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Samsung S8 pushes the edge again

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The Galaxy S8 delivers on expectations with a stunning Infinity Display, connected ecosystem of services and an interface built on artificial intelligence.

Samsung Electronics yesterday unveiled the Galaxy S8, a smartphone that it says pushes the boundaries of traditional smartphones with its seamless hardware design and a variety of new service offerings.

“The Samsung Galaxy S8 ushers in a new era of smartphone design and fantastic new services, opening up new ways to experience the world,” said DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. “The Galaxy S8 is our testament to regaining your trust by redefining what’s possible in safety and marks a new milestone in Samsung’s smartphone legacy.”

In an acknowledgement of the reputational damage caused by the recall of the Galaxy Note 7 last year, Koh added: “We must be bold enough to stare into the unknown and humble enough to learn from our mistakes.”

The Galaxy S8 largely delivered on expectations, and was met by widespread enthusiasm. It builds on Samsung’s heritage of combining powerful aesthetic design with highly functional devices, but adds a few surprises. Available in 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+, the Infinity Display and bezel-less design form a smooth, continuous surface with no buttons or harsh angles. The result is a truly immersive viewing experience without distractions and makes multi-tasking more convenient. The Galaxy S8’s compact design enables comfortable one-handed operation and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back for durability and a high-quality finish.

Samsung provided the following information:

In addition to the new design innovations, Samsung continues to deliver cutting-edge technology including an advanced camera, enhanced performance and more to the devices that users love, including:

  • Premium Camera: The Galaxy S8 is equipped with an advanced 8MP F1.7 Smart autofocus front camera and 12MP F1.7 Dual Pixel rear camera for the best low-light, zoom and anti-blur photos with enhanced image processing.
  • Powerful Performance: Packing powerful performance and connectivity, the Galaxy S8 features the industry’s first 10nm processor, enabling heightened speed and efficiency. It is also gigabit LTE and gigabit Wi-Fi ready with support for up to 1 Gbps so users can quickly download files, regardless of the file size.
  • Robust Entertainment: As the world’s first mobile device certified by the UHD Alliance as MOBILE HDR PREMIUM, Galaxy S8 lets you see the same vibrant colors and contrasts that the filmmakers intended while watching your favorite shows. In addition, the Galaxy S8 offers next-level gaming experiences with vivid and superior graphic technology, as well as Game Pack, featuring top game titles, including select titles supported by the Vulkan API.
  • Global Standard in Mobile Security: The Galaxy S8 is built on Samsung Knox, a defense-grade security platform. In addition, the Galaxy S8 will offer a wide selection of biometric technologies including a fingerprint scanner, iris scanner and facial recognition so users can select a secure biometric authentication method that works best for them.

The Galaxy S8 will also come with the foundational Galaxy features that our customers have come to love, including:

  • IP68 water and dust resistance
  • MicroSD support up to 256GB
  • Always-on display
  • Fast and wireless charging capabilities

New Way to Interact with Your Phone

Bixby is an intelligent interface that will help users get more out of their phone. With the new Bixby button, you will be able to conveniently access Bixby and navigate through services and apps with simple voice, touch, vision and text commands. At launch, Bixby’s Voice function will integrate with several Samsung native apps and features including Camera, Contacts, Gallery, Messages and Settings, with the plan to expand its capabilities to include more Samsung and third-party apps in the near future. Contextual awareness capabilities enable Bixby to offer personalized help based on what it continues to learn about the user’s interests, situation and location.

Users can also shop, search for images and get details about nearby places with Bixby’s image recognition technology. As the Bixby ecosystem grows, it will connect across devices, apps and services as a ubiquitous interface, and open up new experiences and scenarios to simplify life.

Beyond the Phone Experiences

The Galaxy S8 offers a robust portfolio of products and services, elevating the Galaxy S8 experience for premiere mobile productivity and connectivity.

The Galaxy S8 unlocks the new Gear VR with Controller, powered by Oculus. Enabling convenient one-handed control and navigation, the controller provides better motion interaction when accessing interactive VR content. The Galaxy S8 will also connect to the new Gear 360 to create 4K 360-degree videos and photos.

Leveraging the processing power of the Galaxy S8 for enhanced productivity, Samsung DeX is a unique solution that transforms your smartphone into a desktop by providing a secure desktop-like experience. With Samsung DeX, users can easily display and edit data from their phone, making working from a smartphone faster and smarter.

In addition, as more IoT devices enter the market and the connected network becomes more complex, Samsung Connect simplifies smart device management. With Samsung Connect, users can easily activate IoT-enabled devices through a quick three-step configuration process and manage all connected devices through one integrated app.

The Galaxy S8 also comes with the enhanced Samsung Health service, expanding one of Samsung’s most widely used services with 60 million monthly active users and 11 million daily active users worldwide. Samsung Health includes personal coaching, social capabilities that redefine traditional health and fitness.

Users can leave their physical wallet behind with Samsung Pay, turning their Galaxy S8 into a digital wallet they can use almost anywhere they’d use a credit or debit card. With more than 870 worldwide banking partnerships, Samsung Pay has processed more than 240 million transactions to date.

New high-performance earphones tuned by AKG by Harman, offering uncompromised audio for unbeatable sound quality, will come as an in-box accessory. These earphones will have a comfortable hybrid canal fit for better noise cancellation and will be made from anti-tangle metal-fabric material.

The Galaxy S8 will be available starting on 5 May 2017 and will be offered in a rich color palette including Midnight Black, Orchid Gray and Maple Gold with more colours to be launched later in the year.

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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