CEVA and mPerpetuo Partner to Deliver Halide Support for CEVA Vision Processors

Halide is a domain-specific language for imaging and vision applications developed by MIT CSAIL and adopted by leading technology companies for use in their imaging products. This language provides abstractions that allow for rapid development of highly optimized and portable imaging applications.

Halide is a domain-specific language for imaging and vision applications developed by MIT CSAIL and adopted by leading technology companies for use in their imaging products. This language provides abstractions that allow for rapid development of highly optimized and portable imaging applications.

The CEVA-XM family of imaging and vision processors and platforms have achieved more than 50 design wins to date, with many of the world’s leading OEMs. The CEVA-XM processors power computer vision and computational photography in millions of devices, including smartphones, drones, mirrorless cameras, 360 degree cameras, action cameras surveillance cameras and VR headsets, and are soon to be deployed in automotive image sensors and ADAS pre-processors.

“Enabling Halide on the CEVA-XM family offers customers a rapid and powerful method of expressing, prototyping, and optimizing complex vision and imaging processing pipelines,” said Gary Gitelson, VP of Engineering at mPerpetuo. “When using the Halide development environment, programmers can create software with performance that is on-par or exceeds hand-coded assembly or intrinsics, while achieving significantly reduced development times, and improved code consistency and maintainability.”

“Support for Halide will offer significant performance benefits to our customers wishing to write high-performance image processing code for their CEVA-XM powered products,” said Ilan Yona, vice president and general manager of the vision business unit at CEVA. “We are pleased to collaborate with mPerpetuo to add support for this exciting new programming language to our industry-leading imaging and vision processors.”

mPerpetuo provides a full Halide language port that can generate CEVA-XM assembly code and a full runtime environment to execute those pipelines on the CEVA-XM hardware. These tools and technologies form the core necessary to develop imaging algorithms targeted at the CEVA-XM using the Halide language. In addition, CEVA and mPerpetuo provide a reference imaging pipeline that can be used as a basis for building custom camera acquisition, display, image processing and vision applications. This pipeline contains all of the key basic blocks of image processing from raw sensor input to denoised and color processed final output. It is highly customizable and built in a modular fashion in which new blocks can be added easily, and existing blocks can be modified or replaced as needed according to a customer’s design. On top of this baseline image pipeline, mPerpetuo also provides additional visual code generation tools to ease the process of software development with Halide, and consultation in optimizing and working with Halide on the CEVA-XM family of products. mPerpetuo and CEVA will join forces to train and enable their joint customers to migrate their ISPs to Halide.

About mPerpetuo
mPerpetuo Inc. (www.mperpetuo.com) is a Bay Area start-up, that has set out to solve real-world system challenges of designing and optimizing image capture and display devices using vision, image processing, and real-time technologies. For more information and or live demonstrations of mPerpetuo’s portfolio, please contact at demo@mperpetuo.com.

About CEVA, Inc.
CEVA is the leading licensor of signal processing platforms and artificial intelligence processors for a smarter, connected world. We partner with semiconductor companies and OEMs worldwide to create power-efficient, intelligent and connected devices for a range of end markets, including mobile, consumer, automotive, industrial and IoT. Our ultra-low-power IPs for vision, audio, communications and connectivity include comprehensive DSP-based platforms for LTE/LTE-A/5G baseband processing in handsets, infrastructure and machine-to-machine devices, advanced imaging and computer vision for any camera-enabled device, audio/voice/speech and ultra-low power always-on/sensing applications for multiple IoT markets. For artificial intelligence, we offer a family of AI processors capable of handling the complete gamut of neural network workloads, on-device. For connectivity, we offer the industry’s most widely adopted IPs for Bluetooth (low energy and dual mode) and Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax up to 4×4). Visit us at www.ceva-dsp.com and follow us on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Why PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics are a 5G milestone

Pyeongchang, a county in rural Eastern South Korea, is unlikely a place as any to be the focus of the sporting world’s attention.

But thanks to its desire to host the Winter Olympics it has been thrust into the spotlight for two weeks as some of the planet’s finest athletes compete in 102 events across 15 sports.

Pyeongchang, a county in rural Eastern South Korea, is unlikely a place as any to be the focus of the sporting world’s attention.

But thanks to its desire to host the Winter Olympics it has been thrust into the spotlight for two weeks as some of the planet’s finest athletes compete in 102 events across 15 sports.

But this previously unknown part of the world is significant for the telecoms industry too as the host of the first commercial deployment of 5G networks, offering an insight into how the technology can power future applications.

VR broadcasts

Last year Intel signed a technology partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which will last until the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. It’s only been a matter of months, but Intel has made the most of its association, bringing not just 5G but also virtual reality (VR) to the games.

The 5G network is the industry’s first non-test environment, covering several PyeongChang 2018 venues. There are plenty of trials and testbeds taking place around the world, including in the UK, but this is a real-life deployment – even if the commercial devices are nowhere near ready.

“It’s a wonderful platform to bring technology to events that are the pinnacle of sporting achievement,” said Intel’s Steve Shakespeare.

One way it is doing this is live or on-demand VR coverage of 30 events, a project powered by the 5G network. Between 3 and 6 camera ‘pods’, each containing 12 4K video cameras are used for events such as speed skating, alpine skiing and bobsleigh.

