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New Tech

ISSUE

Jan | Feb 19

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THE NEW TECH ISSUE #184 January | February 2019

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TheEditor Viva Las Vegas! ALTHOUGH THIS MAY be the first issue of PCR for 2019, we’ve put together a bumper offering to give you a sense of what’s been going on in the industry since our December edition – and it’s certainly been a busy two months. Most of January was dominated by the biggest tech show on Earth – CES. And in this issue – as our magazine cover suggests – you’ll find analysis on the biggest product launches (p24) and the best agendasetting keynotes (p36). As well as this we also chat to ASUS, which made a number of big product announcements at this year’s show (p16). With CES influencing so much of the industry around this time of year – from gaming to smart home to 5G – you’ll find some of the products that were showcased in spectacular fashion dotted around this issue too, especially in our two sector guides: Laptops (p48) and Tablets (p56). CES aside, this issue also features two areas which I feel haven’t really been covered enough by PCR over the years: mental health and physical disabilities. Both subjects are not only close to my own heart, but I am certain they resonate with many of you reading this magazine. For the former, on page p28 you’ll find an excellent article looking at general mental health in the workplace and how issues can be spotted and handled. For the latter, on p42, we look at the great work the tech industry is doing to give those who are physically disabled the ability to use tech to improve their lives and make sure they are able to fully engage in and enjoy activities such as gaming, attending music events and much more.

“In this issue, you’ll find analysis on the biggest product launches and the best agenda-setting keynotes from this year’s CES”

Laura Barnes, Editor

laura.barnes@biz-media.co.uk

THE TEAM

Editorial: 0203 143 8783 Advertising: 0203 143 8778

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Rob Baker

Advertising & Commercial Partnerships rob.baker@biz-media.co.uk

Tom Carpenter

Graphic Designer tom.carpenter@biz-media.co.uk

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ASUS INTERVIEW

p16

Contents January | February 2019 CES Review

24

The most interesting products from this year's show.

2019 Tech Trends

34

What the tech elite believes will be this year's biggest trends.

Mental Health

28

Accessibility Tech

42

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Improving mental health in the workplace.

How technology can improve people's lives.

Regulars 6 Retail Analysis: The latest in contactless payment technology 10 Industry opinion 20 Dealer Discussion 23 Number Crunching 32 AOC breaks down what USB Type-C is capable of 38 PCR Awards shortlist 41 In My Team: Pioneer Group 46 Appointments 47 Events 48 Sector Guide: Laptops 54 Crowdfunding Corner 56 Sector Guide: Tablets 62 Life in the Channel: Western Digital's Nigel Edwards 65 Logging Off

@pcr_online

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Retail Analysis

Smarter shopping Laura Barnes looks at the latest mobile payment trends and how consumer shopping habits are evolving on the high street...

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ith the evolution of the internet and the popularisation of smartphones, the retail industry has seen a massive shift in the way consumers pay for goods. While contactless payments aren’t exactly new, there continues to be interesting innovations in the space. And with it being possible to stick an NFC chip in pretty much anything these days, 2019 could be the year that we see a drastic change in the way we hand over our hard earned cash. Perhaps I’m just old, but it didn’t feel like it was too long ago that paying with card instead of cash was a novelty. Today, you’d be surprised to walk into any high street retailer and be told they don’t accept plastic. And in addition to credit and debit cards, paying with smartphones and smartwatches have also become the norm. According to a report from Zion Market Research, the global mobile payment technology market was valued at around $123.5 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach approximately $3,371.6 billion by 2024. This massive jump outlines just how fast-paced the mobile payments industry is moving, so it’s no surprise that we’re now starting to see some futuristic examples of innovation in this area. Contactless coffee One payment-related story that caught my eye towards the end of 2018 was a partnership between Costa Coffee and Barclays to produce the “Clever Cup”. This smart device harnesses contactless payment technology and uses it to turn

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customers’ reusable coffee cups into a “fast and convenient way to pay”. Powered by bPay by Barclaycard technology, Clever Cup users can track their spending, top up their balance, and take control to block or cancel the contactless payment element online or using the dedicated iOS and Android bPay app. Sold in packaging made from recycled coffee cups, the Clever Cup features a silicon base and contactless chip, which is detachable for ease of washing. “Contactless technology has become increasingly prominent in our daily lives and through the launch of the new Costa/Barclaycard Clever Cup we hope to appeal to those tech-savvy customers to help facilitate and drive environmentally friendly behaviour,” says Jason Cotta, managing director at Costa Coffee.

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Retail Analysis

Although this may seem a bit out of the realm of IT and tech retail, the technology within the cup can actually be used wherever customers see the contactless symbol and not just Costa Coffee stores. And as Barclays’ head of sales and partnerships, Rob Morgan, explains, this simple idea could be replicated an a number of different ways. “Today’s shoppers are looking for seamless and ‘to hand’ ways to pay. Our wearable chip technology allows almost any accessory to be transformed into a smart payment device, unlocking the benefits of speed and ease in everyday purchases,” he says. Another level It looks like the retail and payments sectors aren’t stopping at just making various physical objects credit card replacements

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though, as smart checkout technology looks go to one step further in a bid to compete with the ease of online shopping. Retail giant Amazon has a number of Go stores in the US which have no lines and no checkouts. Instead, the ceiling of the store has multiple cameras and the shelves have weight sensors, so when a customer takes an item off the shelf, it will be added to the person’s virtual cart. If a customer places an item back on the shelf, it is automatically taken back out of their cart. The card attached to their account is automatically billed when they leave the store, and the Amazon Go app also allows customers to add spouses and children to their account so anything taken from the store can be charged correctly. Amazon is reportedly eyeing up London’s West End as the location of its first Go store in the UK and is planning to open

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Retail Analysis

as many as 3,000 stores across the globe by 2021. But aside from Amazon’s plans for futuristic supermarkets, is the rest of the retail world really interested in making their stores truly contactless? If Juniper Research’s latest report about future in-store tech is anything to go by, not only are retailers getting on board, but consumers are willing to adjust their habits too. The company forecasts that retail spend at frictionless payment stores like Amazon Go will grow from an estimated $253 million in 2018 to over $45 billion by 2023. The new report also found that self-scanning apps, an alternative to ‘Just Walk Out’ technologies, will be used by over 32 million shoppers by 2023, driving higher engagement. While WiFi will continue to remain the biggest engagement point for customers, Juniper expects smart checkout apps to act as gateways to technologies like Bluetooth beacons and augmented reality. The research found that customer service is a key area for in-store innovation, with retailers experimenting with automated handling of customer queries. It predicts that voice assistants and in-store robots will support this in 2023, with robots generating over $20 million in revenue for their manufacturers. Early leaders here include Softbank’s Pepper, Bossa Nova Robotics’ shelf-scanning, and Lowe’s customer service robots, says Juniper. “Many of these technologies can bring multiple benefits to retailers,” explains research author James Moar. “For

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example, Robots and RFID can be used in both customer service and inventory management; making both elements of in-store retail more efficient.” Augmented retail On the subject of futuristic retail tech, at a recent webinar hosted by cloud company UKFast, Simon Wharton, director of business strategy at eCommerce agency PushON, noted how augmented reality could bring a new lease of life to our high streets in 2019, and presents the opportunity for retailers to expand their reach both online and offline. “Retailers have the chance to create a shopping journey that is thoroughly experiential, where you visit a store as more of a social event to experience products through augmented reality and omni-channel technology,” said Wharton. “As we head into a new year, it is clear that providing a high standard of customer experience and seamless user journeys remain the key focus for online retail strategies moving forward. “The online marketplace is flourishing and UK businesses must find new ways to take advantage of this environment that is filled with opportunity.” While it remains to be seen whether these types of tech will truly affect the way consumers shop on a large scale, if the current state of the high street is any indication, retailers must ensure that whatever they decided to do – whether it’s clever coffee cups, smart shelves, or AR – it keeps their brand fresh in the minds of today’s savvy shoppers.

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industryopinion

Retail needs to focus on deliveries, returns and personalised shopping Derek O’Carroll, CEO of Brightpearl, looks at three retail predictions that didn’t come to fruition in 2018, but may make an impact on the market in 2019...

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oday, customers are fortunate enough to have a wide variety of options to choose from when shopping online. However, this means that shopping expectations – and habits – have changed. In 2019, retailers must ensure they offer a seamless shopping experience for customers, that meets buyers’ needs, otherwise they risk losing out to competitors. While some of the 2018 predictions didn’t all come to fruition, others have come to the forefront. Here, we reflect on three key retail trends which didn’t come to pass – but may within the next twelve months:

against their competitors. However, this hasn’t happened. Nearly a quarter of brands admit that returns are the single biggest challenge in managing e-commerce. In addition, 69% of retailers still use no technology to manage their returns process. This clearly highlights how retailers themselves are exacerbating the cost and complexity of managing returns. Poor returns experiences are a major pain point for shoppers and are often driving them to competitor firms. 30% of customers say they’ll abandon an online purchase if no free returns are offered, while a slow returns process is also a major frustration for many. In 2019, I expect more retailers to embrace technology to both enhance their returns framework and carve out competitive advantage – and the need for efficiency and automation will be crucial to that end.

The expectations of next-day deliveries In May 2018, the use of next-day delivery services reached record highs, being used for 37% of all UK delivered orders. What’s more, it’s expected that 65% of retailers “Poor returns A personalised shopping experience will offer same-day delivery by the end of next year. experience is a Creating a seamless path from inspiration to purchase In 1995, customer expectation on acceptable major pain is still a challenge for many retailers using disparate delivery time was nine days (yes, nine!). In 2018, it’s a systems. Many are struggling with the ability to serve mere 24 hours. And customer expectations are about point for customers equally across all channels, whether in-store to change again. Same-day delivery will be the new shoppers” or online. With 73% of shoppers using multiple channels normal within 18 months. However, 59% of shoppers in during their shopping journey, disjointed customer the last year have experienced goods not arriving on time. experiences could be ruining shopper satisfaction. If your business isn’t able to deliver on current delivery More brands will begin to make great strides over the next year expectations, how are you supposed to cope when the timeline – the upside is too great to ignore. 43% of purchases are now shortens again? You won’t. influenced by personalised recommendations, so getting this right Many retailers do not have the right systems in place to meet this across all channels could have a dramatic impact on purchasing expectation. This could be a major differentiator for retailers next conversion. However, the ability to provide omnichannel personal year and many will have to adapt or fall further behind. service requires access to all data in one place. Having the right technology – so that all areas of your business have access to a Overcoming the returns hurdle single record for every shopper – will allow businesses to gain In 2018, retailers were expected to wake up and recognise the need deeper insights about their customers. to invest in their returns framework, to reduce costs and stand-out

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industryopinion

What does 2019 hold for the future of technology?

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Nick Offin, Head of Sales, Marketing and Operations at Toshiba Northern Europe, offers up his top three predictions for the future of technology...

n the past, digital transformation has often been disrupted by obstacles such as budget limitations and the prevalence of existing legacy systems. However, thanks to the widespread acceptance of technologies such as cloud computing – for which EMEA organisations lead the way with an 84% adoption rate – we are now at a point where such barriers are being overcome. This has laid the foundations for 2019 to be a year of significant and rapid technological evolution, with the emergence of a raft of complementary solutions set to shape the way organisations and their employees work.

5G 5G is on the horizon and closer than ever before, with 340 million connections expected as soon as 2021, according to CCS Insight. Due to its faster speeds and increased capacity over 4G, 5G has the ability to provide enterprises with greater mobile and remote working capabilities, enabling staff members to work faster, more efficiently and more productively across various locations. But beyond traditional mobile working, 5G will also enable organisations to fully take advantage of IoT solutions, 70% of which will run on cellular technology by 2022, according to Ericsson. The ability of 5G to act as a catalyst in driving forward the next generation of IoT devices and services therefore cannot be understated. Coupled with the rise of trends such as mobile edge computing – which will also benefit from its capabilities – we’ll undoubtedly begin to see IoT 5G-enabled solutions enter the enterprise in the coming year and beyond. Security While the acceleration of mobile working is providing organisations with enhanced productivity and connectivity, security naturally remains a top priority for IT leaders. Managing an ever-growing number of internet-connected touchpoints within the age of IoT and mass data proliferation, it’s no surprise that 62% of European IT leaders consider data security a top priority, according to Toshiba’s www.pcr-online.biz 

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Maximising Mobility research. This is mirrored by the evolving methods of cybercriminals, who are not only increasing the number of attacks directed at organisations but also diversifying their techniques, as per SonicWall’s 2018 Cyber Threat Report. With IoT cited as a new battleground, businesses will need to consider new and innovative approaches to security. Biometric authentication is increasingly being used for data protection purposes in addition to or in place of traditionally more insecure passwords or pins. Biometric fingerprint scanners or IR-cameras, for example, offer a higher degree of certainty of a user’s identity – and don’t leave behind the digital signature patterns that cybercriminals use to hack into employee’s accounts and steal sensitive data. Beyond this though, many organisations are turning to mobile edge computing solutions for more robust mobile security – enabling data communication to be locally translated to a communication protocol before being sent to the organisation’s network core via the cloud. Mobile edge computing In the coming year, companies will look to better come to terms with the data efficiency and security issues generated by widespread mobile working and the arrival of IoT within the enterprise. As a result, mobile edge computing is showing signs of exerting real influence across a number of sectors. Such solutions not only reduce strain on the cloud by processing data on the edge, but also play an integral role in perimeter security by ensuring data communication is locally translated to a communication protocol before being sent to the organisation’s network core. With organisations looking to integrate this edge-focused element to their mobile infrastructure, BI Intelligence estimates that 5.6 billion business-owned devices will use edge computing for data collection and processing by 2020. This combination of 5G, IoT and mobile edge computing will undoubtedly drive further innovation in this space, and we can expect to see even more IoT devices arrive within the enterprise in the coming year. January | February 2019 | 11

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industryopinion

Online and offline needs to work in harmony to create a better retail experience for everyone Zoe Cunningham, CEO of Softwire, outlines her predicted retail tech trends for 2019 and offers up her advice on which areas retailers should make sure they’re focusing on...

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n the ever evolving retail sector it can be challenging to forecast what’s ahead, but one thing for certain is that digital transformation will play a large part in securing the future of retailers. Here’s what I believe is in store for retail in 2019:

e-commerce world, retailers who can tailor the technology to their specific customer base will be the ones that succeed.

