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IFA 2016: Lenovo unveils Yoga Book

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At the IFA 2016 expo in Berlin this week, Lenovo launched the Yoga Book, claimed to be the world’s thinnest and lightest 2-in-1 tablet, designed for productivity while on-the-go.

The Yoga Book is built for mobility and to solve the most common challenge among tablet users: how to achieve productivity and entertainment in one device.

“Until now, we’ve been using tablets in ways we weren’t meant to: for productivity, for example, which becomes painful when typing or applying a stylus onto a touch screen that you’re using on-the-go,” Lenovo declared in a statement it released on Thursday. “The Yoga Book removes that difficulty by taking the fundamental building blocks from the DNA of what makes a great tablet – namely portability, long battery life and a rich app ecosystem – and entwines it into a strand of creativity and productivity through a suite of powerful new hardware and software features.”

These include:

• Instant halo keyboard

• Dual-use stylus that writes on paper and screen

• Productivity-driven Book UI

“We set out to redefine the tablet category conundrum, namely that consumers no longer separate their activities into productivity and entertainment – it all blends together, and so should the device they use,” said Jeff Meredith, vice president and general manager, Android and Chrome Computing, Lenovo. “The Yoga Book introduces keyboard and handwriting input capability in an elegantly simple, unconventionally slender tablet design. We believe our unique design will offer tablet, 2-in-1 and traditional notebook buyers a first-of-its-kind option for evolving usage trends.”

Lenovo provided the following information:

With two panels that open up like an ultra-thin notebook, the Yoga Book is unconventionally slender and light years removed from the tablet that you’re accustomed to using on the go or while sitting in your home. As the world’s thinnest 2-in-1, the Yoga Book is 9.6mm closed, tapering to 4.05mm at its slimmest edge – a thickness of just under three pennies. And because it’s also the lightest 2-in-1 in the world at 690 grams (1.52 pounds), the Yoga Book is made to match the mobility of a smartphone, so you can easily hold and carry, just like a book. Users who take the Yoga Book with them on day trips have the option to work anywhere – on a busy commute, in a packed waiting room or on a crowded countertop – if and when they feel like it, thanks to the thin and light design, 15-hour battery life and a watchband hinge that folds 360 degrees. And if users don’t feel like working, they’ll have a top-of-the-line entertainment tablet to keep them company, with a 10.1-inch IPS FHD screen, high-quality sound enhanced with Dolby Atmos and 64GB of memory.

Instant Halo Keyboard

The Yoga Book’s first productivity feature is also what makes the thin and light design possible: the halo keyboard, a full touch screen backlit keyboard that weaves software and hardware into one fluid interface. The touch screen is made with glass that was meticulously chosen to give a rough, matte feel and finish, along with anti-glare coating to ensure the best possible touch-typing experience. The keyboard lacks any physical keys, showing up as a solid white outline on the Yoga Book’s second panel only when it’s needed. The halo keyboard constantly ‘learns about and adapts to’ the typing habits of its user, with built-in prediction and artificial learning software. This software also allows for continuous optimization. Along with built-in, sensitive haptic technology, which enables touch feedback to guide typing and reduce mistakes, the halo keyboard far surpasses the typing experience and speed of a normal tablet, and is comparable with that of a physical keyboard.

Real-Pen Accessory – Dual Use Stylus

The flush surface of the halo keyboard feature also allows for a few additional uses when paired with the Yoga Book’s standard real-pen accessory, a dual-use stylus. Inspired by the elegance and simplicity of real notebooks, Yoga Book is an acknowledgement that we all still love to write and draw on paper. Users can now write with the real-pen accessory that holds real ink tips onto a piece of paper or notepad covering the multi-use keyboard panel, or as a stylus when applied straight onto the panel. Everything they create, from doodles and drawings to notes, is instantly digitized and saved with the Lenovo note-saving app. Roughly the size of a conventional ink pen, the real-pen accessory is powered by Wacom feel IT technologies to work with the state-of-the-art electro-magnetic resonance (EMR) film housed within the multi-use keyboard, which enables this real-time digitization.

The multi-use keyboard and real-pen accessory recreate the natural feel of drawing flat on a paper surface instead of directly onto a computer screen, without having to block parts of the art work with the hand or stylus. Or you can draw directly on the screen as well, depending on preference. The real-pen accessory can draw with the precision of a pencil or paintbrush, with 2,048 pressure levels and 100-degree angle detection. In addition, you’ll never have to charge or replace it – the real-pen accessory doesn’t require batteries and its ink can be replaced with standard ink tips, just like that of a conventional pen.

Book UI and Hinge

As a 2-in-1 that weaves together both hardware and software, Yoga Book truly brings work and play into one tablet through the Book UI, the Yoga Book’s specially adapted Android 6.0 operating system that draws from the best UI features of laptops and tablets. The Book UI allows several apps to run at once through multiple windows that can be pinned, maximized or minimized, as well as a taskbar that keeps track of your apps and common Windows keyboard shortcuts and action keys. This additional new workload is easily handled by the Yoga Book’s powerful Intel Atom X5 processor and 4GB of memory. And Windows users also have the option to work on that platform, as the Yoga Book is available on Windows 10.

Constructed from a combination of magnesium and aluminium alloys, the Yoga Book is robust in build and guaranteed to turn heads. As with all Yoga products, it has the distinctive watchband-style hinge. This time, the hinge is engineered to be smaller and features a custom-made three-axis hinge, with 130 different mechanical pieces comprising five different materials. Lab tested more than 25,000 times, the Yoga Book form offers a smooth, seamless transition between the four modes – Browse, Watch, Create and Type. The Yoga Book with Android is available in Gold or Gunmetal, while the Yoga Book with Windows comes in Carbon Black.

Pricing for the Yoga Book will start at €499 for the Android version and €599 for the Windows version. Pricing and availability may vary from country to country. All will be globally available beginning in September. In the US, the Yoga Book will be sold online and at Walmart stores nationwide by the end of October.

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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