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Seven ways to make real-time technology real for your organization

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Everyone wants or needs to build and manage real-time systems these days. With the move to the edge, and growing reliance on artificial intelligence and machine learning, the power and potential of real-time computing has come to the fore. This calls for greater observability, enhanced leveraging of data, and perhaps most importantly, a well-prepared organization. Is everybody ready for this?

lights-corridor-cropped-national-gallery-of-art-washington-dc-photo-by-joe-mckendrick.jpg
Photo: Joe McKendrick

First, there’s a need to understand what real-time is — definitions and perceptions of what constitutes real time have been all over the map. “The notion of what real-time means varies depending on who you’re talking to and the specific domain,” says Joseph George, VP of product management with BMC Software. “While real-time in mission-critical environments requires data to be processed within milliseconds or even microseconds, real-time in the context of digital transformation and meeting customer expectations to deliver online services and information may have different requirements.”  

Its applications are broad. “Any application requiring instant changes to features based on external factors like user behavior, security or bugs could require real-time capabilities,” says Nick Rendall, product marketing manager of CloudBees. “For example, in a SaaS application where users are able to trial and purchase new features instantly — provisioning. Or in more advanced organizations, if a bug or security breach is detected, the ability to shut off the feature in question in real-time without redeploying becomes very important and is part of a modern DevSecOps program. These examples would be equally relevant to B2B or B2C applications.”   

Real-time technology also plays a role in enterprise applications such as logistics, shipping, inventory or products. “During the pandemic, tracking shipments from international sources became more complicated,” says J. Todd Jennings, CEO of Nexterus Technologies.  “Applications with real-time technology should be very sensitive regarding shipments that need to be coordinated with the launch of sales and marketing efforts.”

Real-time technologies may see applications as the Internet of Things proliferates, “With the advancement of IoT, customers not only can track their shipments, they can request specific information about the conditions the shipment experiences,” says Jennings. “For example, the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures. Real-time logistics technology allows the temperature of the shipment to be measured and tracked throughout its entire journey. The customer can monitor the progress to ensure quality control. Shipping devices can also track whether a container has been opened or fallen over during shipment. All that information, with the use of IoT, can now be tracked.”

The customer experience is also being shaped by real-time technologies. “Customers increasingly expect a transcendent customer experience that gives them what they need, when and where they want it, tailored to their preferences,” says George. “Companies need to be able to deliver information to customers as close to real-time as possible and most importantly meet customer expectations. Clearly, customer expectations have changed.”    

What does it take to build a sustainable real-time enterprise? Industry experts provide the following words of advice:

Build for the enterprise. Commitment to developing and supporting the technology on an enterprise scale is another requirement. Many companies “have not updated their development and release practices to match the changes and insights provided to them by these new technologies,” says Rendall. “And many development teams do not have the bandwidth to experiment with new features at the level they would like to.” 

Focus on observability. There’s a need to understand what’s going on beneath the surface as machines make the hard decisions. With the rising emphasis on real time, observability has become a key term in the IT space. “With increased complexity and volume of data, enterprises must shift from a monitoring mindset to observability and actionability in order to provide more real-time insights and support autonomous digital enterprises,” says George.  “Monitoring was all about alerting based on metrics data which notifies you of what the problem is. Getting from the ‘what’ to meaningful and actionable insights involves IT  operations responding to the status of an alert, analyzing issues, accessing multiple systems to confirm compliance and service-level objectives, and creating and invoking remediation actions.”

Observability is a broad enterprise challenge, as it “involves collecting a wide-range of data including metrics, events, logs, and topology to provide the ‘why’ when something goes wrong,” George says. “Actionability goes one step further to look at how you can respond to a failure beyond what failed and why it failed. It looks at what you can do about it in the moment to remediate it or, using advanced insights, get ahead of it and take preemptive action to prevent it.”

Focus on processes. “The tools need to be in place to enable real-time changes and tracking,” says Rendall. “This means mature, automated release processes and analytics that let you create, release, measure and react to data provided by real-time changes as quickly as possible. And you need to be able to do it in a way that the feedback loop is strong and consistent across customers and teams. This starts with taking a holistic approach to CI, CD, feature flags and the common analytics engine used to measure across all of these processes.”  

Look to artificial intelligence and automation. AIOps and artificially intelligent service management (AISM) strategies can play a role here. “The ability to discover, monitor, service, remediate, and optimize the IT landscape enables customers to fully capitalize on data across the enterprise and make informed decisions based on real-time insights,” George says. For example, “applications where real-time is required in mission-critical environments are those that need to consume and analyze data and make life-impacting decisions without delay. Take autonomous vehicles for example, where it takes a matter of milliseconds to process data from sensors before a vehicle has to take action. Any network delays can lead to undesired consequences, so data processing and decision-making is increasingly happening at the edge.”

