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IFA 2018: Acer refreshes range

At the recent IFA conference in Berlin, Acer announced the pricing and availability of the Swift 5 notebook, claimed to be the world’s lightest notebook PC with a 15-inch display.

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The Swift 5 (SF515-51T) is powered by the latest 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8565U and Core i5-8265U processors to deliver responsive performance and up to 10 hours of battery life for day-to-night productivity. Running Windows 10, the new Swift 5 is a large-screen productivity powerhouse. 

“Acer is consistently developing new ways to engineer thin-and-light chassis designs that house the latest technology with stellar features,” said Jerry Hou, General Manager, Consumer Notebooks, IT Products Business, Acer Inc. “The industry-leading sub-1 kg weight on the new Swift 5 delivers all that’s best in an ultra-portable notebook: a sleek chassis, stylish design and slim bezels with superb performance and battery life.”

“The latest 8th Gen Intel Core processors set a new standard for mobile computing with blazing fast integrated Gigabit Wi-Fi combined with even faster Intel performance, long battery life and enabling more convenient voice and touch interactions,” said Chris Walker, Vice President of the Client Computing Group and General Manager of Mobility Client Platform at Intel. “We have worked closely with Acer to bring these new levels of performance and connectivity to life with the latest Swift models.”

“Acer continues to drive innovation with the Swift 5, a Windows 10 PC that packs a lot of power in a sleek, light and ultra-thin design,” said Paul Donovan, Vice President, Partner and Device Solutions, Microsoft Corp. “The Swift 5 brings superior battery life, portability and the convenience of password-free logins with Windows Hello for those who are always on the go, whether for business or personal use.”

The Swift 5’s ground-breaking design features top and bottom covers that are constructed from magnesium-lithium alloy for a thinner design while ensuring durability without bending or twisting. The magnesium-aluminum alloy palm rest provides an extra sturdy base when using the keyboard and trackpad. The slim chassis measures only 15.9 mm (0.63 inch) thin, yet makes room for a fingerprint reader that supports Windows Hello so customers can log in to their accounts faster and keep their device more secure.

Complementing the fast Intel Core processors, the Acer Swift 5 boasts up to 16 GB of DDR4 SDRAM and up to a 1 TB NVMe SSD PCIe  for speedy boot times and file access. Customers can make the most of the system’s performance and long battery life even into evening hours with the LED backlit keyboard.

The Swift 5’s Full HD 1920×1080 IPS1 touchscreen features ultra-narrow bezels measuring just 5.87 mm (0.23 inches), giving it an incredible 87.6% screen-to-body ratio to create an immersive viewing experience. The wide viewing angles make it easy to enjoy streaming video with friends and colleagues. Acer BluelightShield reduces blue-light emissions for nighttime viewing, while Acer Color Intelligence technology dynamically adjusts gamma and saturation in real-time for optimum screen-color and brightness. Plus, Acer TrueHarmony technology and optimized Dolby Audio deliver high-quality sound via the dual stereo speakers.

Customers have a fast and reliable WiFi connection with 2×2 802.11ac wireless Gigabit performance. Also, ports are plentiful. The Swift 5 features a USB 3.1 Type-C Gen-2 port delivering high-speed 10 Gbps data transfers, supporting power delivery and display output, two USB 3.1 Type-A ports (one with power-off charging functionality), and an HDMI port.

Acer Swift 5 with 14-inch display updated with latest Intel Core Processors

Acer has updated its ultra-portable 14-inch Swift 5 (SF514-53T) with the latest Intel Core processors to deliver a boost in performance and battery life. Now using new Intel Core i7-8565U and Intel Core i5-8265U processors, the 14-inch Swift 5 offers an exceptionally fast and responsive experience to and up to 8 hours4 of battery life to keep customers productive. 

Outfitted with a 14-inch Full HD display, the elegant chassis on the Swift 5 (SF514-53T) weighs only 970 grams (2.14 pounds) and measures only 14.9 mm (0.59 inches) thin, making it the right device for people on the go. It sports a similar design to the 15.6-inch model that is both ultra-light and sturdy—built with a magnesium-lithium alloy construction for the top and bottom cover and a magnesium-aluminum alloy palm rest. The Full HD IPS1 touchscreen is surrounded by narrow bezels of just 9.32 mm so customers can get the most from what’s on their display.

Customers can stay in touch with 2×2 802.11ac Gigabit wireless connectivity, and log in quickly via the integrated fingerprint reader thanks to Windows Hello. It features the latest ports: USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1 (up to 5Gbps transfers, display output and power delivery), two USB 3.0 (one with power-off USB charging) and HDMI for easily connecting mice and other gadgets.

Swift 3 Line Expands with 4G LTE

The Swift 3 line has been updated to include new models with 13.3-inch and 14-inch displays surrounded by slimmer bezels, sleek aluminum designs that open 180-degrees to lay-flat, and the latest technologies for performance and connectivity.

