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PCs, tablets, decline 5% in Middle East and Africa

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The Middle East and Africa (MEA) personal computing devices (PCD) market, which is made up of desktops, notebooks, workstations, and tablets, declined 5.0% year on year in Q4 2018, according to the latest insights from International Data Corporation (IDC). The global technology research and consulting firm’s Quarterly PCD Tracker shows that shipments fell to around 5.6 million units for the three-month period.

“The biggest driver of demand in Q4 2018 was a massive delivery of over 600,000 tablets into Egypt’s education sector, which saw the overall MEA market outperform previous forecasts for the quarter,” says Fouad Charakla, IDC’s senior research manager for client devices in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. “This deal helped prevent what would otherwise have been a sharp decline in overall shipments to the region. The regional market was also buoyed by the strong performance of PCs in Saudi Arabia and a significant notebook deal that took place in the UAE.”

IDC’s research shows that the biggest declines in Q4 2018 were seen in Turkey and the ‘Rest of the Middle East’ group of countries, comprising Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Palestine). “The weak exchange rate of the Turkish lira against other currencies continues to inflate the cost of imported goods, making computing devices expensive for the country’s end users,” says Charakla. “Meanwhile, Iran, which accounts for the largest share of ‘Rest of the Middle East’ grouping, continues to suffer under the weight of U.S. sanctions. These sanctions have made it difficult for organizations in other countries to trade with Iranian businesses, negatively impacting the supply of personal computing devices into the country.”

The top three vendors in the regional PC market maintained their respective positions, with each of them gaining share on the corresponding quarter of 2017.

Middle East & Africa PC Market Vendor Shares – Q4 2017 vs. Q4 2018

 Company Q4 2017 Q4 2018
 HP Inc. 28.9% 32.3%
Lenovo 19.5% 20.7%
Dell 14.9% 17.1%
Others 36.8% 29.9%

In the tablet segment, the massive education deal in Egypt saw Samsung more than double its market share in the region year on year and maintain its position in top spot. Apple climbed up to number two, while Huawei dropped to number three.

Middle East & Africa Tablet Market Vendor Shares – Q4 2017 vs. Q4 2018

 Company Q4 2017 Q4 2018
 Samsung 17.9% 37.9%
 Apple 11.2% 8.3%
 Huawei 12.3% 7.7%
 Others 58.7% 46.1%

Looking ahead, IDC expects overall PCD shipments into the MEA region to total 19.5 million units for 2019 as a whole. Currency-related issues in both Turkey and the ‘Rest of the Middle East’ grouping will continue to inhibit demand in those countries. On the flip side, a number of large-scale education projects are under discussion in several countries across the region; however, given the uncertainty surrounding these projects in terms of timeline, volume, and financial challenges, IDC has not reflected most of the larger initiatives in its forecast.

Looking further ahead, the overall PCD market is expected to remain close to flat over coming years, with PCs experiencing very slow growth and tablets experiencing a gradual decline. Given the growing use of smartphones and the corresponding shift away from PCs and tablets, it is unrealistic to expect either segment to return to the shipment volumes seen several years ago.

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ASUS puts more screen into gaming

While others battle over the thinnest bezel for maximizing screen space, ASUS released a dual screen laptop that uses the space where one’s palms would usually rest, writes BRYAN TURNER

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When one imagines dual screen, it’s usually two screens side-by-side on a desk, providing a horizontally long desktop experience. There have been clunky dual screen laptops in the past, some that folded out horizontally, but these never really caught the attention of the consumer.  

Enter Asus with the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. Like the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, the ROG Zephyrus Duo features two screens – the main screen on the top panel (as we’re all used to) and another screen just below that, where the top of the keyboard would usually be. The main difference is the secondary screen pops out at a 13-degree angle to bridge the gap between the two screens, and to give better viewing angles.  

That ZenBook Pro Duo is also a pretty good machine for gaming, because it features Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics, but it doesn’t have the latest graphics. With the new machine, Asus is one of the first manufacturers to release a laptop featuring Nvidia’s latest RTX 2080 Super Max Q GPU for mobile devices. This is a momentous feat, considering that not only are the external features  cutting edge, but also the internals. 

