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How to Update Drivers in Windows 10

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 10 automatically updates any new drivers needed for your computer. You can set up to check updates automatically or check updates at your convenience. If you would like to manually update a driver, you can do so in the Device Manager. Here’s how it’s done.

Regular Update:

1) Click Start in the lower left corner.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2) Click the gear icon to open the Settings window.

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3) Scroll down to see more settings.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

4) Click Update & Security.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

5) In the right pane click Check for updates.

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6) As the updates download, click on Change active hours.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

7) Set the hours when you do not want the computer to restart.

8) Click Save. The drivers will be installed and ready to go after the restart.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Manual Update:

1) In the search box on the Toolbar, type Device Manager.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2) Click Device Manager in the search options.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

3) Click on a group of devices in the list.

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4) Right-click on a specific device that needs driver update.

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5) In the menu that opens up, click Update driver.

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6) In the Update driver window, click Search automatically for updated device software. If a newer driver is available, it will be downloaded and installed.

(Image credit: Microsoft)
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Xbox Series X: Specs, Price, Release Date, Rumours and How it compares to Gaming Laptops

Microsoft’s next console, the Xbox Series X, will arrive in late 2020. The next-gen console promises to bring improved graphics, faster load times and more connectivity options to gamers, along with a handful of other compelling features.

While we’re several months away from the launch of Xbox Series X, Microsoft has already revealed a surprising amount of information about the console, including its name, design and even early game launches. Based on what we know, the Series X could be an excellent alternative, or complement, to one of the best gaming laptops.

But there’s still much we don’t know about Series X, so we’ve compiled the official details Microsoft has revealed along with the most credible rumors to give you a comprehensive picture of what to expect when the console releases in late 2020.

Here’s what we know so far about the Xbox Series X.

 

Xbox Series X name and release date

Formerly known as Project Scarlett, the console’s official name is Xbox Series X. Microsoft announced the name (and other details) at the annual Game Awards in a move that shocked fans and media alike.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft says Xbox Series X will arrive Holiday 2020. Yes, the next Xbox will land in stores next year.

We probably won’t have a specific date until its official announcement, but we can be fairly certain of a November launch. Why November? Looking at the release date of previous consoles, the original Xbox launched on Nov 15, the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One were both launched on Nov 22 and the Xbox One X was made available on November 7.

We’d be surprised if Microsoft broke this trend for anything other than a late October release. After all, we need the console to ship in time to place it under the tree on December 25.

 

Xbox Series X price

Pricing will be an important piece of the Series X’s commercial success. While we don’t know exactly how much the console (or consoles) will cost, Microsoft promises to not repeat the same mistakes it made with the Xbox One.

“I would say a learning from the Xbox One generation is we will not be out of position on power or price,” Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Xbox and gaming chief, said in an interview with The Verge.

When the Xbox One launched, it was sold with a 500GB hard drive, a controller and a Kinect sensor for an eye-popping $499. That made the Xbox One at $100 more expensive than the PS4 ($399). If we had to guess, the next console will cost between $350 and $550.

If there are two versions, the entry-level model would likely be near the bottom range while the Xbox Series X could be closer to the high range.

 

Xbox Series X specs

Microsoft gave us the name of the console and even showed us the design, but it wouldn’t confirm specs. Fortunately, we already have a pretty good idea of what the Series X will be packing.

Before we get into the details, it’s worth mentioning that some rumors claim there will be not just one, but two separate versions of the upcoming Xbox: a lower-end SKU nicknamed “Lockhart” and a premium model internally named “Anaconda.”

This comes from Windows Central’s Jez Corden who cites “multiple sources” but also cautions to take the leaks with “a pinch of salt” until they are confirmed by Microsoft.

The report claims that Microsoft is targeting around 12 teraflops (TF) of power in the higher-end Xbox Series X, or twice that of the Xbox One X (the current most powerful console) and many times greater than the Xbox One S. The lower-end “Lockhart” console will slot between the Xbox One X and One S in terms of power, with 4 teraflops of computing power.

Shifting to official news, the Xbox Series X will feature a custom AMD Zen 2 processor with a Navi GPU that supports ray tracing, frame rates at up to 120 frames per second, 8K resolution support and the fastest GDDR6 memory, along with variable refresh rates.

We don’t know the exact components powering the console (or consoles) but reports suggest it will have an eight-core chip with 16GB of RAM, 13GB of which will be allocated for games (the other 3GB will go to the OS).

Spencer told Gamespot that Microsoft wants the next console to run games at 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. If it hits that mark, expect a significant leap in fidelity along with a smoother gaming experience.