Ringing up the register There’s been a lot of suggestion that bricks-and-mortar stores are becoming regarded as showrooms by consumers, but retailers are Multichannel innovation increasingly investing in technology to improve their in-store Retailers are already experimenting with a variety of new experiences and drive footfall and sales. Brands are looking beyond technologies to see how they can push the boundaries of the smart mirrors and virtual reality and moving towards focusing on customer experience. In this tough market having a cohesive more software advancements. Gartner has identified software as the multi-channel offering is critical in order to ensure you have a brand fastest growing expenditures in the retail sector and there’s certainly that will resonate and communicate authentically with your evidence of this. Boots, for example, recently purchased health tech audience, inviting them to buy and engage with your products. company Wiggly-Amps in order to strengthen its digital This means that no touch point can disappoint, if your healthcare services and meet the growing consumer needs. consumers are provided with an inspiring, technology-led This kind of additional investment is set to benefit in-store experience then your app, website, social media retailers however, with Gartner citing that physical and experiential channels need to maintain that level “The retail sector retail is on the rise with the global sales from physical of innovation. has the opportunity retail up by 4.8% in 2018. That’s not to say Although bricks-and-mortar stores can easily e-commerce retailers will miss out, just that there stand out from one another through their to create some big will be an improved coexistence. immersive experiences, consumers purchasing changes in customer from behind a screen are still removed. Brands experience in 2019” Analysis through artificial intelligence need to focus on constantly improving their online There’s been a lot of development in the area of offerings and refreshing their capabilities. Too many Artificial Intelligence (AI). In fact, when it comes to retailers think that the answers to their online providing a personalised experience this technology could innovation quests come through using plugins, but these just be the retailers best friend. are rarely future proof and don’t set them apart from the crowd. Personalised experiences are what every customer and retailer is Retailers need to look at a more bespoke approach, so their screen aiming for but in order to practice what is preached retailers will be presence stands out as much as their stores do. By having a unique adopting more of this technology. Some have already started to put back and front end, retailers can tailor their abilities to suit their AI to use through helping online shoppers with size suggestions. individual customer base, not just keep up with the Joneses. While this is a small element it can have a big impact by negating Whether it’s by designing a platform to better understand the data the need for customers to travel to and spend time at the post office that their customers are sharing, or implementing some experienceto return multiple sizes of items. It can also reduce the confusion for based technology that sets their app apart from the rest of the

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customers when it comes to purchasing the item, rather than having to look at the image and decide if they think the item will be oversized, snug, etc, AI can perform that calculation for them and make the selection process quicker and easier. Sizing is just the start. Moving forward we’ll see more retailers offering customised suggestions, basing products on those previously bought or even those the customer has liked through social media platforms. Through using AI in this way retailers will be able to more effectively analyse their customer interactions and offer a more relevant experience to each individual. The retail sector has the opportunity to create some big changes in customer experience in 2019. Having a multichannel mindset is key in order to maintain consumer trust and loyalty, and relevant

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technology should be embraced across all touch points. Although Brexit may have an impact on consumer spending, this doesn’t mean retailers should rule out any hope of making this year a success. By using the right software and technology retailers can truly improve their customer experience and give consumers the added value they need in order to justify using their services or products. By using tools such as AI to accurately analyse what the customer is looking for and reduce the frictions involved in the purchasing process, retailers can not only inspire more spending but shape the shopping landscape. This year should see bricks-and-mortar stores and e-commerce sites working in harmony to design a better retail experience for everyone.

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industryopinion

The channel must work closer with customers to counter cybercrime Ed Baker, EMEA partner lead at McAfee, looks at what the threat landscape will mean for the reseller community and the channel as a whole in 2019...

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best possible investments in he ongoing evolution security technology. of the cybersecurity landscape shows no Guidance and integration sign of slowing as we We’ve already touched upon head into 2019, so we can expect the value of data, but with to see some major developments 2019 set to see widespread during the year ahead. adoption of data-driven We’ll see an increase in technologies such as the mobile malware as criminals internet of things, artificial look to exploit mobile platforms intelligence and, of course, in order to gain access to a 5G, it will become wealth of personal and financial increasingly critical to the data. The value of data will see success of any business. an upsurge in the number of Many of the large number of attacks on cloud platforms such tools and solutions used by as AWS, Office 365 and Microsoft organisations to collect the Azure too. ever-growing volume and The demand for credit card variety of data will operate in details will continue, and there silos, however, and therefore will be a greater focus on won’t communicate with each skimming operations targeting other. As a result, it can be third-party payment platforms. hard to realise when a This means the prospect of particular system or financial gain will likely be a key application is under attack. driver behind the rise in the Given the potential power and sophistication of the threat amount of malware related specifically to cryptocurrency mining. landscape that businesses are likely to face in 2019, it is Multi-faceted attacks, in which different threats such as ransomware, incumbent on channel partners to work closely with their cryptojacking and data exfiltration all work together in synergy, will customers to help build pro-active, platform-based and – prove extremely challenging to identify and mitigate, requiring crucially – integrated cybersecurity systems that will organisations to question every threat and its potential enable them to detect potential threats, protect data intention. Behind all of this activity, however, will be a and, when targeted, quickly correct systems so as series of consolidations, as disparate bad actors join “Cybercriminals to minimise any potential damage or disruption. forces to create fewer, but more powerful, malware-asWe believe the cybercriminal community will a-service families. will join forces to be working more closely together during 2019 With new and evolved threats beginning to emerge create malware-asand to counter their efforts, we recommend that throughout the coming year, and with cybercriminals a-service families” our channel partner community does the same. refocusing their tactics and working more closely By offering guidance and ensuring their tools together, organisations will be on the look-out for those and solutions work together rather than in silos, security solutions and practices that will protect their experienced channel partners will play a key role in networks and their data. helping businesses to counter the latest tactics and It’s important, therefore, that channel partners stay abreast of the latest developments in cybercrime in order to advise their techniques employed by cybercriminals to disrupt their customers on how to develop their security strategy, and make the operations throughout 2019 and beyond.

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“We think about how to make everyone’s lives better with our products.”

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thebiginterview

The cutting edge of innovation Laura Barnes sits down with Nathaniel Ayling, PR Specialist at ASUS, to chat about the company’s biggest CES announcements and how it plans to work more closely with UK retailers throughout 2019... Whether it be new Chromebooks for entry-level users, innovative products that boost the capabilities of smart home assistants, or insanely powerful-yet-portable gaming machines, ASUS certainly had a lot to showcase at this year’s CES Show in Las Vegas. We catch up with Nathaniel Ayling, PR specialist at ASUS, to find out more about the company’s latest products, why it’s important to stay on the cutting edge of innovation, and how it plans to work more closely with UK retailers of all sizes throughout 2019. How was 2018 in general for ASUS? It was a good year. There’s been a bit of a downturn across the market with regards to PC sales, but we’ve done well and maintained our position. We’ve brought out a lot of really interesting products that have shaken up what people think is the norm – especially for notebooks. We did really well with our Chromebooks, we blew it out of the water there. In July, for the first time we knocked Acer off the top spot for Chromebooks in the UK. In term of developing our Chromebooks, we’ve worked closely with Google and Intel to get the best out of them. We’ve also worked closely with Qualcomm to release the NovaGo device, which we sold exclusively through John Lewis. It’s an emerging tech that runs Windows on modified mobile phone architecture. We had a great launch event in October and sales have done well. A couple of other manufacturers have tried their luck with Windows on Snapdragon and I think we’ve proven it is viable, so we’ll see where that goes. Talk us through some of the biggest announcements you made at CES. We’ve covered a lot of the spectrum of consumer tech at CES.

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Everything from entry-level laptops to the Mothership, our convertible 2-in-1 style laptop. We also announced the VivoBook X512 in line with a renewed push towards entrylevel devices with a lot of our premium features packed in. It’s got a really thin bezel, really slim design, and the ErgoLift hinge. These features come from our ZenBooks and have filtered down into products available to everyone.

“We want to work directly with independent retailers to help promote our products and get the best out of their business” Something else we’ve announced, which is actually a first for us, is the StudioBook S W700. This is a 17-inch workstation with those thin bezels and an incredible light chassis considering the specifications. We’re aiming this at professional users, the architects, designers and developers of the world. It’s great because a lot of other workstations are big, bulky, black business machines. The StudioBook has all of the ZenBook stylings and the visual appeal that we’re known for. It’s allowed us to take a really strong product and put our own unique spin on it to deliver a really solid device to customers. Our sister brand, Republic of Gamers (ROG), had a couple of big announcements at CES in the form of the Mothership and the GX701, which is a great device. When it comes out, it

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thebiginterview will be the world’s thinnest 17-inch gaming laptop. It’s perfect for work and play and has a subdued ROG design. It’s not the traditional, big, shiny design. It’s a bit more subtle and grown up. It looks a lot more professional. The Mothership is the very top of the range. That caters for a different audience of gamers. It’s got the latest components. There’s an Intel i9 and it will have an RTX 2080 – a fully powered GPU. This is for power gamers, those that want the biggest and the best they can get. Again, we’ve delivered that to them whilst thinking about them as a user. We’ve made it 15mm thinner than our last premium high end device. It’s kickstand allows it to stay cooler and perform better for longer. In everything we do, we don’t value style over substance. We make our devices look great and ensure they perform well. We’ve seen a lot of ROG peripherals and components at the show, has that been ramped up this year? We’ve always had a firm bedrock in components. ASUS started as a motherboard manufacturer, that’s how we got our break into tech. So things like motherboards, GPUs and networking are areas we’ll always be into. We’re looking at how we diversify and keep everything onbrand. Everyone who is into gaming wants the accessories to go with their favourite products. If they’re a fan of the product

and a fan of the brand, they want to keep everything tied in. So we’re trying to offer customers a larger breadth of choice in the market and showing that we can compete in these sectors. Were there any new products that were a bit more different to what you usually do? We had the new ROG Ranger gaming backpack for carrying your laptop. We’ve also released an RGB hard drive. What’s really cool is our Lyra Home networking solutions. That’s something we’ve been working on heavily from 2017 into 2018. A really cool device at CES was our smartspeaker, which essentially works as both a Lyra Mesh AI hostspot for WiFi as well as working with Amazon Alexa. We think about how to make everyone’s lives better with our tech products. How is the company working with the channel to help retailers sell your latest products? The team is growing. We have more account managers and directors to provide our retail partners with that one-on-one support. Last year, in gaming alone, we delivered over 1,500 hours of bespoke training to our retail partners, channel partners and everyone across the spectrum of the supply and sales chain to make sure they really understood our products and all the technology involved so that everyone is better informed. Something else we’re look at doing more of, and something we’re building into in 2019, is expanding our work with small and medium business, as well as independent retailers. Despite all the talks about Brexit, we are entirely focused on this country. We are doing our best to work with everyone, whether that’s the John Lewis and Amazons of this world, right down to local independent hardware retailers. What advancements are you looking forward to most in the technology space in the near future? First up is everything Nvidia and AMD are doing in the GPU space. So Nvidia with the 20-series architecture and the latest AMD Ryzen with the 7nm architecture. That’s giving game developers and anyone that uses a graphical processor a million options that they didn’t have before the end of 2018. We, as a vendor of computers and components, need to make sure that we stay on the cutting edge of that, whether

The ASUS ROG Mothership portable gaming hybrid.

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thebiginterview

ASUS’s Lyra Home smartspeaker, the StudioBook S W700 workstation, and the ROG Ranger gaming backpack.

that’s giving the best version of GPU we can, or looking at other technologies that can support those assets. The GPU is only one part of the equation. Like in a car, you can have an amazing engine and a crap exhaust and the thing isn’t going anywhere. So that means that these powerful components make our engineers think, and our product designers innovate solutions to make sure the products can keep up. That’s going to be really positive in driving innovation across the whole industry. Something else we’re seeing, particularly in the notebook sector is the battle of the bezel. Everyone is competing to have the largest screen in the smallest possible device. That’s something we’ve done really well in. Over the last 12 months we’ve had things like the ZenBook UX433. More recently at CES we had the ZenBook S13 with the world’s thinnest bezels. And it just shows that you can have a small premium device without compromises. You can have a great screen size and a great experience without having to compromise on what you can actually see. Something else we’re going to see more of in 2019 is Chrome OS and the Chromebook itself. Obviously it’s already

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doing very well, but I think we’re now getting to that point where we’re breaking through the phase of needing to educate people on what Chromebook actually is, and it’s becoming much more mainstream. I think in 12-18 months, the sales of Chromebooks will rise and we’ll start to see people doing some more interesting things with them. It’s no longer an emerging technology. What can we expect to see from ASUS in 2019 and beyond? From a business standpoint, linking back to working with independent retailers, in Q2 we’re looking at implementing a new partner programme whereby we won’t work at arms reach, we will work directly with them to help promote our products and get the best out of their business. It’s going to be really interesting to work with people directly up and down the country. A lot of our new products have had the lid lifted at CES and so will come out during 2019. The two that are going to be really interesting are the Studiobook S W700 and the Mothership. Something else to look out for is the PA90 mini workstation, which is a great product that I think will shine.

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Retail talk

DEALER DISCUSSION: HOW CAN VENDORS AND DISTRIBUTORS HELP RESELLERS IN 2019? Industry community Tech For Techs asks its reseller and MSP members to outline what they’d most like to see vendors and distributors do to help encourage more business throughout the year. Here’s what they had to say...

PETE WRIGHT - RADCLIFFE COMPUTERS http://www.radcliffe-computers.com/ “I’d like to see smaller packages for smaller items. I am sick of receiving big, two-foot boxes filled with air bags for a small order like an SSD.”

MSPs more with better reseller deals and more options to have our logo on software we resell. Today’s smaller MSPs are tomorrow’s bigger MSPs. It’s a win-win for us all.” ◆◆◆

◆◆◆

AARON BROCK - CYBER-SOLUTIONS RICHARD CREEDY - GR8 COMPUTER SERVICE www.gr8computerservices.co.uk “Please negotiate better pricing so we don’t pay more than eBuyer are selling for.”

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“Sticking address labels to retail packaged goods – this does my head in. I don’t want to give my customer a new item with a huge address label stuck to it.”

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CORMAC O DONOGHUE - CROSSHAVEN COMPUTERS

STEVE MOORHOUSE - ALBANY COMPUTER SERVICES

www.crosshavencomputers.com “We at Crosshaven Computers would like to see vendors and distributors reach out to the smaller

www.albany-computers.co.uk “I would like to see vendors and distributors providing a decent data feed of products and prices.

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Retail talk

So many suppliers don’t offer any, or they offer a spreadsheet or a CSV with just a product list and no category information. With margins so small it really frustrates me having to spend half a day just to make sure I’m quoting with correct prices. It’s even more frustrating when the prices are volatile and you have to check every few days. Smarter not harder for 2019 please!” ◆◆◆

RICHARD OVERFIELD - RL SUPPLIES LTD www.rlsupplies.co.uk “I would like to see and end to Amazon (and other large retailers) getting price support from manufacturers, which prevents independents from competing on price.” ◆◆◆

PHILIP GRIFFITHS - TECH FOR TECHS AND CHIPS COMPUTERS www.TechForTechs.co.uk “Over the past year we have seen a lot of our Tech For Techs members make comments about how distributors and vendors are not always helpful. One of the items that seem to come up a lot is point of sales materials. Distributors will start selling a new product range or a whole new brand, sometimes these brands are unknown, so resellers need all the help they can get selling them, and with no leaflets, posters or other forms of POS like dummy products, it means the resellers have to invest in marketing the new product. Some vendors will supply a mug or some pens to write with – while these may be nice they don’t really get people into the stores. To give credit when credit due we have found the most helpful suppliers of POS to be Bullguard, Cooler Master, Tenda and Gigabyte.