These cameras generate as much as 1TB of data per hour. Of course Gigabit Wi-Fi could provide the speed and capacity, but 5G offers ubiquitous coverage across the venue and offers real time control because of the low latency.

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Academic pursuits

Intel isn’t the only organisation using PyeongChang 2018 as a platform for 5G. The 5GCHAMPION consortium comprises 21 universities, research institutes and companies from Europe. It claims to have created a 5G ‘proof of concept’ network and has deployed it in a bus that will travel between venues in Gangneung, which is hosting the ice events at the games.

While travelling on the bus, passengers wear VR glasses to be transported to a site in Finland using a network reaching 2.5Gbps.

Of course, unlike Intel’s network, this is proof of concept, but after the games, researchers will travel to Seoul for a 5G Symposium.

“The Winter Olympics … may offer a much-needed glimpse into early consumer applications of 5G, as companies are using the games to showcase some of the potential that the technology holds,” noted Kester Mann, an analyst with CCS Insight.

South Korea

South Korea is engaged in a global 5G race, and there are trials everywhere. But there are a number of reasons what is happening in Pyeongchang should be taken with more than just a pinch of salt.

The fact that South Korea is the host of the first Olympics covered by Intel’s deal with the IOC is fortuitous. The country is one of the most advanced mobile nations on Earth, home to some of the most advanced mobile networks and to Samsung, one of the world’s largest electronics and IT firms.

According to OpenSignal’s latest State of LTE report, South Korea has a 4G availability rate of 97.49 percent – the highest in the world. And it has average speeds of 40.44Mbps, the fourth fastest on Earth. The three countries with faster speeds all have significantly smaller populations too.

It is possible that South Korea could become the first nation in the world to break the 50Mbps barrier as deployments of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) start to have an impact. The suggestion is that operators are working on coverage rather than speed at present, which has resulted in a temporary “plateauing” of speeds.

Its operators are pioneers in 5G and are firm contenders in the race to be first to market. Korea Telecom is Intel’s network partner in Pyeongchang, while SK Telecom has made several significant advances.

5G Future

SK Telecom will use Mobile World Congress (MWC) next week to discuss ‘5G Diplomacy’, showing off its 5G innovations in networking, AI and connected cars. Indeed, the operator has tested autonomous vehicles at a testbed called “K-City” near Seoul.

Analysts at GlobalData predict Korean operators will be eager to push 5G as traditional revenues stagnate predict 5G subscriptions in the country will outnumber 3G by 2020.

5G will be everywhere at MWC. Not as a network, but as a topic of conversation among operators, manufacturers and other parts of the mobile ecosystem who will talk about advances, trials and timelines.

Technical advances have meant that 2019 will see the first full commercial rollouts of 5G networks rather than 2020, but its still easy to dismiss 5G as hype.

But in South Korea, there are tangible examples of 5G making a difference and the PyeongChang Winter Olympics are a major milestone in the path to 5G.

Check out our list of the best mobile deals for February 2018

Juniper’s new products help prepare networks for hybrid, multi-cloud

Earlier this week, Juniper Networks announced a bevvy of new networking products. (Note: Juniper Networks is a client of ZK Research.) In his blog post about the products, Andy Patrizio did an effective job covering the basics of the news.

Earlier this week, Juniper Networks announced a bevvy of new networking products. (Note: Juniper Networks is a client of ZK Research.) In his blog post about the products, Andy Patrizio did an effective job covering the basics of the news. But left out some important points, and I wanted to make sure those got called out, including Juniper’s tagline “multi-cloud ready.”

Hybrid, multi-cloud is inevitable

As I’ve pointed out in many of my posts, hybrid multi-cloud environments are inevitable for most organizations. Small businesses may be able to build an IT strategy that is all public cloud, but any large company is going to choose a mix of private and public clouds.

The reality for those large companies, though, is no matter how great their desire to achieve the utopian state of hybrid, multi-cloud, they just aren’t ready to make that leap. These cycles can take a long time and will require some combination of infrastructure upgrades, organization realignment, skills retraining and new technologies.

Also read: What is hybrid cloud computing? and The enterprise wish list for hybrid cloud

The updates to Juniper’s portfolio allow customers to upgrade their network today to keep up with bandwidth demands, and then gracefully transition to a more cloudy business when they are ready. Juniper CTO Bikash Koley talked about this challenge at length at the company’s NXTWORK user conference held at the end of 2017, and now the company is backing up that talk with some products.

Juniper’s new products provide flexibility, options

Juniper switches continue to evolve, but the underlying strength of them remains its software, Junos, as it creates flexibility and options for customers. For example, Juniper introduced some new data center products.

On the surface, the QFX1002 spine switch, which has 60×100 Gig-E ports looks similar to the QFX5210 switch with 64×100 Gig-E ports. Other than four more ports, what’s the difference? The QFX10002 is built on Juniper silicon and is optimized for deep buffers, whereas the 5210 uses Broadcom and is a bit cheaper and meant for shallow buffer. I won’t get into the benefits of deep buffers. For those interested, Juniper’s Praful Lalchandani does a nice job highlighting the benefits in this post.