Ray tracing could be critical in making next-gen games look better than ever. For those who aren’t familiar, ray tracing is a rendering technique that simulates how light bounces off an object. The result is lighting effects and shadows that look practically photorealistic.

The Xbox Series X will use a custom SSD that is said to be 40x faster than the one in current models. That drive is rumored to be an NVMe SSD fast enough to make load times a thing of the past.

Xbox Series X games

The next Xbox won’t be released for another year, but we’re starting to get a clear picture of its launch titles.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

There are only a few confirmed games coming to Series X, but they’re the type of exclusives that will make consoles fly off shelves. The game on everyone’s mind is Halo Infinite, the next journey for the beloved soldier, Master Chief. So far, we’ve only seen a teaser trailer shown at E3 2018 and a brief glimpse of the faceless protagonist in the Xbox Series X announcement video.

When Microsoft unveiled the Xbox Series X, it did so alongside the reveal of Senua’s Saga: HellBlade 2, which became the first game officially announced for Xbox Series X. The footage shown at The Game Awards look absolutely stunning and was captured directly on the console in real-time.

There are no other confirmed titles, but we can speculate what is coming to the next Xbox based on the release dates of upcoming titles. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Quarantine was confirmed at E3 2019 then delayed until 2020-2021. Given the new release date, we’d be surprised if Rainbow Six Quarantine wasn’t available on both current and next-gen consoles. The same goes for Gods and Monsters and Watch Dogs: Legion, both of which were delayed into 2020-2021.

Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most anticipated upcoming games, could also come to next-gen consoles. CD Projekt Red president Adam Kicinski said to VG247 last year, “The game is developed in such a way that it can use very powerful future equipment, but I can not tell you more beyond that today, as no future generation of consoles have been announced so far.”

That doesn’t confirm anything, but it certainly suggests an intent to bring Cyberpunk 2077, which is set to be released on April 26, 2020, to Xbox Series X and the PS5.

Bethesda, the studio that brought us The Elder Scrolls and the Fallout franchise is set to release Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield, although details on those titles are sparse.

EA confirmed that Dice will have extra time to make Battlefield 6, and that the upcoming first-person shooter would arrive on next-gen consoles. Specific consoles weren’t named but we’d be shocked if the Xbox Series X wasn’t one of them.

 

What about virtual reality?

The next Xbox will not support virtual reality. While Microsoft has championed VR on PCs, the company is less keen about its place on consoles.

Xbox lead Phil Spencer said an interview with Stevivor that “nobody is asking for VR” and that customers know to go to PC if they want to play VR.

He went on to say “nobody’s selling millions and millions [of VR units]…“I think we might get there. But yeah, that’s not where our focus is.”

if you want to play VR games on a console then buy a PlayStation 5 as Sony is expected to double-down on the budding technology with a PlayStation VR 2 headset.

 

Xbox Series X vs gaming laptops

The AMD Navi GPU powering the Xbox Series X is expected to rival Nvidia’s RTX 2080 GPU, which means it should be able to keep up with the best laptops when it comes to graphics performance.

Alienware’s Area-51m gaming laptop played Rise of the Tomb Raider at 92 frames per second while the Asus ROG Mothership notched 84 fps at 1080p resolution on Very High settings.

Unless the Navi GPU somehow blows the doors off the RTX 2080 powering those beastly gaming rigs (we doubt that), the Xbox Series X will need to dial down the settings to reach Microsoft’s 4K at 60fps goal. Still, what Microsoft is claiming can’t be ignored: the Xbox Series X will be crazy powerful and should offer better graphics-per-dollar than any gaming laptop on the market.

 

Xbox Series X design

We already know exactly how the Series X looks about a year before it’s set to launch. The console’s simple rectangular “tower” design is reminiscent of a desktop PC.

There really isn’t much to the design, which is exactly why it’s so bold. Microsoft is replacing the aggressive angles and odd shapes of previous consoles with a refined, clean aesthetic that follows the same design principles as its laptops.

On the front of the Xbox Series X is an illuminated Xbox logo and a disk slot, which will be a relief to folks who still buy physical copies. The top of the console is more interesting. Hiding under a centered top grille is a bright green circle. It’s hard to tell from the reveal trailer, but it appears to be green LEDs or a painted component.

There is a heated discussion about the Xbox Series X’s size. It looks massive in the renders but the folks at Gamespot say the console is three times taller than the new controller and about as wide. That makes the Series X relatively small, but still potentially problematic if you’re trying to fit it in an entertainment center.

