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Sony announces Xperia XZ1

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Sony Mobile Communications has announced that the Xperia XZ1 and the Xperia XA1 are set to enter South Africa in October.

The product unveiling follows Sony Mobile’s recent Q1 2017 financial results, which saw operating income reach 3.6 Billion Yen (US$ 32.9 Million) for the first quarter of this year.

Sony provided the following information:

Harnessing the latest Sony innovation and audio technologies to offer immersive entertainment all wrapped up in a timeless premium design, Xperia XZ1 incorporates the latest Motion Eye camera for capturing detail beyond human eye capability, new ground-breaking technology for mobile with 3D scanning, class-leading display technologies for beautiful on-screen images including HDR display, and a premium listening experience with Hi-Res Audio.

Combining advanced processing power with super-fast download speeds, Xperia XZ1’s memory-stacked Exmor RS image sensor pushes motion capture to the next level and produces exceptional image quality. You can create sensational videos from your everyday moments by recording in 960 frames per second, providing stunning Super slow motion video playback. Plus, the 19 MP rear camera new Predictive Capture stays one step ahead and automatically starts buffering images when it detects action or even a smile, before you press the shutter button. So you can find a moment you have missed from a selection of up to four shots. Its new Autofocus burst intelligently follows your subject, adjusting the focus to make sure your action shots stay sharp. Rounding off the premium camera experience is the first-class 13-megapixel front camera with a 1/3” sensor and a display flash so you’ll get outstanding selfies in any light.

Showing a breakthrough in mobile creativity, 3D Creator is Sony’s unique, innovative in-house algorithm for fast and easy scanning of 3D objects, offering a new world of creative possibilities. For the first time ever in a smartphone, you can capture high quality 3D scans of objects in just one minute using the four scan modes; head scan, face scan, food scan and freeform scan. Each mode has its own custom guides for ease of use and after finishing your object scan there are various playful options.

Either share with your friends on messenger apps using 3D stickers or upload to the 3D community such as Sketchfab, make the scan come alive by using it to create an avatar for use in the camera AR effects options, third party apps or as a live wallpaper, or even send your scan to a 3D printer to make it into a memorable keepsake. Within the 3D Creator app you can also choose the ‘Find More’ button which takes you to even more possibilities available through Google Play, to explore a wider and ever growing 3D ecosystem.

Xperia XZ1 takes full advantage of Sony’s BRAVIA TV technology and it brings more colour and contrast to immerse yourself in your favourite shows and movies in stunning realism, by incorporating HDR (High Dynamic Range) in its 5.2” Full HD display. Further technologies, including TRILUMINOS Display for mobile, X-Reality for mobile and Dynamic Contrast Enhancer work together to give razor-sharp, detailed and brighter images on screen.

Sony audio expertise also lets you immerse yourself in the truly authentic sound of Hi-Resolution Audio with Xperia XZ1, enabling you to enjoy every nuance and detail in a track as if you’re right there with the artist. Thanks to Sony’s DSEE HX you can also enjoy more of your music in near Hi-Resolution with its upscaling capability. Enjoy your music and movies with or without headphones using the evolved stereo speakers with S-Force Front Surround, bringing you 50% more sound pressure than previous Xperia models. Plus the built in Digital Noise Cancelling (DNC) technology reduces exterior noise by up to 98% when paired with DNC headphones for undisturbed listening.

Xperia XZ1 is water resistant, dust-proof and reinforced with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on the display so it’s tough enough to take on your day. For a personalised touch, the integrated fingerprint sensor recognises you intuitively, giving it that unique and secure assurance.  Wrapping up the premium design, each inspired by natural light and the beautiful arrival of the changing tones as morning arrives; Midnight Blue and Deep Sea Black. To enhance your lifestyle choice, Sony’s new h.ear (pronounced ‘hear’) headphones (h.ear on 2 Mini Wireless, h.ear on 2 Wireless NC and h.ear in 2 Wireless) will also be available in harmonised colours to complement your Xperia, which will be available in South Africa in 2018.

Xperia XZ1 is powered by the cutting-edge Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform with X16 LTE, designed to provide blazing fast Gigabit LTE downloads speeds (up to 1Gbps) and performance to enjoy a modern lifestyle whilst working or having fun. The Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform is engineered to support stunning graphics, smooth performance and enhanced battery efficiency. Perfect for smooth, responsive gameplay of your favourite PlayStation 4 games using PS4 Remote Play. File transfers are also super-charged thanks to the USB 3.1 connection which is 10 times quicker than USB 2.0 with a transfer speed of up to 5Gbps.

Moving onto the battery life and its charging technologies, Battery Care and Qnovo Adaptive Charging, help the battery stay healthy to give you a longer battery lifespan. On days when you’re using extra energy, Smart Stamina works ahead of time to keep you powered up by estimating how long your current battery will last based on how you normally use your phone. And if it thinks you’re going to run out, it will prompt you to activate Stamina mode which cuts energy consumption so your battery lasts longer.

Xperia XA1 ‘Perfect Pictures with 23MP’

Offering best in class entertainment in the palm of your hand, it features a 23MP camera, 5” Full HD display. Bringing a vibrant choice of two colours to express your individual style – Black Single Sim and Gold Dual Sim – Xperia XA1 features a beautiful borderless design to create the illusion of a seamlessly never-ending surface whose curvature aids the perfect fit for your hand. The edge-to-edge HD (720p) 5” screen on the XA1 is supported by display technologies to deliver a crisp, sharp viewing experience.

Camera expertise are taken from Sony’s digital camera division to deliver a leading rear camera that offers 23MP high resolution with a large 1/2.3” Exmoor RS for mobile sensor.  It features a bright F2.0 lens to offer stunning high resolution images even in low-light, accurate Hybrid Autofocus so even the most spontaneous moments are always in focus, and you’re guaranteed a superfast journey from launch to capture in 0.6s. Xperia XA1 also features a 8MP, 23mm front camera wide-angle lens that will let you capture all the action even in a group selfie without missing anyone out.

With their power-efficient Mediatek octa-core processors you get a quick and smooth experience, whether you browse the web, watch a video or play your favourite game.

The Xperia XA1 is designed to ensure a longer lasting performance over the smartphone’s lifetime. Qnovo Adpative Charging monitors the battery’s health and adjusts charging current accordingly to avoid damage and maximise lifespan whilst Stamina Mode keeps your battery going for longer when you really need it the most by disabling some of the functions and extending the lifetime. Sony’s Smart Cleaner cleverly manages the performance and memory of your device by clearing the cache and unused apps automatically in order to attain the best speed and performance without degradation over time. Additionally, both models support quick charging to give you hours of power in just a few minutes charging.

Availability

Xperia XZ1 will be available locally from October 1st 2017 at a recommended retail price of R10,999 at selected operators nationwide, with complimentary Made for Xperia cover. It will ship with Android 8.0, Oreo.

Xperia XA1 will be available locally from October 1st 2017 at a recommended retail price of R3,999.00.

The Xperia XZ1 will come in Midnight Blue and Deep Sea Black. The Xperia XA1 comes in Black Single Sim and Gold Dual Sim.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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