous strong network connection. Additionally, the devices’ Signal+ enhances the call connection rate, even when users are travelling on a train at a speed of up to 300 kilometres per hour.

For consumers who travel by air, it takes quite a bit of time to connect when landing at an airport; the Huawei P8 increases the speed of connecting to a roaming network. Based on international roaming test data from more than 20 countries and regions across Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and North America with network roaming performance optimized for 4G, the Huawei P8 synchronizes with network roaming services approximately three times faster than an average phone.

Huawei’s extremely stylish P series has achieved great success around the world. Global sales of the Huawei P6 have totalled 5 million units in 60 countries and the Huawei P7 surpassed 4 million sales across more than 100 countries in just six months. The success of the Huawei P6 and P7 indicates a strong potential demand for the Huawei P8.

There are two versions of the Huawei P8; the standard device for €499 and the premium version for €599. It will initially be available in more than 30 countries including China, Columbia, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, UAE and the United Kingdom.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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The myths of microwaves

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We all know microwaves make cooking a breeze and it helps save those minutes, we rarely have enough of these days. However, some people do have those lingering doubts about whether microwaving food destroys nutrients or that it emits harmful radiation. However, the truth is a lot more comforting and positive.

“The microwave makes life so much easier,” says Tracy Gordon, Head of Product – Home Appliances at Samsung South Africa. “It’s human-centred technology at its most helpful. The Samsung Hotblast for example, has revolutionary functions, which are tailor-made to create fast, tasty and healthy meals in minutes.”

A recent article by Harvard Health Publishingclaims stated that “microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.” The article debunks two common myths about microwaving food.

Myth 1: Microwaving kills nutrients

Whether in a microwave or a regular oven, some nutrients, including vitamin C, do break down when exposed to heat. However, the fact is, cooking with a microwave might be better when it comes to preserving nutrients because it takes a shorter time to cook. Additionally, as far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients seep out into the cooking water,” states the report by Harvard Health Publishing. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and has the same nutrient value, as food cooked in a conventional oven.

Myth 2: Microwaving food can give you cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that microwaves do not make food radioactive. Microwaves heat food but they do not change the chemical or molecular structure of it. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that microwaves pose a health risk to people when used appropriately, the organisation added.

With those myths well busted, it’s comforting to know one can make full use of the convenient kitchen appliance. And when the time comes to use a microwave to heat up a tasty meal in no time, one can trust the Samsung Hotblast to do the job. The HotBlast has multiple air holes blowing out powerful hot air, which reduces cooking time. Samsung claims the Slim Fry technology ensures that food is perfectly crisp on the outside and delicious and juicy on the inside. Additionally, this versatile microwave has a wider grill, making it easier to brown food fast and evenly. The turntable is wider, measuring 345mm, making it possible to prepare bigger portions of food. And with its Eco Mode power, it significantly reduces energy consumption with its low standby power. Its intelligent features and stylish design makes it very useful and as we now know – a safe, healthy way to enjoy a meal.

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New BMW 3-series ushers in autonomous future

The new BMW 3-series is not meant to be an autonomous car, but it is so close, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers.

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It was not meant to be a test-drive of an autonomous vehicle. But the Driving Assist button on the steering wheel of the new BMW 330i was just too tempting. And there I found myself, on Sir Lowry’s Pass near Cape Town, “driving” with my arms folded while the vehicle negotiated curves on its own.

Every 10 seconds or so, yellow or red lights flashed to alert me to put my hands back on the wheel. The yellow lights meant the car wanted me to put my hands on the wheel, just to show that I was in control. The red lights meant that I had to take over control from the artificial intelligence built into the vehicle.

With co-driver Ernest Page, we negotiated a major highway, the bends of Sir Lowry’s pass, and the passes of Hell’s Heights (Hel se Hoogte) above the Cape Winelands.

As the above video of the experience reveals, it can be nerve-racking for someone who hasn’t experienced autonomous driving, or hasn’t been dreaming of testing it for many years. For this driver, it was exhilarating. Not because the car performed so magnificently, but because it tells us just how close true autonomous driving really is.

There was one nervous moment when the autonomous – or rather, Driving Assist – mode disengaged on Hell’s Heights, but fear not. A powerful sense of responsibility prevailed, and my hands hovered over the steering wheel as it took the curve. Assist disengaged, and the car began to veer towards the other side of the road. I quickly took over, and also sobered up from the giddiness of thinking I was already in the future.

In reality, Driving Assist is part of level 2 of driving autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. A presentation on the evening of the test drive, by Edward Makwana, manager of group product communications at BMW Group in South Africa, summed up the five stages as the driver having Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off, Mind off, and finally, only being a Passenger.

However, the extent to which the hands-off mode of Driving Assist mimics self-driving, and easily shows the way to eyes-off and mind-off, is astonishing.

Click here to read about the components that make the Driving Assist work.

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