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We see a large growth in the MSPs (managed service providers) sector, and they may need to resell an odd product now and then, like software packages, or get an item like a network device posted direct to the customer. But, unfortunately a lot of distributors will not sell directly to them as they don’t sell enough. Large online stores and marketplaces like Amazon and Ebuyer sell a lot of products cheaper than distributors. A lot of the time, this is down to brands selling items to Amazon cheaper than they sell to distributors. In my opinion, you should never see the same product for sale at an online marketplace cheaper than a distributor. I stay away from reselling these products. You can sometimes get a slightly cheaper price from a distributor when buying in bulk or if you call them up and ask them for a cheaper price, unfortunately, most store owners do not have the time to spend an hour ringing everyone up to see if they can get something cheaper, and nine out of 10 times will just buy it online as it is quicker, cheaper and comes with free delivery.”

TECH FOR TECHS Launched in January 2018, Tech for Techs (TFT) is a new community for technicians of all kinds, including on-site call out services, retailers, resellers, managed service providers, vendors and distributors. Free to join, TFT is run by the team behind retailer Chips Computers and offers up insight and information on the industry, as well as product reviews, price comparisons, free directory listings and more. Visit www.techfortechs.co.uk for more information.

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PCR-JAN19 Exertis_Layout 1 24/01/2019 11:24 Page 1

Smart, Safe and Secure With the pressures of day-to-day life, home and business security is often overlooked, leaving premises vulnerable to being attacked. Business related crimes are rising, with wholesale and retail businesses experiencing the highest-level reported spanning shoplifting, assaults and threats. Equally, taking practical steps to prevent a burglary often takes a back seat in busy households, and homes with no security measures in place are five times more likely to be burgled than those with simple and visible security measures.

Why Swann Smart Security?

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Number

Stats Here are some of the most interesting stats and facts from the tech channel…

CRUNCHING 2020 The Department of Health has told the NHS to phase out fax machines by 2020 and switch over to “more modern communication methods” in a bid to improve patient safety and cyber security.

9/10 Flurry Analytics has estimated that Apple’s new iPhone XS generated 7% more revenue in its first week of sales compared to the combined sales of the iPhone X and iPhone 8/ Plus in the equivalent periods last year. www.pcr-online.biz 

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11%

Revenues from large-format displays (LFDs) in Western Europe continued to grow during the early part (weeks 40–46) of Q4 2018. The increase of over 11% year-onyear was driven mainly by sales of ultra-large 4K/UHD displays, according to Context.

47%

Around half of millennials (47%) have played Pokémon Go in the past year. Surprisingly, 32% of Generation Xers have also “collected” Pokémon in the past year, according to survey results published on The Manifest.

4,056 ICO’s figures for Q2 2018 show that a total of 4,056 data security incidents were reported to the UK independent authority throughout all sectors during this time period.

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CES Review

What happened in

VEGAS?

January 2019 saw the return of biggest tech show on earth – CES. But running for more than 50 years now, does the show still offer up the very best of tech innovation? Laura Barnes speaks to the industry to find out what products caught their eye this time around...

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CES Review

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eld every January at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada, CES has become a tech event of gargantuan proportions. It is the consumer electronics show, and a place that’s so overwhelmingly packed with products that anyone you speak to that has trawled the show’s halls will warn you that there is simply not enough hours in the day to see everything the event has to offer. Brands know this, and as such, save up their most impressive products to unveil during the 4-day show in a bid to get as much attention as possible directed their way. And because of this, consumers, journalists and industry watchdogs get a pretty good idea of what inventions and innovations are likely to come to the forefront throughout the year. From the expected advancements in smartphones, laptops and networking, to the wacky and bizarre tech offerings that the show attracts each year, here are some of the most impressive things to come out of CES 2019. Foldable smartphones are finally here We’ve been banging on about foldable smartphones for years now. There have been so many patents filed by the likes of Apple and Samsung depicting some sort of bendable phone or flexible tablet, and the industry gets its hopes up every year that it might finally be time to see some of them come to life. In the lead up to this year’s CES, it really did feel like 2019 might be that year. Samsung in particular has been one brand that has a habit of teasing foldable prototypes, however, its was relatively unknown firm Royole that got in there ahead of this year’s show to announce an actual, real-life, foldable device. Described as a combination of mobile phone and tablet, Royole’s FlexPai was on show at CES, featuring its ultrathin, fully flexible display. “Disrupting consumers’ traditional concept of a smartphone, the unit can be used either folded or unfolded, giving it the portability of a smartphone plus the screen size of a high-definition tablet,” said the firm. Phil Elford, head of technology at Argos, called it “one of the most exciting launches” from the show. “This is the first of many more foldable phones rumoured to be launching later this year and as we have seen growing demand for larger screen sizes among our customers, we know they will be excited to get their hands on one.” While its bendable capabilities – along with its fingerprint scanner, 1440-pixel resolution and two cameras – are impressive, Gekko MD Daniel Todaro says the device isn’t the only impressive thing Royole has to offer. “Keeping with the theme of flexible devices, Royole also introduced the flexible QWERTY Keyboard that can be used on any flat surface via Bluetooth and then with a push of a button it will roll up and fit in to your pocket,” he says. With the FlexPai being announced just ahead of CES, many expected Samsung to follow suit and unveil a bendable phone themselves at the show. While there are rumours that the company was secretly showing selected visitors such a device, it’s thought that there will be an official unveiling of a foldable Samsung smartphone at Mobile World Congress (MWC) at the end of February. Elford agrees we’re likely to see more products in this design in the very near future. “These larger, foldable screens will deliver a

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better viewing experience for streaming content and making video calls and we eagerly await more news from Mobile World Congress,” he says. The home gets smarter In the smart home area, visitors were treated to an abundance of home assistants and technologies that work with them to help make our daily lives run smoother. It’s also where you find a number of the more unusual and quirky products that have made their way to CES. “Millions of people are already using home assistants to streamline household tasks and this year’s CES has seen the launch of some really exciting smart home appliances,” says Chirag Shah, smart home buying manager at Argos. “These include the new LG Styler, a garment-steaming closet which will be sure to cut down on ironing time, and the Ring Door View Cam, which requires no hardwiring or modifications to the front door, offering genuine benefits to customers right now.” Other smart appliances caught the eye of Gekko’s Todaro: “Devices such as the FoldiMate wants to help you with folding your clothes, Moona’s smart pillow system wants to make sure you

“Homes will get even smarter with the line between smart home products and robots becoming less obvious” Chirag Shah, Argos always have the cool side of the pillow without having to flip it, Somfy can assist with closing your blinds for you while you ask U by Moen Smart Shower to start your shower, and Y-Brush can crunch your teeth brushing time down to 10 seconds with its vibrating mouth guard-style device – if regular brushing is a bit of a struggle for you.” Dubbing 2018 “the year smart home tech hit the mainstream”, Shah reveals that Argos saw a 151% rise in demand for smart speakers. “It’s been no surprise to see the majority of home appliances launching at CES including voice control. 2019 is set to see UK homes get even smarter with the line between smart home products and robots becoming less obvious,” he says. “The Temi robot, a virtual assistant capable of autonomous navigation, telepresence and light controls gave us an exciting glimpse into the future, whilst the Luka reading robot, designed to empower children to take breaks from screens and read more, hinted at a rise in smart toys.” But what about the big guns in the smart home space themselves: Amazon and Google? Tricca MD Paul Richens rounded up what both companies had to offer for PCR’s daily CES articles. For

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CES Review

Royole’s FlexPai foldable smartphone

Amazon, the company’s showroom was filled with tech ranging from WiFi extenders and consumers earphones to conferencing solutions and computing devices, all boasting to have “Alexa built-in”. “There is no escaping the fact that using voice control has now made strides into the home office environment and will no doubt attract both SME and enterprise users,” says Richens. “Because of the familiarity of Alexa in our home lives, and our familiarity from our own experiences as consumers, there is a surge of developers working with the SDK to develop many more ways to tame technology and ensure users have to think as little as is possible in their daily lives. “In the business ecosystem and techstack there is an encouraging amount of practical time saving applications and benefits pleasing both users and bosses.” For Google, there were no business products on show, with everything pointed at consumers. “With the boast of one billion devices worldwide capable of working with Google Assistant, the back wall contained Nest hardware, bought by Google in 2014, sitting alongside the Hero Home product, Pixel devices and well, security cameras, a digital lock engineered in partnership with Yale, and that’s about it,” describes Richens, who admits to feeling a little underwhelmed by the tech giants offerings. “Once again it is those developers working with Google that are really trying to find added value for their products using the development kit.” Impressive feats of computing One area of the show that certainly couldn’t be described as underwhelming was computing. Whether is was powerful gaming

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machines or ultra-thin notebooks, CES offered up an array of impressive products in this space. Two of the most notable brands stealing headlines in the computing arena were Acer and ASUS. Acer announced the impossibly thin Swift 7. “At 9mm thick the Ultrabook manages to seamlessly fit in a 14-inch HD Corning Gorilla Glass screen, 8GB of memory and a battery that will last for up to 10 hours,” says Todaro. Acer also announced the Predator Triton 900, a 17-inch performance notebook featuring a slim design and convertible 4K display. “However, being the thinnest or smallest wasn’t on the mind of all the brands at CES 2019,” he says, noting the impact ASUS made with its Republic of Gamers (ROG) announcements. “ASUS chose a bold new shape for the ROG Mothership gaming laptop. Knowing that gamers usually choose to attach separate keyboards for ease of use, ASUS has introduced a detachable design that allows the user to remove the keyboard and adjust the screen to their preferred position,” explains Todaro. The Mothership really is a laptop to be admired, with its innovative standing design that enhances cooling for its factory overclocked GeForce RTX 2080 GPU and 8th Gen Intel Core i9 CPU. And the reaction from those at the show didn’t go unnoticed by the brand either. “2019 was a great year for the show and was a valuable opportunity for our channel partners to witness first-hand the excellent devices that we have coming in the first half of this year,” says Steve Hope, ASUS UK systems team country head. “The response to our showcase and the premium products we displayed has been nothing but glowingly positive and we look forward to other trade shows to continue showcasing our outstanding new products.”

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CES Review

LG’s Signature R OLED rollable TV.

Some impressive computing accessories from the show came in the form of TP-Link’s first AX Mesh WiFi product – the Deco X10. Featuring Mesh technology overlaid with AX speeds, the Deco X10 is designed to provide AX2700 tri-band speeds with a backhaul up to 1.95Gbps. Western Digital also unveiled a number of impressive products, one of which was the SanDisk Extreme PRO portable SSD. The new high-performing portable SSD is estimated to be available in Spring 2019 and promises to deliver “blazing-fast sustained performance at up to 1GB/s transfer speeds and will seek to deliver IP55-rated durability”.

“Being the thinnest or smallest wasn’t on the mind of all the brands at CES 2019” Daniel Todaro, Gekko TVs continue to grow As always, TV brands were out in force showcasing their supersized screens, rollable displays and 8K TVs. “We have seen growing demand for larger screen sizes over the years – in fact, last year, sales of jumbo TVs (65-inches or more)

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soared by 139% year-on-year as customers looked to create cinematic experiences at home,” explains Anne Eaglesfield, head of consumer electronics at Argos. “The previews of Samsung’s ‘Wall’ and ‘Window’ displays were very impressive and demonstrate that the screen technology we all enjoy in the cinema can now truly be transferred into our homes. We’re confident that the 75-inch 4K TV will go down a storm with our customers. “We’re also really excited to see the Signature R OLED, LG’s rollable TV, which hints at what TVs could do in the future,” she says. “It offers a more flexible viewing experience, such as being able to open a third of the screen to see the weather and watching the unrolled screen for movies. It will also provide more control over the space typically occupied by the TV as users can choose to roll it away at specific times.” Gekko’s Todaro says it’s hard to imagine CES without the TV brands going big with their latest and greatest creations. “And big is the operative word with brands such as Sony showcasing a monster 98-inch 8K model. “8K is also where the world’s fastest growing TV brand, TCL, is heading, hooking up with Roku to produce what is likely to be high– quality products at sensible price points,” notes Todaro. Looking towards the future, Eaglesfield says she also found the 8K TV announcements “very interesting”, although she believes that while 8K offers an enhanced viewing experience (with four times the resolution of 4K), there is currently no content for 8K, and as such “it will be a good few years before this standard comes close to reaching a mainstream audience, so we predict demand for 4K TVs will continue to rise this year,” says Eaglesfield.

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Mental Health

HOW ARE YOU, REALLY? If someone was struggling with their mental health at your place of work, would you be able to spot the signs? Would you know how to help? As a business owner and/or manager, are you aware of your responsibilities? AVTE editor Michael Garwood examines the very real issues around mental health in business ...

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T

here are many different levels of mental health ranging from good where everything is fine – to more serious conditions, such as stress, anxiety, and depression. As human beings, we all fit into one or more of those categories at some point in our life – some short term, whilst some may impact us for the rest of life. How we manage our mental health, or respond to those suffering with theirs, is vitally important, and – potentially even life saving. According to reports, one in every four

adults living in the UK will experience some form of mental health problem this year. The reasons can be wide and varied, and are always unique to an individual. These may cause – for example, a lack of sleep or panic attacks; difficulty in concentrating; and low confidence. In England, figures show that one in six people now experience a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. The implications of mental health issues for businesses are significant. It’s estimated that 15 in every 100 people have an existing

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Mental Health

In 2017, a total of 5,821 suicides were registered in the U.K.. This equates to an age-standardised suicide rate of 10.1 deaths per 100,000 population. mental health condition at work (take a look around). The final impact – based on absence and reduced performance – costs employers up to £42 billion a year. As a whole, the cost of poor mental health to the UK economy is estimated to be as high as £99 billion. In recent years, the discussion around mental health has become less taboo. Celebrities, high profile business execs, and numerous national campaigns spearheaded by leading health organisations have all contributed in taking the subject out of the dark and into the public light, and helping to erode the perceived or assumed stigma surrounding it along the way. However, whilst attitudes are improving, there still remains some way to go, particularly in business. Perhaps most tellingly, Gillian Connor, from the national mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Mental health can affect all of us at any given time. Mental health is not selective. It doesn’t target a specific gender, people with a specific job title, or how much they earn. There is no standard fit or model to work off. It’s very discriminate. We are all individual human beings. We all come with our own context

and look at life through a different lens and we all have our own triggers.” Spotting the signs Addressing the issues around mental health can (crudely) be of tremendous benefit, helping not only to enhance your reputation but also financially. To give that some context, it’s now estimated that better mental health support in the workplace can create savings of up to £8 billion per year. “By looking after employee’s mental wellbeing, staff morale and loyalty, innovation, productivity and profits will rise,” – Deloitte wrote in a recent report. There are numerous ways in which employers and employees can help support their colleagues, the majority of which require minimal (if any) investment, or force staff to play the role of a mental health professional, such as a therapist. According to figures published in the Thriving at Work Report – commissioned by the UK Prime Minister – 11 per cent of employees discussed a recent mental health problem with their line manager in 2017, whilst half of employees say they would not

KNOW YOUR OPTIONS Should an employee choose to discuss their mental health problems with their employer or not, it’s important they understand the options available to them. For many organisations, they will already be signed up to an Employment Assistant Programme (EAP) scheme — which are normally free and provide dedicated 24/7 telephone support and, in some instances, free counselling. “When you consider the wait for NHS counselling can be months and months

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with a GP referral, that’s a fantastic service, said Connor.” If not an option, requesting double appointments with a GP is encouraged, whilst contacting the samaritans (not just for those considering suicide) is an option. Connor added: “Those are three examples that people may not think about immediately. Knowing what support is available can be hugely helpful and the starting point to getting better.”

