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Samsung’s 3 new Gears gear up wearables

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Samsung has introduced three Gear devices to its wearable portfolio. The Gear Sport, a smartwatch that is water resistant; the Gear Fit2 Pro and the Gear IconX, the next generation wireless earbuds.

The new devices assist with a range of activities across robust fitness tracking to nutrition and sleep monitoring, as well as motivational coaching as a lifestyle companion. Through the introduction of new smart capabilities, easy-to-use features and by partnering with leading names in technology and fitness, Samsung is enabling consumers to go beyond fitness, to accomplish even bigger things.

“Samsung has a long history of innovating technologies that meet consumers goals and aspirations. Whether you are going for a jog or training for a triathlon, Samsung’s wearables are designed with everyday athletes, of varying fitness levels, in mind. Our wearables defy the stereotype that being fit requires spending copious amounts of time in the gym with fitness trackers that are complex and only compatible with the most intense workouts. Rather, the new Samsung Gear wearables enable consumers of all shapes and sizes to ‘go beyond fitness’ to enjoy an active, balanced and fulfilled life in a smart and seamless way,” said Justin Hume, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung South Africa.”

As part of this updated line-up, Samsung created new capabilities for Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro:

·         Industry-Leading Water Resistance and Swim Tracking: An ideal companion for any swimming activity – from laps to playing in the pool – these devices are 5 ATM certified for water resistance. Now with Speedo’s latest swimming training app, Speedo On, the Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro also allow consumers to easily track key swim metrics including lap count, lap time, stroke type and more.

·         Top-of-the-line Heart Rate Monitoring: With improved accuracy, the devices offer advanced real-time heart rate monitoring. They help consumers to continuously monitor heart activity such as while enjoying an invigorating cycling class.

·         Premium Partnerships: Daily activity can be supplemented with updated Under Armour and Spotify partnerships. Both devices provide access to Under Armour’s fitness apps including Under Armour Record, MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun and Endomondo for activity, nutrition, sleep and fitness tracking functions – these apps provide users with a holistic picture of their health and fitness. Spotify’s Offline mode lets users listen to their favourite music online, offline or even without a smartphone so they can enjoy their favourite tunes regardless of location.

·         Auto Activity Detection: Automatic activity detection built into the devices are in tune with the body and can recognise the following categories of activities: Walking, Running, Cycling and performing Dynamic Activities that could include dancing to basketball.

·         Personalised Motivation: Consumers can customise a wellness plan with tailored goals and alerts.

Gear Sport: A new versatile smartwatch to support an active and balanced lifestyle 

Gear Sport is stylish, yet practical with a minimalistic, circular bezel, Super AMOLED 1.2-inch display and improved user interface that makes it easy to view information, even when on-the-go. With Gear Sport, users can work to achieve health and wellness goals, and receive nutrition management alerts and activity recommendations even when they are offline.

Designed with military-level durability, it can handle a wide-range of environments. With its sleek, ergonomic form, it can be worn in a variety of colourful and easily changeable standard 20mm straps, and it is perfect for any occasion so you can effortlessly transition from the gym to a night out with friends. Gear Sport is available in blue and black and also includes Gear foundational functions to:

·          Control Samsung IoT-enabled devices through Samsung Connect

·          Act as a remote control, whether for a PowerPoint presentation or Samsung Gear VR headset

·          Pay for goods with a flick of the wrist via Samsung Pay (NFC Only)

Gear Fit2 Pro: An advanced GPS fitness band

In addition to new swim and heart rate monitoring capabilities, the new Gear Fit2 Pro features advanced built-in GPS tracking to capture a run or ride with accurate activity tracking. Gear Fit2 Pro’s Super AMOLED curved 1.5-inch display and a high-resolution colour touchscreen make real-time updates and notifications easier to read. The all-new secure, ergonomic band is light weight and comfortable to use for all activities. Available in black and red, its versatile design also makes it a stylish accessory.

Gear IconX: Comfortable fit, cord-free earbuds

IconX cord-free earbuds enables consumers to effortlessly listen to their favourite music – making the daily commute more enjoyable or helping to get more from a workout. Music can be enjoyed on and offline by transferring songs from a Samsung smartphone or PC, or accessing tunes through Bluetooth connectivity. The earbuds are also the newest connection to Bixby. With a simple tap and hold of the earbud consumers can use their voice to control music or the phone – without even having to hold it.

The updated design comes in black, grey and pink and is more ergonomic and lightweight so they are effectively secure, comfortable and stylish to use. For the fitness enthusiast, the Gear IconX automatically tracks running routines, and also features the standalone Running Coach function which can be activated by simply tapping the earbud to provide in-ear audio exercise status updates – in real-time and without a phone. With a fast-charging and improved battery life of up to five hours of music streaming or seven hours of standalone music playback, and up to 4GB of internal storage, consumers can enjoy a seamless and fully standalone music listening experience.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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