The main panel is configured to be either 4K 60Hz or 1080p 300Hz. The former is most likely going to be picked up by video editors and photoshop gurus, because it covers 100% of the Adobe RBG colour space, and the latter will appeal to gamers who want to see their high frame rates in action. Both panels are Pantone Colour Calibrated for high colour accuracy. 

The secondary panel features a 32:9 resolution, which is equal to putting two standard 16:9 widescreen panels together. The touchscreen panel outputs a 3840 x 1100 resolution at 60Hz.  

The combination of these panels will be ideal for portable gamers. The main game can be on the main panel, while Discord and game streaming software can be on the secondary panel, all at a glance. Not to mention the game developers that have support for two screens, where the second screen highlights stats and other components that had to be crammed into the main screen’s space.   

On the inside, the laptop features liquid metal cooling, which lowers the temperatures by 8°C and allows the computer to function with less fan noise. Asus has also slipped some very interesting cooling tech behind the secondary panel, when it pops open, to maximise airflow into the computer from both the bottom and the top of the device. 

The laptop features the biggest battery Asus has yet put in a computer, at 90Wh. This is incredibly close to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA’s) limit of 100Wh batteries being allowed on flights to the US. Fortunately, this computer can be taken around the world if necessary. 

These computers will come in two variants of 10th Generation Intel processors, namely the i9-10980HK or i7-10875H. They support up to 2 M.2 NVMe PCIE 3 slots for SSDs. 

The new ROG gaming range from Asus will be available later this year. The price of the computer has not yet been confirmed

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Vodacom, Discovery launch free virtual COVID-19 tests

Vodacom and Discovery have teamed up to launch free virtual COVID-19 testing for all South Africans – not only for their customers.

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Vodacom and Discovery have partnered to deliver a powerful online healthcare platform for the benefit of all South Africans during the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform provides easy access to a COVID-19 risk tool for all South Africans, to help understand your personal risk for COVID-19. Where needed, it assists immediately to schedule virtual healthcare professional consultations and get advice.

Globally, telemedicine has proved to be vital in the management of this disease, with many governments and healthcare systems advocating for digital healthcare tools and virtual consults to be the first step and primary means of healthcare support during the COVID-19 outbreak. The risk assessment and virtual healthcare tools can help to identify people who need health professional engagement and a potential referral for testing or to a hospital.

The online healthcare platform therefore makes it possible for South Africans to access a healthcare professional without them having to travel to a healthcare facility.

This reduces overcrowding at clinics and doctors’ rooms where there is greater risk of the virus spreading. It also protects healthcare professionals from potential repeated exposure to COVID-19.

It is free to use and available on any web browser or mobile phone to facilitate a full consultation with a doctor, either through video calls, voice calls, or by text. The service can be accessed by visiting either the Discovery or Vodacom websites. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.

Through a partnership with Vodacom, Discovery’s existing DrConnect platform, which was previously available only to Discovery clients, is now accessible to all South Africans. Vodacom and Discovery have also jointly created a fund to pay doctors for approximately 100,000 consultations, making them free to any South African.

There are seven easy steps to use an online doctor consultation:

  1. Start the process by visiting Discovery’s COVID-19 information hub or Vodacom’s website. Members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme can access the service through the Discovery app. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.
  2. Utilise the COVID-19 self-screening risk assessment tool, by answering a few easy questions.
  3. If you are confirmed as high risk of having COVID-19, a short registration and consent process on the DrConnect app will follow.
  4. Book a virtual consultation with a doctor who is available to assess the need for COVID-19 testing.
  5. If the doctor recommends testing, a photo of the completed pathology form will be sent to you by SMS, WhatsApp or email. The same process will apply to scripts for medicine.
  6. Testing and collecting of medicine will be facilitated by the relevant essential healthcare service providers that you must visit.
  7. Doctors will receive test results electronically and can then advise if you should schedule follow-up appointments to discuss results and next steps.

The Vodacom COVID-19 information hub contains other up-to-date information for consumers about COVID-19.

With virtual consultations, the location of the doctor or the location of the patient will not restrict access to fast and effective healthcare. All doctors can register to help.

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