THE THRIVING AT WORK REPORT sets out what it calls six “mental health core standards”, a framework for a set of actions which it believes all organisations in the country are capable of implementing quickly. THESE INCLUDE: 1. Businesses to produce, implement, and communicate a mental health at work plan. 2. Develop mental health awareness among employees. 3. Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling. 4. Provide your employees with good working conditions. 5. Promote effective people management. 6. Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing

It’s estimated that better mental health support in the workplace can created savings of up to £8 billion per year.

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Mental Health

ATTRACTING THE NEXT GENERATION Providing a support network for employees around mental health and wellbeing is increasingly becoming a key factor for millennials and the next generation on where people choose to work. “The evidence tells us they are much more interested in the ethical side of an employer,” explained Connor. “They now want to know what support is available and ask questions about company and their views on staff wellbeing.”

discuss mental health with their line manager. Eight in 10 employers report no cases of employees disclosing a condition. The figures highlight the sensitivity around the subject and the need and necessity for companies, particularly line managers, to get to know their staff. According to Connor – whose charity has seen a significant rise in providing organisations with mental health training and awareness courses, identifying possible concerns and intervention (if required) is key. The first and clearest sign to look out for, as simple as it may seem, if someone is behaving in a way that’s not considered normal for that person. “Acting differently is often a sign that they are struggling in some form,” explained Connor. “If they’re normally happy, bubbly and talkative, but all of a sudden they seem quiet, distracted, or even withdrawn, then there’s clearly something that’s not right. “Stress or anxiety is a reaction to feeling threatened or the perceived feeling of being threatened and can have a major impact on someone’s well being.” She continued: “For line managers, the importance of getting to know your staff can not be underestimated. When you ask someone how they are, actually mean it as a question and not an almost instinctive throw away acknowledgment. If you line manage properly, then you’ll take notice of your staff and you should (not always) be able to get to know them well enough to identify when something is and isn’t normal.” Trigger unhappy Understanding these signs and learning to identify certain triggers from staff – triggers they may not even acknowledge themselves at the time, is also crucial to helping alleviate a problem before it potentially spirals out of control. “They know their triggers and how to rebalance themselves when they’re well, but also when they’re

Women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men (19.8 per cent vs 10.9 per cent).

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unwell. It’s easy to lose sight of that,” continued, Connor. “Having other people around who know the signs is hugely important. All companies are capable of embarking on that journey.” Culture However, achieving these levels of relationships centre heavily around the culture and environment created at a workplace – one that encourages communication and provides an open and trusted space, where staff feel comfortable enough to speak up if they have a problem (such as pressures over workloads, bullying, or even something outside of work) which could be impacting their mental wellbeing and their performance at work. According to Mind, around 300,000 people lose their job each year due to a mental health problem – a figure which could have been significantly reduced if the correct framework was provided by employers. The impact of encouraging staff to be honest that ‘it’s ok to not be ok’ is supported can not be underestimated. It’s currently estimated that as many as 95 per cent of people who take time off work due to a stress related health issue will lie to their employer and use a physical sickness condition as reason for their absence. This is largely related to fears over not being taken seriously, a lack of support, or that it might be perceived as weakness that may harm their immediate or and/or future career.” She continued: “It’s a visibility thing. It’s this notion that if you’re feeling mentally unwell, not feeling good, overworked, stressed, and a bit overwhelmed that it’s some sort of weakness to say something. A fear that you may be judged or that it may harm your career. A good working environment can help to eliminate these concerns.” In addition, there is also growing issue around presenteeism, where staff that are struggling with their health (both physical and mental) but continue to go into work. This is heavily linked to an increase in stress, anxiety, and depression cases in the UK. Again, something that could potentially be cut with the right framework. According to the latest CIPD – the professional body for HR and people development – Health and Well-being at Work survey, the number of people working whilst ill is at a record high in the UK, tripling since 2010. Of the 1,000 plus employee respondents to the 2018 survey, 86 per cent said they had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the last 12 months, compared with 72 per cent in 2016 and 26 per cent in 2010.

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Mental Health

Work and life balance The survey also found that ‘leaveism’, which sees people working through their annual leave – for example, due to concerns around workloads – is also a growing problem, with more than two-thirds of respondents (69 per cent) reporting incidents in their organisation over the last year. Just a quarter of respondents that have experienced presenteeism (25 per cent) say their organisation has taken steps to discourage it. Rachel Suff, senior employment relations adviser at the CIPD, commented: “This survey shines a light on the shocking scale of presenteeism and leaveism we have in the UK, as people feel under even more pressure at work. Increasingly the threats to well-being in the modern workplace are psychological rather than physical, and yet too few organisations are discouraging unhealthy workplace practices and tackling stress, which is strongly linked to health conditions such as anxiety and depression.” She continued: “In order to encourage a healthy workplace, organisations need to look beyond sickness absence rates alone and develop a solid, evidence-based understanding of the underlying causes of work-related stress and unhealthy behaviour like presenteeism.” “If you feel you have to be at work when you’re not physically or mentally fit to do so, then that’s not a healthy culture and that’s not going to benefit the business in the long term,” Connor added. “The best companies are the ones that recognise we all have mental health and it isn’t something to be taken for granted. Companies that tell their staff that it’s okay to have good days and to have bad days, for me, create the foundation for a good culture. It gives people permission to talk and permission to feel that it’s ok to talk about it.”

Proactive not reactive According to the previously mentioned Deloitte’s At a Tipping Point, Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing report, it’s estimated that four in 10 organisations (39 per cent) now have policies or systems in place to support employees with common mental health. However, whilst this is great news, Connor admitted that for many of the clients that approach her and her team regarding training on mental health in the workplace, it’s sometimes, following the loss of a colleague to suicide and learning what they could have perhaps done differently. One of the most concerning statistics you’ll read in this article today, is that the biggest killer of men between the age of 18-45 is suicide. And whilst, again statistically, women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men (19.8 per cent vs 10.9 per cent), it is widely held believed that men are more likely to suffer in silence. “The difference between men and women when it comes to mental health is a concern,” said Connor. “We think a big reason for that is because men don’t share. Why? We believe it’s because there is a perception or an expectation among men that they don’t have permission to talk about their feelings and that they need to be strong. Keeping that to themselves, building up all those feelings and to having that reassurance and that there is support. We have men taking their own lives and that needs to stop.” She concluded: “Keeping things to yourself is the worst thing you can do and for businesses to implement some for of support network, no matter how small, it could be a lifeline for someone. A good business will look after its staff.”

LIFE OUTSIDE OF WORK Connor has urged employers to help support their employees for matters related not just to things in work, but also out of it. Employers are obligated to ensure their employees should not leave work in worse health than when they arrived based on their own obligations – however, for many people, a mental health condition is an extension of what’s happening in their personal life. Discussing how an employer can help provide additional support, such as flexible working hours or even time off, could benefit everyone. “Good employers recognise the value of their staff

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and will try to accommodate their staff when they’re going through different things when they’re trying to juggle things when they’re outside of work,” said Connor. “If somebody had a bereavement, companies have a policy around compassionate leave. So therefore, if somebody is going through a breakup, why wouldn’t you recognise or have that discussion that they’re probably not going to be able to work at 100 per cent? Having said that, it’s also about not making an assumption because for some people, work can be a relief or they might want to carry on as normal. it goes back to the conversation.”

THREE LEVELS OF MENTAL HEALTH • Doing really well and feeling good • Finding things hard • Being ill and possibly having time off work

SYMPTOMS OF POSSIBLE POOR MENTAL HEALTH • Difficulty sleeping • Feeling sad • Hallucinating • Hearing voices • Low self-esteem • Mood swings • Negative thinking • Racing thoughts • Self-harm • Suicidal thoughts • Weight loss

300,000 people with a long-term mental health condition lose their jobs every year. This is the equivalent of the whole population of Newcastle or Belfast.

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Partner Content from

ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES AOC breaks down what USB Type-C is capable of and how it can help users achieve the perfect multi-monitor setup...

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F YOU HAVE recently bought a new smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer in the last few years, chances are they came with a USB Type-C port, the latest revision of the USB ports. But what is it actually capable of? Let’s find out... How did USB-C come about?

USB Type-A is the ubiquitous 4-pin, flat port/plug variant of USB that we have all become familiar with for over two decades, supported from the first USB 1.0 spec. It allowed a standardised connection port and plug for a variety of peripheral devices, from input devices to printers and to novelty USB-powered devices, too. The newer USB 3.0 (2011) and higher (USB 3.1, 2013, and USB 3.2, 2017, standards revised the common USB Type-A port and added five more pins to reach SuperSpeed, which achieves over 10x faster data transfer speeds with 5Gbit/s (625 MB/s) versus USB 2.0’s 480Mbit/s (80 MB/s). This has been doubled and quadrupled with USB 3.1 and USB 3.2 (1.25 GB/s and 2.5 GB/s for SuperSpeed+). 2014 is the time when we meet the USB Type-C, which uses a reversible plug – a first in USB’s history – ending the confusion about which orientation of the cable is the right one. What is the USB Type-C capable of, besides high speed data transfer?

pins of USB-C to negotiate and transfer video signals via a single USB-C cable while still enabling data transfer. The DisplayPort Alt (Alternate) Mode is the most popular and most supported one, but MHL Alt Mode, Thunderbolt Alt Mode, HDMI Alt Mode and VirtualLink (for VR headsets) Alt Modes do also exist. It is important to note that a device that implements USB-C does not necessarily implement USB 3.1 or 3.2, USB Power Delivery or USB Alternate Modes. It simply describes the receptacle and the plug, and since the USB Type-C ports are also backwards compatible with legacy USB specifications, there are also USB Type-C cables available where one end only supports USB 2.0, therefore proper identification of the USB generation and supported protocols of the host and connected devices is a must. How can you achieve a multi-monitor setup and docking station with USB Type-C?

With features such as Power Delivery and Alternate Mode, the supported USB Type-C ports are a blessing for mobile devices (tablets, laptops etc.), since they require less, or even just one port for pretty much everything, power, display, peripherals, even Ethernet! Prior to USB Type-C, connecting a laptop to external monitors and peripheral devices looked like this:

USB Type-C, thanks to its 24-pin configuration, supports the following technologies: – USB Power Delivery 2.0: Using USB’s Power Delivery specifications, devices are able to draw up to 100W power (20 V / 5 A) through the USB-C cable, which enables charging and powering smartphones, tablets and even high-powered devices such as laptops. Since the Power Delivery is transparent to any data transmission mode, it can be used with any of them. – USB Alternate Mode: Alternate Mode is an optional feature of USB-C, which is up to the vendors to support. It uses the additional

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Partner Content from

It’s a mess of cables, taking valuable desk space, drawing all the power from the laptop. It looks unsafe, distracting and is simply not the optimal solution. While there are separate USB Type-C docking stations available, they still take up valuable desk space and do not exactly solve cable management, either (not to mention the additional cost). Now, Philips’ USB-C docking monitors come into play here. The 241B7QUPBEB, an elegant, ergonomic and three-sides The G2 Esports team, sponsored by AOC. frameless 24” business IPS monitor in Full HD comes with a built-in USB-C docking station with 2x USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 and 2x USB 3.0 (Type-A) ports, a RJ-45 port (supporting up to Gigabit Ethernet), in addition to video inputs VGA, DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 and a DisplayPort output for daisy-chaining multiple monitors. The included USB Type-C ports can use DisplayPort Alternate Mode to transfer the video signal and extend the laptop display, while the Power Delivery with 60W power output can charge/ power laptops easily with the same cable. Keyboard and mouse can be connected to the USB 3.0 Type-A ports on the monitor, and thanks to the RJ-45 port, the monitor enables Ethernet connection to the laptop via USB-C, too. By using a hardwired connection as opposed to Wi-Fi, a faster, more stable and secure connection can be achieved. What is more, a three-monitor setup is also possible as seen above, thanks to daisy-chaining multiple monitors with DisplayPort input and outputs on several Philips monitors, such as the 241B7QPTEB with a DisplayPort loop in the middle and the 241B7QPJKEB on the right, the latter equipped with a built-in Windows Hello webcam that can be popped up or down for increased security.

setup with three monitors, using full advantages of the latest USB Type-C features. What if one needs a multi-monitor setup on the go?

The display specialist AOC has just the right product for this occasion – the AOC I1601FWUX is a 15.6” (39.6 cm) Full HD portable display with USB-C connectivity. It is equipped with an IPS panel, 5ms response time, and both the power and the display signal are transferred with just a single USB Type-C cable – using Power Delivery and DisplayPort Alt Mode. The portable I1601FWUX is included with smart cover that folds to support the display both in horizontal and vertical orientations and offers different tilt options, and the included software allows the display to adjust its orientation automatically. Now, thanks to the simple USB-C connectivity users can enjoy multi-monitor setups and the increased productivity it creates even in mobile situations such as on the train, on a plane or simply wherever you are! Please check your laptops’ or other devices’ manual and website to ensure that it supports USB Type-C Alternate Mode. The following symbol will be found in addition to USB SuperSpeed symbols on the ports which support DP Alt Mode:

Can I achieve a portable monitor setup with USB Type-C, too?

The former example demonstrated a full productivity focused desk

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Tech Trends

The future according to the tech industry elite You’ve seen PCR’s rundown of the best products at this year’s CES, but as well as having brands hawk their latest wares on the show floor, the event also invites the very best of the tech industry’s executive leadership to take to the stage and talk about the future. From AI, 5G, VR and the smart home, Andrew Wooden looks closer at their various predictions for the future of tech...

