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LG makes portable sound stronger

LG’s small but mighty PK3 speaker delivers amazing sound from a rugged, waterproof casing. BRYAN TURNER reviewed the speaker.

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Battery-powered Bluetooth speakers seem to be a dime a dozen these days. More often than not, they sound distorted – mainly because manufacturers install louder speakers instead of higher-quality speakers. LG’s XBoom PK3 flips this convention on its head – without breaking the bank.

The PK3 is a wonderful speaker that hides many great features in a good-looking enclosure. It’s ergonomically shaped, featuring a rectangular design that minimises the size while maximising the internal use of space. We didn’t get to tear it down, but one can feel the speaker is packed with electronics in a small package.

It’s light enough to be carried in one hand and weighs under 1kg, so it won’t be a burden to carry along. That said, it’s not small enough to fit into small-to-medium sized handbags, so taking it along in a backpack would be the ideal carry method.

A pool party is where this speaker belongs because it has a sharp-yet-loud output that works well in filling an outdoor space. It’s also waterproof for up to 1 metre for 30 minutes, meaning it can take a dunk and come out functional.  
What makes this speaker shine is LG’s partnership with Meridian Audio to make the insides of this speaker perform at that loud and sharp level. Meridian Audio is an expert in high-performance and high-fidelity audio experiences, and is best known for producing the industry’s first audiophile-quality compact disc player and provide audio equipment to McLaren and Jaguar Land Rover.

The Bluetooth software in the XBoom Go is Qualcomm aptX HD compatible, meaning that 24bit vinyl-quality audio can be played through this speaker over Bluetooth instead of standard-fidelity audio.

The major phone assistants feature on these speakers, with tethered Google Assistant or Apple Siri functionality from one’s smartphone. This makes it very convenient to use the voice assistant button to skip tracks and change music when one’s hands are wet.

The one thing I’m against on this speaker is the proprietary charging port. Carrying around a very specialised charger isn’t ideal. If the speaker’s battery dies while away from the charger, the speaker becomes useless because nobody has the charger.  

LG says the battery lasts for around 12 hours, but that depends on how loud the user sets the speaker. We managed to output 14 hours of non-stop music at around 25% volume. At a pool party, performing at maximum volume in a shady spot, we got around 9 hours of non-stop playback.

From flat, the unit charges in around 3 and a half hours. This is a pretty good charging time, considering it charges around 4 times faster than it takes to discharge. For the techies out there, it houses a 5200mAh battery, which makes it really efficient for the long time it operates for on a single charge.

Overall, LG’s XBoom PK3 speaker is a mighty contender in the portable speaker space that’s ideal for those who want to take their speakers out into the world.

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Acer launches two new 4K monitors

Acer has launched two monitors for higher-end consumers who use their home computers for gaming and graphically-intensive work.

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Acer has unveiled two new monitors, CB342CKC and CB282K, which form part of its high specification range of 4K monitors.

The monitors feature In-Plane Switching ZeroFrame technology, which removes the bezel to give seamless visuals. The sharp 4K UHD display is 16:9 up to 3840X2160 high resolution.

Vesa DisplayHDR creates deeper levels of black and white contrast, giving a greater immersion through realistic image recreation. Brighter scenes glimmer with detail, while in darker scenes, details typically hidden in the shadows are enhanced for greater overall luminance.

With Radeon FreeSync, a game’s frame rate is determined by the graphics card, not the fixed refresh rate of the monitor, which eliminates screen tearing and delivers very smooth gaming experiences. The Acer CB342CKC monitor also features 1ms Visual Response Boost (VRB), which results in a much clearer and less noticeable blur in fast-moving images.

The Acer CB342CKC monitor features a USB 3.1 Type-C port that can plug into smartphones, tablets or laptops. This provides the device that’s plugged in with data transfer and device charging capabilities, while it mirrors the display, with a single cable.

With a firm, stainless steel base, monitors can easily tilt, pivot and swivel to make height adjustments without a hassle. A quick-release design means the monitor can be separated from its stand so it can be VESA wall-mounted. Both Acer CB2 monitors also feature Acer Display Widget utility software. The split-screen feature is able to divide the screen into several regions. Users can quickly split the window with a hotkey or via the split-screen setting menu, making the workspace as clean as possible.

The Acer CB342CKC monitor will be available in EMEA in May starting at €549, while the CB282K monitor will be available in April starting at €399.

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Sophos launches AI-enhanced firewall

Cybersecurity provider Sophos has launched a firewall product that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and reduce security risks associated with encrypted traffic.

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Sophos has introduced a new architecture for the Sophos XG Firewall called “Xstream”, which traffic decryption capabilities for encrypted malware connections. XG Firewall now also features AI-enhanced threat analysis from SophosLabs and accelerated application performance.

Sophos says 23% of malware families uses encrypted communication for Command and Control (C2) or for installation of the malware. Three common present Trojans – Trickbot, IcedID, and Dridex – leverage TLS during the course of their attacks. Cybercriminals also use TLS to hide their exploits, payloads and stolen content and to avoid detection. In fact, 44% of prevalent information stealers use encryption to sneak hijacked data, including bank and financial account passwords and other sensitive credentials, out from under organisations’ noses.

“As SophosLabs’ research demonstrates, cybercriminals are boldly embracing encryption in an attempt to bypass security products,” says Dan Schiappa, chief product officer at Sophos. 

“Unfortunately, most firewalls lack scalable TLS crypto capabilities and are unable to inspect encrypted traffic without causing applications to break or degrade network performance. With the new Xstream architecture in XG Firewall, Sophos is providing critical visibility into an enormous blind spot while eliminating frustrating latency and compatibility issues with full support for the latest TLS 1.3 standard. Sophos’ internal benchmark tests have clocked a two-fold performance boost in the new XG TLS inspection engine as compared to previous XG versions. This is a game-changer.”

Latency too often deters IT admins from using decryption, as seen in an independent Sophos survey of 3,100 IT managers in 12 countries. The survey white paper, The Achilles Heel of Next-Gen Firewalls, reports that while 82% of respondents agreed TLS inspection is necessary, only 3.5% of organisations are decrypting their traffic to properly inspect it.
Key new features of XG Firewall include:

  • Inspection of TLS 1.3 to detect cloaked malware: New port-agnostic TLS engine doubles crypto operation performance over previous XG versions
  • Optimised critical application performance: New FastPath policy controls accelerate performance of SD-WAN applications and traffic, including Voice over IP, SaaS, and others, to up to wire speed
  • Adaptive traffic scanning: The newly enhanced Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) engine dynamically risk-assesses traffic streams and matches them to the appropriate threat scanning level, enhancing throughput by up to 33% across most network environments
  • Threat analysis with SophosLabs intelligence: Provides network administrators with the SophosLabs AI-enhanced threat analysis needed to understand and adjust defences to protect against a constantly changing threat landscape
  • Comprehensive cloud management and reporting in Sophos Central: Centralised management and reporting capabilities in Sophos Central provide customers with group firewall management and flexible cloud reporting across an entire estate without additional charge
  • Integration with Sophos Managed Threat Response (MTR) service: Customers of XG Firewall who also subscribe to the Sophos MTR Advanced service will have deeper actionable intelligence to prevent, detect and respond to threats, as a result of the integration

Sophos XG Firewall is available in the cloud-based Sophos Central platform alongside Sophos’ portfolio of cybersecurity solutions. Sophos’ Synchronized Security approach empowers these solutions to work together for real-time information sharing and threat response.

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