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Samsung redefines ‘widescreen’

Samsung affirms display leadership with a new ultra-wide 32:9 aspect ratio gaming monitor, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Samsung is well-known for its brilliant display, being one of the market leaders in display technology, in formats ranging from smartphones to smart TVs. It now brings an unusually good gaming monitor to market, with the launch of the CHG90 49-inch ultra-widescreen display. While this may sound too big for gaming, the diagonal 49-inch measurement is equivalent to about two regular 24-inch monitors placed side-by-side. 

The monitor is hard to miss. The ultra-wide curved display leaves one feeling a little overwhelmed at first because, wherever one looks, it’s just screen. This delivers on Samsung’s claim that this monitor delivers “VR-like” experiences to gamers. The wide-legged stand sits sturdily on the desk, allowing the user to adjust the screen vertically, and allows for tilting to obtain the perfect viewing angle. That said, this monitor is so wide, that the sides of the display will probably protrude past the ends of the typical desk, while the stand might not fit on a smaller desk.

In terms of display quality, there’s definitely something to be said for QLED. There is so much attention to detail in the display layers, that it’s hard to be unimpressed with what it can replicate on screen. For example, QLED technology makes the pictures come to life with the darker pixels being less illuminated (or simply off, if it’s pure black), leaving the rest of the lighter pixels to really shine. 

The 144Hz (144 frames per second) refresh rate is something to admire, as gaming becomes more lifelike with an incredibly smooth motion experience. All of this is combined with AMD Radeon FreeSync 2 support for the ultimate HDR experience in desktop gaming.

Gadget tested two operating systems, macOS and Windows 10, to get a sense of where its applications fit best. The macOS system was a Mac Mini with Intel HD Graphics 4000. This was tested as an office environment computer, running Microsoft Office and other office-like applications. 

For display interfacing, we used DisplayPort, which comes built-in. The Mac played nicely with the screen, matching a colour profile directly to the screen type, ensuring true colour. The set-up could not be simpler. The refresh rate was capped at 60Hz, due to the Mac’s hardware limitations. 

We split three windows across the screen, and it was excellent for multitasking. Overall, the display is well-suited for office work if one is comfortable with a two-screen setup. However, it is sheer overkill for single-screen use, and will leave one dizzy rather than more productive.

The Windows 10 system was an AMD Ryzen 1800X with an AMD Radeon RX 580. This was tested for gaming performance, where FreeSync 2 was enabled by installing the driver. DisplayPort was also used for this, as HDMI didn’t work with FreeSync 2. 

The first game we tested was Skyrim with an HDR and 2X enhanced texture patch. The colours were vibrant and the wide viewing angle provided a VR-like experience similar to Skyrim VR on PlayStation – without the headset. Moreover, the adaptive eye-saver mode adjusts the screen’s blue hue to make it easier to play longer with less eye-strain.

Overall, the applications of the screen aren’t strictly limited to gaming, as the name of the monitor suggests, but it does perform best in a gaming environment with all the compatible equipment. 

Its business applications were interesting, because it changes the two-screen setup, which is often opted for in software development environments. At a retail price of R19 500 from Takealot.com, this ultra-wide screen may be an option worth considering for consumers who are planning to purchase two HD screens for simultaneous use.

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TikTok looks for SA talent

The fast-rising short-video platform has launched a #PickMe campaign to discover local stars.

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TikTok, which claims to be the world’s leading destination for short-form videos, launches its first PickMe campaign, an effort to discover creative talents and provide a stage to express themselves in South Africa. Starting March 1, TikTok kicked off a month-long search through participants’ 15-second videos under hashtag #PickMe.

TikTok says it is committed to investing in South Africa and discovering the local talents. The PickMe campaign is supported by its local partners like Huawei, MTV Base and Digify Africa.

Local stars, including comedian and singer Lasizwe and singer Nadia Jaftha, have joined the campaign and called for users to show their talents on TikTok.

There are 5 categories of video shooting in the campaign, namely dance, acting, comedy, singing and cosmetics. Participants need to shoot a 15-second video using TikTok using #PickMe and tag @tiktok_africa to participate in the challenge. The finalists will be selected based on their video performance. The most popular and talented participants will have the chance to win prizes like Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphones, a day at MTV Base, and a once-off-presenter opportunity and attendance at an intensive video production workshop delivered by Digify Africa.

