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IFA 2016: Acer makes Swift move on ultra-thin laptops

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At the IFA 2016 expo in Berlin this week, Acer unveiled its new Swift series of ultra-thin and lightweight notebook PCs.

Comprised of four lines, namely the Swift 7, Swift 5, Swift 3 and Swift 1, the new ultra-thin models feature Windows 10 and cater for a range of budgets and lifestyles.

“We are thrilled to announce the new Swift series, a complete ultra-thin laptop line-up with something for everyone,” said Jerry Hou, General Manager, Consumer Notebooks, IT Products Business, Acer Inc. “Front and centre is the flagship Swift 7 with an all-aluminium chassis that’s less than one centimetre thin, while still packing in performance and stamina for all-day productivity.”

Chris Walker, Vice President of the Client Computing Group and General Manager of Mobility Client Platforms, Intel Corp, said: “The new 7th Generation Intel Core processors set a new bar for performance and efficiency enabling amazingly fast, responsive designs that are also incredibly thin and light. Intel and Acer’s strong collaboration is on full display with the new Swift series which delivers great performance in a beautiful package.”

Acer provided the following information:

Swift 7 – Ultra-Slim with All-Day Battery Life

The Swift 7 weighs in at just 2.48 pounds (1.1 kg) and measures a mere 0.39 inches (9.98 mm) thin, making it the world’s first laptop to measure less than 1 cm thin. Its black-and-gold dual tone design brings a touch of elegance to its durable all-aluminium uni-body, while tough Corning Gorilla Glass adds superior scratch resistance to the 13.3-inch Full HD IPS display with a micro-bezel. With up to 9 hours of battery life, it is the perfect notebook for those on the go.

Small and speedy, top-of-the-line performance is delivered through a 7th Generation Intel Core i5 processor, fast 256GB SSD and up to 8GB of memory.  The latest wireless technology (2×2 802.11ac with MU-MIMO) delivers reliable and up to three times faster connections, while dual USB 3.1 Type-C ports are included for quick data transfer, connection to an external display, and to charge the notebook. An HD webcam with HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging support provides clear, bright and detailed images.

Swift 5 – High-End Features without the Weight

Just 0.57 inches (14.58 mm) in height and weighing 3 pounds (1.36 kg), the Swift 5 manages to fit a 14-inch Full HD IPS display into a 13-inch frame, making it the ultimate in portability and usability. Available in Pearl White with gold trimming or Obsidian Black with silver trimming, it cuts an impressive figure combining brushed metal surfaces and diamond cut accents.

7th Generation Intel Core processors coupled with fast SSDs (256 or 512 SATA or PCIe), up to 8GB of memory and the latest wireless technology deliver big results in a small package. Rounding out this strong feature set is up to 13 hours3 of battery life, a backlit keyboard, a reversible USB 3.1 Type-C port and options for a touch display and fingerprint reader.

Swift 3 – Essential Features at a Compelling Price

Just 0.7 inches (17.95 mm) in height and weighing 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg), the Swift 3’s svelte and lightweight design features a sturdy brushed aluminium chassis. It offers up to 12 hours3 of battery life and a collection of indispensable features for great productivity, mobility and security.

The Swift 3 models pair a 14-inch HD or Full HD IPS anti-glare display with 6th or 7th Generation Intel Core processors, fast 512GB SSDs, up to 8GB memory and 2×2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac wireless technology for fast and reliable internet connectivity.

Additional must-have features include a USB 3.1 Type-C port (for fast data transfers, connection to an external display, and to charge the notebook), and an HD webcam with High Dynamic Range. Lastly, the optional backlit keyboard is paired with a large 72mm touchpad, providing ample room to navigate and manoeuvre.

A built-in fingerprint scanner is located at the upper right-hand corner of the palm rest and works in conjunction with Windows Hello for enhanced security. It takes less than one second from scanning a fingertip to accessing the desktop. It can also recognize specific people, linking actions to approved individuals, deterring inappropriate behaviour and helping to eliminate fraudulent activity.

Swift 1 – Light and Budget-Friendly 

Lightweight and priced right for a student or others on a budget, the Swift 1 is highly portable and includes the essentials, making them a great value. Just 0.7 inches in height (17.9 mm) and weighing 3.5 pounds (1.6 kgs), the cover features a brushed-metal-like finish that minimizes fingerprints and scratches, while the diamond-cut edges around the power button and touchpad provide nice design touches. With up to 12 hours3 of battery life, they will last a student an entire school day, with a few extra hours to spare for late night studying or web-surfing. The Swift 1 features a 14-inch HD display, an Intel Pentium® or Celeron® processor, 4GB of memory and either 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of eMMC storage.

Availability

The Acer Swift 7, 5 and 3 will be available in South Africa in Q4 2016.

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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, which features a built-in virtual private network service.

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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