Take a team approach. “This is partially a cultural shift, but also one that would occur when looking at resourcing and what developers are working,” says Rendall. “The entire development organization cannot be on standby to react to real-time insights, but teams should be.” This will vary team by team, “A marketing or product team performing a real-time experiment is completely different from a sales or customer success manager wanting to provision or sunset functionality in one of their accounts, yet both require real-time capabilities,” Rendall says. “Establishing a baseline across teams for what is real-time in the organization, how it can help in their role, and what the limitations or considerations of their capabilities is key. For example, a marketing team wanting to experiment will pull resources away from a development team in certain situations, and so that SLA would need to be established upfront.”

Start at the end, and work backwards. “What attributes are most important to the customer?” Jennings advises asking. “From there we can identify data points, identify the workflow steps, visualize the process, and track the project. Using data collected from every step of that process we can build a dashboard to monitor the steps. By having the map and defining the workflow and data, we can extrapolate that out into other capabilities.”  

Pay attention to your data. It’s important “to have a full understanding of your organization’s data and its current capabilities to visualize, secure and harness it to inform actionable insights,” says George. “Based on this, organizations must assess where they are in relation to their business goals and objectives and map a course that will guide all facets of the business both internally and externally. When assessing where they are on this journey, it is vital to identify which systems and datasets are the most critical for what they seek to achieve, as these are the systems that must be optimized and automated.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/seven-ways-to-make-real-time-technology-real-for-your-organization/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

ZDNET

Using the Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month: A great Swiss knife that could be sharper

Published

on

20210614-060515.jpg
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

There is a certain art to making great notebooks. They have generally been outshone by smartphones in recent years, but they still have a longer history of craftsmanship, often have longer life cycles, and have separate, dedicated fan bases all their own. And after years of slow demand, notebooks are starting to see a revival thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid this climate, Samsung, known more for its smartphones than laptops, has launched a refresh of its notebook series, the Galaxy Book Pro and the 2-in-1 Galaxy Book Pro 360.

Having used the 15.6-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month, I feel it is by far Samsung’s best notebook. With the Pro 360, the South Korean tech giant has succeeded in imprinting its own look for laptops when it comes to design, taking cues from its latest smartphones and tablets. 

The laptop is also incredibly light and compact. The integration of its own apps, along with the AMOLED screen and S Pen support, are done well to give the notebook Samsung’s own flavour. All of this is offered at a starting price of $1,300.

That being said, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is far from perfect. It has shortcomings, with some feeling minor while others definitely needing improvement for any future editions of the notebook series.

PORTABILITY AND DESIGN

Portability is hands down the best thing about the Pro 360. The 15.6-inch model weighs 1.4 kilograms, but it always felt lighter when it came to actual day-to-day use. The overall design of the notebook really accentuated this feeling and made the device feel more compact than it actually is. The Pro 360 always felt light, sturdy, slid in my bags smoothly, and was never once a burden to carry around. The laptop sat comfortably on almost any surface I placed it on, whether it was on a restaurant stand or a table at home crowded with other devices.

The overall aesthetic of Pro 360 is great too. A lot of its looks are carried over from the latest Galaxy S smartphones, especially for its edges. The haze finish of the Pro 360 also matches that of its latest phones and makes the notebook look premium without being gaudy. The hinge is also relatively sturdy when taking into account the device’s thinness and weight.

As a long time user of the LG Gram 16 series and having dabbled in using Lenovo and HP laptops in the past with similar or even smaller screens, in terms of portability alone, I feel Samsung has matched them or done even better.

On the flip side, I do think Samsung put portability as its utmost priority when designing the Pro 360 and, in doing so, some of the notebook’s features elsewhere have been affected.

KEYBOARD AND TOUCHPAD

The keyboard and touchpad are great and some of the best from Samsung. The touchpad under the keyboard is larger than usual and so are the adjacent spaces where your palm sits. I didn’t like this at first but, over a month, I felt less joint pains in my wrist and fingers. By comparison, I do think it is a better option than other notebooks that offer little space under the keyboard, which forces you to type with your hands held in the air for a long time.

The keyboard also comes with a fingerprint button on the far top right which also acts as an on and off button. The enter and shift keys are narrow, but the overall experience is great and the keys are large and register well. However, the keyboard does lack the typing satisfaction of an analog or a gaming keyboard due to how thin the keys are. This is likely a compromise to make the device thinner and lighter but it wouldn’t hurt to improve on this for later iterations.

HARDWARE AND BATTERY

In terms of CPU and RAM, my review unit for the Pro 360 was the most decked out version, packing an Intel Core i7-1165G7 and 16GB. Practically, there wasn’t a time when I felt the notebook was slow. The Pro 360 also turned on and off extremely fast and the booting time was one of the best I’ve seen.

Battery on the Pro 360 is also solid. A session per charge on average lasted between eight to 10 hours, even when some of the settings were put on maximum. 

