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MWC: Huawei’s MateBook matches up to MS Surface

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At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Huawei launched the MateBook, a 2-in-1 device that seems to be in direct competition with the Microsoft Surface but which is backed by Microsoft as it runs Windows 10.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Huawei launched its new MateBook, a 2-in-1 device that appears to compete directly with Microsoft’s Surface. However, Microsoft is backing the device fully, since it also runs on Windows 10. Huawei defines it as “a mobile productivity tool that seamlessly integrates mobility, high efficiency, work and entertainment”.

“With this landmark device, Huawei is demonstrating our industry-leading design and manufacturing expertise by bringing a beautifully crafted flagship product to market that is redefining the new style of business – connected computing across all devices in almost every scenario,” said Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Consumer Business Group. “Huawei has successfully channeled its comprehensive experience and excellence in building premium mobile products into the needs of the modern business environment by introducing a highly efficient device, seamlessly capable of integrating work and entertainment functions.”

Huawei provided the following information:

Starting at $699/€799, the MateBook is answering the demand for portable, stylish smart devices that allow users to stay connected in any setting. Designed as a total solution for consumers who enjoy the flexibility of a convertible device, the MateBook is a premium product that perfectly balances mobility, productivity and design.

With the MateBook, Huawei is continuing its strategy of partnering with the most innovative market leaders.

Built to operate on Windows 10, the MateBook also delivers the best of the legendary productivity tools and features offered by Microsoft Corp., including its latest browser, Microsoft Edge and the Cortana digital personal assistant.

“Our collaboration with Huawei offers consumers a new way to experience Windows 10 on a beautifully designed device,” said Peter Han, Vice President, Worldwide OEM Marketing, Microsoft Corp. “Huawei appreciates how consumers want to interact with devices, and is bringing a fresh perspective to this space. Our relationship with Huawei is a great example of the growing ecosystem of premium portable Windows 10 devices.”

The device features a 6th Generation Intel Core m-series processor to handle the most rigorous business demands in a stylish, thin and lightweight fanless design.

“This is an exciting time for Huawei to enter the market with its powerful new MateBook,” said Kirk Skaugen, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Client Computing Group, Intel Corporation. “By designing with the Intel Core m processor, Huawei is delivering a premium 2-in-1 experience that offers a compelling combination of mobility combined with full PC productivity. We are thrilled to extend our partnership with Huawei in this growing 2-in-1 market.”

Combining the mobility of a smartphone with the power and productivity of a laptop, the MateBook is designed with simplicity in mind. With minimal embellishment and a sleek appearance, the device is made of high-quality aluminum unibody that is both elegant and sophisticated. The MateBook features a strong protective body to withstand the rigors of an on-the-go lifestyle, and its slim profile and ultra-low weight of just 640g makes it ideal to take anywhere.

The MateBook keyboard case is made of environmentally friendly, soft PU leather, the perfect choice to match style with functionality. The durability of the keyboard case also provides an ideal level of protection. The keyboard features a 1.5mm keystroke and a chiclet keycap design, which allows for larger key surfaces to minimize typing errors. The built-in touchpad uses multi-touch technology that supports smooth and precise finger movements, combining comfort and utility.

The MateBook’s 12-inch IPS multi-touch screen is further enhanced by an ultra-narrow frame and a screen-to-body ratio of 84 percent. The screen boasts a resolution of 2160×1440 and a 160-degree wide angle for an immersive experience. The color gamut reaches an impressive 85 percent, capable of displaying true-to-life colors.

To ensure the MateBook delivers optimal performance as a mobile device, battery life and power were a top priority throughout the design process. Its 33.7Wh high-density Lithium battery provides enough power for nine hours of work, nine consecutive hours of Internet use and 29 hours of music playback. The device also features Huawei’s exclusive power-saving technology to meet the needs of business users. The MateBook’s battery can attain a full charge in just two-and-a-half hours. When there is not enough time for a full charge, the device can power up to 60 percent battery strength in just one hour.

When only a hand-written note will do, the accompanying MatePen stylus offers 2,048 levels of sensitivity, perfectly capturing users’ subtle and diverse pen-tip actions with zero delay. For advanced business functions, MatePen supports graphics and mathematic functions, and can be used as a laser pointer for delivering presentations.

The MateBook provides security while maintaining quick access through the fingerprint recognition feature that supports 360-degree sensitive identification for fewer authentication failures. It takes only one touch to unlock the MateBook’s screen – the fastest fingerprint recognition in the industry.

Additionally, the MateBook features a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot for users to stay connected when a traditional Internet connection is not available. Other features that ensure an efficient mobile experience include a seamless data transfer capability that allows drag-and-drop document transfer to and from Android smartphones.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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