The different silicon families (Juniper also runs on Intel Atom) underscores the flexibility that Junos brings its customers. Customers can leverage the different products where needed but have a single set of scripts, automation tools, management platforms, etc. The value of the single platform also extends outside the data center, as it makes it easier to manage the network as a whole.

In the past, I’ve felt that the “single OS” story was a solution looking for a problem because customers rarely told me they cared if their branch equipment had the same OS as their data center. That was because the various places in the network were managed in silos. Today, that’s changed, and network professionals are looking at the network more holistically, so the common architecture and management capabilities make a difference.

Juniper’s new data center products

There are a couple of other new data center products worth calling out. The first is the Broadcom based QFX5200, which has native 25 Gig-E support. Juniper had 25 Gig-E products before but required breakout cables, which can be messy and are not ideal.

Another new data center product is the QFX MACsec line card that enables encrypted communications between locations. Companies looking to create dual data centers to power their private cloud will find this valuable.

Patrizio’s post also mentioned the updates to the branch portfolio, so I won’t go into those in detail. Like the data center products, the branch ones are designed to address the needs of today but provide the flexibility to go cloud later. Customers can manage the products via the Contrail SD-WAN controller or from a new cloud management tool called Sky Enterprise. Cloud management is becoming increasingly more popular was was a hole in Juniper’s product line has now been filled.

Juniper’s new campus products

Juniper also announced several new campus products that were not included in Patrizio’s post. These products can also be managed via the Sky Enterprise cloud management tool. Sky also supports Aerohive WiFi access points, building on the strong partnership between the two companies.

Sky isn’t meant to replace Aerohive’s HiveManager. Instead think of it as “HiveManager lite,” which provides visibility across the wired and wireless access edge. The new EX2300 and 4300 brings multi-gig capabilities to the Juniper campus product line.

Juniper is certainly late to the multi-gig party, but I suspect we won’t see a significant uptake of it until 802.11ax APs are out, so it should be able to catch up relatively quickly.

Juniper has been pushing the “operational simplicity” message for the better part of the past two years. Making the shift to the cloud requires a highly agile network, but also one that is easier to manage. The flexibility and automation capabilities that Junos brings enables customers to solve bandwidth and operational problems today, as well as sets them up to move to a multi-cloud model when their company is ready.

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LG K8, K10 look to bridge the gap between low-end and flagship status

One of the big highlights at MWC 2018, other than the Samsung Galaxy S9, will be the debut of LG’s AI-focused LG V30S. But the Korean company has a few other launches planned, including upgrades to its low-end lineup of phones.

One of the big highlights at MWC 2018, other than the Samsung Galaxy S9, will be the debut of LG’s AI-focused LG V30S. But the Korean company has a few other launches planned, including upgrades to its low-end lineup of phones.

The LG K8 and LG K10 (from left to right in the photo above) are receiving a fresh coat of paint, both inside and out, for 2018 and will be launching soon in regions like Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. There’s good reason to believe that they will both come to both the US and Australia, but that’s yet to be confirmed.

A chip off the old LG G6 block, the K10 looks to be the star of the new duo, built with the same rear-facing 13MP sensor that’s capable of phase detection auto focus (PDAF), the ability to track moving objects while staying in focus. This will be complemented by an 8MP selfie camera that can add depth of field to selfies for a more pronounced look.

While the K8 doesn’t have the same caliber of optics, it is still receiving substantial upgrades in the form of a more robust user interface for the camera app. Users will be able to utilize Gesture Shot, Flash for Selfie and Quick Share, which were previously available only on the K10.

Potential mid-range all-stars

Of the improvements made over last year’s models, the highlights include a slick, new 2.5D glass design and rear fingerprint sensor that gives them a flagship-like quality. Both phones also feature a microSD slot so that internal storage can get a hearty boost.

It goes without saying that these phones likely can’t hold their own compared to more affordable premium devices, like the Essential Phone and OnePlus 5T, but they should do perfectly well for those on a budget.

The K8 and K10 both feature Android Nougat 7.1.2 and boast 720p displays. While that’s a relatively low-screen resolution for today’s standards, their batteries (3,000mAh for the K10, 2,500mAh for the K8) should provide long-lasting performance.

LG has shared a single photo of the K8 and K10 together, seen above, but we’ll be getting a much closer look at both of them at MWC 2018 coming up later this week.

Interested in specs? Here are the full specifications for the K10 and K8, respectively.