For ports, Pro 360 offers one Thunderbolt 4 port, two USB-C connectors, a headphone socket, and microSD slot.

Due to the portability of the laptop, this did result in the laptop overheating at times. When this occurred, it was very noticeable as the Pro 360 would heave loudly. Fan and cooling systems on PCs usually work best when they have space to breathe, so I think the noticeable overheating wasn’t caused by the fan design but by how thin the device is.

Surprisingly, audio is the best I’ve experienced out of a Samsung device. The sound is clear, well-tuned, and has great bass, which seems like a jump from those in the company’s past smartphones.

AMOLED SCREEN

The AMOLED touch screen is gorgeous to look at and generally great to use. The colours are crisp, and the contrast ratio combined with a 16:9 screen ratio really shined when I watched movies.

That being said, the screen is generally dim, even when the brightness setting is set to maximum. This became a problem in outdoor and bright environments where there was sunlight. Even within indoor environments, I wish the screen was generally brighter, which would have been a huge plus to show off the screen’s other strengths.

The FHD resolution (1920 x 1080) resolution of the screen isn’t bad, but coupled with the 16:9 ratio and the very thick black empty space at the bottom of the screen, it did give an uneven screen experience depending on what I was doing. Occasionally, for data and graphic-intensive tasks, the screen looked almost pixelated, while normal web browsing sometimes felt a little cramped while using the Pro 360 in notebook mode due to the 16:9 ratio, though I did get used to it quickly. Even a slight change to 16:10 ratio, I feel, would have provided a greater sense of openness.

The screen can handle casual games, but the latest Triple A games, such as Resident Evil Village or Doom Eternal, are really a no-go, though I do think Samsung never intended for the Pro 360 to handle them. For future iterations of the Pro series, Samsung should definitely offer spec options for a 2K or QHD resolution screen, or even offer a Pro Ultra model for those who are willing to pay extra for the best hardware. After all, while the Pro 360 isn’t a gaming notebook per se, it is a “Pro” model, which invites expectations of providing the best of the best.

Using the AMOLED screen as a vertically held tablet offered the best experience. The problems I mentioned before, such as visibility, were not there anymore as the device was held closer to my eyes. There was also just a general satisfaction offered by the large, gorgeous screen when using it like a traditional canvas or paper.

Overall, while the AMOLED screen is great, it doesn’t match Samsung’s own high standards set by its counterparts in the smartphone and tablet space, especially in brightness. The low brightness could have been for cost reasons or battery concerns, but I think it has more to do with fear of image retention, also known as burn-in, which larger OLED screens are more susceptible to due to having more icons on screen.

S PEN EXPERIENCE

The S Pen, which is included with the laptop, really brought out the best in this 2-in-1 notebook. In terms of size and weight, it really resembles a real pen and is very convenient to use. The screen’s response time to the pen does seem just a tad slower than that of the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the more recent Note series phones however, but the overall precision of the S Pen did feel close to scribbling on real paper. The larger screen on the notebook, which can be folded all the way back, also invites more use of the S Pen when it is used as a tablet or in calendar mode.

The S Pen can also be attached to the magnet underneath the front covering over the screen. This kind of magnet is placed in every laptop so that they can be folded shut properly, so I am unsure whether it was Samsung’s intention to have the stylus be attached this way or it was just a happy accident. 

The S Pen can be attached to where the magnet is while you are using the Pro 360 for something else, which can be convenient at times. But the magnetism isn’t strong enough for you to just thoughtlessly stick the pen on the cover and carry around the notebook willy-nilly, so you will need to put the pen in a separate compartment in bags or your jacket pocket when on the move. When using the device, I did wish there was a dedicated port for the pen in the vein of the Galaxy Note smartphones so that this wouldn’t be a worry.

spen-laptop.png
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

SAMSUNG APPS

It’s great that tried-and-true Samsung apps are now included in Samsung’s notebook line, especially if you already have a bunch of the company’s devices and need a Windows notebook. As a long time user of the Galaxy Note series, it was great to have apps like Samsung Notes offered on a bigger screen.

But the important question here is: Does the Pro 360, with its inclusion of Samsung apps and what the company calls the expansion of its ecosystem, succeed in offering something more than your usual PC experience to draw in others besides Samsung fans?

Samsung obviously wants its ecosystem to come together with Microsoft’s, and apps like Links to Windows and Your Phone are there for that. The Pro 360 succeeds in bringing them together, yes, but I didn’t feel that their convergence brought more to the table than what each company already offers on their own. In other words, the whole didn’t seem greater than the sum of its parts.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I’ve loved using the Pro 360. It is a great multi-tasker and, if anything, it shows that Samsung is excellent at designing great hardware for mobile devices. Notebooks have not been Samsung’s strong suit, but, with the Pro 360, the company has really stepped up its game and succeeds in integrating its expertise from smartphones to the laptop space.

