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MWC: Lenovo rolls out new tablets

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At the Mobile World Congress currently taking place in Barcelona, Lenovo announced a line-up of new Android tablets, offering configurations and form factors to match consumer needs for both ultra-portable tablets and multimedia performers.

The portfolio, which also boasts unique connectivity features, will be available starting in the second quarter 2013.

The range starts with two new A-series tablets, seven-inch devices, designed for optimal mobility while still packing a performance punch. The A1000 is ideal for first-time tablet buyers and features enhanced audio, while the A3000 offers quad-core processing for speedy performance whether for gaming or web-browsing. Alongside these models, Lenovo also announced the new 10-inch S6000, which offers extended I/O options, a large, vibrant screen and a super-slim profile that looks sophisticated and elegant, whether the user is web-surfing in the coffee shop or enjoying movies and games at home.

‚”Lenovo’s latest Android tablet family is designed to meet the demands of a wide range of customers, particularly young, active users who are always on the go, and have adopted the seven-inch form factor as their own. With these latest additions to our tablet portfolio, we’ve created devices that address these customers’ needs, as well as devices for more demanding gamers and multimedia users,‚” said Chen Wenhui, vice president Lenovo and GM Mobile BU, ‚”We believe that our Android family of tablets will appeal to customers across the world as we’ve built our products to be highly accessible and flexible to serve multiple needs and budgets.‚”

S6000, Mobile ‚”Home Entertainment‚” Center

As tablets have continued their march into the mainstream, increasing demands with regards to larger screen devices have raised the bar for tablet makers. Lenovo has responded with the S6000, a sleek and powerful option for customers looking for a device that switches seamlessly from entertainment to social media and beyond. Powered by the MTK 8389/8125 1.2 GHz quad-core processor, the S6000 shines as a multimedia and gaming tablet fronted by a 10.1-inch IPS 1280X800 display with a wide, 178-degree viewing angle, micro HDMI port and digital microphone. The S6000 also offers a number of additions to optimize its performance as a connectivity tool for social networkers including optional HSPA+ and a substantial battery that allows for more than 8 hours of continuous WiFi web browsing. Even with these specifications though, the S6000 does not lose track of style and convenience: it is all tied together in a super slim (8.6mm) and light (560g) frame that feels good and helps you look good.

A3000, Full Performance in a Compact Package

In today’s connected world, devices must be mobile, without skimping on performance. The A3000 bristles with specifications typically found in a much larger device, all packed into a seven-inch form factor that is thin and light. Powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core, MTK processor, the A3000 optimizes the user experience for games, video, photo-sharing and web-browsing, offering seamlessly fluid navigation and highly responsive performance. The benefits of the seven-inch form factor are not ignored on the A3000 either. The tablet, which sports an IPS 1024×600 screen, weighs in at less than 340g and is only 11mm thick, but can still hold a wealth of content with an extensive memory, which can be extended to 64GB with the external micro-SD card. Optional 3G HSPA+ support ensures you stay connected when you’re on the go with Lenovo’s ultra-portable tablet.

A1000, Pocket Studio with Dolby

The A1000 delivers an audio experience normally reserved for more expensive tablets in a seven- inch device. With Dolby Digital Plus integrated into the device and large, front-facing speakers that ensure the sound is directed at the users’ ears rather than the floor, the A1000 is perfect for music lovers and those seeking a ‚”pocket studio‚” for either music or movies. The A1000 runs Android Jelly Bean 4.1 on a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and has on-board storage of up to 16GB, extendable to 32GB with a micro-SD slot, so users can load content up and take it to the gym, the office or anywhere else they want to experience high-quality sights and sounds. It also comes in either black or white, allowing users to customize their Lenovo pocket studio to their lifestyle.

Lenovo Mobile Access

All the new Android tablets come with Lenovo Mobile Access, a unique service that allows users to connect instantly ‚”out of the box‚”. When customers first power up their Lenovo device, they will see an icon indicating Lenovo as their access provider. Without having to set up a special data plan, they can immediately start browsing web pages, accessing their email and sharing content with friends using HSPA+ 3G access or through WiFi according to their specific configuration. When the initial Lenovo Mobile Access service expires users will be prompted with the option to easily renew their plan or select an alternative service.

Pricing and Availability

The newest Android tablets will be available worldwide from Q2, 2013. Although pricing varies according to market, configuration and model, each tablet in the range is competitively priced to ensure maximum accessibility to a premium user experience for all customers.

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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.

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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

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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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