LG K10 specsChipset: 1.5 GHz Octa-CoreDisplay: 5.3-inch HD In-cell Touch (1280 x 720 / 277ppi)Memory: K10+ : 3GB RAM / 32GB ROM / microSD (up to 2TB)K10: 2GB RAM / 16GB ROM / microSD (up to 2TB)K10α : 2GB RAM / 16GB ROM / microSD (up to 2TB)K10+ : 3GB RAM / 32GB ROM / microSD (up to 2TB)K10: 2GB RAM / 16GB ROM / microSD (up to 2TB)K10α : 2GB RAM / 16GB ROM / microSD (up to 2TB)Camera: K10+ : Rear 13MP / Front 8MP or 5MP (Wide)K10: Rear 13MP / Front 8MP or 5MP (Wide)K10α : Rear 8MP / Front 5MPK10+ : Rear 13MP / Front 8MP or 5MP (Wide)K10: Rear 13MP / Front 8MP or 5MP (Wide)K10α : Rear 8MP / Front 5MPBattery: 3,000mAh (embedded)Operating System: Android 7.1.2 NougatSize: 148.7 x 75.3 x 8.68mmWeight: 162gNetwork: LTE / 3G / 2GConnectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 b, g, n) / Bluetooth 4.2 / USB 2.0 Type B / NFCColors: K10+: Moroccan Blue / Terra GoldK10 : Aurora Black / Moroccan Blue / Terra GoldK10α: Aurora Black / Terra GoldK10+: Moroccan Blue / Terra GoldK10 : Aurora Black / Moroccan Blue / Terra GoldK10α: Aurora Black / Terra GoldOther: Fingerprint Scanner / FM Radio / Flash Jump Shot / Music Flash /LG K8 specsChipset: 1.3 GHz Quad-CoreDisplay: 5.0-inch HD On-cell Touch (1280 x 720 / 294ppi)Memory: 2GB RAM / 16GB ROM / microSD (up to 32GB)Camera: Rear 8MP / Front 5MPBattery: 2,500mAh (removable)Operating System: Android 7.1.2 NougatSize: 146.3 x 73.2 x 8.2mmWeight: 152gNetwork: LTE / 3G / 2GConnectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 b, g, n) / Bluetooth 4.2 / USB 2.0 Type BColors: Aurora Black / Moroccan Blue / Terra GoldOther: FM Radio / Flash Jump Shot / Music Flash / Time Helper / Quick Capture / Quick ShutterDon’t forget about the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus rumors

BoxLock Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET

A new internet-connected lock wants to keep your packages safe from potential thieves.

The $129 BoxLock, which is available for preorder on its website, is a padlock with a technological edge.

A new internet-connected lock wants to keep your packages safe from potential thieves.

The $129 BoxLock, which is available for preorder on its website, is a padlock with a technological edge. You put the BoxLock on a container big enough to hold delivery boxes and connect the lock to the internet via Wi-Fi. Once you’ve set up the lock and the app (available for iOS and Android), a delivery person is supposed to use the lock’s built-in scanner to read your package label.

The BoxLock uses its internet connection to verify the package is out for delivery with one of the major shipping companies and that you are the intended recipient. If your package meets those requirements, the BoxLock will open, the delivery person puts your order in the container and re-locks the BoxLock. If not, the BoxLock won’t budge. Either way, you’ll receive a notification on your device.

Intel plans powerful 5G laptops for 2019 to take on Qualcomm’s always-connected PCs

Not to be outdone by Qualcomm on the always-connected PC front, Intel has revealed that it’s collaborating with leading PC manufacturers to bring its new 5G modem to laptops next year.

Not to be outdone by Qualcomm on the always-connected PC front, Intel has revealed that it’s collaborating with leading PC manufacturers to bring its new 5G modem to laptops next year.

The company is working with Dell, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft to realize 5G-connected notebooks powered by Intel’s XMM 8000 series modem, and the devices are expected to hit shelves in the second half of 2019.

Over at MWC (Mobile World Congress) which kicks off at the start of next week, Intel will be demonstrating a concept detachable 2-in-1 device which has an early version of a 5G modem running alongside one of the firm’s latest 8th-gen Core i5 processors.

And the company will be showing this convertible off – and more to the point the power of 5G – by livestreaming a video to the machine over a 5G network.

More broadly, Intel is pushing 5G’s performance chops in terms of delivering high-end online gaming experiences, as well as heavyweight video streaming, and indulging in the likes of untethered VR while on-the-move.

MMOGs, modems and autonomous automobiles

The company observed: “Imagine being able to continue participating in a multiplayer game as you ride in an autonomous vehicle on the way to class. Radically different.”

Intel will also be showing off the latest steps it has taken with eSIM technology at MWC, and the firm notes that as of last September, all of its modems support eSIM in the consumer and enterprise worlds.

And on the Wi-Fi front, the company is set to showcase an ultra-thin PC which boasts 802.11ax connectivity, the next big step forward for Wi-Fi. Taking the baton from 802.11ac, the incoming ax standard not only promises faster Wi-Fi speeds, but improved performance in crowded environments where there are lots of competing wireless signals (i.e. apartment blocks).

The overall vision is a world in which you can seamlessly hop from high quality Wi-Fi to powerful cellular connections, getting speedy connectivity wherever you may be.

We’ve picked out the best laptops of 2018

The Christ Hospital Health Network Deploys 7SIGNAL to Improve Wi-Fi Experiences for Patients, Guests, and Staff

CLEVELAND, Feb. 22, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — 7SIGNAL, The Wi-Fi Performance Company, is pleased to announce that The Christ Hospital Health Network has completed the first phase of its deployment of 7SIGNAL’s Wi-Fi performance management system for enhancing Wi-Fi experiences across its network.

CLEVELAND, Feb. 22, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — 7SIGNAL, The Wi-Fi Performance Company, is pleased to announce that The Christ Hospital Health Network has completed the first phase of its deployment of 7SIGNAL’s Wi-Fi performance management system for enhancing Wi-Fi experiences across its network. The solution includes a system of software and client devices that continually monitor and measure Wi-Fi experiences for patients, doctors, nurses, clinicians, and guests. Wi-Fi performance data is crowdsourced from hundreds of mobile devices and 7SIGNAL analytics tell IT staff where Wi-Fi experiences need additional care and attention.