It helps that the Xbox Series X can be positioned vertically or horizontally. Also, the larger size allows for a single, massive fan that pushes hot air out the top. As a result, the Xbox Series X should be no louder than the Xbox One.

“There’s always this tension between design and the kind of acoustics and cooling and function of the console,” Spencer told Gamespot, “and we were not going to compromise on function. I’m just incredibly impressed with the design that they came back with.”

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Series X controller

While the console is daring in its simplicity, Microsoft made only minor updates to the next-gen controller.

At first glance, the Series X controller looks identical to the one for the Xbox One. There are some minor but important differences. The biggest update is the addition of a share button. Located in the center of the new controller, the new button will let Xbox gamers instantly send content to friends with the press of a button, much as you can do with the PS4’s DualShock 4.

Other updates we won’t notice until we’ve gotten our hands on the new controller include a new hybrid D-pad and improved input latency, so there is no delay between when you press a button and what happens in the game. The new controller is also a touch smaller than the previous, which Microsoft says will be more comfortable for most people.

Microsoft is making up for past mistakes with decisions that benefit gamers. Not only is the old Xbox controller compatible with the new Xbox Series X but the new controller is backward compatible with the Xbox One.

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MTN Recharge and Data Plan Codes

MTN Recharge Code | How To Load Airtime On MTN SIM (USSD Code)

You should know that MTN Nigeria recharge codes contain a 12-digit PIN. So, follow the step below for loading airtime n your phone:

  • To load or recharge an MTN line, dial recharge PIN in the following USSD format: *555*PIN# and then Send/Ok. For example, If the airtime PIN is 1111 2222 3333, include *555*111122223333# and press Send or Ok on your phone’s dialler.
  • If successful, you can dial *556# to check account balance.

That’s all!

MTN Data Plans and Subscription Codes in Nigeria

Here are latest MTN Data Plan Prices. You will also see code for checking your MTN data subscription balance.

  • 1.5GB Browsing Plan for Mobile (24/7 30 days) – text 106 to 131 – ₦1000
  • 2GB MTN data plan (24/7 30 days) – text 130 to 131 – ₦1200
  • MTN 3.5GB mobile data plan (24/7 30 days) – text 110 to 131 – ₦2000
  • 6.5GB MTN data plan (24/7 30 days) – text 107 to 131 – ₦3500
  • 11GB MTN data plan (24/7 30 days) – text 116 to 131 – ₦5000
  • 25GB MTN data plan (24/7 30 days) – text 117 to 131 – ₦10000
  • 40GB MTN data plan (24/7 30 days) – text 150 to 131 – ₦15000
  • 1GB MTN Daily (24 hours) – SMS 155 to 131 – ₦350
  • 2GB 2 days Plan (48 hours) – text 154 to 131 – 500 Naira
  • 60GB MTN data plan (24/7, 60 days) – text 118 to 131 – 20000 NGN
  • 120GB MTN data plan (24/7 90 days) – text 133 to 131 – 50000 NGN
  • MTN 100GB data plan (60 days) – text 138 to 131 – 30,000 Naira
  • MTN 150GB data plan (90 days) – text 134 to 131 – 70,000 Naira
  • MTN Daily data plan for mobile, 75MB (24 hours) – SMS 104 to 131 – 100 NGN
  • MTN Daily data plan for mobile, 25MB (24 hours) – SMS 114 to 131 – 50 NGN
  • 200MB 2 days Package (48 hours) – text 113 to 131 – 200 Naira
  • 750MB Weekly browsing for mobile (7 days) – text 103 to 131 – 500 NGN
  • 350MB Weekly browsing for mobile (7 days) – text 102 to 131 – 300 NGN

To check your MTN browsing data balance, SMS 2 to 131.

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South Africa’s businesses are slowly adopting digital transformation

Just 8% of South African businesses are Digital Leaders, according to the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index (the DT Index). The DT Index, which was completed in collaboration with Intel, maps digital transformation progress of mid to large-sized companies and examines the digital hopes and fears of business leaders. The study reveals that 13% of SouthAfrican heads of business believe their organisation will struggle to meet changing customer demands within just five years and 19% fear they’ll be left behind.

The DT Index’s calculations are based on companies’ perceived performance in the following areas: delivering against the core attributes of a digital business, their existing IT strategy, workforce transformation strategy and planned investments.

Two years after the DT Index’s initial launch in 2016, Dell Technologies and Intel have more than doubled the scope of the research, from 16 countries to 42 and benchmarked 4,600 businesses, using the following groupings: Digital Leaders, Digital Adopters, Digital Evaluators, Digital Followers and Digital Laggards.

