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IFA 2016: Sony unveils ‘utimate’ Xperia X, VR

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At the IFA 2016 expo in Berlin this week, Sony Mobile announced a new flagship smartphone that it described as the “ultimate” X series phone, namely the 5.2″ XZ. It was unveiled along with the 4.6″ X Compact. 

Sony said the phones were a continuation the vision set out at Mobile World Congress in February, and that the flagship Xperia XZ and premium Xperia X Compact offer an even more intelligent, personalised experience.

“With Xperia we want to assist you when and where it matters most, making your everyday lives more convenient, more effortless, more spontaneous,” said Hideyuki Furumi, Executive Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing, Sony Mobile Communications, “With Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact you can capture every moment as you see it, with blur-free images day or night, and with true to life colours thanks to our new triple image sensing technology.”

Sony’s new flagship smartphone, Xperia XZ, and premium Xperia X Compact bring new and improved camera technology to offer the best pictures from Xperia yet. Using Sony’s heritage in camera technology and in collaboration with its digital imaging engineers, the new models feature one of the most advanced cameras in a smartphone.

Sony provided the following information:

Maximising Sony’s acclaimed image sensor, two additional assisting sensors have been added to become Sony’s triple image sensing technology. This allows you to capture beautiful images in motion with true to life colours in virtually any conditions.  The technology is comprised of Sony’s original Exmor RS for mobile image sensor which provides a powerful blend of high quality image and autofocus (AF) speed combined with Predictive Hybrid AF to intelligently predict and track subjects in motion for blur-free results.

Added to this is the Laser AF sensor with distance sensing technology, which captures beautiful blur-free photos in challenging low light conditions. And what’s more, you will enjoy superb true to life colours thanks to the RGBC-IR sensor with colour sensing technology which accurately adjusts the white balance based on the light source in the environment.

The 23MP main camera not only gives you clear shots, but also super-fast start-up going from standby to capture in 0.6seconds at the touch of a dedicated shutter release button, ensuring you are ready to take the perfect shot whenever it might strike.

Advanced features have been added for those who want more flexibility with manual settings to further enhance the shooting experience and creative possibilities, such as shutter speed and focus controls.

Videos are ever more popular for capturing and sharing unique moments on social media, both models bring significant advancements in the evolution of image stabilization, cultivated in Sony’s Handycam® camcorders, with Sony’s SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode to enable superb video. Now with 5-axis stabilization you can shoot smoother videos even when walking or capturing extreme close-ups. Xperia XZ also offers the highest quality recording in 4k so you get sharp, crisp footage that is full of detail.

Xperia XZ provides a 13MP front camera for the selfie perfectionist, with its super high sensitivity as high as ISO6400 and 22mm/90-degree wide angle lens it will make the best of your pose even in low-light and group selfies.

With its stunning loop surface design, the 5.2” glass display and metal back of the Xperia XZ become one, to provide a perfect fit and beautiful feel in the hand. The loop surface is inspired by a monolithic form, whilst ALKALEIDO metal with high brightness and high purity provides shine and a feeling of depth which both enhance its premium design.  Xperia XZ is available in a brand new blue colour inspired by the beauty of nature – Forest Blue – along with stylish classics Mineral Black and Platinum.

Adding a popular Sony form factor to the X series, the Xperia X Compact packs mighty technology into its small frame. Its 4.6” screen and loop surface design make it extra comfortable to hold and is ideal for an operation with just one hand.  Xperia X Compact’s premium design can be clearly seen via its high-gloss finish and solid feel. It also follows our new signature blue colour expression with a Mist Blue colour hue together with timeless Universe Black and stylish White.

Sony’s expertise in functional design is carried through to the Xperia XZ with a water resistant[v] design to take the worry out of a little splash of water, so you can relax about sudden spills or unexpected showers. Knowing who you are by just holding the phone, the fingerprint sensor power button[vi] on Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact is intuitively placed on the side of the phone, so you’re able to pick up and securely unlock in a single movement and adds to the comfortable fit in the hand.

We’ve incorporated intelligent features into our smartphones so that they can assist you to make your daily life more convenient, more efficient, and more enjoyable. Both models feature new Battery Care[vii] complemented by Qnovo adaptive charging which work in harmony to keep your battery healthy and make the lifespan last up to twice as long.

Qnovo adaptive charging monitors and adjusts the charging current to avoid damage for battery longevity whilst Battery Care controls the charging based on learned habits and avoids excess charging by pausing charge at 90% and only completes the charging just before it’s needed. Xperia Tips also recognises user habits to provide personalised tips and recommendations, helping you optimise your own personal user experience while Smart Cleaner automatically maximises performance by cleaning the cache from certain apps based on learning their usage so optimal performance is achieved at all times.

Xperia XZ is driven by its Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor to provide a seamless experience on your phone. As one of the most cutting-edge mobile processors ever created, the Snapdragon 820 processor with LTE supports the ultimate in connectivity, graphics, photography, power and battery efficiency.

Accessories

Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact each have a range of matching optional Style Covers in corresponding colours including Style Cover Touch (SCTF10/20) which lets you access your favourite smartphone widgets through a smart window without needing to open the case. For easy video viewing, Style Cover Stand (SCSF10/20) has an auto on/off function with adjustable viewing angle. Each model will be supplied with the new USB Type-C™ charger for easy charging.

Xperia Smart Products

Sony continues to explore the unlimited possibilities for product innovation in the area of communications and we are advancing Smart Products to enable you to interact and connect in closer, more human ways.  Xperia Ear, Sony’s in-ear and hands-free Smart Product that brings a new way of communicating, will be available to buy from November starting in select markets.

Xperia Ear responds to verbal commands with intuitive operations, and through a wireless connection to your smartphone, it gives you information and assistance in a natural, authentic voice interaction. Equipped with Sony Agent Technology and a proximity sensor, it provides you with useful information such as your schedule and other personalized updates when you just place it in your ear, enabling you to face forward and get things done. Sony will also display Xperia Projector and Xperia Agent as concepts at IFA, combined with services from Yahoo Japan and Nestlé Japan, to give a glimpse of the user experiences offered by Smart Products.

Availability and specifications

Xperia XZ will be available locally from October 2016 at a recommended retail price of R12, 999 at select operators nationwide. The Xperia X compact will be available locally from October 2016 at a recommended retail price of R10, 999 at select operators nationwide. The Xperia XZ will come in Forest Blue as well Mineral Black, and Platinum. The Xperia X compact comes in Mist Blue, Universe Black and White.

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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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