BlackBerry has announced it has awarded four European solutions providers with Platinum Partner status after they achieved the highest levels of service in its security and mobility programme. German solution providers ISEC7 and GFI Informationsdesign GmbH, plus Swiss company Novalink and Austrian provider GENOA networks’ IT-Beratungs GmbH were the first companies to receive the honour.
We are excited that ISEC7, GFI, GENOA and novalink achieved Platinum level in our Enterprise Partner Program by providing excellent consulting, professional services, and support and software lifecycle management opportunities for customers moving to mobile business, Richard McLeod, Vice President Global Channels at BlackBerry said. BlackBerry’s Enterprise Partner Program for solutions providers launched in May and required providers to demonstrate their commitment to delivering BlackBerry’s secure mobility solutions.
It is important for us to provide our customers with the best full-service for secure mobility management.
We are delighted to be the first authorised Platinum Solutions Provider for BlackBerry in Austria,” Elmar Jilka, CEO, GENOA networks IT-Beratungs GmbH said. “Through our close relationship with BlackBerry and this certification, we are able to proof and optimise our in-depth skills and expertise.
We stand for solutions on the highest level for the benefit of our customers.”
To become a Platinum Partner, service providers must build their competencies on a number of different disciplines and first become a BlackBerry Support Professional, BlackBerry System Integration Professional, BlackBerry Technical Sales Professional and BlackBerry Advanced Sales expert.
The Platinum Solutions Provider designation will give us a branding advantage in the market, while the new accreditations and competencies included in the BlackBerry Enterprise Partner Program will further improve our capabilities and help us stand out from the crowd, explained Marco Gocht, CEO, ISEC7 Group AG.
Show off your personality while giving your laptop some protection. The MacBook Air is so slight that you run the risk of throwing it out with the trash. And Apple might be planning to indeed dump it1. But just because Apple’s laptop is thin, light, and covered in goes-with-everything aluminum doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take some knocks in life. After all, it’s designed to travel, especially with the 13-inch model’s2 17.5 hours of battery life and the 11-inch model3 providing the utmost in computing portability.
How you decide to protect your MacBook Air depends on where you’re taking it. A case or a sleeve can offer plenty of protection if you’re constantly jamming your computer into overhead bins on airplanes, but they are also a convenient way to tote your laptop back and forth from writing sessions at the coffee shop. Whatever kind of case you choose, you probably want it to show off your personal style or personality while it’s doing its job. There’s also price point to consider since the range of MacBook Air cases and sleeves goes from less than the taxes you paid on the laptop to nearly the price of it4 once you hit the designer stratosphere.
We’ve put together some of our top choices in 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air cases and sleeves. There are no-nonsense hard cases, bright sleeves with an artistic bent, distinguished-looking leather pouches, cheerful bags, and some futuristic fun among them. So browse through the gallery and if you come across any great finds of your own in your shopping travels, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Google’s Office apps have finally – finally – embraced iOS 9’s split-view support, ending one of the most confusing feature hold-outs ever to plague Apple’s mobile platform. Split-screen multitasking was one of the most-anticipated aspects of iOS 9, addressing in one fell swoop criticisms that the platform was unsuitable to properly replace a laptop or Windows tablet that had plagued it since the first iPad. However, while Apple’s native apps for iPad were updated along with iOS 9 to support the feature, it was left up to individual developers to code support into their own software. That has taken Google longer than expected. In fact, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, the company’s word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation apps, were arguably the most obvious candidates for split-screen support, making the company’s tardiness to update them even more confusing.
Good things do apparently come to those who wait, though, and today updates pushed out to Docs, Sheets, and Slides bring with them, among other things, the oft-requested feature. It works just as you’d expect. Swiping in from the side of the screen while you’re using Google Docs pulls in a sidebar which can be used to view a second app; dragging that divide further across splits the screen into two. When holding the iPad in portrait orientation you have a single split option, 60/40, while in landscape you get a choice of two, both 70/30 and 50/50.
Unfortunately you can’t have two instances of the same app visible at the same time, though, which means there’s no way to see two Google Docs documents simultaneously and flick between them. NOW READ: Making the iPad Pro 9.7 work for work1
Still, even with that limit in place, this is a long-anticipated improvement. Rival word processing apps, like Microsoft’s Word and Apple’s own Pages, have ticked that box some time ago, but many people are heavily wedded to Google’s services and couldn’t justify – or stomach – switching platforms. You can find the new Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides versions in the App Store, where they’re free downloads.
In addition to split-view, the new Google Docs supports inserting images and page breaks; like Google Sheets and Slides, it also has a number of bugfixes.
Last year, MacRumorscovered1 the potential reasoning for Apple’s rumored return to having a single partner for Apple A-series chip production with the A10 after having both Samsung and TSMC produce versions of the Apple A9.