The Digital Transformation Index has tracked movement across various groups. For instance, 23% of businesses now are categorised as Digital Adopters. These companies have advanced digital plans and innovations in place to power their transformation.

However, the Digital Transformation Index also reveals that too many companies are still in the bottom two groups meaning they’re either moving too slowly or don’t even have a digital plan in place.

Benchmark groups Description 2018 SA analysis
Digital Leaders Digital transformation, in its various forms, is ingrained in the DNA of the business 8%
Digital Adopters Have a mature digital plan, investments and innovations in place 23%
Digital Evaluators Cautiously and gradually embracing digital transformation; planning and investing for the future 39%
Digital Followers Very few digital investments; tentatively starting to plan for the future 24%
Digital Laggards Do not have a digital plan, limited initiatives and investments in place 6%

Barriers to digital transformation

According to the research, 90% of South African businesses are facing major impediments to digital transformation today.

The top five barriers to digital transformation are:

  1. Lack of the right in-house skill sets and expertise
  2. Data privacy and cybersecurity concerns
  3. Lack of budget and resources
  4. Regulation or legislative changes
  5. Lack of alignment and collaboration across the company

These barriers are hampering digital transformation efforts. For instance, 77% of South African business leaders believe that digital transformation should be more widespread throughout the organisation. Only 16% strongly agree they’ll disrupt rather than being disrupted within five years.

“We’ve talked about being on the cusp of tremendous change for some time now. That’s no longer the case,” said Doug Woolley, GM of Dell EMC South Africa. “The next digital era has arrived and it’s reshaping the way we live, work and conduct business. Which means that time is of the essence. Genuine transformation needs to happen now, and it needs to be radical.”

 Conquering their challenges

The research indicates that businesses are taking steps to overcome their barriers, along with the threat of being outmanoeuvred from more nimble, innovative players. Although progress in these areas is patchy/slow. We can see this with:

  • 64% of local businesses using digital technologies to accelerate new product/services development
  • 64% of businesses building security and privacy into all devices, applications and algorithms
  • 53% striving to develop the right skills sets and expertise in-house, such as teaching staff how to code
  • 60% sharing knowledge across functions, by equipping IT leaders with business skills and business leaders with IT skills

Companies are also turning to emerging technologies and cybersecurity to power (and secure) their transformation.

Planned investments within the next one to three years:

  • 65% of South African businesses intend to invest in cybersecurity
  • 49% of South African businesses intend to invest in IoT technologies
  • 46% of South African businesses intend to invest in Multi-cloud environments
  • 41% of South African businesses intend to invest in Flash technologies
  • 34% of South African businesses intend to invest in Compute-centric data center design

A small but significant number of businesses are even planning to experiment with nascent technologies. 20% will be investing in blockchain, 18% in quantum computing and 20% in VR/AR.

“It’s an exciting time to be in business. We’re at a crucial intersection – where technology, business and mankind meet to create a better, more connected world,” added Woolley, Dell Technologies. “However, only technology-centered organisations will reap the rewards offered by a digital business model, including the ability to move quickly, to automate everything and to delight customers. This is why digital transformation needs to be a number one priority.”

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Twitter Adds Heft to Anti-Harassment Toolbox

Twitter on Wednesday announced that over the next few months it will roll out changes designed to increase the safety of users:

  • Its algorithms will help identify accounts as they engage in abusive behavior, so the burden no longer will be on victims to report it;
  • Users will be able to limit certain account functionality, such as letting only followers see their tweets, for a set amount of time;
  • New filtering options will give users more control over what they see from certain types of accounts — such as those without profile pictures, or with unverified email addresses or phone numbers; and
  • New mute functionality will let users mute tweets from within their home timelines, and decide how long the content will be muted.

Read also: 4 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Twitter also will be more transparent about actions it takes in response to reports of harassment from users.

“These updates are part of the ongoing safety work we announced in January, and follow our changes announced on February 7,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement provided to TechNewsWorld by Liz Kelley of the company’s communications department.

A Fine Balance

“We’re giving people the choice to filter notifications in a variety of ways, including accounts who haven’t selected a profile photo or verified their phone number or email address,” the spokesperson noted.

The feature is not turned on by default but provided as an option.

Still, suggesting special handling for accounts without a profile picture — known as “eggs” because of the ovoid shape of the space left for the picture — and those without an email address or phone number could pose a privacy dilemma.

Twitter “is walking a fine line here between censorship and useful communication,” observed Michael Jude, a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

Making the Internet Safe for Tweeters

Twitters’ ongoing efforts to curb abuse show that the company is “aware they have a serious problem, and what they’ve done so far is less than adequate,” remarked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Previous attempts ” were pretty pathetic, really, and Twitter needed to do something more substantive,” he told TechNewsWorld. “This seems to be far more substantive.”