LG president and CTO I.P. Park with the CLOi GuideBot.

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Tech Trends

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ore than 4,500 exhibitors set up shop at CES to show off their latest gadgets and services to 180,000 attendees, across more than 2.9 million net square feet of exhibition space in Las Vegas. It’s the biggest tech show in the world and as good an event as any to get a finger on the pulse of where the tech industry is headed. On one level it’s a massive transactionless shop floor full of the tech products that will be trickling down to the market over the next 12 months. Standing to attention in the vast halls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre will be every conceivable variation of laptop, preposterously-sized TV screens (curved or otherwise), quirky gadgets that will potentially never see the light of day, and phones. Lots of phones. As well as providing a play to have a nose at all the fancy toys, the organisers (the Consumer Technology Association) also position the event as a bellwether of where the jetties of innovation are taking the industry in a more general sense. “CES showcases the power of innovation to solve global problems and improve lives around the world,” says Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA. “The passion, ideas and business connections at CES make this the most significant global tech event – and the most inspirational week of the year.” Even if he does say so himself. Over the course of the show, a cast sourced from the biggest tech firms on the planet take to the stage and unleash a tidal wave of keynotes, press conferences, speeches, presentations, product demos, panels and sometimes eyebrow-raising comedic skits. Certainly a fair amount of waffle and self promotion is indulged in while they have a captive audience in front of them, but in amongst the posturing, certain key themes are touched upon repeatedly, which can give a sense of where the tech industry’s elite think everything is going. And since this is the gang collectively deciding where everything is going, it’s bound to be a bit more solid than your average crystal ball gazing. In theory. So what do these esteemed corporate juggernauts think is going to define the tech industry in 2019 and beyond? To 5G or not to 5G 5G is perhaps the most talked about yet least observed phenomenon in the tech industry. For a few years now its been hailed as the next big thing (which in mobile connectivity terms, it is by definition) but despite all the excitement from network providers, phone manufacturers and about a billion other places, there’s not a lot to shake a stick at yet. That will change of course as early adopters get their grubby mitts on the first devices to roll out of the factories. Verizon claims to have the world’s first commercial 5G broadband internet service, and also claims that its undersea cable network carries much of the world’s internet traffic. Its CEO, Hans Vestberg, said during his keynote: “5G will change everything – 5G is the promise of so much more than what we have seen from wireless technology. Anyone who thinks 5G is just for the mobile handset is thinking too small.” The firm claimed the power of 5G is based on ‘currencies’ namely ‘speed and throughput’, ‘mobility’, ‘connected devices and

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Internet of Things’, ‘energy efficiency and service deployment’, and ‘latency and reliability’. Riveting stuff. To back up these claims and pour some more hyperbole all over the stage, Verizon marched out a series of ‘partners’, including the New York Times, Disney, a medical technology company called Medivis, a drone company Skyward, and...erm… the LA Lakers. Each waxed lyrical on how 5G connectivity will revolutionise their respective industries in ways each more exciting than the last. And one of them shot some sweet 5G-powered VR hoops. It’s a tough one to quantify when firms like Verizon deploy sentences like “It’s a quantum leap that will bring an era of radically new possibilities across all areas of technology” and descriptions like ‘the 4th Industrial Revolution’. These are big, but vague claims. Regardless, for the big tech firms to be in such a froth, 5G is bound to mean a lot more than faster loading Facebook video dross while you’re on a train. Rise of the machines Speculations as to the impact ever more sophisticated artificial intelligence will have on society range from a work-free utopia where all problems are solved by a benevolent, smiling computer dad, all the way to nightmare landscapes where robot overlords use us as batteries. All because we wanted to bellow ‘change the record’ at a smart speaker and have it understand our lazy command.

“AI should go from simply recognising your command to really understanding your needs” I.P Park, LG IBM chairman, president and CEO Ginni Rometty’s keynote posited that AI will prove data as the ‘world’s greatest natural resource’, creating whole scale revolutions in smart cities, health care, transportation and robotics (eek). She claimed that it will destroy jobs, and that it will create jobs – but that ultimately “100 per cent of jobs will be different”. So that’s pretty big, then. One of the main thrusts of the talk was to define ‘broad AI’ and how that is going to shake things up in the near future. It differs from what is mostly used now, which is called ‘narrow AI’ and is only good for one thing, like playing chess. It also differs from ‘general AI’, which is the as yet unrealised, hyper advanced, human level version of AI. This is the one that will murder us all.

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Tech Trends

Or save us all. We’ll just have to see which way the wind blows on that one. Broad AI is supposed to sit somewhere in between and according to Rometty: “is going to give us time to market with a lot less training data.” LG’s president and CTO, I.P. Park also had a lot so say about the growing importance of AI in his keynote – and was joined by a four foot robot called LG CLOi GuideBot to emphasise his point. After explaining how AI is already used in LG’s massively wide product range (for instance, it has OLED TVs which automatically optimise display and sound settings for what’s on screen using algorithms) he explained how in the future AI is going to be even more integrated into every conceivable facet of life. He painted a picture of fridges making announcements when they’ve run out of eggs, and then taking it upon themselves to order some more online (we’ve heard that one before, mind), washing machines that know how long to wash clothes for, mirrors that give virtual clothes fitting information, self-driving cars analysing real-time traffic and working out the best route… the list goes on. We’ve heard a lot of these overtures before, but there’s no doubt year-on-year AI is having a greater and greater

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impact on particularly how large organisations operate. “AI should go from simply recognising your command to really understanding your needs and your purpose,” said Park in his speech. “Not just executing your orders, but reading your intentions, and recommending the best way of achieving it.” Virtually reality VR has been ‘the next big thing’ several times over the last few decades – hype and expectation flaring up with a new set of enabling technology, only to drift away again due to mass-market indifference. However with this generation of VR, which can perhaps be traced back to 2012 and the announcement of the Oculus Rift headset, the technology capabilities could finally be said to be catching up with the ambitions of VR proponents. Powered by a series of alliances between hardware firms, software developers and platform holders, VR is now a serious force in the gaming world – and its proponents have even larger plans for it. During his keynote, Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang revealed just how big the firm estimates VR adoption currently is, claiming “four million HMD VR displays have been sold for PCs in the last several years.” No small potatoes.

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Tech Trends

Verizon CEO, Hans Vestberg, and Skyward’s Mariah Scott discuss drones and 5G.

Adding weight to Huang’s observations towards the rude heath of the sub-sector, the show floor was peppered with a raft of shiny new VR devices, including the HTC Vive Cosmos VR headset, (offering the VivePort Infinity service, described by HTC as ‘Netflix for VR titles’) and Pimax’s 8K ultra-wide high-resolution VR headset, which the firm claims will finally solve that perennial problem of peripheral vision in VR. HTC and others were also talking up eye tracking technology – in which you can control software, such as menu selection, with a glance, and which may become a pillar of VR in coming years. Beyond gaming, HTC also announced a partnership with Amazon Sumerian during it’s press conference, a move designed to enable developers publish VR-optimised websites. The term XR – or extended reality – was also reported to be used frequently at the show. This is an umbrella term encompassing Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality, which is supposed to make it all simpler. There’s no doubt the tech is getting more and more impressive, but whether another acronym and the promise of more immersive web surfing grasps the mainstream attention and extends its reach beyond the gaming community, remains to be seen.

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You’re never alone with a smart home Samsung – who has a finger in more or less every conceivable corner of the tech market pie – had a lot to show off and talk about at CES 2019. Aside from a billion new products including fancypants laptops and big ol’ TVs, the smart home was a clear pillar of its messaging. New smart fridges are bolstered with improved interfaces for better picture and digital note posting on the door, and will also alert you if said door is left open. New washing machines are smarter, have more connectivity, and the new QLED-based Q900 series 8K TVs comes loaded with AI (the smart home and AI sectors merge quite heavily) to help find films and TV tailored to your tastes, while Samsung’s Bixby tech, Google Assistant and Alexa are also plugged in. There were plenty more firms making a big show of their smart connected devices, proving this theme – which has been bandied around for well over a decade without, it has to be said, a massive impact on the mainstream buyer – is certainly not going away anytime soon. And like VR, it does keep getting more impressive each year, in no small part due to the entry of well-funded goliaths like Amazon and Google into the fray. Google had one of the biggest smart home offerings. It’s Google Assistant Connect platform is designed to enable a slew of compatible gadgets in the coming years. It was claimed that Google Assistant digital helper could be available on one billion devices soon. Another highlight from the search giant was ‘Interpreter’, a new feature for Google Smart Displays and Google Assistant, which can translate 27 languages to voice or text instantly. Amazon announced a raft of Amazon Echo compatible partner products, while on the other side of the ecosystem more traditional appliance manufacturers were showing off smart home products, such as Whirlpool who had a suite of small to large appliances that work with the Yummly recipe app. While the tech industry still might have a lot of work ahead of it to convince the average punter they need to unlock their front door with an app, or that the fridge needs to take personal responsibility when the milk runs, each year sees more and more realistic looking smart home deployments. There were simply so many new products under the loose smart home umbrella that before long you might struggle buying brand new tech without some form of smart home connectivity tech ferreted away in its innards. There were a thousand other announcements and themes ranging from the evolutionary and predictable (AMD, Intel and Nvidia all had faster chips to talk about) to the more fringe (such as new self driving cars and foldable phones) all the way to the bizarre (pet cameras, robots designed to follow you around the home and cheer you up, and Alexa powered toilets you can have a conversation with). But within all this, 5G, AI, VR and the smart home were some of the most repeated themes from the year’s starting pistol of CES announcements, and we’re bound to hear much more about them in the coming year.

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PCR Awards

THE FINALISTS Here are all the finalists for the PCR Awards 2019: RETAILER CATEGORY System Builder CCL Computers Chillblast Cyberpower UK PCSpecialist Utopia Computers Independent Retailer CCL Computers Chips Computers Geeks on Wheels London PowerHouse Scan Computers

And the nominees are... We have sifted through the mountain of nominations for the year’s PCR Awards and can now reveal those companies that have made it into the shortlist... The PCR Awards return to The Brewery, London on Wednesday 6th March 2019, and we now have a shortlist featuring the creme de la creme of the UK tech channel, all of which are in with a chance of taking home a coveted award. This year we have 16 awards across five categories: Retail, Reseller, Channel Services, Distribution and Vendor. Our panel of 32 industry experts will scrutinise every entry’s supporting material to vote on the companies that have made the most impact in the channel over the past year. On the night, we will also reveal the Company of The Year, which will be decided by the PCR team. Congratulations to every company that has been shortlisted, and thank you to everyone who took the time to enter this year’s Awards.

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Online Retailer AO.com Box.co.uk Ebuyer UK Laptops Direct Scan Computers RESELLER CATEGORY SMB Reseller ATG Black Bear IT Solutions Datel Kingsfield Computer Products Scan Computers Corporate VAR Mobliciti SCC Kingsfield Computer Products MSP Specialist AML Midlands Sweethaven Mobliciti CHANNEL SERVICES CATEGORY Dealer Services Provider Brigantia Exertis Network Group Tech For Techs Marketing & PR Tech Data Exertis Gekko DISTRIBUTION CATEGORY Software, Services & Support Distributor Tech Data

Continuum Ingram Micro Cloud intY Midwich QBS Software Hardware Distributor Ci Distribution Exertis GNR Technology Spire Technology VIP UK Consumer Electronics Distributor Tech Data CMS Distribution Exertis Modus Brands VENDOR CATEGORY: Software, Services & Support Vendor Avast Norton BullGuard Peripherals & Accessories Vendor ASUS Belkin Cherry HANNspree AOC Turtle Beach Components Vendor AMD Cooler Master ADATA HANNspree Kingston Technology Ortial Technologies PC Vendor ASUS Corsair Medion PCSpecialist Tactus Group Terra Computers Networking Vendor ASUS D-Link Tenda TP-Link

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PCR Awards

Don’t forget your tickets The PCR Awards is always a popular event, so we recommend you book your tables and tickets early. Book now to avoid disappointment at www.futureevents.uk/PCRticketbooking For any booking enquiries contact Kate Smith on +44 (0)20 7042 4222 or at kate.smith@futurenet.com.

THE PARTNERS Every year the PCR Awards partner with big names in the tech industry, and 2019 is no exception. Announced as Awards Partners so far are:

HEADLINE PARTNER

DISTRIBUTION CATEGORY PARTNER

EVENT PARTNER

AFTER PARTY HOST

RETAIL CATEGORY PARTNER

PHOTO BOOTH PARTNER

DINING ROOM PARTNER

EVENT PARTNER

Sponsorship opportunities There are a number of sponsorship opportunities available for the 2019 PCR Awards. If you would like to find out more please contact Rob Baker on 0203 143 8778 and at rob.baker@biz-media.co.uk, or Beccy Barr on 07703 503 101 and at beccy.barr@biz-media.co.uk

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PCR-JAN19 Mentor_Layout 1 23/01/2019 14:45 Page 1


IN MY TEAM

Pioneer Group We find out about Pioneer Group’s biggest successes of 2018, who makes up the team, and how it plans to double its work with corporate businesses... Who makes up the Pioneer Group team? Chris Appleyard and Paul Childerhouse founded Pioneer Group back in 2010, opening offices in Stockport and Reading. Working nationally and internationally, the team also includes sales director Mark Childerhouse, technical director Francis Williams, and director Natalie Gould, all supported by a head office team of 15 and a 50-strong team of field service engineers and project managers. What services do you offer retailers and tech businesses? We are specialists in digital infrastructure, electrical contracting and audio visual design and integration services, with teams project managing WiFi, IT and digital solutions for blue chip and SME clients. The company has extensive experience in smart stadia, smart retail, QSR, industrial applications and home installation. What were Pioneer’s biggest successes of 2018? The relationships we cemented in previous years meant that our

biggest successes of 2018 were in partnership with our long standing clients, including Manchester City and KFC. We also worked with some exciting new projects with the MOD, Capita and brands such as Tim Hortons and Valspar, as well as installing some brilliant digital solutions at Ageas Bowl, York University and OPI retail outlets. What does the company have planned for this year? The big push for us this year is to double our work with corporate businesses, facilitating new collaboration technologies and meeting spaces. We’re opening our new connected restaurant showroom in Reading, which demonstrates smart restaurant solutions, so we’re looking to have a summer party to showcase it to new clients. We’ll also be working on a series of new smart stadium projects, which is a really exciting space right now. Who in the team hasn’t broken their New Year’s resolution yet? There’s a few Dry January participants in the team – some are doing better than others!