The best time I had with the Pro 360 was for Zoom calls, which included a three-hour Bat Mitzvah for a friend’s daughter. The Pro 360’s strengths, like its portability, AMOLED screen, hardware, and audio really came together for video calls. If you are looking for a general-purpose notebook above the cut for entertainment, work, and for some light creative work, that is offered at a compelling price, the Pro 360 is a great option for you. But if you are looking for the ultimate experience in a notebook, the Pro 360 doesn’t really fit the bill. 

20210614-064009.jpg
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet  

Related Coverage

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/using-the-galaxy-book-pro-360-for-a-month-a-great-swiss-knife-that-could-be-sharper/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

Continue Reading

ZDNET

Using the Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month: A great Swiss knife that could be sharper

Published

on

20210614-060515.jpg
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

There is a certain art to making great notebooks. They have generally been outshone by smartphones in recent years, but they still have a longer history of craftsmanship, often have longer life cycles, and have separate, dedicated fan bases all their own. And after years of slow demand, notebooks are starting to see a revival thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid this climate, Samsung, known more for its smartphones than laptops, has launched a refresh of its notebook series, the Galaxy Book Pro and the 2-in-1 Galaxy Book Pro 360.

Having used the 15.6-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month, I feel it is by far Samsung’s best notebook. With the Pro 360, the South Korean tech giant has succeeded in imprinting its own look for laptops when it comes to design, taking cues from its latest smartphones and tablets. 

The laptop is also incredibly light and compact. The integration of its own apps, along with the AMOLED screen and S Pen support, are done well to give the notebook Samsung’s own flavour. All of this is offered at a starting price of $1,300.

That being said, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is far from perfect. It has shortcomings, with some feeling minor while others definitely needing improvement for any future editions of the notebook series.

PORTABILITY AND DESIGN

Portability is hands down the best thing about the Pro 360. The 15.6-inch model weighs 1.4 kilograms, but it always felt lighter when it came to actual day-to-day use. The overall design of the notebook really accentuated this feeling and made the device feel more compact than it actually is. The Pro 360 always felt light, sturdy, slid in my bags smoothly, and was never once a burden to carry around. The laptop sat comfortably on almost any surface I placed it on, whether it was on a restaurant stand or a table at home crowded with other devices.

The overall aesthetic of Pro 360 is great too. A lot of its looks are carried over from the latest Galaxy S smartphones, especially for its edges. The haze finish of the Pro 360 also matches that of its latest phones and makes the notebook look premium without being gaudy. The hinge is also relatively sturdy when taking into account the device’s thinness and weight.

As a long time user of the LG Gram 16 series and having dabbled in using Lenovo and HP laptops in the past with similar or even smaller screens, in terms of portability alone, I feel Samsung has matched them or done even better.

On the flip side, I do think Samsung put portability as its utmost priority when designing the Pro 360 and, in doing so, some of the notebook’s features elsewhere have been affected.

KEYBOARD AND TOUCHPAD

The keyboard and touchpad are great and some of the best from Samsung. The touchpad under the keyboard is larger than usual and so are the adjacent spaces where your palm sits. I didn’t like this at first but, over a month, I felt less joint pains in my wrist and fingers. By comparison, I do think it is a better option than other notebooks that offer little space under the keyboard, which forces you to type with your hands held in the air for a long time.

The keyboard also comes with a fingerprint button on the far top right which also acts as an on and off button. The enter and shift keys are narrow, but the overall experience is great and the keys are large and register well. However, the keyboard does lack the typing satisfaction of an analog or a gaming keyboard due to how thin the keys are. This is likely a compromise to make the device thinner and lighter but it wouldn’t hurt to improve on this for later iterations.

HARDWARE AND BATTERY

In terms of CPU and RAM, my review unit for the Pro 360 was the most decked out version, packing an Intel Core i7-1165G7 and 16GB. Practically, there wasn’t a time when I felt the notebook was slow. The Pro 360 also turned on and off extremely fast and the booting time was one of the best I’ve seen.

Battery on the Pro 360 is also solid. A session per charge on average lasted between eight to 10 hours, even when some of the settings were put on maximum. 

For ports, Pro 360 offers one Thunderbolt 4 port, two USB-C connectors, a headphone socket, and microSD slot.

Due to the portability of the laptop, this did result in the laptop overheating at times. When this occurred, it was very noticeable as the Pro 360 would heave loudly. Fan and cooling systems on PCs usually work best when they have space to breathe, so I think the noticeable overheating wasn’t caused by the fan design but by how thin the device is.

Surprisingly, audio is the best I’ve experienced out of a Samsung device. The sound is clear, well-tuned, and has great bass, which seems like a jump from those in the company’s past smartphones.

AMOLED SCREEN

The AMOLED touch screen is gorgeous to look at and generally great to use. The colours are crisp, and the contrast ratio combined with a 16:9 screen ratio really shined when I watched movies.