Still, the new measures “don’t address the cause of the behavior — and until someone does, they will only be an increasingly ineffective Band-Aid,” Enderle cautioned.

No Place for the Timid

The latest tools may be successful at first, but “people will find ways around them,” Frost’s Jude told TechNewsWorld.

Twitter’s approach “is purely defensive,” he said. “It ought to just open up its space with the appropriate disclaimers; that would be easier and cheaper, and people who are easily offended would be put on notice that Twitter isn’t a safe space.”

The more controls Twitter attempts to impose, the less useful it will be to an increasing number of people, Jude contended. “Ultimately, Twitter may create a completely politically correct and safe place to socialize, but that will only appeal to a niche population.”

Online Crime and Punishment

Twitter’s defensive play is not enough; the hammer should be lowered on abusers, suggested Enderle.

“Efforts need to be made to hold those that are clearly over the line to more painful penalties to effectively address the causes of the behavior and not just the symptoms,” he maintained.

“Currently, laws and enforcement are well below what they should be for most abhorrent online activity,” said Enderle, “including things like identity theft that would typically be considered criminal acts.

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Can the TV Industry Sustain Falling Prices?

Every year in advance of the Super Bowl, there are big sales on TVs, and this year is no exception. It also could be a milestone, as TVs could be bottoming out.

TV prices are near a record low, yet sales continue to slip. In the long run, that won’t be good for the industry or consumers.

There was an “abrupt weakening of global demand for TV sets,” IHS Markit concluded in a report released last year.

That finding is consistent with the fact that most consumers in America, Europe and parts of Asia today have two or more TV sets in their homes.

The consumer electronics industry saw a 4 percent year-over-year decline in TV sales in 2015, even as demand for 4K/Ultra High Definition TV sets grew enormously. 4K sets accounted for 14 percent of total worldwide sales of HDTVs by spring of that year — even though little content was available for the new sets. However, the industry touted the better picture and more amazing colors that viewers would be able to enjoy in the content to come.

To date, there is no cable or broadcast content in 4K, and it remains limited on streaming services. In other words, it’s been marketing hype over what tomorrow will bring that has driven sales. This isn’t the first time the industry has pulled out all the stops to drive the sales of the next big thing, but what it has done is to drive down prices continually in the process. In the long run, that could be a problem.

Cheaper Than Ever

Today, TV prices are actually at an all-time low when inflation is factored in. From World War II on, TVs were the one consumer electronic category that almost kept pace with inflation. While there were declines in the price point over the years, prices increased along with size.

The cost of a TV set in the 1950s ranged from US$129 to $1,295 — not that different from what consumers can expect today. To put this in perspective, the average house cost $20,000 in 1957 while a postage stamp was just 3 cents. The average income in the United States at that time was $4,494.

When Raytheon introduced a 21-inch color set in 1955, it retailed for $795 and sales were slow. To help spur interest, CBS offered consumers the chance to trade in their old black and white sets, offering as much as $400.

That $800 TV was a major purchase — likely the third biggest expense after a house and automobile. By contrast, today’s TVs cost less than what the average family of four probably spends at the grocery store in a month!

This helps explain why only 150,000 color TV sets had been sold by the end of 1957 — less than 60 years ago — and why it took until the mid-1960s for color TV to be widely adopted. Moreover, it took until 1970 for color TV sets to surpass black and white.

By contrast, each new improvement takes little time to move from the early adopter to the mainstream market, as prices quickly fall.

Reaching the Heights

TV prices reached their zenith, ironically, around the same time that TV maker Zenith was forced out of the U.S. market. Zenith, along with Sears and Motorola, tried to fend off lower-priced TVs from Japan in the 1970s and 1980s through legal action.

The case made its way to the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which found in favor of the Japanese brands. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, which Zenith argued was a violation of the United States Antitrust Laws and the Anti-Dumping Act of 1916.

Despite the fact that no American TVs were made in the 1990s, the price of sets increased. In 1994, a Japanese-made 35-inch RCA Color Tabletop TV cost around $2,000. While not quite the major purchase it had been in the 1950s, the TV remained a big ticket item.

The big turn of events came with the announced switch from analog to digital broadcast signals and the era of high-definition TV, or HDTV. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the cost of those then-new HDTV sets was as high as their definition.

Sony introduced its first line of plasma sets — 42-inches of HDTV goodness — in the late 1990s with a price tag exceeding $10,000! It was at the time when HDTV was a fantasy item, not even a mere dream.

