Laptop Ban on Direct Flights Between Morocco and US to Be Lifted, Says Royal Air Maroc

A ban on carrying laptop computers and other large electronic devices in aircraft cabins on direct flights between Morocco and the United States will be lifted on Thursday, Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc said in a statement.

In March, the United States banned laptops in cabins on flights originating at 10 airports in eight countries – Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey – to address fears that bombs could be concealed in them.

Laptop Ban on Direct Flights Between Morocco and US to Be Lifted, Says Royal Air MarocRoyal Air Maroc is the only carrier to operate direct flights to the United States, flying from Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport to New York and Washington D.C.

It did not say why the restrictions had been lifted, but the US Department of Homeland Security had already dropped restrictions on six of the airlines after they adopted stricter screening for explosives and other enhanced measures.

The department said on Tuesday it would review requests by the remaining three Middle Eastern airlines – from Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – to have the ban lifted.

State-owned EgyptAir said it expected the restrictions to be removed on Wednesday. Saudi Arabian Airlines, also known as Saudia, said it expected the ban to be lifted on flights from Jeddah and Riyadh by July 19.

PC Market Continues Slump on High Component Prices: Gartner, IDC

Worldwide shipments of personal computers continued to slump in the recently ended quarter but showed signs of stabilising, according to figures released Wednesday by market trackers.

Preliminary estimates released by Gartner indicated that 61.1 million PCs were shipped in the second quarter of this year in a 4.3 percent decline from the same period a year earlier.

An IDC Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computer Device Tracker report put the figure at 60.5 million in a year-over-year decline of 3.3 percent.

Higher prices due to tight supplies of some components, particularly solid state drives, were felt to be among factors that hampered sales.

Gartner maintained that the PC industry is in the midst of a 5 year slump, and said the latest figures represented an 11th straight quarter of declining shipments.

“Amid some unevenness in market trends across the regions, the global PC market has continued to trend toward stabilization,” IDC research manager Jay Chou said in a release.

“Despite recent issues wrought by component shortages and its effect on system prices, we expect the momentum of commercial market replacements will contribute to eventual market growth.”

Chou expected consumer demand for PCs to remain under pressure, but saw potential boosts from the growing popularity of powerful computers for game play and sleek new Windows machines.

PC Market Continues Slump on High Component Prices: Gartner, IDCFactors hitting PC sales included growing demand for Google-backed Chromebook laptops that essentially act as gateways to services and computing power hosted in the Internet cloud, according to Gartner.

Worldwide Chromebook sales grew by 38 percent last year, while the overall PC market shrank six percent, Gartner reported.

“The Chromebook is not a PC replacement as of now, but it could be potentially transformed as a PC replacement if a few conditions are met going forward,”,” said Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

“For example, infrastructure of general connectivity needs to improve; mobile data connectivity needs to become more affordable; and it needs to have more offline capability.”

Both market trackers ranked HP as the top computer seller, saying its sales have grown despite the shrinking market.

HP was followed by Lenovo, Dell and Apple in that order.

AMD Ryzen 3 Speeds, Launch Date Announced; Ryzen Threadripper Prices and Specs Confirmed

AMD has taken the wraps off its highly anticipated Ryzen 3 and Ryzen Threadripper CPUs. The budget-focused Ryzen 3 line will target entry-level users, while the enthusiast-class Ryzen Threadripper is designed for those who want monstrous amounts of processing power in a desktop. AMD is hoping to gain an edge over Intel’s offerings in the same space by offering higher performance and lower prices.

There are two Ryzen 3 models, which join the mid-range and high-end Ryzen 5 (Review) and Ryzen 7 (Review) families, completing AMD’s new desktop platform. The Ryzen 3 1300X and Ryzen 3 1200 both have four cores but are not multi-threaded unlike all other CPUs announced so far. However, AMD will be counting on four physical cores as an advantage over Intel’s Core i3 range which are all dual-core and use Hyper-Threading to deliver four threads. The Ryzen 3 1300X has a base speed of 3.5GHz and can boost up to 3.7GHz, while the Ryzen 3 1200 is clocked at 3.1GHz and 3.4GHz respectively. AMD has not announced other specifications such as cache sizes, but the names and speeds are consistent with the Ryzen 3 Pro lineup announced late last month, so we can expect 65W TDPs.