That being said, the screen is generally dim, even when the brightness setting is set to maximum. This became a problem in outdoor and bright environments where there was sunlight. Even within indoor environments, I wish the screen was generally brighter, which would have been a huge plus to show off the screen’s other strengths.

The FHD resolution (1920 x 1080) resolution of the screen isn’t bad, but coupled with the 16:9 ratio and the very thick black empty space at the bottom of the screen, it did give an uneven screen experience depending on what I was doing. Occasionally, for data and graphic-intensive tasks, the screen looked almost pixelated, while normal web browsing sometimes felt a little cramped while using the Pro 360 in notebook mode due to the 16:9 ratio, though I did get used to it quickly. Even a slight change to 16:10 ratio, I feel, would have provided a greater sense of openness.

The screen can handle casual games, but the latest Triple A games, such as Resident Evil Village or Doom Eternal, are really a no-go, though I do think Samsung never intended for the Pro 360 to handle them. For future iterations of the Pro series, Samsung should definitely offer spec options for a 2K or QHD resolution screen, or even offer a Pro Ultra model for those who are willing to pay extra for the best hardware. After all, while the Pro 360 isn’t a gaming notebook per se, it is a “Pro” model, which invites expectations of providing the best of the best.

Using the AMOLED screen as a vertically held tablet offered the best experience. The problems I mentioned before, such as visibility, were not there anymore as the device was held closer to my eyes. There was also just a general satisfaction offered by the large, gorgeous screen when using it like a traditional canvas or paper.

Overall, while the AMOLED screen is great, it doesn’t match Samsung’s own high standards set by its counterparts in the smartphone and tablet space, especially in brightness. The low brightness could have been for cost reasons or battery concerns, but I think it has more to do with fear of image retention, also known as burn-in, which larger OLED screens are more susceptible to due to having more icons on screen.

S PEN EXPERIENCE

The S Pen, which is included with the laptop, really brought out the best in this 2-in-1 notebook. In terms of size and weight, it really resembles a real pen and is very convenient to use. The screen’s response time to the pen does seem just a tad slower than that of the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the more recent Note series phones however, but the overall precision of the S Pen did feel close to scribbling on real paper. The larger screen on the notebook, which can be folded all the way back, also invites more use of the S Pen when it is used as a tablet or in calendar mode.

The S Pen can also be attached to the magnet underneath the front covering over the screen. This kind of magnet is placed in every laptop so that they can be folded shut properly, so I am unsure whether it was Samsung’s intention to have the stylus be attached this way or it was just a happy accident. 

The S Pen can be attached to where the magnet is while you are using the Pro 360 for something else, which can be convenient at times. But the magnetism isn’t strong enough for you to just thoughtlessly stick the pen on the cover and carry around the notebook willy-nilly, so you will need to put the pen in a separate compartment in bags or your jacket pocket when on the move. When using the device, I did wish there was a dedicated port for the pen in the vein of the Galaxy Note smartphones so that this wouldn’t be a worry.

spen-laptop.png
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

SAMSUNG APPS

It’s great that tried-and-true Samsung apps are now included in Samsung’s notebook line, especially if you already have a bunch of the company’s devices and need a Windows notebook. As a long time user of the Galaxy Note series, it was great to have apps like Samsung Notes offered on a bigger screen.

But the important question here is: Does the Pro 360, with its inclusion of Samsung apps and what the company calls the expansion of its ecosystem, succeed in offering something more than your usual PC experience to draw in others besides Samsung fans?

Samsung obviously wants its ecosystem to come together with Microsoft’s, and apps like Links to Windows and Your Phone are there for that. The Pro 360 succeeds in bringing them together, yes, but I didn’t feel that their convergence brought more to the table than what each company already offers on their own. In other words, the whole didn’t seem greater than the sum of its parts.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I’ve loved using the Pro 360. It is a great multi-tasker and, if anything, it shows that Samsung is excellent at designing great hardware for mobile devices. Notebooks have not been Samsung’s strong suit, but, with the Pro 360, the company has really stepped up its game and succeeds in integrating its expertise from smartphones to the laptop space.

The best time I had with the Pro 360 was for Zoom calls, which included a three-hour Bat Mitzvah for a friend’s daughter. The Pro 360’s strengths, like its portability, AMOLED screen, hardware, and audio really came together for video calls. If you are looking for a general-purpose notebook above the cut for entertainment, work, and for some light creative work, that is offered at a compelling price, the Pro 360 is a great option for you. But if you are looking for the ultimate experience in a notebook, the Pro 360 doesn’t really fit the bill. 