However, just as the Japanese TV makers, including Sony and Panasonic, had taken the market away from American brands like RCA and Zenith, two companies from South Korea — namely Samsung and LG — appeared on the scene. They aggressively entered the market and underwent a corporate makeover.

Just as few people may remember how expensive those early HD sets were, even fewer likely remember the days of discount electronics maker Lucky Goldstar. By rebranding itself as “LG” and suggesting in its commercials that “Life’s Good,” it became a Cadillac-level TV maker.

LG offered products that weren’t a dream item anymore — they were grounded in reality, though still expensive. For a while, TV purchases remained something people took very seriously. They researched, compared prices and thought carefully about their buying decisions — yet in a few years, TVs practically became impulse items!

Keeping the Sales Going

TV prices haven’t kept pace with inflation since 2005. In fact, the prices have fallen, which has caused waves in the industry. This trend actually drove out some of the premium makers — notably Pioneer, which exited the market more than a decade ago. Other companies have streamlined their offerings.

The more expensive-to-produce plasma sets were discontinued, as consumers opted for the more affordable LCD options, including LED. This may have been bemoaned by videophiles, who often touted the deeper black levels and color of plasma — but for most consumers it just meant prices continued to fall.

High definition has been such a step up that most consumers don’t mind a slightly inferior picture, as it is still much better than what they had just a dozen years ago.

TV manufacturers have faced a bigger concern. The industry experienced a TV crash in 2008 with the economic downturn, but it pulled out all the stops with new bigger sets and add-on features such as 3D, as a way to keep sales going.

In fact, the whole 3D movement could be seen as one of the biggest blunders in TV set history. People didn’t really want it, but that didn’t stop the set makers from trying.

The most recent big push has been to 4K, which offers four times the resolution of still-beautiful-looking HDTV. For TV makers, it represents a strategy to address eroding price points, as well as a rationale for selling new sets — and that is the root of the problem.

TV makers saw massive sales increases as consumers adopted the HDTV standard. However, once everyone had a set, there was little reason to buy another, and the industry never truly returned to its usual replacement cycle. Instead, TV manufacturers have scrambled to keep demand up — which in turn has driven prices down.

It is a cycle that simply can’t continue, or else it becomes akin to a pyramid scheme, in which TV production and ownership of TVs will outpace the population. It’s actually getting close to that in the United States, according to Nielsen. The average American home had 2.93 TV sets per household by 2010, which was up from 2.86 sets per home in 2009.

That is simply unsustainable for TV makers, especially as prices continue to fall — not to mention that the lifespan for the average TV is now more than a decade. In other words, the industry is trying to get people to replace a product that simply doesn’t need to be replaced.

Not Sustainable in Other Ways

Falling TVs prices are also a threat to the environment, a point that seldom gets noticed.

With TVs now costing less than a mobile phone, in some cases, they have become all too disposable. There are few TV repair services today, because TVs are so affordable that if one breaks, it is easier to drive over to Best Buy or click on Amazon and buy a new one!

TVs may have gotten thinner, but that doesn’t mean that their electronics are less hazardous or even that there is less inside. There may be no picture tube, but the plasma and LCD screens are still filled with toxic materials.

Unlike other discarded appliances that might be salvaged for the metal content, TVs often are passed over by the salvagers — the so-called “metal guys” — who often show up before trash day.

The consumer electronics industry has done a decent, even admirable, job of helping individuals turn in old mobile phones, dead batteries and other devices. However, large panel TVs typically are just brought out to the curb on trash day.

Bottom Line: TVs Need to Cost More

Given that the replacement cycle for TVs has become constant, the obvious solution is to make TV sets cost more. This probably sounds anti-consumer, but consider the big picture. Just as Japanese brands displaced the American brands, they in turn were displaced by Korean companies — and now Chinese brands are driving down prices.

This should be a worrisome sign for other industries — automobiles and aircraft, for example. Perhaps higher tariffs could be a way to bring back some manufacturing to American shores.

At least two niche TV makers have been doing at least some assembly in the United States as of 2014: Seura of Green Bay, Wisconsin, produces TVs that turn into mirrors when they are off, as well as waterproof sets for outdoor use; SunBrite TV of Thousand Oaks, California, also assembles waterproof TVs. A third company, Element Electronics, has an assembly plant in Winnsboro, South Carolina.

What stands out with both Seura and SunBrite is that they each produce niche TVs — specifically for outdoor use — and their sets are priced higher than those from Vizio and Samsung. The prices for Seura range from $1,799 to $12,999, while SunBrite’s sets vary from $1,495 to $24,995.