“TikTok has definitely evolved into something that everyone loves and uses. It’s given creators a space to create more unique content and also help the creator gain a whole new kind of fan base, ” says Preven Reddy, Imbewu The Seed TV-star and Megazone radio host who is also a TikTok user.

Says TikTok video creator Mihlali Nxanga: “As a young South African working towards being in the entertainment industry, TikTok has given me the platform to grow my following tremendously. Within 6 months, my fan base has grown by a whopping 90 000, and not only from South Africa, but the whole world. For me, TikTok is not just a content platform, it is a global community.”

The campaign will wrap up on March 31. The list of the finalist will be announced in the app and on official Instagram @tiktok_southafrica. For more information, please visit the TikTok app.

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Rugby fan experience transformed by digital platform

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The South African Rugby Federation has embraced digitalisation as a key enabler of its strategic aspirations. It has worked with Accenture to transform fan engagement for Springbok supporters with the launch of a digital fan platform.

“Digital technology and social media have transformed how modern fans watch, support and engage with their favourite teams,” says SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. “To maintain our relevance amid this new market dynamic, and grow our fan base, we’ve acknowledged the vital need to digitally transform our organisation.”

Wayne Hull, managing director for Accenture Digital in Africa, says: “SA Rugby’s ambition to pivot to a more fan-centric strategy requires digital design, content, platforms and insights because modern consumers, including loyal Springbok supporters, engage predominantly via mobile digital channels and expect hyper-personalised experiences.”

Accenture Digital’s development process started with quantitative and qualitative research, which informed the user experience (UX) design guidelines and content strategy for the digital fan engagement platform.

“To know what fans want, we needed to understand the fans themselves,” says Hull. “The Accenture Digital team mined the research data and identified multiple fan ‘personas’, which all have different content consumption, platform functionality and engagement preferences.”

The platform development team focused on three critical elements to meet these requirements – the customer experience (CX), the engagement engine and cloud-based deployment.

“To deliver a memorable and engaging CX, Accenture Digital leveraged leading digital experience software,” says Hull. “The result is a fully integrated and responsive platform that creates seamless, personalised digital fan experiences across SA Rugby’s content, commerce and digital marketing initiatives in a manner that makes fans feel recognised and connected to the players and the game.”

The new platform will serve as the first point of call for any rugby fan who wants to get their data fix with exclusive statistics, analytics and insights. The platform’s content style will include more visual elements – videos and images – with more concise articles that are easier to digest, in accordance with evolving content consumption preferences on mobile screens. This will complement long-form thought leadership and insight pieces. 

In addition, fans will enjoy exclusive access to player-related content, such as behind-the-scenes footage and game and training performance stats. SA Rugby will also benefit from the ability to track comments and mentions via the Sitecore analytics platform Accenture Digital implemented, to respond and engage in the conversations Springbok fans are having on social media about the game, the teams or the players.

To do this, SA Rugby required a consolidated view of the customer. However, data resided in disparate sites across ticketing providers and SA Rugby’s e-commerce and online magazine databases. This information will be consolidated into the CRM system, with multiple integration points available to leverage this data.

The CRM system’s functionality will help to reveal insights such as fan communication preferences and their likes and dislikes, which will place hyper-relevance at the core of SA Rugby’s fan experience and engagement strategy.

 The final element in the platform development was cloud deployment, which allows fans to access the platform from any device that has an internet connection. The platform is hosted within the Microsoft Azure environment, which is stable, secure and fully redundant. It gives SA Rugby the flexibility to manage the platform themselves, with the option to integrate or scale additional functionality down the line.

Based on the outcome, Hull believes that Accenture Digital has successfully reimagined, built and delivered a world-class, modern and mobile-friendly digital fan platform that creates a fun, immersive and engaging experience for fans.

“It’s a major step towards helping SA Rugby realise its ambition to become a fan-centric, forward-looking and nimble organisation, and we look forward to building and developing the platform further with the team as their digital fan engagement requirements evolve,” says Hull

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