20210614-064009.jpg
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet  

Related Coverage

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/using-the-galaxy-book-pro-360-for-a-month-a-great-swiss-knife-that-could-be-sharper/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

Continue Reading

ZDNET

Using the Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month: A great Swiss knife that could be sharper

Published

on

20210614-060515.jpg
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

There is a certain art to making great notebooks. They have generally been outshone by smartphones in recent years, but they still have a longer history of craftsmanship, often have longer life cycles, and have separate, dedicated fan bases all their own. And after years of slow demand, notebooks are starting to see a revival thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid this climate, Samsung, known more for its smartphones than laptops, has launched a refresh of its notebook series, the Galaxy Book Pro and the 2-in-1 Galaxy Book Pro 360.

Having used the 15.6-inch Galaxy Book Pro 360 for a month, I feel it is by far Samsung’s best notebook. With the Pro 360, the South Korean tech giant has succeeded in imprinting its own look for laptops when it comes to design, taking cues from its latest smartphones and tablets. 

The laptop is also incredibly light and compact. The integration of its own apps, along with the AMOLED screen and S Pen support, are done well to give the notebook Samsung’s own flavour. All of this is offered at a starting price of $1,300.

That being said, the Galaxy Book Pro 360 is far from perfect. It has shortcomings, with some feeling minor while others definitely needing improvement for any future editions of the notebook series.

PORTABILITY AND DESIGN

Portability is hands down the best thing about the Pro 360. The 15.6-inch model weighs 1.4 kilograms, but it always felt lighter when it came to actual day-to-day use. The overall design of the notebook really accentuated this feeling and made the device feel more compact than it actually is. The Pro 360 always felt light, sturdy, slid in my bags smoothly, and was never once a burden to carry around. The laptop sat comfortably on almost any surface I placed it on, whether it was on a restaurant stand or a table at home crowded with other devices.

The overall aesthetic of Pro 360 is great too. A lot of its looks are carried over from the latest Galaxy S smartphones, especially for its edges. The haze finish of the Pro 360 also matches that of its latest phones and makes the notebook look premium without being gaudy. The hinge is also relatively sturdy when taking into account the device’s thinness and weight.

As a long time user of the LG Gram 16 series and having dabbled in using Lenovo and HP laptops in the past with similar or even smaller screens, in terms of portability alone, I feel Samsung has matched them or done even better.

On the flip side, I do think Samsung put portability as its utmost priority when designing the Pro 360 and, in doing so, some of the notebook’s features elsewhere have been affected.

KEYBOARD AND TOUCHPAD

The keyboard and touchpad are great and some of the best from Samsung. The touchpad under the keyboard is larger than usual and so are the adjacent spaces where your palm sits. I didn’t like this at first but, over a month, I felt less joint pains in my wrist and fingers. By comparison, I do think it is a better option than other notebooks that offer little space under the keyboard, which forces you to type with your hands held in the air for a long time.

The keyboard also comes with a fingerprint button on the far top right which also acts as an on and off button. The enter and shift keys are narrow, but the overall experience is great and the keys are large and register well. However, the keyboard does lack the typing satisfaction of an analog or a gaming keyboard due to how thin the keys are. This is likely a compromise to make the device thinner and lighter but it wouldn’t hurt to improve on this for later iterations.

HARDWARE AND BATTERY

In terms of CPU and RAM, my review unit for the Pro 360 was the most decked out version, packing an Intel Core i7-1165G7 and 16GB. Practically, there wasn’t a time when I felt the notebook was slow. The Pro 360 also turned on and off extremely fast and the booting time was one of the best I’ve seen.

Battery on the Pro 360 is also solid. A session per charge on average lasted between eight to 10 hours, even when some of the settings were put on maximum. 

For ports, Pro 360 offers one Thunderbolt 4 port, two USB-C connectors, a headphone socket, and microSD slot.

Due to the portability of the laptop, this did result in the laptop overheating at times. When this occurred, it was very noticeable as the Pro 360 would heave loudly. Fan and cooling systems on PCs usually work best when they have space to breathe, so I think the noticeable overheating wasn’t caused by the fan design but by how thin the device is.

Surprisingly, audio is the best I’ve experienced out of a Samsung device. The sound is clear, well-tuned, and has great bass, which seems like a jump from those in the company’s past smartphones.

AMOLED SCREEN

The AMOLED touch screen is gorgeous to look at and generally great to use. The colours are crisp, and the contrast ratio combined with a 16:9 screen ratio really shined when I watched movies.

That being said, the screen is generally dim, even when the brightness setting is set to maximum. This became a problem in outdoor and bright environments where there was sunlight. Even within indoor environments, I wish the screen was generally brighter, which would have been a huge plus to show off the screen’s other strengths.

The FHD resolution (1920 x 1080) resolution of the screen isn’t bad, but coupled with the 16:9 ratio and the very thick black empty space at the bottom of the screen, it did give an uneven screen experience depending on what I was doing. Occasionally, for data and graphic-intensive tasks, the screen looked almost pixelated, while normal web browsing sometimes felt a little cramped while using the Pro 360 in notebook mode due to the 16:9 ratio, though I did get used to it quickly. Even a slight change to 16:10 ratio, I feel, would have provided a greater sense of openness.