The Swift 3 (SF313-51) is the ultimate 13-inch notebook PC for productivity on the go thanks to its full HD 1920×1080 13.3-inch display and option for integrated 4G LTE packed into a super-light 1.3 kg (2.86 pounds) design that is only 15.9 mm thin (0.63 inch). 4G LTE provides an always-available connection even when no WiFi network is available. When it is, customers can connect via fast and reliable 2×2 802.11ac WiFi. Powered by Intel Core processors, it provides solid performance and up to 13 hours4 of battery life. Plus, the notebook offers up to 8 GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 512 GB NVMe PCIe SSDs, further accelerating response times. 

Acer will also offer the Swift 3 in two models with 14-inch displays for those who want a larger display in a sleek design for work, school or fun. 

The Swift 3 (SF314-55/SF314-55G)packs a full HD 14-inch display into a 1.4 kg (3.08 pound) design that measures only 14.9 mm thin (0.59 inches) and has super-thin 6.1 mm side bezels. Powered by the latest 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U/i5-8265U/i3-8145U processors, up to 8GB of DDR4 RAM and up to 512GB PCIe NVMe SSDs, the system is speedy and delivers 12 hours4 of battery life. Plus, it provides the option for discrete NVIDIA® GeForce® MX150 graphics, so customers have the power they need for more computing-intensive tasks such as editing video and casual gaming. Users can stay connected with 2×2 802.11ac Gigabit WiFi and use the system’s USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2 port for high-speed 10 Gbps data transfers, powering delivery, as well as display output.

The Swift 3 (SF314-56/SF-314-56G) offers the same full HD 14-inch display, processor and graphics options as the Swift 3 (SF314-55) in a slightly larger design that makes room for a hard disk drive for mobile users that require plentiful data storage on-the-go. It also features an extra-large touchpad typically found on a notebook with a 15.6-inch display. The Swift 3 (SF314-56) also includes multiple ports including a USB 3.1 Type-C Gen-2 port for high-speed 10 Gbps data transfers.

Pricing and Availability

The Acer Swift 5 with 15-inch display (SF515-51T) will be available in South Africa in January, 2019, starting at R 15 999. 

The Acer Swift 5 with 14-inch display (SF514-53T) will be available in South African in January, 2019, starting at R 15 999.

The Acer Swift 3 with 13-inch display (SF313-51) will be available in South Africa in January 2019 starting at R 12 999.

The Acer Swift 3 with 14-inch displays (SF314-55 and SF314-56) will be available  in South Africa in January 2019 starting at R 12 999.

Cars

Cape Town not so calm – if you’re a driver

Cape Town drivers lose on average 162 hours a year to traffic jams, so will need some tech and a few tips to stay calm

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Cape Town drivers lose, on average, 162 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, and the city is ranked 95th out of around 200 cities, across 38 countries surveyed globally, in terms of congestion issues.

That’s according to the latest INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, which is an annual analysis of mobility and congestion trends. The study provides a data-rich evaluation of information collected during peak (slowest) travel times, and inter peak (fastest point between morning and afternoon commutes) travel times. Together they provide a holistic account of congestion throughout the day, delivering in-depth insights for vehicle drivers and policy-makers to make better decisions regarding urban travel and traffic health.

Of the further five South African cities surveyed:

  • Pretoria drivers lose, on average, 143 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, ranking as the 64thmost congested city
  • Johannesburg drivers lose an average of 119 hours annually, ranking 61st
  • Durban drivers lose 72 hours, ranking 141st
  • Port Elizabeth drivers lose 71 hours, ranking 75th
  • And Bloemfontein drivers lose 62 hours, ranking 165th

If these hours sound horrific, spare a thought for the poor drivers in Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá who lose, on average, a whopping 272 hours a year stuck in traffic jams!

On average, drivers’ commutes increase by roughly 30% during peak versus inter-peak hours. And the reality is that congestion issues aren’t going away anytime soon. Not here in SA, or anywhere else in the world. So what can we, as drivers, do to make the situation easier to cope with on our daily commute?

Change of mindset

Stressing about the unavoidable, the inevitable, and all the things that are out of our control – like congestion caused by accidents, faulty street lights, or bad weather – is a waste of energy. We should try finding ways of using that time in our cars more productively, to create a less tense, more positive experience. Learning to change our perspective about this challenging time, and associating it with something enjoyable, can drastically alter our reaction to and engagement with it. Rather than expending all our energy on futile anger and frustration, we can channel our focus on things that relax or energise us instead.