It is therefore true that American TVs might cost more, but if there were more production in America, it could help bring back some jobs — and maybe even keep some sets from filling up landfills.

Today’s TV sets can last 30,000 or more hours, so they really could — and should — be a larger-ticket item rather than a product that is disposed of with disturbing regularity. xl-2017-email-1

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4 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Not long ago, I received an email from my health club. I’ve been member there for 13 years, and this was the first of its kind. It said, in part:

“Dear Chris,
We’ve noticed you haven’t been in as regularly in recent weeks. I understand there may be many reasons for not being able to make it in, but I just wanted to send a quick note to check if you’re happy with the service we’ve been providing. Let me know if I can be of any assistance and I hope to see you very soon!”

While I appreciate that the health club is at least trying to stay in contact, this email managed to do several things wrong all at once — and they’re all avoidable.

Don’t Put the Recipient on the Spot

My reaction to this email was probably not what they thought it might be. I felt defensive. “Hey! I went last Friday!” I thought. “I’m planning on going tonight, already!”

Then I caught myself. I used to go to the club three times a week. Since having a child, it’s usually twice a week for two hours. Some weeks more, some weeks less. Still, I don’t have any need to explain my behavior to a health club that gladly takes my money regardless of how often I go.

It wasn’t the club’s intent to raise my defenses. In fact, it’s a smart thing for them to encourage people to continue a regular, ongoing relationship with the club and to make attendance a habit — because membership renewals then become a habit, too.

It’s all about the message — and the audience. I know they know how old I am, and I know they know my actual attendance patterns. When the club “notices” behavior of the doughy middle-ager and calls him on it — even in gentle terms — it can start the conversation off on the wrong note and negate any positive aspects of the message.

Don’t Make Personalization About the Data

Hey, wait a minute — I’m not doughy! I go to the gym pretty often, considering! However, this email was sent on Jan. 12. I suspect it was generated when my attendance dropped below a certain threshold, or was down a certain percentage of visits over the typical month.

“There may be many reasons for not being able to make it in,” indeed. December is anything but a typical month, and I didn’t get to the health club much the last two weeks of the year, thus triggering this email.

So, while it might appear personalized, it isn’t. It’s not about me — it’s about my data. It’s driven by attendance statistics compiled each time I use my badge to check in, but it has nothing to do with my greater life.

In the case of the month of December, the events of that greater life are easy to infer.

Don’t Give Grammar Short Shrift

The email itself uses the pronouns “we” and “I” almost interchangeably. The signature is from the general manager — so the copy ought to read like it’s from her.

I am fairly certain she is not the queen of any known nation, so the royal “we” is inappropriate.

Don’t Be Stingy With Added Value

A check-in is nice, but without some additional information, it seems like just a nudge to guilt the reader to come back in to the club. To be fair, the end of the copy includes links to an article on fitting exercise into a busy schedule and to the class schedule. However, other information would have made the email much more useful.

For example, over the holiday break, the club swapped some new weight training equipment with some older machines. In fact, the next time I went in, I had to hunt around find the equipment for my regular routine. A little update would have been nice: “The next time you’re in the fitness area, you’ll notice some things have changed…” Or, even better: “We’ll have a trainer on duty specifically to make sure you learn your way around the new gear!”

Connecting with customers in a subscription business is vital to survival. However, the best approach is to do it in a way that makes the customer feel good about the relationship, that provides a reason for the customer to engage with the message, and that reflects positively on the business.

The goal of email communications should be to strengthen the bond. Don’t give the customer any reasons to think about switching to a competitorxl-2017-email-1

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HTC to showcase wearable prototype at Mobile World Congress

HTC is reportedly preparing to showcase the first of a trio of new wearable devices at next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Specifically, the Taiwanese manufacturer will show a smartwatch prototype based on Qualcomm’s Toq device according to a person with direct knowledge of the plans as reported by Bloomberg.

Said device will use a Mirasol display and will feature a music player with Bluetooth connectivity. Unfortunately, it’s likely that we won’t get a glimpse of the device anytime soon as the source said it would be shown to wireless carriers behind closed doors only.

Elsewhere, HTC is said to be working on another watch that will use Google’s Now service and an AMOLED screen as well as a bracelet that can play music. It’s likely that neither of these devices will be showcased at the show, we’re told.

Earlier this month, HTC chairman Cher Wang said the company is planning to release its first wearable device in time for the holidays. They’re currently working to rectify issues with the display and battery life.

It’s these devices that could help the struggling handset maker get back in the mobile race. Once the leading smartphone provider in the US, the company has since suffered through two straight annual revenue declines. That’s thanks largely in part to Chinese competitors like Xiaomi Corp. who are able to sell handsets for just $100.

