Honor among geeks

IF it wasn’t for Nino Carandang, I would’ve never discovered the vast smartphone universe beyond the Samsung galaxy.

I was a content and loyal user who just waited for the next S or Note series—until Nino introduced me to a brand that I’ve never heard before.

That brand was Honor.

And true to its catchphrase, “For The Brave,” it was really for the few bold souls who dared to take a chance on the young and upstart brand.

I still remember the date—May 12, 2015—and unlike most launches today which are held either in the ballroom of a hotel or in some large event venue, Honor held its media launch at The Tree House, a bar in Makati that although was a bit cramped, was bursting with personality. It was a haven for geeks with lots of pop-culture stuff and even an old-school arcade cabinet.

Our guest list included the usual tech media and lifestyle writers, and the few of us who were able to try out the phone a few days ahead. We became an unofficial club of sorts—I used to refer to it as the Honor Society or the Honor Boys. The few. The proud. For the brave.

We posted our photos with the hashtag #ForTheBrave and even dared compare our Honor 6Plus to flagship phones which cost twice or even three times more.

It replaced my pricier Samsung phone and I used and abused that phone for almost two years until the battery eventually gave out. I took more photos on that Honor 6Plus than all my previous phones combined.

It was because of my two favorite camera features: night mode and wide aperture. I think I “bokehed” almost everything and back then it made all my photos stand out.

So when the brand came back early this year, I was very excited. Unfortunately, it was one-sided. Sir Nino had left the company and went on to the “Smart-er” path, and I don’t think the new guys running the brand knew or was interested in us Honor Boys. If it hadn’t been for a few friends, I don’t think I’d even reconnect with the brand.

But as they say, you can’t keep a good brand down and in just a few months, Honor is again disrupting the local market as it reestablishes its presence with a series of good smartphones with even better price tags.

GAME WITH THE BRAVE

TODAY, the e-brand is launching Honor Play, the newest addition to its smartphone portfolio. The Honor Play was designed specifically for mobile gamers—both casual and hardcore—delivering optimum, high-end performance.

The Play brings major ground-breaking and industry-leading smartphone technologies to mobile gamers such as the GPU Turbo technology and the powerful Kirin 970 flagship chipset. This pair of features dramatically increases graphics processing, providing a smoother, faster gaming experience. The GPU Turbo is an integrated hardware-software graphics processing acceleration technology that reconstructs the traditional graphics processing framework at the lower layer system, greatly improving the efficiency of GPU graphics processing and user gaming experience.

Honor has achieved this key technological breakthrough with the GPU Turbo, improving graphics processing efficiency by 60 percent and reducing SoC (System on Chip) energy consumption by 30 percent, setting new records in smartphone performance and energy consumption balance.

This fast gaming device is AI-enabled for total immersion. The 4D gaming experience includes not only graphics and 3D audio effects, but AI vibration that’s smartly driven by the AI capability, customized for the most popular games and matched to gameplay modes and scenarios, to deliver the truly immersive mobile gaming experience to gamers.

For example, the AI real-time image and audio recognition will vibrate in 30 different scenarios according to the direction of approaching enemies and gunfire in selected games, and you will feel the kickback as you pull the trigger. 4D AI vibration and in-game notification mute can be switched on in gaming assistant and covers 30 different gameplay scenarios and 10 modes and weaponry options.

The Histen 3D audio technology, meanwhile, offers an ultra-wide 3D sound field for gamers. This virtual surround sound offers a cinematic experience with three modes: near, front and wide. This is supported by both wire earphones and headphones with 3D stereo effect.

Not much of a gamer?

No problem. The Honor Play is still a very capable smartphone packed with other exciting features for those looking for value in the midrange market.

It has an AI-enabled dual rear camera with a 16MP+2MP resolution. The AI camera can identify different scene types and adjusts the camera settings accordingly, even regulating exposure and the color after taking the shot to ensure the perfect image. It can recognize 22 objects and 500+ scenarios in real time with the AI Motion Detection, while the Image Stabilization function enables a stable photo every time.

With the Honor Smart Gallery, the Play can intelligently identify the characters and scenes in each photo, and create a tag for each group. You can also search for photos in the gallery using keywords like a search engine. Through a range of preinstalled applications, photos in the smart gallery can also be grouped and generated into music videos while adding AR gestures, makeup and backgrounds.

The Honor Play will be available in the Philippines in black and blue, with a RAM of 4GB, and with up to 64GB of built-in storage expandable via a microSD card slot of up to 256GB at an unbelievable price of P15,990.

So, game on with the ultimate performance beast and head to SM Fairview today and join the preorder “Game with the Brave” event. Just pay a down-payment of P1,000 and choose a preferred branch to claim your Honor Play and a free JBL Clip 2 starting August 13.

TOSHIBA NEW PORTÉGÉ Z30-E

PACKING professional performance with full-size ports into a thin and durable design, the Toshiba Portégé Z30-E

is the latest addition to the brand’s business lineup. The Portégé Z30-E has been engineered with mobility and reliability at its core to increase business productivity by providing professional performance for today’s increasingly mobile work force.

Built to perform and designed to move, the ultra-light Portégé Z30-E offers premium performance in any setting. What’s more, with a range of full-size ports and common features across Toshiba’s entire business lineup, organizations can be sure of a consistent, compatible and customizable solution across their IT infrastructure.