Contact: Email: info@pioneergroup.co.uk | Tel: 0118 969 6161 | Web: pioneergroup.co.uk www.pcr-online.biz 

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Accessibility Tech

The Zone V software and phone case

Making tech accessible According to AbilityNet, there are 12 million disabled people in the UK. While some claim ‘mainstream’ tech can leave them behind, there is a raft of specialist products and services designed with their needs in mind. Andrew Wooden investigates...

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Accessibility Tech

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illions of people in the UK live with some form of impairment, whether it’s with their hearing, sight, speech, language, mobility or dexterity. The permeation of technology into all aspects of society would seem to have huge potential to play a role in helping disabled people do more and become more independent. However a recent report by Ofcom claimed disabled people are being left behind by technological advancements, such as the trend for more and more services to be run through smartphones and apps. The study claimed: “53 per cent of disabled people have a smartphone in their household, compared with 81 per cent of non-disabled people, while 67 per cent of disabled people use the internet, compared to 92 per cent of non-disabled people. Those who are not online may not be able to participate as fully in society as they would wish.” So is ‘mainstream’ tech empowering disabled people or the opposite? We spoke to AbilityNet, a charity set up to “change the lives of disabled people by helping them to use digital technology at work, at home or in education”.

“Technology is being adopted innovatively in order to enhance accessibility for all users” Katherine Ainley, Better World, BT

“There are circa 12m people with a registered disability in the UK alone, with an estimated total disposable income (the ‘purple pound’) of £250bn, and then there are the many millions more with dyslexia, literacy difficulties and age-related impairments – all of whom will gravitate towards inclusive products (Apple anyone?),” says Robin Christopherson, head of digital inclusion at AbilityNet. “But we also need to consider volume procurement decisions and how, since the Equality Act 2010 that requires proactivity in avoiding discrimination, the badge of accessibility can swing multi-million pound buying decisions in the public and education sectors. Employers too are beginning to appreciate that a diverse workforce requires inclusive products – not only those designed and developed by young white males with little regard for a diverse userbase.” There are a range of specialist tech products on the market designed for disabled people. Apps make up a big part of this –

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Seeing AI, Soundscape, BlindSquare, Be My Eyes and AIRA are specifically designed to make the lives of people with vision impairment easier. There are also adaptations on mainstream hardware. These could be based upon mainstream tech, such as In Your Pocket – a smartphone which is entirely voice-controlled, loaded with standard smartphone functionality as well as specialist apps. Then there are specialist devices such as smart canes, which can provide obstacle proximity detection and Bluetooth functionality to control a smartphone with a single button interface. Another category is connected devices that can be controlled with special apps or even voice controlled via compatibility with a smartspeaker. “These devices are often replacing expensive specialist alternatives that had been the only option before this connected appliance revolution,” adds Christopherson. “Amazon, for example, sells a powerful microwave in their ‘Basics’ range that is Alexa-aware. Talk to your Echo and you now have full control over an otherwise inaccessible device. Increasingly the future of assistive tech will hinge on remaining abreast of these powerful and affordable mainstream solutions that work together to create an ecosystem of inclusive options for the individual.” BT was shortlisted for a Disability Smart Award and has worked with Cambridge University to develop the Inclusive Design Toolkit – a publicly available resource which gives designers of products and services an indication of the number of people who would not be able to use their product based on various capability criteria. Meanwhile its Next Generation Text (NGT) Lite App brings text relay services for deaf, hard-of-hearing and speechimpaired people. It also runs competitions through BT Infinity Lab to engage with start-ups and encourage open innovation in the field of accessible technology. In 2016, one of the finalists came up with a new solution, Zone V, to make smartphones more accessible. The Zone V software makes text, menus and icons on smartphones larger and easier to see. The phone case features a front-facing speaker and a magnifying glass over the camera, making it easier to hear calls and read small text. It is on the market now. Katherine Ainley, director of Better World, BT says: “There are millions of people living in the UK with an impairment. We categorise the key areas in which our products and services support into the following groups: hearing – there are 11 million people with hearing loss across the UK, that’s around one in six of us. Sight – almost one person in 30 in the UK is living with some form of sight loss. Speech and language – having a stammer, a quiet voice or no voice at all can make speaking on the phone a challenge. Mobility – your ability to move around can affect how you communicate. Dexterity – reduced dexterity can make using the phone or a keypad a challenge. Understanding and using technology – with so many gadgets on offer it can be hard to understand how things work.

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Accessibility Tech

“Technology is increasingly being adopted innovatively in order to enhance accessibility for all users. We see a general trend of blurring of lines between technology to aid accessibility and technology that makes everyone’s life easier, for example products such as Alexa can help everyone. We may therefore start to see a shift from ‘accessible vs normal’ technology and instead enhancing functionality across the board.” The rapid innovation in the tech industry means that products, services and functionality for all of society are constantly providing new ways of living and working. The internet of things, 5G connectivity and 3D printing have the potential to produce all manor of new products and services. There also may be implications more specific to disabled people. “5G will provide more opportunities for enhanced independent services and functionality, making more use of instant video interpreting, fast captioned telephone calls and speech to text capability that guarantees accuracy with very little end user training required,” adds Ainley. “It will also provide opportunities we haven’t even thought of or considered yet. “For BT specifically, we will be concentrating on providing fully accessible relay services and will be updating our Next generation Text (NGT) app over the next few months. We will also keep up-to-date with any new technologies that will allow faster communication and provide enhanced access to users with a range of disabilities.” Christopherson adds: “If it feels like there’s a merging of mainstream and specialist tech today, then this will only increase as we move forward. People with the widest range of abilities will benefit from an increasing choice of smart, connected devices from white goods to specialist bionic implants in 3D-printed prosthetics. IoT will impact all of our lives and disproportionately benefit those for whom advances in tech don’t just mean more choice but choice where before either none existed or was far out of financial reach.” AI in particular is often touted to be continually on the edge of transforming how we all use technology and how entire industries work. Indeed, it is already used in

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huge swathes of businesses to perform anything from identifying species of fish to financial number crunching. Are there any specific implications for disabled people in AI? “Machine learning and AI more generally will also play an increasingly significant role in tuning these ecosystems to provide a range of services that are tailored to our specific set of needs,” says Christopherson. “Wearables will more closely monitor our health and detect disease, apps will meet needs beyond their current abilities and computing will become ever more ambient – it’ll just exist in the air all around us, built into appliances, smart glasses or even contact lenses. “Sony predicts a full computer with screen and camera in a contact lens that will be recharged by the movement of our eyes. Whilst I as a blind person am holding out for the full bionic implant – I’d still settle for a contact lens that was always analysing my surroundings and reading me text, recognising faces and barcodes and feeding it all to my Bluetooth earbuds without ever needing to reach for a charger.”

Below: ReSound’s Linx Quattro AI hearing aid and Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller.

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Accessibility Tech

New products and services for disabled people Xbox Adaptive Controller

The Xbox Adaptive Controller is designed for gamers with limited mobility and was developed in conjunction with the AbleGamers Charity, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, SpecialEffect and Warfighter Engaged. The device connects to external hardware such as switches, buttons, mounts and joysticks and other equipment designed to help less able gamers play, bringing it all into one hub creating a fully customised set up, based on ability of the gamers and the devices they use. The experience can be customised through button remapping and can create multiple controller profiles in the app.

InLinkUK

BT has teamed up with InLinkUK to produce a new service designed to help people with hearing and speech difficulties more easily access the free phone calls provided by InLinkUK digital street units. The Next Generation Text (NGT) service is installed across 11 London boroughs and 14 other major UK cities, including Leeds, Glasgow, Manchester, Portsmouth and Cardiff. With more than 320 InLinks already active across the country, and over 230,000 unique WiFi subscribers, more than 70,000 calls are made across the network each week.

Epson Moverio BT-350

Avnet Music: Not Impossible

A collaboration between Avnet and Not Impossible Labs, this device is designed for deaf people to wear at music events and experience the show. In both the wristband and jacket format, the devices pulse in the rhythm of the music. The vibration technology enables the Music: Not Impossible product to “create an inclusive, enhanced live music experience, where deaf and hearing concertgoers share a first-of-its-kind musical experience.”

ReSound Linx Quattro

The Linx Quattro is a hearing aid type gadget based on AI. It learns preferences and settings over time, and automatically make adjustments – and can also be plugged into Siri for voice control. Running through an app, the device can amend noise cancellation levels and wind reduction filters, turn on a directional microphone, control the volume and powers a host of other features. It also has the ability to stream phone calls, music and TV wirelessly.

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The Epson Moverio BT-350, developed in partnership with Accenture is a smart glasses display unit designed for those with hearing loss to better enjoy shows at the National Theatre. Audience members will be able to view captions at any performance in all three of its theatres, seated in any seat. The glasses display a synchronised transcript of dialogue and sound from the production directly onto the lenses of the glasses. Accenture and the National Theatre developed the service using glasses designed and manufactured by Epson.

Hoobox Robotics’ Wheelie 7

Hoobox Robotics’ Wheelie 7 kit is powered by Intel’s facial recognition technology. Once fitted to a motorised wheelchair, the device allows control of the chair via facial movements. The technology recognises 10 separate facial expressions (such as a frown, a smile, or pursed lips) and these can be programmed to activate driving forward, braking or turning. It is designed so that quadriplegics or senior citizens can have much more mobility, and comes with a camera, an on-board computer and a robotic device over the motorised wheelchair’s joystick.

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People

APPOINTMENTS PCR

Following PCR’s acquisition by Biz Media, Rob Baker and Beccy Barr have both joined the sales team to support the brand while Sarah Goldhawk is on maternity leave. Baker returns to the publication having previously worked on PCR while the title belonged to Intent Media, and later, NewBay Media. He can be reached on 0203 143 8778 and at rob.baker@biz-media.co.uk. “PCR remains an authority in the IT and tech market and I’m looking forward to re-joining the team and working with both new and familiar faces in the channel throughout 2019 and beyond,” commented Baker. Beccy Barr also joins the sales team, working on the brand and the 2019 Awards. Barr can be reached on 07703 503 101 and at beccy.barr@biz-media.co.uk. “It’s great to have both Rob and Beccy on board. With their combined experience – along with the support of our new publisher, Biz Media – 2019 is set to be an exciting year for PCR,” said Laura Barnes, editor of PCR.

McAfee

Security software maker McAfee has appointed Keiron Holyome as regional director for the UK public sector. Holyome will be responsible for driving McAfee’s growth in this area, at a time when the firm says all organisations within the public sector are looking to bolster their resistance to cyber attacks. He possesses nearly 20 years of experience in sales leadership roles at multinational technology organisations, having previously held positions at Computacenter, Gartner, Lenovo and Dell. He moves to lead McAfee’s public sector business after 18 months in a broader sales role within the company. “The cyber threats facing the public sector are more numerous and sophisticated than ever before,” said Holyome. “I’m drawn to McAfee’s vision and proven ability to secure vital institutions and will be focused on fostering further collaboration with our public sector colleagues to protect critical services across the country.”

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This month’s movers and shakers in the tech industry...

UKFast

British cloud firm UKFast has appointed Catherine Greening as chief financial officer as the firm embarks on an ambitious five-year growth plan. The move comes as part of the expansion plans linked to the recent investment from Inflexion Private Equity. Greening, who joined UKFast five years ago as M&A director, played an important role in the recent deal with Inflexion alongside GCA Altium which saw UKFast valued at £405 million. With more than 18 years’ experience in the M&A and private equity industries prior to joining UKFast, qualified chartered accountant Greening has worked for heavyweights including PwC and mid-market private equity house LDC. “As M&A director, I was more focused on one-off projects designed to add value, such as the acquisition of S-IA. The move to CFO sees me far more involved in the day-to-day operations of UKFast, working more closely with the other directors to drive business performance,” said Greening.

Exertis

Exertis has appointed Howard Ingleby to the newly created position of programme director for the UK and Ireland. Reporting to Exertis COO Richard Hinds, the role will see Ingleby be responsible for managing change and delivery of key strategic and infrastructure projects as the business “continues along its transformation path to meet the growing and evolving needs of a rapidly expanding organisation”. “Managing change is a key process for all organisations and requires detailed planning, a methodical approach and engagement with different functions,” commented Hinds. “Howard has extensive programme director and programme management office (PMO) experience gained in a variety of industry sectors. He is ideally placed to lead and successfully implement the projects we plan to deliver, which will further improve productivity and efficiencies throughout our organisation, in addition to enhancing customer experience.”

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What’s On

EVENTS MWC BARCELONA 2019 25th-28th February, Fira de Barcelona, Barcelona MWC Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress) is the largest mobile event in the world, bringing together the latest innovations and leading-edge technology from more than 2,400 leading companies. The event also features extensive learning opportunities from dozens of partner-led programmes, GSMA seminars, summits and more. Over 107,000 key decision-makers are expected to attend.

PCR AWARDS 2019 6th March 2019, The Brewery, London The PCR Awards are back once again in 2019 to celebrate the very best in the tech channel. Returning to The Brewery on 6th March, the awards boast a mix of networking, partying and recognition of achievements in the UK PC and tech industry. Distributors, vendors, retailers, resellers and service providers will all be recognised through a variety of awards. Guests will also have the chance to network with 500+ members of the industry. Tables are filling up fast so make sure you book your tickets now! Find out more at http://pcr-awards.com

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY SHOW 2019 12th-13th March, The Business Design Centre, London The Wearable Technology Show promises to be the biggest event for wearables, AR, VR, IoT and connected technology. Now in its sixth year, the show is back once again to showcase everything from across these tech landscapes. Over 6,000 delegates, 200 speakers and 300 press attended last year’s event.

GAME DEVELOPERS CONFERENCE 18th-22nd March, San Francisco, various venues, California The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is the world’s largest professional game industry event. GDC brings together 28,000 attendees to exchange ideas and shape the future of the industry with five days of education, inspiration, and networking at the Moscone Convention Center in San

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Find out what tech and retail events you should be attending in the coming months…

Francisco. The conference features 750 lectures, panels, tutorials and roundtable discussions on a comprehensive selection of game development and VR/AR topics taught by leading industry experts. The expo showcases the latest game development tools and services from 550 leading companies.

NETWORK GROUP AWARDS 2019 21st March, Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire This year marks the 25th anniversary of Network Group, which is also celebrating its 10th annual awards show. Open to vendors, distributors and VARs who partner and work with the group on an ongoing basis, the 10th Annual Network Group Awards recognise the commitment to collaboration, the pursuit of excellence and the outstanding contributions made over the last 12 months.

CLOUDFEST 23rd-29th March, Europa-Park, Germany CloudFest is a series of conferences geared toward cloud, hosting, and internet service provider professionals. Focusing on three distinctive pillars – growth, connectivity, and learning – the events offer attendees access to the latest technologies, innovations and trends that make modern, digital online communication possible. CloudFest takes place at Europa-Park, Germany’s largest-scale theme park. It draws people from all over the industry – from hardware and data center companies, to application developers and content creators.