Pricing for the low-end chips has not been announced either, but with the most affordable Ryzen 5 priced at Rs. 12,199 in India, we can expect AMD to target the sub-Rs. 10,000 market. The biggest challenge for AMD will be that Ryzen 3 CPUs lack integrated graphics, which will drive the cost up for anyone choosing one of these CPUs over an Intel Core i3. These two CPUs are set to become available globally on July 27.

AMD Ryzen 3 Speeds, Launch Date Announced; Ryzen Threadripper Prices and Specs ConfirmedAt the opposite end of the market, AMD has confirmed that its 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen Threadripper 1950X CPU will cost $999 (approximately Rs. 64,380), and there will also be a 12-core, 24-thread model called the Ryzen Threadripper 1920X, priced at $799 (approximately Rs. 51,485). The flagship 1950X model will run at a base speed of 3.4GHz and can boost up to 4.0GHz, while the slightly-cut-down 1920X can manage a higher 3.5GHz base speed but has the same boost ceiling.

Threadripper CPUs have Intel’s new Core X-series processors, including the high-end Core i9 models, in their sights. With its announcement, AMD showed off demos of a $799 Ryzen Threadripper 1920X defeating the $999 10-core, 20-thread Intel Core i9-7900X by a comfortable margin in the Cinebench R15 benchmark which can take full advantage of multiple threads.

The Ryzen Threadripper platform brings workstation-class features to consumer desktops, such as 64 lanes of PCIe connectivity for up to four high-end graphics cards and multiple I/O devices running at full speed. All CPUs are also unlocked for overclocking.

While consumers will be able to buy boxed Threadripper CPUs, Dell will be the exclusive launch partner for pre-built PCs. Preorders for the Alienware Area 51 Threadripper Edition will open on July 27 in the US. More details about the Threadripper launch and AMD’s upcoming Radeon Vega graphics cards will be announced at the annual SIGGRAPH conference which begins on July 30.

Decision on Western Digital’s Bid to Block Toshiba Memory Unit Sale Postponed

A US judge did not reach a decision Friday in Western Digital’s bid to temporarily block Toshiba from selling its flash memory business in an $18 billion deal but proposed requiring Toshiba to give Western Digital two weeks’ notice before closing.

Toshiba is scrambling to sell its flash memory unit to cover losses from its nuclear reactor business.

In late June, Toshiba announced its preferred bidder was a group made up of Bain Capital, South Korean chip maker SK Hynix and Japanese-government backed banks that offered $18 billion (roughly Rs. 1,15,843 crores).

Western Digital, which is also bidding, sued Toshiba in San Francisco County Superior Court in mid-June, saying it believed a joint venture with Toshiba means Toshiba needs its consent to sell the flash business.

Western Digital’s joint venture with Toshiba helps finance equipment at Toshiba’s plants in exchange for some of their output.

Separately from the California lawsuit, Western Digital is also contesting its consent rights in an international arbitration tribunal. Western Digital filed its lawsuit in San Francisco to prevent Toshiba from closing the sale of its memory unit before arbitration has a chance to play out.

At the hearing, Judge Kahn proposed requiring Toshiba to give Western Digital two weeks notice if it believed it would close the sale before the arbitration finished.

Decision on Western Digital's Bid to Block Toshiba Memory Unit Sale PostponedToshiba’s attorney said they were concerned about agreeing to be bound by the San Francisco court’s jurisdiction. Toshiba has argued that because it is a Japanese company and the deal is taking place mostly in Japan, the court should not have jurisdiction.

Attorneys for Western Digital subsidiary SanDisk, which is formally party to the case, expressed concern that any order in which Toshiba did not agree to the court’s jurisdiction would not be enforceable.

The two sides could not agree, so Judge Kahn instructed them to come up with final language for his proposed order and set a new hearing for July 28, when a related dispute between the two will be heard.

In a statement, Western Digital CEO Steve Milligan called the proposed order and postponement a “victory.”

“Our entire goal was to preserve and protect our rights through the binding arbitration process, and that’s precisely what the court has done today,” Milligan said.

Toshiba called Judge Kahn’s proposed order “a ‘finessed’ alternative to issuing a preliminary injunction” and confirmed it agreed not to close a sale before July 28.