Since then, TSMC confirmed in conference call comments2 that its chip packaging changes have led to improvements of 20 percent in both speed and packaging thickness and 10 percent in thermal performance. This has a number of implications for future device performance and future foundry partner selection for Apple. First, it is helpful to understand why InFO-WLP (Integrated Fan-Out Wafer-Level Packing) is such an important development for Apple’s mobile processors. Typically, chips as large as CPUs or mobile SoCs have been attached via “flip-chip” methods which attach an array of inputs and outputs to a package substrate via solder bumps, ultimately enabling it to be attached to a printed circuit board (PCB) for device integration. From the start, this is a compromise, as it would be preferable to attach a silicon die directly to the PCB to minimize height and reduce the lengths of interconnects between components. A number of technical limits in areas such as interconnect pitch, board produceability, and damage due to board warpage typically prevent this direct attachment. The above problem had previously been circumvented for smaller I/O count components with a similar concept3 called Fan-In Wafer-Level Packing, where smaller dies are allowed to route their inputs and outputs in an area roughly the same area as the die. TSMC is just one of many companies beginning to enable this concept for larger I/O count devices in such a way that allows high volume, acceptable yields, and an acceptable cost.
Slide from 2014 TSMC presentation on InFO-WLP advancements
With this method, the traditional substrate becomes unnecessary, as a silicon wafer serves that purpose with one or more logic dies included. The reduced height of this method and a thinner redistribution layer (RDL) for remapping pins of the die to the PCB means that all interconnects are shorter, which directly enables lower power and better thermal performance. The transistors driving the outputs on this device now drive less metal length, meaning they can save power.
Saving power also means performing better thermally, but a more direct connection to the PCB means there is simply less thermal resistance to the PCB, which can pull heat away from the device.
The promised performance improvements are certainly significant. A 20 percent improvement in performance is roughly equivalent to the improvement expected between successive foundry nodes (e.g. the change from 14 nm to 10 nm). With both TSMC and Samsung only offering refined versions of their 16 nm and 14 nm FinFET processes, this means that total performance gains could be in line with the same improvement seen from the A8 to the A9 chip, but driven by packaging improvements rather than a new process. Of course, every generation can’t enjoy this same improvement, but increased power efficiency is critical for mobile devices to be allowed to hit higher peak limits for short durations. In the keynote for the iPhone 64 family of devices, Apple went into detail about how it made a significant effort to ensure the A8 processor did not throttle itself as the A7 had. This was and is an industry-wide problem as mobile SoC makers have raced to provide the highest performing chips. By taking advantage of new packaging from TSMC, Apple gets more relief in this metric, and freedom to go to a higher power dissipation mode for short periods.
Current mobile SoC packages use PoP (package-on-package) techniques which connect the memory dies to the main processor with tiny wires, which is thermally inefficient and not ideal for performance. By using wafer-level packaging, these drawbacks can be reduced for the main memory, while also increasing the number of connections and data that can be moved in a given time.
In the long run, this move will likely be a cost-saver for Apple as it removes the package substrate. However, the co-design of device die and device package explains why multiple partners are not technically feasible for an effort such as this. Companies like TSMC have also labored for years to make this a reality, with the benefits long being understood. At this point, there is no denying Apple’s technical acumen and bandwidth in chip design. The company has developed multiple chips for market in extremely aggressive timeframes with fully custom designs that rival those of Intel for performance per watt. Apple beat its competitors to market for a 64-bit ARM design by over a year, and designed two custom A9 dies in the time that its competitors designed one.
Given Apple’s focus on pushing the performance of its silicon, and TSMC’s packaging advancements, it makes sense that TSMC has been able to gain sole possession of Apple’s chip orders for at least this generation.
Looking forward, the InFO-WLP packaging technique marks a significant development not only for TSMC and Apple, but the semiconductor industry as a whole.
Love ’em or hate ’em, chromebooks1 derive their appeal from their simple focus on productivity and affordability. When you add a durable design, it’s easy to see why chromebooks have gained a foothold in classrooms and businesses alike. To that end, the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook (starts at $321.75; $704.25 as tested) combines high performance with the durable design of the ThinkPad series to deliver a no-frills experience. The model we tested is significantly more expensive than our current chromebook Editors’ Choice, the Acer Chromebook 142, and lacks extras you’ll find in other models, like convertibility and a touch screen, but it adds a bigger, higher-quality display and more processing firepower. Whether these additions warrant the heftier price tag, however, is up for debate.
