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MacBook Air and Pro revamped

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Apple has updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display with the new Force Touch trackpad, fifth generation Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Graphics 6100, two times faster flash and longer battery life.

Apple also updated the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air with fifth generation Intel Core processors, Intel HD Graphics 6000, and Thunderbolt 2, and added up to two times faster flash to the 13-inch MacBook Air.

“Today the popular 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, 11-inch MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Air all received significant upgrades,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “The 13-inch MacBook Pro has been updated with the latest processors, more powerful graphics, faster flash, longer battery life and the all-new Force Touch trackpad. We’re also bringing the latest processors and graphics, and faster Thunderbolt 2 to the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air, as well as two times faster flash to the 13-inch MacBook Air.”

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display features the all-new Force Touch trackpad that brings a new dimension of interactivity to the Mac. The new trackpad features built-in force sensors that allow you to click anywhere and haptic feedback that provides a responsive and uniform feel. You can even customise the feel of the trackpad by changing the amount of pressure needed to register each click. The Force Touch trackpad also enables a new gesture called Force Click, a click followed by a deeper press, for tasks like pulling up the definition of a word, quickly seeing a map or glancing at a preview of a file.

The updated 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display also features fifth generation Intel Core processors up to 3.1 GHz, with Turbo Boost Speeds up to 3.4 GHz, faster integrated Intel Iris Graphics 6100, and flash storage that is up to two times faster, with throughput up to 1.6GBps. In addition, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display now delivers up to 10 hours of battery life and up to 12 hours of iTunes movie playback.

The updated 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air now feature fifth generation Intel Core processors up to 2.2 GHz, with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.2 GHz, integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000, and Thunderbolt 2, delivering up to 20Gbps, twice the bandwidth of the previous generation. The 13-inch MacBook Air also features faster flash storage that is up to two times faster than the previous generation.

Every new Mac comes with OS X Yosemite, a powerful new version of OS X, redesigned and refined with a fresh, modern look, powerful new apps and amazing Continuity features that make working across your Mac and iOS devices more fluid than ever.

iMovie, GarageBand, iPhoto, and Pages, Numbers and Keynote come free with every new Mac. iMovie lets you easily create beautiful movies, you can use GarageBand to make new music or learn to play piano or guitar and you can edit and share your best shots with iPhoto. Pages, Numbers and Keynote, make it easy to create, edit and share stunning documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Pages, Numbers and Keynote for iCloud let you create a document on iPhone or iPad, edit it on your Mac and collaborate with friends, even if they are on a PC. The new Photos for OS X app keeps your growing photo and video collection automatically organised and easy to navigate and will be included in an OS X Yosemite update this spring.

Pricing & Availability

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available today through select Apple Authorised Resellers with a 2.7 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory and 128GB of flash storage; with a 2.7 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage and with a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory and 512GB of flash storage. Configure-to-order options include a faster dual-core Intel Core i7 processor up to 3.1 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.4 GHz, up to 16GB of memory and flash storage up to 1TB. Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at www.apple.com/macbook-pro.

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Samsung clears the table with new monitor

For those who like minimalism and tidy desks, Samsung’s new Space Monitor may just do the trick, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The latest trends of narrow-bezels and minimalist designs have transcended smartphones, spilling into other designs, like laptops and monitors. 

The new Space Monitor line by Samsung follows in this new design “tradition”. The company has moved the monitor off the desk – by clipping it onto the edge of the desk.

It can be put into three configurations: completely upright, where it sits a bit high but completely off the desk; half-way to the desk, where it is a bit lower to put some papers or files underneath the display; and flat on the desk, where it is at its lowest.

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The monitor sits on a weighted hinge at the edge of the desk, providing sturdy adjustment to its various height configurations. It also swivels on a hinge at the point where the arm connects to the display. This provides precise viewing angle adjustment, which is great for showing something on screen to someone who is standing.

Apart from form factor, there are some neat goodies packed into the box. It comes with a two-pin power adapter, with no adapter box on the midpoint between the plug and the monitor, and a single cable that carries HDMI-Y and power to prevent tangling. 

