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Serious Hardware

Incredible’s January giants



Incredible Connection has announced its top five products for January. They range from serious mobile hardware like ultrabooks to fun hardware like audio docks for an iPod, iPad or iPhone.

Asus ZenBook UX21

Price: R11 999.95

· Ultra slim design

· Intel Core i5 processor

· Bang & Olufsen audio

Asus has joined Apple, Acer, HP and others in offering a range of super slim ultrabooks ‚ the new range of powerful, thin laptops.

The ZenBook UX21 is an 11.6‚ model that boasts a Core i5 processor in its 17mm-thick, brushed aluminium body. It also has 4GB of RAM, uses Windows 7 and incudes 128GBs of storage on an SSD. This helps it have a resume time of only 2 seconds when you open the lid.

Despite being ultra slim it still has a battery that’s capable of powering it for 5 hours, and there’s the option of an extended battery that’ll juice it for up to 7 hours.

All of the other necessities are also present: 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth, USB 3.0 ports and even Bang & Olufsen audio.

Rating: 5 stars

Belkin Play Max HD modem router

Price: R1 699.95

· Wireless ADSL router

· 4x Gigabit Ethernet ports

· Streams HD video

Wireless routers are fast becoming the weakest link in home networks. Users need a single device that’ll connect them to the Internet, via ADSL, along with providing fast wireless coverage all over their homes, to stream high-def content and access other data on the network.

Belkin’s Play Max HD is a router that provides exactly that ‚ up to ADSL2 connectivity, 2x gigabit Ethernet ports for fast wired networking, and dual-band 802.11n wireless to provide speeds of up to 300Mbits/s. That’s fast enough to stream high definition content to multiple computers.

Additionally the Play Max has two USB ports that can be used for external storage devices, essentially turning the router into a network storage device. This is handy for performing data backups wirelessly. In addition to that, the Play Max also has applications that serve media, and will even reorganise your music library.

Rating: 4 stars

JBL OnBeat Xtreme dock

Price: R4 999.95

· Dock for iPod, iPhone and iPad

· Loud, clear sound

· Bluetooth input

iPhone docks are a dime a dozen, and the real challenge is putting together a unique product that’ll differentiate itself from the also-rans. JBL’s OnBeat Xtreme is not only a regular iPod dock, but is also an iPad dock.

The dock part of the OnBeat has a swivelling arm that accommodates any of Apple’s current iDevices, and it has can be rotated to have them in an orientation that’s most useful to you. For instance, you can have an iPad in landscape mode to watch. The Xtreme also lets you output your content to a TV, using the video-out port.

Most useful of all, though, is the Bluetooth functionality. For those times you want your iPhone is in your pocket, rather than on charge, the Bluetooth streaming will give you newfound musical freedom.

Available in Megastores only: Gateway, Clearwater, The Glen, Somerset West, Canal Walk, East Rand Retail Park and Sandton

Microsoft Wireless Speed Wheel

Price: R599.95

· Wireless racing wheel

· Great range of motion for accelerator and brake

· No need for clamps

If you’re a fan of the Xbox’s premier racing simulator, Forza Motorsport 4, then you’ve probably wished you could get your hands on a steering wheel to help enhance the on-track action.

Microsoft’s latest wireless accessory for its console does just that: it brings the steering wheel to your couch, with the added bonus of not needing any clamps, unsightly racing seats or cables.

The Wireless Speed Wheel uses a gyroscope and motion sensors to detect any movement as you hold the wheel out in the air. It’s also possible to use the wheel in a number of comfortable positions, so you don’t need to tire your arms out by stretching them in front of you.

Along the back there are two triggers, similar to those on the Xbox controller. The difference here is that the WSW’s triggers have extra travel, so being precise with your accelerator and brake inputs is a lot easier ‚ just what you need to get ahead of the pack.

Rating: 4 stars

HP Envy 110 Printer

Price: R2 999.95

· Sleek, slim design

· Print, scan, copy

· Wireless connectivity

Printers aren’t exactly the first thing you’ll think of when somebody asks for a list of the ‚prettiest bits of technology‚ . They’re large, plastic behemoths with flaps and buttons and almost no aesthetic appeal.

HP wants to change that, with its metal and glass HP Envy 110 ‚ something that can easily be classified as the iPhone of the printer world. It’ll scan, copy and print like you’d expect from a modern multifunction machine, but does so while looking very good.

Finished in glass and high-gloss panels, this off-white paper-spewing beauty is fully automated. The flaps all remain hidden, and when a sheet needs to be caught in the paper tray, a mechanical arm automatically extends to keep it from hitting the floor. It’s all brought together by a touch-screen interface, wireless networking, and HP’s ever-useful ePrint technology.