The Christ Hospital Health Network The Christ Hospital Health Network

Recognized as one of the top 50 hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report for the past 17 years, The Christ Hospital Network’s purchase of 7SIGNAL aligns with the second pillar of the hospital’s vision of being a national leader in clinical excellence, patient experience, and affordable care.

“The patient experience depends on doctors, nurses, and clinicians having reliable Wi-Fi for fast access to important systems required for delivering exceptional care,” stated Tom Barrett, CEO for 7SIGNAL. “It’s wonderful to see Christ Hospital incorporate our system of Wi-Fi telemetry for hospitals and healthcare.”

According to James Vajda, Senior Wi-Fi Engineer for The Christ Hospital Health Network and Certified Wireless Network Expert, the most important wireless enabled application is Voice over Wi-Fi. “We have about 1,000 Cisco 7925 phones and their performance can be sensitive to any RF disruptions. We use those for critical business processes in the hospital. We also have workstations on wheels (WOWs) that we run Citrix clients on, where the EMR application is served. Those are constantly moving up and down the halls and need good wireless performance also.”

Christ Hospital deployed 7SIGNAL’s Mobile Eye™ software for its WOWs to capture Wi-Fi experiences on mobile devices.

“Mobile Eye has been great. One of the challenges I’ve had is a lack of standardization in the adapters and drivers that were installed in the WOWs. So we might get reports that the Wi-Fi is poor in this corner of this wing, and we’d go and everything is fine,” Vajda explained. “The actual problem was that the WOW had an old adapter with bad drivers. You know the blame always goes to the infrastructure, so having Mobile Eye really helped make the case that we need to standardize. It shows that some of the adapters we are using are roaming poorly and that’s affecting the business. And that was the ammunition we needed to say ok, let’s upgrade the hardware with the stuff the 7SIGNAL data says works a lot better.”

In addition, the hospital deployed 7SIGNAL’s high-performance clients, called Sapphire Eyes™ in the Emergency Department, and other clinical areas where wireless problems seemed to be the most elusive. Sapphire Eyes monitor Wi-Fi experiences 24 hours a day, seven days a week and automatically report issues relating to connecting, authenticating, voice quality, throughput speed, and interference in the air.

Phase two of the project will include Sapphire Eye coverage in both main hospitals, as well as enterprise-wide Mobile Eye deployment.

About 7SIGNAL

7SIGNAL provides a cloud-based Wi-Fi performance management system that continually monitors Wi-Fi network performance from the end user’s point of view 24 hours a day, seven days a week for global organizations such as AstraZeneca, The Gap, Steelcase, and Booz Allen Hamilton. Any organization with mission-critical Wi-Fi that wonders if their issues are wired, wireless or device related will benefit from 7SIGNAL. Catch issues in real-time with proactive notifications telling you where Wi-Fi experiences are bad and why. The system enables businesses to significantly reduce troubleshooting time, improve Wi-Fi baseline performance without adding access points, and lower the total cost of ownership of maintaining reliable, high performance wireless LANs.

Media contact:
Eric Camulli
190764@email4pr.com
330-777-2900

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SOURCE 7SIGNAL

iD Mobile is first UK MVNO to offer VoWi-Fi

iD Mobile has become the first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the UK to offer its customers Voice over Wi-Fi calling (VoWi-Fi).

VoWi-Fi works over a normal home wireless network and will help those in areas with poor 3G and 4G coverage, especially indoors.

iD Mobile has become the first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the UK to offer its customers Voice over Wi-Fi calling (VoWi-Fi).

VoWi-Fi works over a normal home wireless network and will help those in areas with poor 3G and 4G coverage, especially indoors.

More than 100,000 iD customers with compatible handsets can take advantage of the service immediately. These include the iPhone 5S, SE, 6, 6S, 7, 8 and X, as well as their ‘Plus’ variants, and more are expected to come online later this year.

iD Mobile also offers a range of SIM only deals.

iD Mobile VoWi-Fi

“We’re continually looking at ways in which we can improve our customers’ experience and Wi-Fi Calling is the latest development,” said Paul Walsh, head of operations at iD Mobile. “No network has 100% coverage and most of us have experienced a time where we’ve failed to get signal, whether that be a basement coffee shop or a room or two at home – this is where Wi-Fi Calling saves the day.”

A number of other operators, including Three and EE, offer Voice over Wi-Fi.

iD Mobile was launched in 2015 and uses Three’s network to deliver its services. It has developed a reputation for value and flexibility and claims to be the only network to offer data rollover, cap bills and EU roaming.

It is however required by European law to let customers use their allowance in EU nations at no extra cost.

Check out our list of the best mobile deals for February 2018

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 on Windows: what the world’s laptop experts think

First revealed back in December 2017, Qualcomm has a master plan to take over the mobile computing world: bring its Snapdragon smartphone processors to laptops and tablets to make computers work more like phones – starting with the Snapdragon 835.

First revealed back in December 2017, Qualcomm has a master plan to take over the mobile computing world: bring its Snapdragon smartphone processors to laptops and tablets to make computers work more like phones – starting with the Snapdragon 835.