A year ago, HTC CEO Peter Chou said wearables were critical for the company but they had to figure out how to make one that wasn’t gimmicky and met a need.htc

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7 Ways Telecom And Technology Can Future-proof Your Business

In today’s digital world, change is inevitable. The technology and processes that are currently working for your business aren’t guaranteed to work for you in the future. Because of this, it is imperative that you are always planning ahead.

Below are seven ways technology can future-proof your business.

Technology Protects Your Data and Information

While the digital age has brought numerous benefits for businesses, it has also brought on increased risks of cyberattacks. No company is immune to these types of attacks, so it is imperative that your business has the technology in place to best prevent them. By not making this a priority, you are inevitably putting your company’s data and information at risk. Making cybersecurity a priority will save your business in the long run.

Technology Allows Your Systems to Scale Along With Your Business

No matter how great your forecasting models are at your business, nobody can predict the future. Because of this, it’s important that your business invests in technology that can help your company scale up and scale back when it needs to. Consider investing in scalable bandwidth for your company to facilitate growth.

Technology Helps You Adapt to Evolving Trends

The world of technology is constantly changing, and your business needs to be able to change along with it. By always making sure your software, hardware, and other technologies are up to date, you’ll be sure not to fall behind and will keep your business relevant in the future. Additionally, many applications, such as cloud-based technology and various software programs, update automatically, ensuring your business is always set up for success.

Technology Aids in Streamlining Operations

The more buttoned-up your business is, the better equipped it will be to handle any future circumstances. By equipping your business with fast internet and dependable phone systems, you’ll have the communication tools necessary to improve productivity and ensure your business is as efficient and effective as possible.

Technology Fosters a Good Customer Experience

At the end of the day, your customers are what will keep your business alive in the future, so it’s essential that you do everything you can to provide them with positive experiences when they interact with your company. For brick and mortar shops, consider offering customer WiFi so that they can browse around while they’re in your store. For businesses that require wait times, consider providing TV for customers so that they have entertainment to help pass the time.

Technology Assists with Strategic Innovation

Gone are the days that businesses need to guess if their efforts are working and resonating with their audience. With the right technology, businesses can see which tactics are working and which are not. You can even view customer spending habits to gauge the wants, interests, and needs of your consumers. This kind of insight allows businesses to plan for the future.

Technology Makes Employees Happy

The key to a successful company is to invest in the right people, so it’s imperative that you do what it takes to keep them around. Nothing is more frustrating to an employee than not being able to get your job done due to technological obstacles. If employees have fast internet, phone systems, and other technological tools to easily and quickly communicate with one another, they’ll be much better at their jobs and much more satisfied.

In order for technology to best future proof your business, it needs to be a part of a comprehensive strategy that ties into your business goals. Don’t just purchase the latest and greatest technology because it’s “cool” or trendy. Make sure it serves a purpose.micro data

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Be among the first now to preorder the world’s first certified flying car, starting from $400,000

According to sci-fi movies and shows from decades ago, we should all be traveling around in our flying cars by now. That prediction turned out to be slightly optimistic, but thanks to Dutch company PAL-V, we now have “the first certified commercial flying car ever.”

Admittedly, the Liberty doesn’t exactly bring to mind the flying DeLorean from Back to the Future 2. The three wheels and foldable rotor makes it look more like a gyrocopter than most people’s idea of a flying car, but it’s still equally at home on the road as it is in the sky.

As you might imagine, these vehicles don’t come cheap – the Liberty Sport base model costs $400,000 before taxes. If you want luxuries such as flying lessons, power heating, detailing, and an electronic flight instrument display, you’ll have to hand over $600,000 for the Pioneer Edition.

The 197bhp Liberty can hit 100 mph on the road and gets 31 miles to the gallon, giving it an impressive range of 817 miles on a full tank. In the air, it’ll reach 112 mph and has a maximum altitude of almost 11,500 feet, though the range drops to 310 miles while airborne.

Switching from drive to flight mode and vice versa take about five to ten minutes. And you’ll need a license to fly it, along with enough takeoff space – you can’t just hop out in the middle of a busy street, setup the flight mode, and fly over congested traffic, which would be handy.

Only 90 Pioneer Editions are being built for its initial construction run, so if you want one you’d better get your order in fast. The company’s asking for a non-returnable deposit of $25,000 for the more expensive Liberty, or $10,000 for the Sport version, with delivery set for the end of next year. Alternatively, a $2500 returnable escrow deposit will put you on the waiting list.flying

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