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MWC: Sony XZ premium brings slow-mo to mobile

Sony Mobile has announced the Xperia XZ Premium, promising “a camera so advanced it captures motion that the human eye can’t see”. 

The Xperia XZ Premium incorporates imaging know-how embedded on Sony ‘α’ and Cyber-shot cameras to create the new Motion Eye camera system.   The first smartphone to feature a memory stacked Exmor RS sensor usually only found on premium compact cameras, it provides 5 x faster image scanning and data transfer. This means users can produce creative videos from everyday moments by recording in 960 frames per second, providing Super slow motion video playback that is four times slower than other smartphones. Predictive Capture automatically starts buffering images when it detects motion even before you press the button, so the user  can find a moment the eye may just have missed from a selection of four shots taken a second before the click. A new 19MP high resolution sensor has 19% larger pixels to capture more light and provides exceptional detail and sharp images even in low-light and backlit conditions. Additional improvements have been made inside Motion Eye to the Bionz for mobile processing engine meaning sharper motion images without noise.

Sony Mobile provided the following information:

For the first time ever in a smartphone, Xperia XZ Premium features a 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range, 2160 x 3840) 5.5” display. A truly unique Sony experience, it uses Sony’s BRAVIA TV technology to give you an immersive 4K HDR viewing experience in the palm of your hand, removing the constraints of your sofa. Astonishing brightness, colour, clarity and contrast are realised to create levels of realism you almost feel part of the scene. The sharp, vivid quality of the display is enriched by Sony’s native technologies TRILUMINOS Display for mobile, X-Reality for mobile and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer.

Xperia XZ Premium is powered by the cutting edge Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 platform, making it one of the very first smartphones capable of Gigabit Class LTE (up to 1Gbps). This is possible because of the integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, which has the potential to transform how customers use their mobile devices by delivering fibre optic speeds on the go. The Snapdragon 835 platform also supports stunning graphics, superior performance and enhanced battery efficiency. File transfers are also super-charged thanks to the USB 3.1 connection which is 10 times quicker than USB 2.0 with a transfer speed of up to 5Gbps. And with the USB Type-C socket, plugging in is easy because the connector is always the right way up.

With so many advanced technologies working in harmony, it is only fitting that the Xperia XZ Premium has a harmonious design to match, making it beautiful on the inside and out. The exterior has an exquisite glass loop surface which when turned over reveals a luxurious mirrored effect on the back. Every aspect of the XZ Premium is unified, from its seamless flowing lines and intuitive finger-print sensor power button to the new live wallpaper which moves the elegant lops as you swipe, to the colours you see on screen which are matched to the beautiful colours of the exterior.

Rain is one less thing to think about when you’re out and about with the Xperia XZ Premium. It’s water resistant, dust-proof and reinforced with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back of the handset, taking beauty and durability to new heights.

Taking intelligence to the next level Xperia XZ learns how you use your phone and adapts and makes recommendations to give you our most smartest and personal experience yet. The battery is maximised with Smart Stamina which uses the Xperia learning engine to accurately estimate how long your current battery will last based on your normal usage. It even warns you if it detects you’re going to run out of power later that day and prompts you to activate Stamina mode. Battery Care and Qnovo Adaptive Charging are also included to protect your battery and keep it healthy up to twice as long.

Xperia Tips and new Xperia Actions offer you handy advice about the features you’re using and even suggests map downloads based on your location, all aimed at making life that little bit easier.

The Sony experience is continued through to the audio and gaming capabilities. High Resolution Audio playback allows you to hear every nuance and detail in a track as if you’re right there with the artist. Sony’s native DSEE HX™ technology even up-scales streamed tracks or MP3s to near High-res quality and if you connect with wireless speakers or headphones, LDAC ensures you don’t lose a drop of sound quality by transferring three times more audio data than normal Bluetooth. Working with your PlayStation 4 console, you can play the latest cutting-edge games on your Xperia XZ Premium. Its advanced processing and fast memory access means gameplay is always smooth and responsive, plus the 4K screen and powerful stereo speakers make it feel like you’re actually in the game.

Availability, RRP and colours for the Xperia XZ Premium in South Africa is yet to be confirmed.

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Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh

In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.

When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.

This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy. 

“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.

“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”

Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.

“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.

“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”

Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.

“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.

“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model  isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”

Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.

Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”

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Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream

If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd

As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?  

In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!  

Nation-State Hacking & You  

It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.    

With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.  

Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.  

Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.  

Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” 

When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.” 

Ignorance is not bliss 

Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.  

To begin with, awareness is key. As you engage with various platforms and applications at work and at home, take time to understand how your data is being used and what the terms of use are. Is your data being accessed and sold to advertisers? Have you consented to this? In addition to scrutinizing your consent, also pay close attention to how much data you share online – and the nature of the details you are divulging. Always keep in mind that hackers are employing smart social engineering tactics and using the details of your private life (birthdays, holidays, pet’s names, etc) to trick you into opening infected emails and clicking on malware. Whenever you are online, you are a target – and vigilance at all times is critical. Beyond that, it goes without saying that you must commit to following basic security protocols with your devices. So always keep software up to date and keep your data backed up so that you can reboot or wipe a device if needed.   

Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!  

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