Weighing in at just 1.2 kg, with a highly robust magnesium chassis, and a 18-hour battery life from a single charge, the Portégé Z30-E provides convenient portability. Meanwhile, its 33.8 cm (13.3”) nonreflective HD or Full HD screen with LED backlighting means users won’t be distracted by glare, even in direct sunlight, enabling users to work confidently wherever the day may take them.

The Portégé Z30-E is powered by the latest Intel Core processor with DDR4 RAM (2400MHz). The Portégé Z30-E offers a range of convenient full-size ports to keep users connected to their surroundings. Three USB 3.0 ports and a HDMI port allow for work to be shared quickly or presentations projected in high-resolution brilliance. Gigabit LAN allows fast access to local networks, meaning users can work wirelessly if required.

The Portégé Z30-E is designed to withstand the pressures of professional life and is backed up by HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Test), which simulates approximately three years of wear and tear. The tests by independent German test institute TÜV Rheinland include drop-testing, spill-testing and pressure-testing, so users can work confidently in the knowledge that they are using a robust device. A Trusted Platform Module (TPM) keeps critical data safe and sound on the local storage of the Portégé Z30-E. The optional Smartcard and SecurePad with fingerprint reader mean that no one but the intended user can log in.

The Portégé Z30-E will be available from Q3 2018.

CAN THE PHILIPPINES BECOME A CRYPTO NATION?

OKAY, so everyone’s been talking about blockchain technology these days. Some even compare it to the introduction of other disruptive technologies that have since become widespread, such as automobiles, mobile phones, and the World Wide Web.

Governments have approached blockchain regulation in different ways. Some governments have chosen the “wait-and-see” approach, deciding not to regulate cryptocurrencies as crypto assets are not yet threats to current financial systems due to its relatively small market capitalization. Some have banned or blocked the usage of cryptocurrency within the country’s borders entirely. Others have set out to create very detailed and specific rules and recommendations to regulate blockchain technology.

One country, in particular, that is being heralded as one of the best proof-of-concepts of a blockchain-powered nation is Switzerland.

In a study released at the blockchain conference Blockshow Europe 2018, Switzerland ranked first in a list of top 10 European countries for starting a blockchain company. The study examined the regulations of 48 countries related to ICOs, cryptocurrency as a payment service, and taxation framework for cryptocurrencies.

With its historical strength in financial services,

global network and community, talent, and flexible and competitive taxation program for blockchain, Switzerland

has been among the pioneers in the implementation of blockchain technology. However, it is their advanced regulation that has allowed innovation and creativity in blockchain to thrive in Switzerland.

Crypto Valley in Zug, which is a short train ride from Zurich, Switzerland, is now home to a growing number of blockchain-based companies which are attracted to the low corporate tax and business and blockchain-friendly policies.

Experts are saying that the Philippines can also benefit a lot from the technology, and there’s even a chance that we can actually become one of the leaders because of organizations such as the Blockchain Association of the Philippines (BAP).

The BAP was formed to spread understanding and adoption of blockchain technology among Filipino entrepreneurs and fintech professionals, and provide this community with the information and guidance needed to implement this new technology in their industries. Though registered in countries like Singapore, a handful of Philippine-based companies, such as Salarium and Loyalcoin, have rolled out ICOs.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has also published Circular 944, more commonly known as the BSP’s Guidelines for Virtual Currency (VC) Exchanges, a six-page document which currently serves as the rules and regulations that govern operations of VC exchanges in the Philippines. Since then, the BSP has received around 30 applications seeking approval to operate as a virtual currency exchange in the country. As of July 2018, only two have been granted licenses: Betur Inc., which operates Coins.ph; and Rebittance Inc. of SCI Ventures, which operates Rebit.ph.

At a recent media event I attended, I got to meet Cecilia Mueller-Chen, one of the global forerunners in compliance and regulation when it comes to blockchain and the crypto economy. Mueller-Chen is a former award-winning global chief compliance officer and chief operating officer with 17-plus years of international cross-functional experience in stock exchange, investment and corporate bank, and private bank, and has worked closely with 60 central banks and financial regulators worldwide. As a member of the Crypto Valley Association’s Regulatory and Policy working group, Mueller-Chen was the lead author of the Crypto Valley Association’s Code of Conduct. She currently assesses regulations governing ICOs around the world.

Justo Aboitiz Ortiz, the president of the Blockchain Association of the Philippines and chairman of UnionBank, hosted the event saying they invited Mueller-Chen to the Philippines because “she’s a presenter of a country that we respect—Switzerland—whose leaders in the Federal Council have publicly announced their desire to make Switzerland a crypto nation. We want to take inspiration from that.”

In Switzerland the regulations involving crypto currency are very liberal and principle-based. That is, regulations are more like boundaries rather than pathways. The technology and the communities behind blockchain are seen to be moving faster than what existing regulations can prescribe, or faster than regulations can be drafted and enforced. Therefore, Mueller-Chen believes that while there needs to be a clear line of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, the regulations should not stifle innovation.

To build a crpyto nation, there needs to be a partnership between the regulators and the industry. “Ultimately,” says Mueller-Chen, “regulations need to enable innovation, be technology-neutral, and have zero tolerance for criminal activity.”

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