Just one more chapter

Being stuck in traffic usually aggravates us because it feels like a huge waste of valuable time. But like a wise man once said, time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. Listening to a podcast or audiobook can not only be entertaining, but also educational, which is a brilliant use of your time. Ifyou think of your car as a ‘learning lab’, a mobile university of sorts, and your time spent inside as away to exercise your brain and grow intellectually, you may even find yourself wishing for bad traffic so you have an excuse to carry on listening to your podcast or audiobook.

Tame your inner Hulk

Pulling up a playlist of your favourite, feel-good songs can do wonders to combat stress levels. Downbeat music has been proven to have a mellowing effect on drivers. Making a quick switch to downbeat music shows measurable physiological improvements, with drivers calming down much sooner, and making fewer driving mistakes. So the next time you feel your inner Hulk emerging, crank up the volume on your favourite tunes.

The power of ‘caromatherapy’

There are numerous studies on aromas and their impact on human emotion, behaviour, and performance. Researchers have found that peppermint can enhance mental and athletic performance and cognitive functioning, while cinnamon may improve tasks related to attentional processes and visual-motor response speed. A study from Kyoto University in Japan revealed that participants reported significantly lower hostility and depression scores, and felt more relaxed after awalk through a pine forest. It makes sense then, to incorporate some ‘caromatherapy’ into our lives. There are plenty of off-the-shelf car diffusers available, or you could add a few drops of essential oil to DIY felt air fresheners. Citrus scents like orange or lemon can provide a boost of energy, while rosemary can relieve stress and anxiety. Take care not to hang anything that might obstruct your field of vision though, and always make sure to test out essential oils at home first, in case a scent makes you dizzy or overly relaxed, which could affect driving focus.

Contemplate your navel

The mind is a powerful thing, and simply willing yourself to relax might be the most effective method of all. While we don’t recommend meditating while driving due to safety reasons, breathing exercises can help you stay focused and feeling calm. One useful practice is the one-to-one technique – breathing in and out for the same count with the same intensity. Deep, measured breaths facilitate full oxygen exchange, helping to slow down the rate of your heartbeat and stabilise blood pressure, as opposed to shallow breathing, which doesn’t send enough air to the lowest part of your lungs, causing you to feel anxious and short of breath. Just always keep your eyes on the road, and take care to ensure you’re not so busy counting breaths that your concentration is compromised.

Not all those who wander are lost

Some of our best ideas come in those moments where we’re alone with our own thoughts, able to really reflect on the ideas we have without having something immediate that needs our attention. Allow your mind to wander, and do a little brainstorming. Alternatively, use the time to simply day dream. Remember, downtime is not dead time. It is both necessary, and important for your mental health. Use this time as an opportunity to take care of yourself.

In-built vehicle tech

“As we spend more and more time commuting, cars are being designed to accommodate longer periods behind the wheel,” says Kuda Takura, smart mobility specialist at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “Ford uses human-centric design to deliver vehicles that are inviting, accommodating, and intuitive. For example, our SYNCT infotainment system offers nifty, hands-free functions, like allowing drivers to listen to their texts, change music or climate settings, and make phone calls easily with voice control. Our range of driver-assist technologies, like Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Semi-Auto Active Park Assist, are also designed to take some of the stress off city driving. If our lifestyle means that we might be spending more time in our cars than we do on holiday, then we should make sure we make the most of that time.”

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Vodacom exits Africa biz services

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Vodacom Group has sold Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in Nigeria, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire to Andile Ngcaba’s Synergy Communications. The two entities are in the process of concluding the acquisitions, which are subject to the approval of the regulatory authorities within these markets.

Vodacom says the transaction supports the Group’s enterprise strategy in Africa, which has been refocused to grow and strengthen its core business. It will no longer directly service global enterprise customers in these three markets but will rather continue to operate as a pan African telecommunications networks provider through local relationships, like the one with Synergy Communications. 

This acquisition represents a significant milestone in Synergy Communication’s quest to be a leading provider of cloud and digitally based services in key markets across sub-Saharan Africa and provides key additional assets in its build out of a regional footprint. Synergy Communications currently has operations in Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique.

Andile Ngcaba, Chairman of Synergy Communications said: “This is an exciting landmark transaction for Synergy Communications, providing us with additional momentum in the delivery of our strategy as a pan-African enterprise digital Services Provider. Synergy Communications will partner with major global cloud providers and deliver platform-based services to both multi-nationals and local enterprises.”

Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group, said: “Vodacom has a clear vision for strengthening our position as a leading pan-African business and will work with local service providers like Synergy Communications to grow in these markets. Crucially, Vodacom is not exiting any of the territories related to this transaction and remains focused on continuing to deliver exceptional service to our global and multinational clients in these markets through long-term commercial agreements. 

“To support the sustainable growth of pan African digital economies and building connected societies, Vodacom will, via local service providers, continue to service clients in each market. We seek to leverage the collective strengths of Vodacom and Synergy Communications to meet the changing requirements of clients across each of these markets.”

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