LONDON GAMES FESTIVAL 2019 2nd-14th April, various venues, London London Games Festival features 12 days of activity including the Games Finance Market, EGX Rezzed, the Now Play This exhibition, BAFTA Games Awards, industry talks, cosplay parade and more. The event will run across various London venues and is delivered by Games London, the three-year initiative from Film London, the capital’s screen industries agency, and video games trade body Ukie. Over 65,000 people attended 40 different events across 20 different venues during the 2018 festival.

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Sector Guide

Laptops From Chromebooks and lightweight devices to powerful-yet-portable gaming machines, we round up the most impressive laptops and notebooks on the market…

Gigabyte AERO 15X Notebook Specs: 4K UHD IPS 144Hz panel with thin 5mm bezel design, X-Rite Pantone certified display, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 GDDR5 8GB with Max-Q design, 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H processor, Windows 10 Pro, 512GB M.2 PCIe Gen.3 X4 SSD, 16GB DDR4 RAM, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI 2.0 / mini DP 1.4 connectivity. “The AERO 15X uses state of the art technology in chassis manufacturing to deliver a slim, powerful and stylish notebook with aluminium chassis. It features an impressive 4K UHD slim bezel 144Hz IPS display with impeccable colour accuracy and X-Rite Pantone colour calibration certified. With lightning fast connectivity options and an outstanding 94Wh 10 hour battery, the AERO 15X is a portable power house and also features an 8th gen Intel Core i7-8750H processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 GDDR5 8GB graphics and Windows 10 Pro.” Contact: VIP UK

Acer Chromebook Spin 512 Specs: 3:2 aspect ratio display, 360-degree hinge, Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass, either 32 or 64 eMMC storage, 4 or 8GB of RAM. “The convertible Acer Chromebook Spin 512’s 360-degree hinge lets students use the Antimicrobial Corning Gorilla Glass display in four modes: clamshell, tablet, display and tent. An included dockable Wacom electro-magnetic resonance (EMR) stylus makes note-taking and sketching natural and can be conveniently stored in the device slot.” Contact: Acer

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Sector Guide

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Specs: Intel Core i7 8550U, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, TCG Opal Encryption 2, 14” IPS touchscreen, 2560 x 1440 resolution, Windows 10 Pro 64-bit. “The X1 Yoga is the very definition of versatility, as it works the way you want to, accommodating your environment with a 360-degree hinge. It features a builtin, rechargeable pen with full inking capability supported in all Office 2016 apps, enhanced security, and of course, legendary ThinkPad heritage – and support.” Contact: Westcoast

ASUS ZenBook S13 Specs: 13.9-inch screen, latest Intel Core processors, 97% screen-to-body ratio, 12.9mm width, NanoEdge display. “The new ZenBook S13 is a 13.9-inch ultrabook powered by the latest Intel Core processors and featuring the world’s largest screen-to-body ratio of 97% in a four-sided NanoEdge display that has bezels measuring only 2.5mm. With a width of just 12.9mm, ZenBook S13 is also the world’s slimmest laptop available with discrete NVIDIA MX150 graphics.” Contact: ASUS

Lenovo V330 15.6” Laptop Specs: 15.6” FHD display, Intel Core i3-8130U processor, 4GB memory, 128GB SSD storage, USB 3.1 Type-C, FP Reader, DVDRW, Windows 10 Pro. “Sensitive business data and customer information stay secure with touch-type fingerprint reader, Windows Hello, and privacy camera cover. For those who care about getting sleek design, portability, and built-in security in an affordable laptop, the V330 is the perfect choice.” Contact: Spire Technology

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Sector Guide

Acer TravelMate B114-21 Specs: 7th Gen AMD A6-9220C APU, Radeon R5 Graphics, 256GB dual-lane PCIe NVMe SSD or up to 64GB of eMMC flash memory, 10 hours battery life on a single charge. “The Acer TravelMate B114-21 is designed to equip students with the learning tools they need, supporting educational multimedia apps and resources. Featuring up to a 7th Gen AMD A6-9220C APU paired with Radeon R5 Graphics, it promises powerful support for learning and teaching activities.” Contact: Acer

Lenovo ThinkPad L480 Specs: Intel Core i5-8350u vPro, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Windows 10 Pro, 14-inch 1920 x 1080 screen. “You work hard to get the job done, no matter where the job takes you. The 14-inch ThinkPad L480 has the versatility, power, and portability to keep up – and to make your job easier. The perfect business partner! Thinner and lighter than ever, the rugged, business-ready ThinkPad L480 conquers your must-have list.” Contact: Westcoast

HP 250 G6 Laptop Specs: 15.6” display, Intel Core i5-7200U, 4GB memory, 128GB SSD storage, Windows 10 Home. “Get connected with the value-priced HP 250 Notebook PC. Complete business tasks with Intel technology, essential collaboration tools and Windows 10 loaded on the HP 250. Rest assured that the HP 250 can keep up with assignments on the run. The durable chassis helps protect the notebook from the rigors of the day.” Contact: Spire Technology

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Sector Guide

Acer Predator Triton 700 Specs: Windows 10 Home, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 7th Gen Intel Core i7 7700HQ processor, Dolby Atmos sound, Nvidia G-Sync, Killer DoubleShot Pro, AeroBlade 3D fan. “Take your gaming with you. Go big on power and small in form with a chassis that measures in at just 18.9mm. The RGB keyboard is low-profile, mechanical and built with individual backlights for each key. The Corning Gorilla Glass plate doubles as a viewport for an AeroBlade 3D fan and a Precision Touchpad, if needed in a pinch. Screen tearing and input lag have no place with the Triton 700’s 120Hz IPS display. Keep your game sessions seamless and fluid without missing a beat.” Contact: Acer

ASUS StudioBook S Specs: 17-inch 16:10 ratio display, Intel Xeon or Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA Quadro P3200 graphics, runs silently at just 35dB, weighs just 2.39kg. “The new StudioBook S brings together the power of Intel Core i7 and Xeon processors with NVIDIA Quadro graphics in a compact 15-inch chassis with a larger NanoEdge display designed to give creators more room to work and provides better mobility. StudioBook S is the first entry in a brand-new laptop series tailor-made for creative professionals, such as designers, animators, architects and programmers.” Contact: ASUS

Dell Alienware Area-51m Specs: NVIDIA GeForce graphics, 144Hz G-SYNC 17” Full HD display, supports up to 64GB of DDR4 memory, Alienware TactX keyboard, fire resistant, liquid-crystal polymer fan. “The Area-51m features a host of firsts for peak performance and power. It’s our first-ever Alienware laptop to feature 8-core, 16-thread Intel processors, giving it a whole new level of compute power versus other gaming laptops. Engineered with desktop processors, the CPU is enabled with up to 125% rated power, allowing high-end overclocking. This results in higher performance for megatasking, CPU-intensive gaming, as well as day-to-day applications.” Contact: Dell

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Sector Guide

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S Specs: 17-inch display, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080, 8th Gen Intel Core processor, four DDR slots for up to 24GB of RAM and 1TB PCIe SSD. “The new Zephyrus S is the most compact 17-inch gaming laptop at only 18.7mm thin, and the only gaming laptop on the market with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q Design graphics. This is an incredible achievement considering the Zephyrus S also packs up to an 8th Gen Intel Core processor, four DDR slots for up to 24GB of RAM and a 1TB PCIe SSD. Zephyrus S comes with a super-fast 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms GTG response time that ensure a sharp and clear image during fast action. The display is not only perfect for playing games, but for creative content work where accurate colours are critical.” Contact: ASUS

HP EliteBook 745 G5 Specs: AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 2700U, AMD Radeon Vega, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD NVMe, 14” IPS 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), Windows 10 Pro 64-bit. “Designed for the modern mobile professional, the HP EliteBook 745 offers enterprise-grade security and manageability along with powerful collaboration features to keep you connected. Ultraslim design and a powerful viewing experience on the narrow border ultra-bright display makes working comfortable in almost any light condition. Transition from the field to the office quickly with the optional HP Thunderbolt Dock G2.” Contact: Westcoast

Lenovo V330 14” Laptop Specs: 14” FHD display, AMD Ryzen 5 2500U processor, 8GB memory, 256GB SSD storage, Windows 10 Home. “With the Lenovo V330 14-inch laptop, you can stay value-focused without sacrificing performance and reliability. The latest processors, memory, and standardised USB Type-C connectivity let you connect and collaborate faster and more efficiently. Thin and stylish with a 180-degree hinge, this power-packed laptop keeps productivity – and confidence – high.” Contact: Spire Technology

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Crowdfunding PWR 27 travelling powerstation SOS Powerbank’s PWR 27 travelling powerstation promises to be an industry first for A/C powerbanks: dust and waterproof (IP67), dropproof (1000+ft), and crushproof (2 tons). It’s also the first A/C powerbank to feature integrated solar battery life extension and emergency trickle recharge. With the ability to charge five devices at once, and featuring a massive 27,000 mAh (99wH) battery, the PWR 27 is the largest carry on battery approved by the TSA and all other foreign air regulations (100 wH limit). “Whether you’re abroad for international business, on a shoot in the Tetons, relaxing on the beaches of Bali, or hiking up Mt. Kilimanjaro – this battery was built to go wherever you roam,” boasts the makers. For more information visit http://kck.st/2TR7qGS

Nanobuds extreme earbuds Nanobuds claim to be the world’s most extreme earbuds. “Just take them out and they’re ready to use with all your devices. Put them in your ears and they connect instantly. Speak into them and your voice sounds clear,” promises makers Pierre Audio. After a simple one-tap setup, your Nanobuds are automatically on and always connected. They can sense when they’re in your ears and pause when you take them out. All earbuds are driven by the custom-designed Pierre Z9 chip. It produces extremely efficient wireless for a better connection and improved sound. And the Z9 chip means you can listen for 12 hours on a single charge. “It’s performance that’s unheard of in a device this small,” claims the company. What’s more, a voice accelerometer recognises when you’re speaking and works with a pair of beamforming microphones to filter out external noise and focus on the sound of your voice. For more information visit https://igg.me/at/nanobuds/x

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Crowdfunding Wynd Halo and Home Purifier Wynd Technologies is crowdfunding for its new Wynd Halo and the Wynd Home Purifier, which lets users monitor and “physically perfect” their environment. Wynd Halo has 10 sensors to monitor allergens, smoke, germs, pollution, and more. It features a new innovation called Air ID which classifies the actual pollutants in the air so that you can take the right course of action. Wynd Halo pairs seamlessly with the Wynd Home Purifier to remove any contaminants from your environment quickly and automatically. According to Wynd, we take 20,000 breaths every day, but what’s in the air we’re breathing? Halo can tell you and make it better. It can live anywhere and houses an internal rechargeable battery, and so is portable. Halo monitors the air and gives you a summary of your environment at a glance. It has more sensors than any other environmental monitor and can determine the actual composition of your air – from pollen, to pet dander, to smog – so that you can take the right course of action to improve your environment. For more information visit http://kck.st/2z8YYKx

With so much talent in the channel, it can be difficult to sift out the freshest gear and potential tech giants of tomorrow. Stay ahead of the curve with PCR’s Crowdfunding Corner…

Docoy portable projector Docoy provides HD quality video and sound along with multiple connection options, a wide range of free movies and games, screenmirroring compatibility supporting iOS and Android among others, topped off with a unique portable design. Docoy enables you to enjoy HD TV shows and games on a 120” HD screen for over six hours wherever you are. “Docoy is the perfect substitution for your Apple TV, Android TV box, or other mini projector. It is the first option for all of your portable entertainment needs,” says the Docoy team. Docoy uses the latest generation of the DLP (Digital Light Processor) tech, with 720p resolution (compatible with 1080p). Thanks to the accurate 300 ANSI Lumens, the highest Lumens in the industry for brightness and clarity, you can enjoy your HD videos in any environment no matter how bright it is outside. Although Docoy is small in size, its 120” widescreen projection turns almost any home, office or cafe into an immersive cinema environment. You can project a huge screen within a distance of a bed and enjoy your favourite movie in theater quality. For more information visit http://kck.st/2zR4UrS

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Sector Guide

Tablets Whether you’re looking to stock the latest child-friendly tablet, gaming hybrid or educational tool, here are some of the most innovative devices out there...

Surftab TrekStor Theatre L15 Specs: MT8163 processor, Android 8.1 (Oreo) operating system, 15.6-inch 10-point capacitive multitouch full HD IPS 16:9-inch display, 32GB SSD with 2GB memory, WiFi, stereo speaker, dual microphone, front 2MP camera, integrated fold out metal stand, 3x USB 2.0, 1 x Mini-HDMI, memory card reader, audio out/mic in (3.5 mm) connectivity. “Thanks to its stunning 15.6-inch full HD IPS touchscreen, the TrekStor Theatre L15 Android tablet is a fantastic portable mini cinema. Featuring IPS display technology with a 16:9 aspect ratio for razor sharp viewing quality and smooth video playback in excellent 1080p. Boasting optimum audio output from four integrated loudspeakers, a handy stand, and WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, the Theatre L15 delivers excellent performance on the go.” Contact: VIP UK

ASUS Chromebook Tablet CT100 Specs: Chrome OS operating system, LPDDR3 1866MT/s 4GB memory, 32GB eMMC storage, 2MP front camera, 5MP rear camera, 9.7” with multi-touch QXGA (1536 x 2048) screen. “Spend time in any classroom, and you know to expect the unexpected. And when you’re teaching and learning in new and innovative ways, you need rugged, versatile tools like the ASUS Chromebook Tablet CT100. Whatever your needs — at school, college, university or home — you can rely on this 9.7-inch tablet. With its super-rugged construction, compact design and long-lasting battery, the Chromebook Tablet CT100 is the choice for a more intuitive learning experience: make videos to explore the world around you and build communication skills, experience augmented reality to bring learning to life in new ways, or collaborate with others next to you or miles away. Not only is it designed to shrug off everyday knocks and bumps, but its compact size, built-in pen holder and ergonomic design lets you learn and teach in a way that’s as flexible, agile, and unique as you.” Contact: ASUS

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Sector Guide

HANNspree HANNSpad Titan 3 Specs: 13.3” 1920 x 1080 IPS display, OctaCore, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, Android 8.1, dual cameras 2MP/5MP with Autofocus, WiFi, Bluetooth, Micro SD, microphone, 2x 1W speaker, 3.5mm headphones port. “Our new HANNSpad Titan 3 offers users a large Full HD IPS display with high quality multi-touch technology for the ultimate mobile computing experience. With OctaCore power and Android 8.1 taking care of performance, this tablet PC can handle almost anything you throw at it. A true multimedia solution, Titan 3 includes dual-cameras for selfies, videos and photos on the go while 32GB of internal storage plus SD expansion provide plenty of space for photos, games or a massive music library.” – Martin Kent, UK Territory Manager, HANNSpree UK. Contact: Exertis, GNR Tech, Ingram Micro, Midwich, TechData, Westcoast