Jide Discontinues Remix OS, Moves Focus to Business Customers

Jide Technology on Tuesday announced that the company has decided to discontinue its Android-based Remix OS and that it will be “transitioning away” from consumer space. For those who are unaware, Remix OS is essentially a customised form of Android for the desktop form factor that was launched in January last year.

In a note from Jide, the company says that it has received a large number of queries from enterprises in various industries in the last one year and the company can help these enterprises build “great tools” by leveraging its software and hardware.

Jide Discontinues Remix OS, Moves Focus to Business Customers“We see huge potential in the role that Jide can play to revolutionize how these businesses operate. And given our existing resources, we decided to focus our company efforts solely on the enterprise space moving forward,” it said.

Jide says that it is restructuring its approach to Remix OS and as a result, the development on all existing products like Remix OS and other products in pipeline such as Remix IO and IO+ will be discontinued, as per the company. However, the company has clarified that all the backers for Remix IO and IO+ through KickStarter will be refunded. “In addition any purchases made via our online store that has remained unfulfilled will also be fully refunded. This requires no action from you as we will begin issuing refunds starting August 15th,” Jide said.

To recall, Jide launched its Remix Ultratablet back in 2014 and followed it up with its Android PC – Remix Mini and subsequently launched Remix OS for PC.

Windows 10 Updates Are Failing on Some PCs, Leaving Them at Risk

Owners of computers based on Intel’s Clover Trail generation of Atom processors, released between late 2012 and mid-2013, are reportedly finding that they are unable to install the Windows 10 Creators’ Update, also known as Windows 10 v1703. Users have reported seeing a message saying “Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC” when trying to complete the Windows 10 update process. An error code displayed with the message points users to a note that suggests that software incompatibility is the reason that the automated process fails.

The devices affected include low-cost laptops, tablets and convertible 2-in-1s. There are four consumer Clover Trail CPUs; the Intel Atom Z2760, Z2520, Z2560 and Z2580. It is likely that a huge number of Clover Trail-based PCs from all the world’s major manufacturers have been sold. Many were originally shipped with Windows 8 or 8.1, but users were prompted to upgrade to Windows 10 for free when it was released – with Microsoft promoting the upgrade heavily.

Windows 10 Updates Are Failing on Some PCs, Leaving Them at RiskNeither Microsoft nor Intel has not yet published any information for affected users. However, an Acer support page surfaced by ZDNet.com seems to indicate that users were previously able to install the update but reported that text and icons were not showing up correctly on screen, or were appearing as solid blocks or bars. The Acer page goes on to state that Microsoft is working to create compatible drivers to address this problem, which indicates that the block might not be permanent.

This is the first known instance of old hardware becoming ineligible for a major Windows 10 refresh. Instead of a known end date for feature and security updates, Microsoft now promises to support Windows 10 for free in perpetuity, so long as a device is within its “lifetime”. However, that definition is vague, and depends on hardware compatibility, driver availability and OEMs’ support periods.

It is unclear whether affected Clover Trail PCs running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which is as of now the latest supported version, will be eligible for security patches or other critical Windows updates. Microsoft officially supports each major Windows 10 release for 18 months, which means that the Anniversary Update falls outside this period in early 2018. Ars Technica points out that security updates for Windows 8.1 are guaranteed till at least October 2023, leaving users who upgraded to Windows 10 at a significant disadvantage.

Toshiba Resumes Blocking Western Digital Access to Chip Joint Venture

Toshiba said it resumed blocking access by Western Digital to data at their memory chip joint venture, intensifying its dispute with the US firm over the Japanese company’s planned sale of the chip business.

Toshiba is counting on the sale of the chip business to cover billions of dollars in cost overruns at its now bankrupt US nuclear unit Westinghouse, while Western Digital says any deal would require its consent.

Toshiba allowed Western Digital partial access to shared data servers after the Superior Court of California granted a temporary restraining order earlier this month. But the Japanese company said it resumed blocking access after its petition for an appeal was accepted by the California Court of Appeal on Tuesday.

Toshiba Resumes Blocking Western Digital Access to Chip Joint VentureIn response, Western Digital said that it will file a brief against the decision in the coming days.

