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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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Now for hardware-as-a-service

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Integrated ICT and Infrastructure provider Vox has entered into an exclusive partnership with Go Rentals to introduce a Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) offering, which is aimed at providing local small and medium businesses (SMEs) with quick, affordable, and scalable access to a wide variety of IT infrastructure – as well as the management thereof.

“Despite an increasingly competitive business environment where every rand counts, many business owners are still buying technology-based equipment outright rather than renting it,” says Barry Kemp, Head of Managed IT at Vox. “The problem with this is that the modern device arena has grown in variety and complexity, making it more difficult to manage, and to reduce the overheads of controlling these devices.”

According to Kemp, there is a global trend being observed in businesses moving away from owning and managing IT infrastructure. This started with the move away from servers and toward cloud-based subscription services, and now organisations are looking to do the same with the remaining on-premise hardware – employees’ desktop systems.

The availability of HaaS changes the way in which local businesses consume IT, by allowing them to direct valuable capital expenditure toward the more efficient and competitive operation of their organisation, rather than spending on hardware products. 

“The rental costs are up to 50% lower than if they buy these products through traditional asset financing methods. Furthermore, using HaaS gives businesses the ability to scale up and down depending on their infrastructure requirements. Customers on a 12 month contract can return up to 10% of the devices rented, while those customers on 24 and 36 month contracts can return up to 20% of the devices – at any time during the contract,” adds Kemp.

More than just a rental

HaaS gives business access to repurposed Tier 1 hardware from vendors such as Dell, HP and Lenovo, equipped with the required specifications (processor, memory, and storage), and come installed with the latest Microsoft Windows operating system, unless an older version is specifically requested by the customer.

Kemp says: “Where HaaS is different from simply renting IT hardware is that businesses get full asset lifecycle management, such as having all company software pre-installed, flexible refresh cycles and upgrades, support and warranty management and transparent and predictable per user monthly fees.”

The ability to upgrade during the contract period means that businesses can keep pace with the latest in technology without needing to invest on depreciating equipment, while ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency for employees. Returned devices are put through a decommissioning process that ensures anonymity, certified data protection, and environmental compliance. 

Businesses further stand to benefit from Vox Care, which incorporates asset management and logistical services for customers. This includes initial delivery and setup in major centres, asset tagging of all rented items, creation, and the repair and/or replacement of faulty machines within three business days – again in the main metropolitan areas. 

Vox Care also assists in the design, testing and deployment of custom images, whereby HaaS clients can have the additional programmes they need (security, productivity tools, business software, etc) easily pre-installed along with the Windows operating system, on all their machines.

Kemp says HaaS customers can get further peace of mind by outsourcing the day to day management of their desktop environment to Vox Managed Services, as well as leverage the company’s knowledge and expertise to manage and host workstation backups to ensure business continuity.

Says Kemp: “Hardware-as-a-Service allows businesses to reduce the total cost of ownership of their hardware and ensure they only pay for what they use. Making the switch to a service model helps them take advantage of the global move in this direction, and to turn their business into a highly functional, flexible, low cost, change your mind whenever you want workplace.”

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Seedstars seeks tech to reverse land degradation in Africa

A new partnership is offering prizes to young entrepreneurs for coming up with innovations that tackle the loss of arable land in Africa.

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The DOEN Foundation has joined forces with Seedstars, an emerging market startup community, to launch the DOEN Land Restoration Prize, which showcases solutions to environmental, social and financial challenges that focus on land restoration activities in Africa. Stichting DOEN is a Dutch fund that supports green, socially-inclusive and creative initiatives that contribute to a better and cleaner world.

While land degradation and deforestation date back millennia, industrialization and a rising population have dramatically accelerated the process. Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.

Currently, nearly two-thirds of Africa’s land is degraded, which hinders sustainable economic development and resilience to climate change. As a result, Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent: more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) of degraded forest landscapes that can be restored. The potential benefits include improved food and water security, biodiversity protection, climate change resilience, and economic growth. Recognizing this opportunity, the African Union set an ambitious target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

Land restoration is an urgent response to the poor management of land. Forest and landscape restoration is the process of reversing the degradation of soils, agricultural areas, forests, and watersheds thereby regaining their ecological functionality. According to the World Resources Institute, for every $1 invested in land restoration it can yield $7-$30 in benefits, and now is the time to prove it.

The winner of the challenge will be awarded 9 months access to the Seedstars Investment Readiness Program, the hybrid program challenging traditional acceleration models by creating a unique mix to improve startup performance and get them ready to secure investment. They will also access a 10K USD grant.

“Our current economic system does not meet the growing need to improve our society ecologically and socially,” says Saskia Werther, Program Manager at the DOEN Foundation. “The problems arising from this can be tackled only if a different economic system is considered. DOEN sees opportunities to contribute to this necessary change. After all, the world is changing rapidly and the outlines of a new economy are becoming increasingly clear. This new economy is circular and regenerative. Landscape restoration is a vital part of this regenerative economy and social entrepreneurs play an important role to establish innovative business models to counter land degradation and deforestation. Through this challenge, DOEN wants to highlight the work of early-stage restoration enterprises and inspire other frontrunners to follow suit.”

Applications are open now and will be accepted until October 15th. Startups can apply here: http://seedsta.rs/doen

To enter the competition, startups should meet the following criteria:

  • Existing startups/young companies with less than 4 years of existence
  • Startups that can adapt their current solution to the land restoration space
  • The startup must have a demonstrable product or service (Minimum Viable Product, MVP)
  • The startup needs to be scalable or have the potential to reach scalability in low resource areas.
  • The startup can show clear environmental impact (either by reducing a negative impact or creating a positive one)
  • The startup can show a clear social impact
  • Technology startups, tech-enabled startups and/or businesses that can show a clear innovation component (e.g. in their business model)

Also, a specific emphasis is laid, but not limited to: Finance the restoration of degraded land for production and/or conservation purposes; big data and technology to reverse land degradation; resource efficiency optimization technologies, ecosystems impacts reduction and lower carbon emissions; water-saving soil technologies; technologies focused on improving livelihoods and communities ; planning, management and education tools for land restoration; agriculture (with a focus on precision conservation) and agroforestry; clean Energy solutions that aid in the combat of land degradation; and responsible ecotourism that aids in the support of land restoration.

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