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However, it’s slightly disappointing that there isn’t a Mini Display Port and power cable “in one cable” option for Mac and newer graphics card users, who will have to run two cables down the back of the screen. Even worse, the display doesn’t have a USB Type-C display input; a missed opportunity to connect a Samsung device to the panel.

A redeeming point is the stunning, Samsung-quality panel, which features a 4K UHD resolution. The colours are sharp and the viewing angles are good. However, this display is missing something: Pantone or Adobe RGB colour certification, as well as IPS technology. 

The display’s response rate comes in at 4ms, slightly below average for displays in this price range. 

These negatives aside, this display has a very specific purpose. It’s for those who want to create desk space in a few seconds, while not having to rearrange the room. 

Final verdict: This display is not for gamers nor for graphic designers. It is for those who need big displays but frequently need to clear their desks.

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Can mobile fix education?

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By Ernst Wittmann, global account director for MEA and country manager for Southern Africa, at TCL Communications

Mobile technology has transformed the way we live and work, and it can be expected to rapidly change the ways in which children learn as smartphones and tablets become more widely accepted at primary and high schools. By putting a powerful computer in every learner’s schoolbag or pocket, smartphones could play an important role in improving educational outcomes in a country where so many schools are under-resourced.

Here are some ways that mobile technology will reshape education in the years to come:

Organisation and productivity

For many adults, the real benefit of a smartphone comes from simple applications like messaging, calendaring and email. The same goes for schoolchildren, many of whom will get the most value from basic apps like sending a WhatApp message to friends to check on the homework for the day, keeping track of their extramural calendar, or photographing the teacher’s notes from the blackboard or whiteboard. One study of young people’s mobile phone use in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa confirmed that many of them got the most value from using their phones to complete mundane tasks.

Interactivity

One of the major benefits smartphones can bring to the classroom is boosting learners’ engagement with educational materials through rich media and interactivity. For example, apps like Mathletics use gamification to get children excited about doing mathematics—they turn learning into a game, with rewards for practicing and hitting milestones. Or teachers can set up a simple poll using an app like Poll Everywhere to ask the children in a class what they think about a character’s motivation in their English set-work book.

Personalisation

Mobile technology opens the doors to more personalised and flexible ways to teach and learn, making more space for children to work in their own style and at their own pace. Not very child learns in the same way or excels at the same tasks and subjects – the benefit of mobile phones is that they can plug the gaps for children seeking extra enrichment or those that need some additional help with classroom work.

For example, teachers can provide recommended educational materials for children who are racing in ahead of their peers in some of their subjects. Or they can suggest relevant games for children who learn better through practical application of ideas than by listening to a teacher and taking notes. 

In future, we can expect to see teachers, perhaps aided by algorithms and artificial intelligence, make use of analytics to track how students engage with educational content on their mobile devices and use these insights to create more powerful learning experiences. 

Access

South Africa has a shortage of teachers in key subjects such as mathematics and science, which disproportionately affects learners in poor and rural areas. According to a statement in 2017 from the Department of Basic Education, it has more than 5,000 underqualified or unqualified teachers working around the country. Though technology cannot substitute for a qualified teacher, it can supplement human teaching in remote or poor areas where teachers are not available or not qualified to teach certain subjects. Video learning and videoconferencing sessions offer the next best thing where a math or physical science teacher is not physically present in the classroom.

Information

Knowledge is power and the Internet is the world’s biggest repository of knowledge. Schoolchildren can access information and expertise about every subject under the sun from their smartphones – whether they are reading the news on a portal, watching documentaries on YouTube, downloading electronic books, using apps to improve their language skills, or simply Googling facts and figures for a school project.

Take a mobile-first approach

Technology has a powerful role to play in the South African school of the future, but there are some key success factors schools must bear in mind as they bring mobile devices into the classroom:

  • Use appropriate technology—in South Africa, that means taking a mobile-first approach and using the smartphones many children already know and use.
  • Thinking about challenges such as security – put in place the cyber and physical security needed to keep phones and data safe and secure.
  • Ensuring teachers and children alike are trained to make the most of the tech – teachers need to take an active role in curating content and guiding schoolchildren’s use of their devices. To get that right, they will need training and access to reliable tech support.

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