In this Something on the Side issue, SEAN BACHER reviews the Dyson V6 cordless vacuum, Guardian Eye Lite outdoor camera, Fitbit Charge HR, Seagate Seven 500GB external hard drive and the Amped Wireless AC1750 WiFi extender.
Dyson V6 cordless vacuum
Many cordless or handheld vacuums have been infamous for their lack of suction power. They are great for a few crumbs around the house, but that’s about it. However, this isn’t the case with the Dyson V6. The vacuum creates a cyclonic effect via a magnet that spins110 000 times per minute, generating enough suction to pick up dirt on just about any floor type. The battery will last up to 20 minutes, and there is even a boost mode for really stubborn dirt.
Expect to pay: R5100
Stockists: Visit www.dyson.co.za
Guardian Eye Lite outdoor camera
Once mounted and linked to a WiFi network, the Guardian Eye Lite outdoor camera can be accessed remotely via any smartphone, tablet or computer. It features three infra-red LEDs that display night-mode scenes with brilliant clarity. Features like motion-triggered alerts, an SD card slot and the transmission of audio make it an ideal home security accessory.
Expect to pay: R2549
Stockists: Visit www.voxtelecom.co.za
Fitbit Charge HR
The Fitbit Charge HR continually measures a user’s footsteps, distance walked, calories burned and heart rate. This data is then synchronised with a smartphone, giving the wearer an up-to-date overview of daily movements. The Charge HR also includes a silent alarm and displays the date and time. Sleep patterns and times are recorded but, unlike its predecessor, the Charge HR does not have to be manually put into sleep mode.
Expect to pay: R2499
Stockists: Visit www.zastore.co.za
Seagate Seven 500GB external hard drive
The Seagate Seven’s enclosure is made entirely of steel, which makes it thin and sturdy. It is compatible with most operating systems and connects via USB 3. In keeping with the drive’s style, Seagate has moved away from the standard USB cable and used a braided design, making it more flexible and easier to use in cramped situations. With its dimensions and weight closely resembling that of a Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, the Seagate Seven is a great addition to a business traveler’s backpack.
Expect to pay: R1500
Stockists: Most reputable electronics retail outlets nationwide.
Amped Wireless AC1750 WiFi extender
Most users these days have numerous notebooks, TVs, smartphones and computers all connected to their home WiFi network. The problem is that many of these devices sometimes fall outside the range of the WiFi signal. To remedy this, manufacturers have been manufacturing WiFi extenders, but these are often cumbersome and difficult to install and setup. However, with the Amped Wireless AC1750 WiFi extender, users just need to find a suitably placed electrical outlet and plug in the extender. No setup or additional software installation is required and the WiFi coverage is extended by 10 000 square feet. A word of warning, though: before you plug in the extender, make sure your WiFi is properly secured with passwords.
Expect to pay: R2000
Stockists: Visit www.ampedwireless.com
* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher
Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets
Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds
Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.
South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.
Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds.
The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact.
The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users.
These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant.
Other key findings in the report include:
- Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person.
- Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school.
- Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides.
- People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services.
- There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education.
- Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information.
These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report.
Nokia to be first with Android 10
Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.
Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range.
“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”
HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.