Concocted in tandem with Microsoft and its Windows 10 S operating system, these laptops and tablets – of which there are three so far: the Asus NovaGo, HP Envy x2 and Lenovo Miix 630 – use the unique power management capabilities and built-in LTE connectivity of Snapdragon processors to create truly always-on and always-connected Windows 10 computers.

Let’s just say that this major move by Qualcomm has the laptop world talking, and we’ve asked all the major manufacturers what they think.

If you ask those who have bought into Qualcomm’s mission, i.e. the aforementioned device makers, that’s exactly what these chips do. Of course, those who have yet to dive in either have serious doubts or have their toes in the water, so to speak.

“The industry has tried – and given up – a couple times on always on, always connected PCs,” Acer senior product marketing and brand manager Eric Ackerson says. “I think, with products like our Swift 7, we’re trying it again and we’re going to see what happens.”

However, the most recent Acer Swift 7 is not a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 laptop, but rather one with a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and Intel LTE cellular modem inside – it claims up to 10 hours of battery life compared to Qualcomm’s offering of 20.

“We don’t have a solution with the Snapdragon 835,” Ackerson says, “[but] that’s not to say that we won’t. We are evaluating, and we’ll see what happens. I think, personally, it’s a very interesting idea.”

Acer clearly wants to see whether it can go toe-to-toe with these Qualcomm laptops with a more tried-and-true offering before taking the plunge. Meanwhile, Lenovo is wasting no time picking up what Qualcomm is putting out.

“I don’t worry about logging on to whatever Wi-Fi – LTE is an amazing [and] transformational experience.”

HP’s Mike Nash

“When we first conceived the Lenovo Miix 630,” Lenovo VP of global consumer marketing Matt Bereda says, “we really wanted to create a computing tool for the mobile user – a segment of the market that has constant connectivity through their smartphones, but needs much more computing power when they’re on the go. It’s with this in mind that we designed the Lenovo Miix 630 to emulate the convenient connectivity of smartphones, while retaining the productivity of a laptop with a full-sized keyboard.”

It’s clear that Lenovo believes Snapdragon is the way forward to this type of computing experience, and so does Asus.

“That Qualcomm SOC has really proven that it can handle a really wide variety of things, and we’re able to do a lot [with it on the] Android platform,” Philip Tamaki, product marketing manager for Asus, says. “Of course, at the same time Asus has always kind of led the way with our Windows PC products.”

There’s a clear thread here between the creators of the these first three Snapdragon laptops and existing relationships with Qualcomm through their phone businesses. Both Asus and Lenovo (and Motorola) have been releasing Android phones with Qualcomm’s chips inside for years, while HP has recently got into the game with phones like the Elite x3.

However, in HP’s case, it clearly feels more comfortable testing out the Snapdragon chipset within an existing product before dedicating significant design resources to the cause, repurposing its latest Envy x2 Windows tablet. (In fact, HP even has an Envy x2 model with an Intel processor inside.)

“What I love is [that] we keep the full travel keyboard [and] great touchpad,” HP VP of customer experience and portfolio strategy Mike Nash says. “[The Envy x2 has] got a phenomenal experience whether you’re using the thing in a laptop – or attached – mode or detached in a tablet mode.”

“We’re really interested to see how customers respond to the LTE support that’s built in as a standard on this product as well [as that], right now, basically all of the major carriers in the US [and] around the world,” Nash adds. “It’s kind of an amazing experience [to] just know that, when I’m in the office, I use Wi-Fi, [but] when I’m on the plane about to take off or in some other public place, I don’t worry about logging on to whatever Wi-Fi – LTE is an amazing [and] transformational experience.”

HP’s Envy x2 running on Snapdragon.

Snapdragon still faces a rather large fence

That said, not every laptop maker is necessarily gushing about this new wave of mobile Windows 10 machines. Some companies, like LG and Dell in particular, seem to have their feet firmly planted on the other side of the fence.

“LG currently has no plans to include Snapdragon in its lineup of premium ultra-light LG gram laptops,” Hyukki ‘HK’ Kim, director of IT and product management for LG, tells us. “When comparing our LG gram lineup with the Intel processor to other previously launched devices, we did not find any with longer battery life,” Kim adds, referring to the 13-inch LG gram laptop’s claim to 22 hours of battery life on a charge.

“We’re definitely looking at Windows on Snapdragon again to potentially target a more value consumer.”

Samsung’s Shoneel Kolhatkar

Meanwhile, Dell seems to think that it’s achieved Qualcomm’s vision of ‘always-on, always-connected’ mobile PCs just fine on its own (and with Intel).

“It’s important to find the right balance of performance and battery life, which we believe is the case with our current portfolio of consumer and commercial PCs,” Jay Parker, Dell’s president of its Client Product Group, says. “Combine that with LTE connectivity, which we offer today on many products, and that constitutes ‘always on’ in the customer’s mind.”

Samsung, one of Qualcomm’s biggest partners and customers worldwide through its Galaxy phone business, is surprisingly hesitant integrate Snapdragon into its laptops. But, the firm’s restraint to fully buy into Qualcomm’s vision seems to have more to do with Microsoft’s baggage regarding Windows on ARM-based processors than anything.