The California Court of Appeal issued the temporary stay of the restraining order based only on a brief submitted by Toshiba, and without consideration of Western Digital’s opposition filing, the US company said.

The next hearing on this case has been set for July 28 in the Superior Court of California.

Western Digital has also sought an injunction to block the planned chip-business transaction, arguing that any sale required its consent.

On July 14, the Superior Court of California postponed a decision on Western Digital’s injunction request and proposed requiring Toshiba to give the US company two weeks notice before closing the sale.

Lenovo India Launches New Yoga, IdeaPad, and Legion Laptops Starting Rs. 17,800

Lenovo at an event held in New Delhi on Wednesday announced the launch of a new range of consumer laptops to its Yoga and IdeaPad portfolio. The company touts that the new additions are ‘future-ready’, meaning that the laptops come with features such as USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3.0 ports that it says are unlikely to become redundant anytime soon. Besides, the Chinese company also introduced its Premium Care Free service, which is essentially an after-sale service but with additional support for premium as well as non-premium categories for laptops.

The new Lenovo consumer laptops fall under four categories – clamshell or traditional, convertibles, gaming, and ultraslim. Starting with the more basic and traditional laptops, the IdeaPad 520 and IdeaPad 320 were launched, which come with specifications tuned for daily computing. The IdeaPad 520 laptop features a redesigned chassis with angled edges and metal surfaces, in addition to Harman speakers with Dolby Audio speakers, while the smaller sibling comes with Dolby Audio-optimised speakers. Both the laptops are powered by up to 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processors for performance and Nvidia GeForce 940X for graphics.

lenovo ideapad 320 gadgets360 194517 174518 4623 Lenovo IdeaPad 320

Coming to the multimedia-centric ultraslim laptops, Lenovo has launched IdeaPad S Series that includes IdeaPad 720S, IdeaPad 520S, IdeaPad 320S, and IdeaPad 120S. The IdeaPad 720S comes with angled edges, a backlit keyboard, up to 8 hours of video playback battery life, JBL Speakers with Dolby Atmos, and a starting weight of just 1.12kg. Other models too follow the same suit of specifications consisting of the 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and up to 8GB of RAM.

The newly launched convertible laptops under the Yoga series are Yoga 920, Yoga 720, Yoga 520, and Yoga 320. The Yoga 920 convertible laptop is Lenovo’s flagship product that comes with top of the line specifications including the option of a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor. The Lenovo Yoga 720 and Lenovo Yoga 520, on the other hand, bear similar specifications along with up to 128GB PCIe SSD and 1TB SATA HDD hybrid storage. They come with Nvidia graphics, full-HD displays, and a fingerprint reader embedded on the on the nearby touchpad panel. Also included in the specification set are the JBL Speakers and Dolby Audio Premium in the Yoga 720 and Harman Speakers in the Yoga 520. There is also an optional Lenovo Active Pen that provides a pin-point accuracy, palm-rejection technology and pressure sensitivity along with the Windows Ink feature.

US Laptop Ban on Middle East Carriers Has Officially Ended

The United States has ended a four month ban on passengers carrying laptops onboard US bound flights from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa, bringing to an end one of the controversial travel restrictions imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration.

Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport was the last of 10 airports to be exempted from the ban, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed in a tweet late on Wednesday local time.

Middle East carriers have blamed Trump’s travel restrictions, which include banning citizens of some Muslim majority countries from visiting the United States, for a downturn in demand on US routes.

In March, the United States banned large electronics in cabins on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa over concerns that explosives could be concealed in the devices taken onboard aircraft.

The ban has been lifted on the nine airlines affected – Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Kuwait Airways, EgyptAir and Royal Air Maroc — which are the only carriers to fly direct to the United States from the region.

A ban on citizens of six Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, – remains in place though has been limited after several US court hearings challenged the restrictions.

“The aviation industry has been trying to come together with a united message to governments and stakeholders about regulation and supporting the industry,” said Will Horton, senior analyst at Australian aviation consultancy CAPA.

“That was dealt a first blow from the travel ban and then a second from the large electronics ban.”

Leading industry group the International Air Transport Association (IATA) criticised the laptop ban as ineffective, as security experts argued that militants could travel to the United States via Europe or elsewhere where the restrictions didn’t apply.