Microsoft Surface Studio 2 Specs: 28” PixelSense display, 4.5K 4500 x 3000 (192 DPI), 16GB or 32GB (DDR4), 7th Generation i7 Intel Core i7-7820HQ, 1TB or 2TB SSD, Windows 10 Pro, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB or 1070 8GB GDDR5 memory. “The ultimate creative studio. Let your ideas flow with brilliant colour, blazing graphics, faster processors, intuitive tools and a stunning, adjustable 28-inch display. Dive in with Intel Core i7-7820HQ processors, SSD storage for faster file handling, and more graphics memory to handle your workflow and support better gaming, mixed reality, and VR.” Contact: Westcoast

Dell Latitude 5290 Specs: Up to Intel Core i7-8650U processor, up to Windows 10 Pro 64bit operating system, up to 16GB memory, up to 12.3” display, up to M.2 512GB PCIe NVMe Class 40 SSD. “The world’s most secure 2-in-1 detachable with the power of a laptop and flexibility of a tablet. Featuring a sleek design and optional keyboard (sold separately), as well as an optional infrared facial camera, which is suitable for Windows Hello.” Contact: Dell

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Sector Guide

TrekStor Primetab P10 LTE Specs: MT8735 processor, Android 7.0 (Nougat) operating system, 10.1-inch 10-point capacitive multi-touch full HD IPS 16:9-inch display, 32GB SSD with 2GB memory, stereo speaker, microphone, up to 9 hours of battery, sturdy aluminium chassis, just 8.4mm thin. “The Primetab P10 features an impeccable full HD multi-touch IPS 16:9 display to deliver the very best picture quality. The tablet connects wirelessly via LTE, UMTS, GSM or WiFi, as well as via Bluetooth 4.0 interface for impressive surfing and entertainment on the go. The Primetab P10 also features a rear 5MP camera as well as a front 2MP camera and a slim, lightweight robust aluminium casing for greater scratch resistance.” Contact: VIP UK

Wacom Cintiq Specs: 15.6” display, 1920 x 1080 Full HD display, natural tilt support, foldable legs, superresponsive Pro Pen 2. “Whether you’re used to creating on paper or using a pen tablet, making the switch to Wacom Cintiq will feel like a natural progression. The seamless interaction between pen and display will help improve your creative flow. The 3-in-1 cable that connects to your Wacom Cintiq combines power, video and data in one. It also connects to the top of the screen to avoid unwanted desk clutter. The detachable pen holder can be easily moved to either side of the display to suit your preference. Spare nibs are also stored neatly inside the pen holder, so whatever the project, the right tool will always be close to hand.” Contact: Wacom

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Sector Guide

HP Elite x2 1013 G3 Specs: Intel Core i5 8250U, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD NVMe, 13” IPS touchscreen 3000 x 2000, Windows 10 Pro 64-bit. “Win the day with full PC performance and unleash creativity with the freedom of a tablet. Powerful processors handle your professional apps while tablet mobility lets you keep working on the go. The Elite x2 1013 delivers on the promise of the detachable device. Powerfully handle your professional apps with this incredibly thin and light 13-inch detachable business PC. Get a pure tablet experience with the optional HP Rechargeable Active Pen.” Contact: Westcoast

Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite Specs: 10.1-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS screen, 32GB / 64GB ROM, 3GB / 4GB RAM, MicroSD up to 256GB, WiFi, Bluetooth, LTE, 8MP front camera, 8MP rear camera, Android 8.0 (Oreo) + EMUI 8.0 operating system. “The Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite features a brilliant 10.1-inch 1080p display so you will not miss a thing while watching your favourite movies or playing games. For an even better viewing experience, Huawei ClariVu technology further enhances display brightness and clarity. Co-engineered with Harman Kardon, the tablet’s quadspeaker system delivers fine-tuned and precisely optimised concert hall audio effects, more bass, and less distortion. The Huawei Histen 5.0 stereo audio creates rich soundscapes to provide you with multi-layered and penetrating 3D surround sound.” Contact: Huawei

ASUS ROG Mothership Specs: Windows 10 Home/Pro, Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 8GB GDDR6 VRAM, DDR4 2666MHz SDRAM memory up to 64GB. “ROG Mothership is a portable Windows 10 Pro powerhouse with an innovative standing design that enhances cooling for its factory overclocked GeForce RTX 2080 GPU and 8th Gen Intel Core i9 CPU. Take full control with its detachable keyboard and experience smooth visuals without blurring or tearing on its NVIDIA G-SYNC display with a 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time. SSD RAID storage and 2.5G Ethernet bring ultra-fast performance to every part of this revolutionary gaming machine.” Contact: ASUS

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Sector Guide

Microsoft Surface Go Specs: Weight starting at 1.15lbs (522 grams), 10” PixelSense Display 1800 x 1200 (217PPI), 4GB or 8GB RAM, Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4415Y, 64GB or 128GB (256GB for LTE), Windows 10 Pro, Intel HD Graphics 615. “The Surface Go is perfect for all your daily tasks, giving you laptop performance, tablet portability, and a stunning touchscreen with the power of Windows 10. Make crisp, clear video calls with the built-in front facing 5.0 megapixel HD camera. Count on new Surface Go to run dayto-day software and apps, with a powerful Intel processor and up to nine hours of battery life.” Contact: Westocast

Lenovo Smart Tab P10 Specs: 10.1” FHD display, 4 front speakers with Dolby Atmos sound, fingerprint sensor, Android Oreo operating system, Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor, up to 64GB storage, up to 4GB memory. “The Lenovo Smart Tab is a great 10.1” Android tablet that becomes a Smart Screen with Amazon Alexa. Dock it and ask Alexa questions, see your calendar, play videos on its beautiful 10.1” FHD display, and enjoy music with loud, crisp sound. You can also get news, see sports scores, and even, thanks to far-field voice pickup, control your home from across the room. All hands‑free – just ask. Undock your tablet and take it everywhere you go. Primed for entertainment, it boasts a brilliant 10” FHD glass display and booming Dolby Atmos sound. No thicker nor heavier than a glossy magazine, this stylish device is the perfect travel companion.” Contact: Lenovo

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PCR-JAN19 Brother 2_Layout 1 23/01/2019 14:40 Page 1

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Interview

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Interview

LIFE IN THE CHANNEL

Western Digital’s Nigel Edwards Having worked for the data storage company for more than 20 years, Western Digital’s Vice President of EMEAI Sales outlines what advancements we can expect to see in the storage arena in the next few years, and how WD’s portfolio of technologies and solutions have evolved...

Tell us a bit about your role at Western Digital. I am responsible for the EMEAI (Europe, Middle East, Africa, and India) sales region for Western Digital. I look after all business segments covering distribution, OEM, and consumer sales for all products and segments. This requires a great deal of travel across our regions, and I believe we have the industry’s best distribution network of partners covering our total portfolio of products. I have worked for Western Digital for over 20 years, having lived and worked in various countries during this time. What interesting projects are your team working on at the moment? We cannot reveal any specific customer “projects” we are working on with our partners, as these are confidential. However, beyond traditional applications, we are seeing our products being used in an everincreasing IoT marketplace from edge to core across many verticals applications and use cases, from kettles, door bells, cash registers, autonomous cars, mobile phones, the list goes on.

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What new advancements in the storage arena can we expect to see in the coming years? NVMe and NVMe over Fabric are going to be important over the coming year. There is a growing need to alter the flexibility of data infrastructure without physically touching it. In 2019, we will see open composability – versus today’s inflexible, proprietary solutions – come of age and start to go mainstream as organisations look to build composable infrastructures on open standards to allow for specialised configurations that are specific to their workloads and address diverse data. We believe this is how a lot of infrastructure is going to be deployed going forward. Our OpenFlex product line and architecture is a leading example of this in the industry. HDDs using Energy Assist technology will begin to emerge as customers seek higher capacities, at lower costs, for their data centres. Organisations will need more storage space, but current HDD technology is approaching limits for capacity, therefore, we are looking to new Energy Assist technologies to deliver a costeffective solution.

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Interview

We believe this can be achieved via MAMR. We will also be launching our 16TB hard drive this year with Energy Assist technology. We expect it will ramp up to 20+TB HDDs by 2020 and beyond. Driven by IoT, there is a rise in endpoints which generate their own data at scale. A great example is autonomous cars, which can generate up to 4TBs of data per day. Regardless of use cases or how many IoT devices are unleashed, their success hinges on one critical component – the speed of compute. Compute power is getting closer to the data produced by the devices, allowing it to be processed in real-time, and for devices to awaken and realise their full potential. Today, we have a full portfolio of solutions which can handle the velocity and volume of data being created by these new endpoints.

to devices to systems. This allows us to fine-tune the stack and deliver breakthrough value for a full range of data-centric applications. All of these products are sold through Western Digital’s distribution channel. What are Western Digital’s plans for the year ahead and are there any products and advancements we should keep an eye out for? We are always innovating across all our product lines and brands, as well as focusing on new value-add market segments and initiatives. For example, last year at the RISC-V Summit we announced our SweRV Core and a new cache coherency fabric initiative. These contributions and innovations are expected to accelerate development of new open, purpose-built

“Western Digital has evolved from a components HDD manufacturer to a data technology company, with a portfolio offering solutions from NAND to petabyte-scale object-storage solutions” Western Digital has evolved quite a bit in the past few years. How have your various offerings changed and expanded? Western Digital has evolved and moved from a components HDD manufacturer to a data technology company. Today, we have a full portfolio, offering the breadth and depth of technologies and solutions from NAND to petabyte-scale object-storage systems. Our exceptionally broad storage portfolio addresses diverse needs, markets and applications – from consumers to hyperscale data centre customers, and for uses cases from smartphones to multi-petabyte data centre archival systems. Last year we were recognised as a Visionary in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays for the fourth year in a row. We were also named a Challenger in Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Distributed File Systems and Object Storage. These are just two examples of our continued momentum in our growing Data Center Systems business unit. One unique factor that many don’t know about is our unique ability to optimise from silicon to systems. This is called our “Symbiotics Design” approach that enables innovation and optimisation across multiple technologies and software, and hardware design points – from silicon

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compute architectures for Big Data and Fast Data environments. Western Digital has taken an active role in helping to advance the RISC-V ecosystem, including multiple related strategic investments and partnerships, and committed to its goal of transitioning one billion of the company’s processor cores to the RISC-V architecture. We also have a strong focus on the OpenFlex architecture and product line. It is built on industrystandard NVMe technology and creates independently scalable pools of flash and disks that can be connected to computing resources via common networking technologies, such as Ethernet. The reason behind this is that the ‘one size fits all’ approach is no longer effective for data-intensive workloads (e.g. big data, fast data, analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning). What is required are capabilities that enable more control over the blend of resources that each need so that optimised levels of processing, storage and network bandwidth can be scaled independent of one another. The end objective is a flexible and composable infrastructure. Such flexibility will minimise complexities around Big Data and how it is being captured, preserved, accessed and transformed.

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<Logging off>\\| Out and about in the industry

<Retailers battle for glory, honour, and charity> ESL UK brought back the popular Battle of the Brands esports charity derby in January. In 2017, one call out tweet from Ebuyer towards some of the UK’s biggest tech specialists was enough to start a Twitter war, which has now turned into a very competitive annual charity event, raising money for the UK-based gamer’s charity SpecialEffect. ESL UK partnered up with four tech specialists – Scan, PCSpecialist, Ebuyer and Box – and streamed the competition live on Twitch and Facebook on 6th January. The teams battled it out in CS:GO, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Overwatch, Overcooked 2 and Soulcalibur VI. James Dean, ESL UK managing director said: “Esports is a superb way to bring together all sorts of communities. I think it’s testament to the affectionate gaming scene when we can put a fantastic show together of rival e-tail and retailers battling it out purely for credibility of gaming prowess. While it’s a serious competition, it’s fun at heart and all for a great charitable cause.” The winner of the tournament this year was Scan, but “teams were just playing for bragging rights”, said ESL UK product manager Luke Baker. Each of the retailers and sponsors (XPG, Intel and ESL) donated at least £500 to jump start the campaign, which so far has raised £7,654. Find out more at the Battle of the Brands JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/battleofthebrands2019

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<Logging off>\\| Out and about in the industry

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PCRmag

CONTENT

<Biggest tech news from… February 2013> Now you’re up-to-date with the latest issues in tech retail, let’s take a trip down memory lane to some interesting stories from yesteryear… Google unveils its first touchscreen laptop Touchscreen capabilities might seem like a staple in the portable device segment today, but back in 2013 some of the biggest tech giants were introducing their first round of devices with this feature. Google was one of these, and unveiled its new Chromebook Pixel, which carried an 2560 x 1700 high resolution display and was the first device from the vendor to feature touch capability. What’s more, the 12.85-inch display actually carried a higher pixel density than any other laptop at the time.

Retail operating costs have risen 21% since 2006 Back in 2013, a study commissioned by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) found that the costs of running a retail business had grown by 21% – £20 billion in total – in the last seven years. In the same period, retail sales values rose by just 12%, which the BRC warned could force store closures and hurt job creation. Six years on from that report and unfortunately UK high streets are still struggling with business costs, with a number of retail stalwarts having closed down since 2013, including Comet and Maplin.

HMV confirms 60 further redundancies, CEO Trevor Moore amongst cuts Another big retail story from 2013 was the ongoing bid to save HMV from going under. 66 of the struggling retailer’s UK stores were set to close their doors, resulting in 930 job losses. With a further 60 redundancies been made across HMV’s head office operations, including CEO Trevor Moore. Hilco eventually took over UK operations to keep the brand alive. However, in 2019, HMV is in trouble once again. At the time of writing, the retailer’s fate hangs in the balance while Sports Direct Tycoon Mike Ashley attempts to come to an agreement with administrators KPMG to take over the brand.

Seven million Brits have never logged on to the web Last but not least, while trawling through the news from yesteryear, we were surprised by the fact that in 2013, a whopping seven million Brits had never logged on to the web, according to official government figures. The elderly were identified as a key group within the survey, with 44% of those who admitted to never logging on were found to be aged 75 and above.

Send stories to Laura Barnes laura.barnes@biz-media.co.uk

NEXT MONTH Distribution The next issue of PCR will feature the latest advancements in the distribution part of the channel, and we will have profiles on some of the biggest disties in the industry. In this issue we will also be rounding up the latest desktop PCs and networking gear in our product guides. Get in touch today if you’d like to be involved!

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Editor Laura Barnes laura.barnes@biz-media.co.uk +44 (0)203 143 8783 Graphic Designer Tom Carpenter tom.carpenter@biz-media.co.uk

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Printed by Buxton Press Ltd ISSN: 1742-8440 Copyright 2019

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PCR January / February 2019  

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