“We want to make sure that it is perfect,” Samsung senior director of mobile computing product marketing Shoneel Kolhatkar says. “There are some historical elements of Windows RT etcetera, but we’ve seen some good signs with the new Windows [10 S] on Snapdragon.”

“We feel that the Notebook 9 Pen, Notebook 9 and Notebook 7 Spin meets the needs of the consumer,” Kolhatkar adds, “especially the Notebook 9 which has a 75 watt-hour battery that’s getting about 20 hours. We believe that a consumer has a choice today and we’re definitely looking at Windows on Snapdragon again to potentially target a more value consumer.”

Lenovo’s Miix 630 running on Snapdragon.

Will Snapdragon’s ripples turn into waves?

While it’s still early days for Snapdragon-based Windows laptops and tablets, one can’t help but wonder what effect these devices will have on the laptop scene at large. For the longest time, almost every Windows laptop and tablet runs on an Intel chip, save for the odd AMD option.

Will that paradigm be truly shifted, thanks to Qualcomm?

“[Snapdragon is] not going to be a kind of revolution to the industry – more [like] a progression,” Asus’s Tamaki says. “People have phones all the time, and they’re used to being always connected on the phone, but a lot of times people simply demand [to be] connected on something that has a bit more screen real estate and for more professional or purpose-built use cases.”

“I think it’s great to have choice, but at the same time it can be overwhelming for end-users that maybe aren’t as in tune to the space or the individual technologies … right?”

Acer’s Eric Ackerson

In particular, Tamaki sees this breed of laptops and tablets being particularly popular with professionals like journalists and real-estate agents – people whose careers see them constantly on the move. On the other hand, Lenovo sees a wider impact in the tea leaves, but Snapdragon’s success in the PC world rides quite heavily on distribution and carrier data plan pricing.

“We’re seeing a growing desire from consumers for computing devices that are powerful, portable and truly mobile,” Lenovo’s Bereda tells us. “The Lenovo Miix 630 is a compelling offering that checks all the boxes, but carrier support for distribution and compelling data plans will play a big part of the category’s success.”

Of course, despite that, we’re told that Lenovo is confident in a ‘bright future’ for the ‘always-connected’ PC and that it’s working hard on the network operator piece of the puzzle.

If you ask Samsung, the baggage of two previously failed attempts at Windows on ARM could weigh heavily upon the masses, but an even bigger factor will be whether power management or performance are considerably compromised in the endeavor.

“Let’s see the reactions to the initial [products],” Samsung’s Kolhatkar says. “Is there any baggage that consumers have in terms of perception? More importantly, it has to be [that] the performance, the power and [the] portability have to balance each other. There has to be absolutely no compromise.”

In this case, HP is simply following what it believes in ‘based on insights from customers,’ we’re told, that folks certainly want power and the flexibility of a 360 design from their laptops and tablets. But, as HP’s consumer insight data tells it, there’s an increasing amount of people that are doing more on their computers on the go than ever before, hence the draw of the LTE-equipped, always-connected PC.

To Acer, it all comes down to brand positioning and messaging, which at this point requires quite a few parties – Qualcomm, Microsoft, the device makers and the carriers – to all work together.

“I think it’s great to have choice, but at the same time it can be overwhelming for end-users that maybe aren’t as in tune to the space or the individual technologies as you and I might be, right?” Acer’s Ackerson asks. “On the upper end of the performance and price spectrum, those are a little more knowledgeable users. They’ll do some research, they’ll read reviews that you’re going to write and they’ll use that information to guide them.”

While there’s plenty to be excited about regarding Qualcomm’s move into the PC world – laptops that last more than 20 hours?! – whether Snapdragon inside mobile Windows PCs will be the norm this time next year depends on several factors. Of course, the most important of which is how well these devices deliver on the promises of ‘always-on’ and ‘always-connected.’

These are the best laptops the world over

BlackBerry and Nokia still struggling to make a comeback – CNET

Last February, the once-great Nokia and BlackBerry brands each hoped to stage a triumphant return at the world’s largest phone show.

A year on, we’re still waiting for a knockout device that will put either one back in the international spotlight in a meaningful way.

Last February, the once-great Nokia and BlackBerry brands each hoped to stage a triumphant return at the world’s largest phone show.

A year on, we’re still waiting for a knockout device that will put either one back in the international spotlight in a meaningful way. Despite the brands launching 8 Android phones between them in the past year, it’s clear neither one has turned the tide.

Neither company can expect to return to their pre-2010 heights, before the phone world accelerated its path to its current iPhone/Android duopoly. But if their respective comebacks fall flat, it means fewer choices for consumers in an era increasingly dominated by Apple and Samsung handsets.

Fewer than 6 million Nokia phones shipped in the past year, IHS Markit analyst Wayne Lam told CNET. BlackBerry could have shipped as many as 170,000 units in the fourth quarter, according to Neil Shah, an analyst at Counterpoint Research. In contrast, Apple sold 77.3 million iPhonesin a single quarter.


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See BlackBerry’s latest all-screen phone

BlackBerry declined to share sales figures and HMD Global, which licenses Nokia’s name, didn’t respond to multiple requests to comment on this story.

Low sales figures are to be expected for these revivalists, even a year in. Comebacks in the phone world don’t happen overnight; they occur over years of steady investment and marketing work.