Rating: 4.5 stars


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Prepare for Wi-Fi 6

From traffic to healthcare, the applications of the new Wi-Fi 6 standard are set to transform how we connect.



20 years ago, with the release of 802.11b, Wi-Fi began its conquest of the world networking scene in earnest. Wi-Fi can easily be called out as one of the most popular technologies of the last two decades. Just as mobile telephony and mobile internet, it has become a part of everyday life. And with the advent of IoT and the introduction of 5G, the time has come for the new standard – Wi-Fi 6.

Beyond being significantly faster than the previous generation, Wi-Fi 6 delivers up to four times greater capacity. Latency is vastly improved, allowing for near real-time use cases. Wi-Fi 6 is also easier on connected devices’ batteries.

So what impact will Wi-Fi 6 have on business in the coming years?

Digitisation, mobility and IoT are driving the need for connectivity. By 2022, more IP traffic will cross global networks than in all prior ‘internet years’ combined up to the end of 2016. In other words, more traffic will be created in 2022 than in the 32 years since the internet started. In 3 years, 28 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, many of which (robots, production lines, medical devices) will communicate over a wireless network. Against this background, it is easy to understand why we need a redesigned wireless standard that is more responsive to present and future challenges.

Wi-Fi 6: The business impact

“In the first phase, we expect the new wireless standard to gain a significant foothold in the B2B field, where it brings important innovations,” said Garsen Naidu, Country Manager, Cisco South Africa. “We will see it, together with other technologies, penetrate significantly into manufacturing, into the logistics industry. The technology is also more effective in high-density settings like large lecture halls, stadiums and conference rooms, so we are likely to see significant penetration in these settings too. And, with its extremely low latency, Wi-Fi 6 also promises to open up new opportunities in AR/VR, healthcare, and self-driving vehicles. ”

Ever since the launch of the Internet, every leap in network speed has had a major impact on technological innovation: 4G has brought along the age of smartphones, whilst 5G and Wi-Fi 6 will transform the business world. According to Cisco experts, these two technologies – 5G and Wi-Fi – will be widely adopted at the same time, complementing each other.

A short history of Wi-Fi

In 1999, half a dozen technology companies, including Aironet, which was later acquired by Cisco, formed the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance. The standard announced that year, 802.11b, which gained significant commercial traction, was the first to emerge under the ‘Wi-Fi’ brand. As such, 1999 marks the year in which Wi-Fi really began.

Solutions that carry the official Wi-Fi logo work consistently with the IEEE 802.11 data transfer standard. These solutions are certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which guarantees compatibility between various wireless devices. In addition, networking manufacturers have done a lot to improve compatibility. Launched as early as 2002, Cisco Compatible eXtensions is a free licensing program that has enabled other vendors’ Wi-Fi products to be securely deployed on Cisco wireless networks.

Subsequent developments in Wi-Fi technology included managing interference and increasing data stability. Cisco is supporting these with the Cisco Flexible Radio Assignment and Cisco CleanAir technologies. The latter is capable of identifying and graphically displaying radio interference, identifying the source of the problem, and directing users to other, less crowded, channels.

Challenges of the present and opportunities for the future

One of the most widespread business applications of wireless technology is office Wi-Fi. Using Wi-Fi, employees can move freely and access the network from anywhere where there is a hotspot. Wi-Fi-based analysis and location services are also becoming increasingly popular. And with the spread of IoT, Wi-Fi is becoming ubiquitous, and is today found everywhere from agricultural fields to production lines.

“We see promising business opportunities and a wide range of new applications. At the same time, with hundreds and thousands of new devices connecting to wireless networks, IT teams are facing increasing complexity. So we need to rethink IT architectures from the ground-up,” added Naidu.

Much of this need to rethink network architectures is driven by the enormous growth in wireless connectivity.

Wi-Fi has driven growth in general IT use, which in turn has led to the need to provide and run bigger and more complex networks with a greater variety of endpoint device types on them. This complexity ‘feedback loop’, driven in no small part by Wi-Fi, requires that new solutions are developed to deal with this complexity.

Cisco has pioneered in this area, using AI, machine learning, and machine reasoning, via products such as Cisco DNA Assurance to eliminate manual troubleshooting and reduce the time spent resolving service issues.

The latest Wi-Fi 6 developments introduced earlier this year make a consistent, efficient and seamless wireless connectivity experience a reality.

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Now for hardware-as-a-service



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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