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Samsung delivers 8K TV

Samsung may have canned its Fold launch this week, but 8K TV stuck to the schedule

Samsung this week announced that it’s new QLED 4K and 8K TV models will be available at select retailers in South Africa from May. Powered by Samsung’s proprietary Quantum Processor, the 2019 QLED TV line-up features more screen size options, picture quality enhancements, new design elements and intuitive smart TV upgrades.

The TVs were intended to be launched alongside the new Galaxy Fold handset, but early reviews showed how easily the foldable screen broke. As a result, Samsung has postponed the release of the devices. 

Samsung provided the following details for the new TV range:

A More Pristine Picture

The 2019 Q80 and Q90 feature ‘Ultra Viewing Angle’ technology, which restructures the TV’s panels so the backlight passes through the panel with lights evenly onto the screen. Engineered to reduce glare and enhance colour, Ultra Viewing Angle provides a vibrant picture in many viewing positions. In addition, Q70, Q80, and Q90 models offer Direct Full Array technology that uses a panel featuring concentrated zones of precision-controlled LEDs. These LEDs adjust automatically to display deeper blacks and purer whites, delivering stunning images with pristine contrast.

A More Intelligent Quantum Processor

Q900 Series 8K TVs incorporate Samsung’s proprietary Quantum Processor 8K, which up-scales lower resolution content to stunningly crisp 8K while also allowing for playback of native 8K content. This year’s models also utilise the Quantum Processor 8K that optimises audio and video to the specific content on the screen. It can create an even more detailed sound experience by tailoring the audio settings to the specific layout of the room.

Samsung’s new QLED 4K models also feature their own proprietary Quantum Processor 4K, which can use AI upscaling to deliver improved brightness, picture quality and sound optimised for each scene.

As announced at CES 2019, Samsung will take the user experience to the next level by offering iTunes Movies and TV Shows and Apple AirPlay 2 support on 2019 Samsung Smart TV models. Support on 2018 Samsung Smart TVs will be made available via a firmware update. In an industry first, a new iTunes Movies and TV Shows app will debut on Samsung Smart TVs in more than 100 countries. AirPlay 2 support will be available soon on Samsung Smart TVs in 190 countries worldwide.

Using the new iTunes Movies and TV Shows app on Samsung Smart TVs, Samsung customers can access their existing iTunes library and browse the iTunes Store to buy or rent from a selection of hundreds of thousands of movies and TV episodes — including the largest selection of 4K HDR movies. iTunes Movies and TV Shows will work seamlessly with Samsung’s Smart TV Services, the new Voice Command and Search, to create a consistent experience across Samsung’s platform. With AirPlay 2 support, Samsung customers will be able to effortlessly play videos, photos, music, podcasts and more from Apple devices directly to Samsung Smart TVs, including QLED 4K and 8K TVs as well as other Samsung UHD and HD models.

A More Convenient Content Experience

2019 Samsung Smart TVs offer even more ways for users to discover and watch content. It features an improved AI algorithm that leverages a user’s subscription services, favourite content, and TV viewing habits to offer customised recommendations about what to watch. Users will be able to leverage the new Voice Command on 2019 QLED TVs and soon use Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant to easily control their TVs and access their content through voice commands. They can quickly and easily navigate their content with Samsung’s OneRemote. And with the addition of Far-Field Voice Capability on the OneRemote, users can use voice commands to control their TV even if they are across the room from their remote.

A More Immersive Gaming Experience

Real Game Enhancer optimises the gaming experience through a unique set of gaming features. This year, Real Game Enhancer features AMD Radeon Freesync variable refresh rate technology, which helps prevent tearing and stuttering, as well as Game Motion Plus, which removes motion blur and judder. Real Game Enhancer combines these technical innovations with Auto Game Mode, which minimises input lag on compatible devices. It also includes AI-based audio and video enhancements that optimise the settings to delivering cinematic sound and smooth, lifelike visuals that can remain clear even during bright and dark scenes. Ambient Mode complements any living space by turning a blank screen into a decorative or informational display when the TV is not in active use. It can provide useful daily information, like the time, weather forecast, or that day’s headlines. It can also display artistic content like photos and works of art. This year, Ambient Mode offers users an even greater variety of artistic and decorative pieces for the home, through new decorative patterns, photos, and artwork and mattes, as well as new ways to display information on the TV.

A More Comprehensive Line-up

Samsung’s QLED line-up offers 4K and 8K models in a range of sizes from 55” to 98” to suit the needs of every home and every lifestyle.

For a limited period, from 24 April to 5 May 2019, customers will receive a Samsung soundbar with every 2019 QLED TV purchase. All QLED purchases come with Samsung Signature Service which includes delivery and installation. Stock is limited. Terms and conditions apply.

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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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