“[With] Nokia and Blackberry, there’s an expectation that they will take the world by storm in just a few months and dominate the market once again,” said Francois Maheiu, BlackBerry’s chief commercial officer. “The world knows there are two mega players right now, Apple and Samsung… it takes time.”

Both BlackBerry and Nokia phones are expected to update in the coming months, hoping to kick up momentum once again. The Nokia brand has its announcement this week at Mobile World Congress 2018 and BlackBerry is expected to unveil its next phone later in March, according to analysts.

The hopefuls will need much more than a flashy presentation or booth space to wrest attention from the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, which Samsung will unveil on February 25. For BlackBerry and Nokia devices to stand a chance against the Samsung leviathan, they’ll need to show top-tier phones with hardware and software good enough to compete.

Nokia hopes a meh 2017 leads to an ‘awesome’ breakout in 2018

A year ago, it looked like Nokia phones would fulfill their fans’ biggest wish: to run on Android software. But even six releases in, the handsets aren’t doing much other than laying a stable budget base. After years of smartphone hot potato, they have a lot of catching up to do.

The original Nokia phones first switched hands to Microsoft, which bought the rights in 2013, and replaced Nokia’s proprietary software (primarily Symbian with a dash of MeeGo) with Windows OS. Three years later, Microsoft bumped its license to a new company, HMD Global, which uses Android.

With so many Android phones available, Nokia phones today rely on hardware and competitive pricing to stand out. However, HMD Global’s 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and higher-end Nokia 8, failed to generate as much buzz as the 3310, a revamped flip phone that doesn’t even have Wi-Fi, apps or a touchscreen.

On the flip phone side, Nokia “may be in for a slight revival especially on the backs of the new 4G feature phone trend that is sweeping global markets such as India and other cost sensitive global markets,” said Lam.

We’re not exactly sure what HMD Global has planned for Nokia in 2018, apart from something “awesome,” according to a tweet from Juho Sarvikas, the product lead of HMD Global, which operates out of Nokia’s spiritual homeland of Finland. But the fact that HMD Global is hosting a press event, when few brands want to compete with Samsung, shows a commitment to further build the Nokia name in 2018.

Most buyers throughout the world pick new phones through their carrier. Nokia could differentiate its hardware by offering a feature other phonemakers don’t, perhaps a return to the 41-megapixel “Pureview” camera from 2012.

But its best chance of success is to get on as many global carriers as possible.

“The big question for HMD/Nokia is whether their success can continue without moving into the US, which is a tough market and one where the Nokia brand will not help much,” said Carlonia Milanesi, an alayst with Creative Strategies. “Nokia will not be able substantially to grow further without gaining share in China and the US.”

BlackBerry: Staying alive, but only just

Where Nokia phones spread out over the entry-level and midrange, the new BlackBerry wanted to punch in with a single high-end device, the KeyOne.

Licensed by China’s TCL Communication, which also markets Alcatel phones, the KeyOne returned to the legacy brand’s core characteristics of a physical keyboard and enhanced security that caters to corporate IT policies.

Late in the year, the keyboard-equipped KeyOne was joined by the all-screen BlackBerry Motion. And in January, the company introduced a new KeyOne color and direct US sales for the BlackBerry Motion, which had previously only sold in Canada.

While we don’t expect to see new BlackBerry phones until after this month’s biggest mobile trade show, TCL’s investment indicates that it’s business as usual.

BlackBerry phones have more carrier visibility than Nokia handsets in the key US market, with a presence in AT&T and Sprint. Globally, Orange, Vodafone and Singtel are wins. That was all part of TCL’s two-pronged plan.

“Number one for us was to make BlackBerry available all over the world again,” BlackBerry’s Maheiu said, adding that the KeyOne is sold in more than 50 countries. The second approach is to court security-conscious businesses to offer BlackBerry phones as an option for employees, alongside Apple and Samsung devices.

“BlackBerry will be the third choice for the employee,” said Maheiu.

To this end, BlackBerry has seeded over 1,000 businesses with its phones for testing in-house, in the hopes that at the end of the trial, companies embrace the KeyOne and Motion. Over 30 percent of those corporations would bring the phones on board by the end of December 2017, the phonemaker said, and it expects that figure to rise to over 50 percent by end of March.

Not everyone agrees with the brand’s chances. “Sadly, I think they overestimated the size of the QWERTY market as well as how difficult it is to get into the enterprise market,” said analyst Milanesi.

While BlackBerry’s visibility is still a blip on the global map, its strategy to build through carriers and corporations could forge some humble inroads, so long as its phones can offer the same features as other top handsets for the same price or less.

Now Playing:Watch this: Nokia 3310 and BlackBerry KeyOne: CNET editors react
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BlackBerry could also gain momentum by jumping early on the foldable smartphone trend. We’ve already seen one device with the ZTE Axon M, and Samsung has vowed to release its first foldable phone in 2018.

“I think if BlackBerry are design savvy, they can add to the overall conversation around how these devices look and operate,” IHS Markit analyst Lam said.

It’s too soon to say if BlackBerry phones will move quickly on the foldable concept. Regardless, TCL shows a confident face.

“BlackBerry handsets are here to stay,” said Maheiu.

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