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Pack the self-stowing camera bag

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Photographers who carry a lot of kit are often challenged by the lack of flexibility of their camera bags. JOEL DORFAN finds out whether the Tenba ‘self-stowing’ bag is up to the challenge.

Since 1977, Tenba has been making innovative carrying case solutions for professional photographers and filmmakers. Its products are of high quality and are generally well accepted by amateurs and professionals alike.

Last year it introduced one of is more unusual products, the Packlite, described as “the World’s First packable, self-stowing camera bag”.

I received both the Packlite Travel Bag for BYOB 13, and the BYOB 13 insert for any travel bag – the acronym stands for Bring Your Own Bag. I was supplied the size 13 products to test with my DSLR and lenses.

The Packlite is very compact and folds into itself. Once folded it would easily fit into a large jacket pocket or a spare compartment in your main camera bag. Once opened, it expands into a fairly large, lightweight PU-coated shadow rip-stop nylon bag, which has bar tack reinforced stitching on all stress points.

I looked at this bag and started scratching my head. My gear could easily fit into the bag, but it had no compartments and no padding.

While it was true to its tagline, the Packlite could not be used as a camera bag unless the separately purchased BYOB padded bag is inserted into it.

The BYOB is a true Tenba-quality padded camera bag with all the expected features, but without a shoulder strap. This functionality is provided by the Packlite once the BYOB  is inserted..

The combination of these two products resulted in a high-quality lightweight camera bag, able to hold my DSLR with attached 70-200 lens and a number of other lenses, plus accessories.

So who is this combination of products aimed at?

They are pitched at two groups of people:

1 Photographers who carry a lot of kit, allowing them to size down on location.

2 Photographers who want to carry their regular kit in any bag

In 1 above, this would be for professional photographers and filmmakers who travel with large backpacks, rolling cases or shoulder bags. They can easily replace a portion of the padded dividers inside their large bags with a BYOB insert of any size. That way, they always have a bag-within-a-bag set-up, but the benefit is that the BYOB insert does not have the bulk and weight of a typical camera bag. When on location, they can remove the BYOB insert and slide it into a Packlite bag to carry a smaller camera system with them, separate from the much larger bag or rolling case.

In 2 above, this would be aimed at backpackers, campers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts who will often be carrying a large 60-80 liter backpack, and the BYOB insert provides the necessary camera protection from everything else packed within that large backpack. Once the large backpack has been stowed somewhere, the Packlite bag provides a compact and lightweight carry option for the camera gear that is stored within the BYOB insert inside the large backpack.

While the tagline may be a bit misleading, when the Packlite is combined with a BYOB, a useful camera bag is created. Unfortunately, the way the Packlite is advertised, it could lead buyers to expect it to be more than it is unless it is combined with a BYOB.

While this combination would not be everybody’s idea of a general-purpose camera bag, if you fit one of the groups of users mentioned above, then this is the solution to your challenges.

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Rain, Telkom Mobile, lead in affordable data

A new report by the telecoms regulator in South Africa reveal the true consumer champions in mobile data costs

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The latest bi-annual tariff analysis report produced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) reveals that Telkom Mobile data costs for bundles are two-thirds lower than those of Vodacom and MTN. On the other hand, Rain is half the price again of Telkom. 

The report focuses on the 163 tariff notifications lodged with ICASA during the period 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2018.

“It seeks to ensure that there is retail price transparency within the electronic communications sector, the purpose of which is to enable consumers to make an informed choice, in terms of tariff plan preferences and/or preferred service providers based on their different offerings,” said Icasa.

ICASA says it observed the competitiveness between licensees in terms of the number of promotions that were on offer in the market, with 31 promotions launched during the period. 

The report shows that MTN and Vodacom charge the same prices for a 1GB and a 3GB data bundle at R149 and R299 respectively.  On the other hand, Telkom Mobile charges (for similar-sized data bundles) R100 (1GB) and R201 (3GB). Cell C discontinued its 1GB bundle, which was replaced with a 1.5GB bundle offered at the same price as the replaced 1GB data bundle at R149. 

Rain’s “One Plan Package” prepaid mobile data offering of R50 for a 1GB bundle remains the most affordable when compared to the offers from other MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).  

“This development should have a positive impact on customers’ pockets as they are paying less compared to similar data bundles and increases choice,” said Icasa.

The report also revealed that the cost of out-of-bundle data had halved at both MTN and Vodacom, from 99c per Megabyte a year ago to 49c per Megabyte in the first quarter of this year. This was still two thirds more expensive than Telkom Mobile, which has charged 29c per Megabyte throughout this period (see graph below).

Meanwhile, from having positioned itself as consumer champion in recent years, Cell C has fallen on hard times, image-wise: it is by far the most expensive mobile network for out-of-bundle data, at R1.10 per Megabyte. Its prices have not budged in the past year.

The report highlights the disparities between the haves and have-nots in the dramatically plummeting cost of data per Megabyte as one buys bigger and bigger bundles on a 30-day basis (see graph below).

For 20 Gigabyte bundles, all mobile operators are in effect charging 4c per Megabyte. Only at that level do costs come in at under Rain’s standard tariffs regardless of use.

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Qualcomm wins 5G as Apple and Intel cave in

A flurry of announcements from three major tech players ushered in a new mobile chip landscape, wrItes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Last week’s shock announcement by Intel that it was canning its 5G modem business leaves the American market wide open to Qualcomm, in the wake of the latter winning a bruising patent war with Apple.

Intel Corporation announced its intention to “exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices”.

Intel said it would also continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business, sharpening its focus on a market expected to be dominated by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.

Intel said it would continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but did not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. In other words, it would no longer be supplying chips for iPhones and iPads in competition with Qualcomm.

“We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification’ of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realise the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”

The news came immediately after Qualcomm and Apple issued a joint announced of an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, along with a six-year license agreement, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Apple had previously accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in modem chips for smartphones and charging excessive license fees. It ordered its contract manufacturers, first, to stop paying Qualcomm for the chips, and then to stop using the chips altogether, turning instead to Intel.
With Apple paying up and Intel pulling out, Qualcomm is suddenly in the pound seats. It shares hit their highest levels in five years after the announcements.

Qualcomm said in a statement: “As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics released a report on the same day that showed Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia will lead the market in core 5G infrastructure, namely Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, by 2023 as the 5G market takes off. Huawei is expected to have the edge as a result of the vast scale of the early 5G market in China and its long term steady investment in R&D. According to a report entitled “Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia”, two outliers, Samsung and ZTE, are expected to expand their global presence alongside emerging vendors as competition heats up.

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