The restrictions were imposed as major US carriers American Airlines Group, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines resumed their campaign against the Gulf carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways by pressuring the new US administration to renegotiate its open skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

However, US and Middle East officials said the campaign and the travel restrictions were not related.

US officials lifted the ban after visiting the 10 airports in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey over the past three weeks to confirm new security measures announced last month were being implemented.

US Laptop Ban on Middle East Carriers Has Officially EndedOn Thursday, the US issued a revised directive to airlines around the world in response to requests that it clarify aviation security measures scheduled to start taking effect this week.

The new requirements include enhanced passenger screening at foreign airports, increased security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas and expanded canine screening. They affect 325,000 airline passengers on about 2,000 commercial flights arriving daily in the United States, on 180 airlines from 280 airports in 105 countries.

Airlines that fail to meet the new security requirements could face in-cabin electronics restrictions.

The United Kingdom continues to enforce a similar in-cabin ban on electronics ban on flights from some Middle Eastern airports. Those restrictions apply to flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

Lenovo India Says Gaming PCs, Convertibles Will Drive Near-Term Growth

The note ban did have a slight impact on the adoption of technology and purchasing trends in the country but that phase is now over and gaming PCs, along with convertible laptops, will drive the next level of growth in the personal computers’ space, a top Lenovo India executive has stressed.

Saying that demonetisation cooled down the demand for PCs in India, market research firm Gartner said earlier this week that worldwide PC shipments saw a 4.3 percent decline in the second quarter of 2017. It added that the PC industry globally is in the midst of a five-year slump and this is the 11th straight quarter of declining shipments.

In the Asia-Pacific region, PC shipments witnessed a decline of 5.1 percent in the quarter and, in India, “the PC market was primarily affected by market dynamics coupled with the absence of a large tender deal compared to a year ago and higher PC prices brought about weak market growth,” Gartner said.

“The market is only looking up. Demonetisation was a blip and it created an instability for a short time — 15 days or a month. We were all surprised with the way the market has bounced back,” Rajesh Thadani, Executive Director-Consumer Business and Ecommerce, Lenovo India, told IANS.

“After the demonestisation, we saw that demand for premium devices (priced more than Rs. 50,000) doubled. The mainstream market – devices which are available for nearly Rs. 30,000 – is also growing,” Thadani added.

According to the latest “Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker” by market research firm IDC, Lenovo, with 17.7 percent market share, came third in India for the first quarter of 2017.

Globally, Lenovo shipped 12.1 million units in the second quarter of 2017 and recorded 19.9 percent market share to grab the second spot, according to Gartner.

Aiming to change these figures, Lenovo on July 19 unveiled new additions to its Yoga and Ideapad range of future-ready laptops.

With this, the Chinese technology major has targeted mainstream and premium segment customers with devices ranging from as low as Rs. 17,800 to a highest of Rs. 74,850.

“The consumers today are no longer satisfied with a basic PC and want more power in it. There is a small set of customers who are deal seekers and want value for money, but those who want New Age devices and have spending capacity are growing very fast. I think this is the trend we are witnessing in the Indian consumer industry,” Thadani noted.

Lenovo India Says Gaming PCs, Convertibles Will Drive Near-Term GrowthEven gamers are now shelling out more money to get a top-of-the-line experience.

“When the cash was going out of the system owing to the note ban, Lenovo changed the strategy and offered discounts on credit cards, EMI schemes and tied up with third-party vendors. This helped us create even more demand,” the Lenovo executive told IANS.

Thadani highlighted that in mature markets like Japan, the PC market is declining but when it comes to evolving markets like India where PC penetration is still low, the demand is growing.

Talking about GST, he said that the move has forced businesses to become more structured.

“We see a lot of opportunity because enterprises and traders are now joining the new tax regime. They would need infrastructure and this is where companies like Lenovo will benefit by providing them solutions,” Thadani said.

Going forward, the company is building products around Virtual Reality (VR) and new technologies where the devices will be Cloud-enabled.

“It’s still early to talk about, but this is something that we look forward to. With the technologies around Microsoft Cortana, Lenovo will come with devices that will fulfil the current and growing needs of the consumers,” Thadani said.