The screen can handle casual games, but the latest Triple A games, such as Resident Evil Village or Doom Eternal, are really a no-go, though I do think Samsung never intended for the Pro 360 to handle them. For future iterations of the Pro series, Samsung should definitely offer spec options for a 2K or QHD resolution screen, or even offer a Pro Ultra model for those who are willing to pay extra for the best hardware. After all, while the Pro 360 isn’t a gaming notebook per se, it is a “Pro” model, which invites expectations of providing the best of the best.

Using the AMOLED screen as a vertically held tablet offered the best experience. The problems I mentioned before, such as visibility, were not there anymore as the device was held closer to my eyes. There was also just a general satisfaction offered by the large, gorgeous screen when using it like a traditional canvas or paper.

Overall, while the AMOLED screen is great, it doesn’t match Samsung’s own high standards set by its counterparts in the smartphone and tablet space, especially in brightness. The low brightness could have been for cost reasons or battery concerns, but I think it has more to do with fear of image retention, also known as burn-in, which larger OLED screens are more susceptible to due to having more icons on screen.

S PEN EXPERIENCE

The S Pen, which is included with the laptop, really brought out the best in this 2-in-1 notebook. In terms of size and weight, it really resembles a real pen and is very convenient to use. The screen’s response time to the pen does seem just a tad slower than that of the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the more recent Note series phones however, but the overall precision of the S Pen did feel close to scribbling on real paper. The larger screen on the notebook, which can be folded all the way back, also invites more use of the S Pen when it is used as a tablet or in calendar mode.

The S Pen can also be attached to the magnet underneath the front covering over the screen. This kind of magnet is placed in every laptop so that they can be folded shut properly, so I am unsure whether it was Samsung’s intention to have the stylus be attached this way or it was just a happy accident. 

The S Pen can be attached to where the magnet is while you are using the Pro 360 for something else, which can be convenient at times. But the magnetism isn’t strong enough for you to just thoughtlessly stick the pen on the cover and carry around the notebook willy-nilly, so you will need to put the pen in a separate compartment in bags or your jacket pocket when on the move. When using the device, I did wish there was a dedicated port for the pen in the vein of the Galaxy Note smartphones so that this wouldn’t be a worry.

spen-laptop.png
Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet

SAMSUNG APPS

It’s great that tried-and-true Samsung apps are now included in Samsung’s notebook line, especially if you already have a bunch of the company’s devices and need a Windows notebook. As a long time user of the Galaxy Note series, it was great to have apps like Samsung Notes offered on a bigger screen.

But the important question here is: Does the Pro 360, with its inclusion of Samsung apps and what the company calls the expansion of its ecosystem, succeed in offering something more than your usual PC experience to draw in others besides Samsung fans?

Samsung obviously wants its ecosystem to come together with Microsoft’s, and apps like Links to Windows and Your Phone are there for that. The Pro 360 succeeds in bringing them together, yes, but I didn’t feel that their convergence brought more to the table than what each company already offers on their own. In other words, the whole didn’t seem greater than the sum of its parts.

CONCLUSION

Overall, I’ve loved using the Pro 360. It is a great multi-tasker and, if anything, it shows that Samsung is excellent at designing great hardware for mobile devices. Notebooks have not been Samsung’s strong suit, but, with the Pro 360, the company has really stepped up its game and succeeds in integrating its expertise from smartphones to the laptop space.

The best time I had with the Pro 360 was for Zoom calls, which included a three-hour Bat Mitzvah for a friend’s daughter. The Pro 360’s strengths, like its portability, AMOLED screen, hardware, and audio really came together for video calls. If you are looking for a general-purpose notebook above the cut for entertainment, work, and for some light creative work, that is offered at a compelling price, the Pro 360 is a great option for you. But if you are looking for the ultimate experience in a notebook, the Pro 360 doesn’t really fit the bill. 

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Image: Cho Mu-Hyun/ZDNet  

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Nationally-known Australian company lawyered up to resist ASD help

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The Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, Mike Pezzullo, has spoken out against hacked organisations that refuse assistance from the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), likening it to refusing to cooperate with an air crash investigation.

One such example was discussed in evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) on Friday.

“It was a nationally-known case involving a nationally-known company that [ASD director-general Rachel Noble] and I are declining to name at this point,” he said.

According to Noble, the ASD first learned of the attack from media reports.

“We try to reach out to the company to clarify if the media reports are true, and they don’t want to talk to us. So then we keep pushing,” Noble said.

“Sometimes we have to use our own very senior level contacts, sometimes through people in this building [Parliament] who might know members of boards or chairs of boards, to try and establish trust and build a willingness to cooperate.”

When a hacked company cooperates, ASD can typically map their networks and identify the criminality involved on the first day.