Design and Features
Measuring 0.78 by 12.69 by 8.77 inches (HWD), the ThinkPad 13 Chromebook is slightly larger, but thinner than the Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Chromebook3 (0.87 by 11.9 by 8.5 inches). But aside from its larger screen (and smaller bezel), the ThinkPad 13 doesn’t veer far from the 11e in looks. The body is black plastic with a matte finish that feels smooth to the touch, but easily shows fingerprints after a few days of handling. With a Mil-Spec certified design, the chromebook is built to withstand the bumps and thumps of everyday commutes, as well as extreme environmental conditions such as temperature, pressure, dust, humidity, and vibration. At 3.1 pounds, the ThinkPad 13 is heavier than other rugged rivals like the Asus Chromebook C202SA-YS024 (2.64 pounds) and the Dell Chromebook 11 Non-Touch5 (2.7 pounds). Still, it’s easy to slip into your backpack and light enough that it doesn’t weigh down your average train ride or impede mobility.
The 13.3-inch In-Plane Switching (IPS) screen comes with antiglare coating, and its full HD (1,920-by-1,080p) resolution is a step up from the 1,366 by 768 most chromebooks opt for to keep costs down. In fact, among recent chromebooks, the ThinkPad 13’s screen size is bested only by that of the Acer Chromebook 14 (14 inches; its resolution is also 1,920 by 1,080). The higher resolution is definitely a strong point and not a bad investment considering its just an extra $50. It’s not necessary for basic productivity tasks, however, and if price is a concern, this is one area where you can reduce costs. The ThinkPad 13 doesn’t come with a touch screen and isn’t truly convertible, but like the Asus C202 has a hinge that opens up to 170 degrees so that it lays nearly flat. Presumably, this makes collaboration easier, and if this is an appealing feature, then the full HD IPS screen comes in handy as you don’t have to worry about limited viewing angles.
The chiclet-style keyboard is easy to type on and follows the standard chromebook layout, which replaces the top row of function keys with system controls, as well as the Caps Lock key with a Search key. The one-piece touchpad is also responsive and simple to use, and supports multitouch gestures. The speakers, located at the bottom of the chassis, are decent and can get loud enough for a medium-size room. At full volume, you’ll hear some distortion with extremely high or low pitches, but since you’re unlikely to use a chromebook for more than casual viewing, this isn’t really a major problem.
On the right side, the ThinkPad 13 has a Kensington lock slot, two USB-C ports, a SM© USB 3.0 port, and a headphone/microphone jack. The remaining SM© USB 3.0 port and a four-in-one card reader are located on the left. There’s also a 720p webcam in the top bezel. For connectivity, the ThinkPad 13 supports dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0. Rounding out the features is 32GB of flash memory. That might seem low compared with what you get on traditional laptops, but because Chrome OS relies heavily on cloud storage and Web-based applications, most chromebooks come with either 16GB or 32GB. The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook comes with a one-year warranty.
The ThinkPad 13 Chromebook runs on an Intel Core i5-6300U processor (with integrated Intel HD Graphics 520) and 8GB of memory. With this configuration, the ThinkPad 13 can smoothly stream YouTube videos and handle 15 tabs with no lag. Because chromebooks are intended for light browsing and productivity tasks, this extra processing power, while nice, is not completely necessary. As with the screen resolution, this is an area where, depending on your needs, you could opt for less-powerful components to reduce costs.
In our battery rundown test, the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook lasted 9 hours, 46 minutes. That’s enough to get you through a full day of classes or work, and is a decent but not spectacular result among chromebooks. It’s more than we saw with the Toshiba Chromebook 27 (5:35), the Lenovo ThinkPad 11e (7:35), and the Lenovo 100S (8:09), but well behind the times of the Acer Chromebook R 118 (10:30), Asus Chromebook Flip9 (11: 15), Acer Chromebook 14 (11:50), Asus Chromebook C202SA-YS02 (12:05), and the CTL J5 Chromebook10 (12:21).
As far as chromebooks go, the Lenovo ThinkPad 13 is a solid performer on every level, but it simply costs too much for a Chrome-based laptop. That’s a big problem considering that affordability is one of the main reasons to buy a chromebook. (Not to mention that, for $700, you can definitely find a good midrange Windows 1011 laptop like the Lenovo ThinkPad 1312 or the Acer Aspire R 1413.) While the base configuration price is more reasonable, there are many less expensive alternatives that perform well. For instance, our Editors’ Choice pick, the Acer Chromebook 14, packs in a larger full HD screen, speedy performance, a metal body, and almost 12 hours of battery life and costs less than $300. So if you want some extra processing power and price isn’t a major consideration, the ThinkPad 13 may be the chromebook for you. Otherwise, you’re better served looking elsewhere.
- ^ chromebooks (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ Acer Chromebook 14 (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Chromebook (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ Asus Chromebook C202SA-YS02 (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ Dell Chromebook 11 Non-Touch (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ See How We Test Laptops (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ Toshiba Chromebook 2 (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ Acer Chromebook R 11 (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ Asus Chromebook Flip (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ CTL J5 Chromebook (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ Windows 10 (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ Lenovo ThinkPad 13 (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ Acer Aspire R 14 (uk.pcmag.com)