When the Victorian health system suffered a ransomware attack in 2019, for example, the malware was quickly identified, and the network was back up and running in four days.

“What we left them with was also tools, training, and capability to identify, to protect themselves from a similar attack attack, but more quickly identify it happening again,” Noble said.

However the unnamed company lawyered up, and it took a week for the ASD to get even basic network information.

“Five days later we’re still getting a very sort of sluggish engagement of trying to get them to help provide data to us and deploy some of our tools so we can work out what’s happening on their networks. That goes for 13 days,” Noble said.

“This incident had a national impact on our country. On day 14, we’re able to only provide them with generic protection advice, and their network is still down. Three months later, they get reinfected, and we start again.”

Noble says this is why the ASD needs the powers which would be granted by legislation currently being reviewed, the Intelligence and Security: Review of the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020.

“This legislation actually just gives us the authority, through Home Affairs, more leverage to expect these critical infrastructure providers to actually have better cybersecurity standards in the first place,” she said.

“The best part of this legislation, from my point of view, is if they look after themselves, it doesn’t become work for my people. And if their defences are much higher, they’re keeping the low level crims out, and then we might be able to focus on the much more sophisticated highly organised criminal syndicates or state actors.”

Unregulated libertarian cyberplanes endanger the commons

Pezzullo says Parliament has a duty to “think about the regulation of cyberspace in the way that you would think about the regulation of other commons”.

“Every time one of our planes go down, of course we collaborate with the investigators, and we work out where all the bodies were, and the wreckage of the parts, and we help with the safety investigation,” he said.

Not only do we learn lessons from crashes, he said, but we also regulate the movement of aircraft through our skies.

“The development of the internet’s been organic. It’s been driven by a somewhat unusual combination of libertarian impulses on the one hand, and profit-driven motivations on the other hand,” Pezzullo said.

“Every time you connect, you are flying unsafely through airspace. We would not tolerate our airspace being ungoverned and unregulated by the state.”

See also: How the FBI and AFP accessed encrypted messages in TrojanShield investigation

Noble spruiked the advantages of cooperating with the ASD.

“Our people in ASD are in hand-to-hand combat with criminals and state-based sectors every single day. We have the benefit of top secret intelligence provided to us from around the world, not just our own intelligence that we can gather, [and] 75 years of investment in technical capability to analyse and unpack it with an incredible posture and ability to understand, through our cyber defence capabilities, what’s happening on Australia’s internet.”

Why would businesses refuse assistance? Apart from potential philosophical objections, Noble offered a range of theories.

First, there’s what she called “ICT professional hubris”. Organisations want to believe they’ve got the technical skills and don’t need help.

“We understand that people feel that way. That’s usually before they’ve actually fully appreciated what they’re dealing with,” Noble said.

Second, the scenario Noble believes brings the lawyers into the room is when the organisation doesn’t have an incident response plan. They don’t know how they’ll manage public communication, relations with their suppliers and customers, potential brand damage, and other commercial interests.

Third, there are questions of liability, ranging from matters of directors’ duties and whether they’ve been negligent, to acting on ASD advice which then has an adverse effect on the company.

As PJCIS chair Senator James Paterson noted, some submitters to the inquiry have said the protection from liability offered in the Bill may not be sufficient.

Pezzullo said this review of critical infrastructure law shouldn’t be seen as a standalone action. There’s work being done as part of the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy “that goes precisely to the question of corporations law, directors duties, [and] better practice regulation in this field”.

“In fairness to the executive management teams that are grappling with this, things like insurance products, the actuarial costing and pricing of the risk, the depth of the reinsurance pool, the case law, is not particularly well formed,” Pezzullo said.

“We really are in the early days of flight. It’s just that the adversaries learned how to fly and they got better planes at the moment than most firms.”

Disrupting the Cyber Pirates of the Caribbean

On the broader question of dealing with malicious actors online, Pezzullo said governments needed to go on the offensive.

Police and intelligence agencies, sometimes with the assistance of military cyber forces, are striking at these actors in the “havens”, but some are beyond reach.

“Regrettably states — some states — either turn a blind eye to their activities, or actively enable and sponsor them. Regrettably, state protection emboldens these malicious actors,” he said.

One model to tackle this challenge might be the global counterterrorism model that was put in place after 9/11 to deal with al Qaida, but Pezzullo proposed something quite different.

“Another model that I would suggest to this committee that is worth reflecting on, as you consider this bill and consider your report, is the campaign that was mounted in the 17th, 18th, and then in the beginning of the 19th century, to clear the world’s oceans of pirates, including the pirates of the Caribbean, who were defeated by Her Majesty’s warships of the Royal Navy, in concert with bringing law to a lawless ocean,” he said.

“This is a problem with which we can deal, just as Britain overcame piracy. But we need the tools to do so, including the requisite legal authorities.”

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/nationally-known-australian-company-lawyered-up-to-resist-asd-help/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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