Fresh off the IT Block, 1st October 2020
Welcome to another edition of our fresh off the block news series!
For today's stories, we will be discussing; which touchscreen laptop is the best on the market right now? The new ways companies are leveraging contactless payment for their customers, and how FlightRadar has been struggling with cyber attacks.
Which touchscreen laptop is the best on the market right now?
When it comes to the creative working mind, there's not much that beats a 2-in-1 foldable, or touchscreen laptop. Whether you're a sales rep, an artist, a graphic designer, or constantly on the road, having a touchscreen laptop is a big deal.
It takes up less space, meaning you don't have to contend with a mouse and keyboard if you don't need them. Instead you can make use of both the built-in keyboard, and your fingers, to direct the cursor along your screen.
If you're looking for the best of the best, we have compiled the top 3 options for you to check out below:
3. HP Spectre x360 (2020 model)
HP have once again outdone themselves with this 2020 model of their 2-in-1 laptop. Now, users can enjoy running on Intel's 10th generation core processors, as well as Intel's Iris Plus graphics.
This means you can expect a 4K touchscreen display, and better responsiveness for both your fingers and when using a stylus. What's more, you can boast with up to 16 GB of RAM, with the Spectre x360 giving you 8 GB of RAM on its basic model.
This beauty comes with a 15.6 inch display, as well as HP's very own Tilt Pen, which comes in handy if you want to do anything from doodle drawings, all the way to designing professional graphics. The HP Spectre x360 might not be cheap $1500 USD ($2100 SGD), but it makes its worth with the great specs you receive in return.
For a 10th generation Intel core processor and 4K display, even for casual users, you're looking at a good deal!
2. Dell XPS 13 (2020 model)
This could be argued as the best touchscreen model out there if you simply look at the specifications.
For starters, you can opt for 8 or 16 GB of RAM, as well as make great use of the powerful Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor. The touchscreen last year received a little bit of scrutiny, but as expected, Dell delivered once again this year. Now users can enjoy a 16:10 display, with a 1920 x 1200 resolution touchscreen. Along with these changes, the 2020 version of the XPS comes thinner and lighter, weighing just 2.8 pounds and measuring just over half an inch at its thickest point.
Although gaming on this laptop is a little less successful than last year's model, light gaming and playing on a lower frame rate is definitely possible. For the i7 version, you can pick up the XPS 13 for a cool $1800 USD ($2450 SGD). It really is a 2-in-1 laptop that boasts what we can see as a "close to perfection" bundle of specs.
1. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition
Now, if you're looking for something more powerful than the above, and are willing to splash your cash, we recommend you do a bit of research into the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition. This 2-in-1 laptop offers specifications that will suit any graphic designer, gamer, photographer or videographer.
For starters, users can enjoy a 15.6 inch 60Hz 4K OLED touchscreen that comes factory calibrated (meaning all of your movements will be on-point). What's even more impressive is the Razer Blade 15's 1 TB storage, up to 32 GB of RAM, and the premium 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750. You could say these 3 specs alone give this laptop the power to carry out many tasks at once.
If you're looking for a 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop that you want to take seriously, this is probably your go-to. It is perfect for multitasking, and will never slow you down, even for your most strenuous tasks.
The Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition is available for around $2200 USD ($3000 SGD), so it certainly isn't within a budget - But if you want the ultimate working tool as a professional, this will work like a charm!
The new ways companies are leveraging contactless payment for their customers
Cash payments are a bit of a sin these days - So many businesses are taking card payments only, but how many times have you forgotten your wallet as opposed to your phone? There are probably more occasions for the former, so we thought we'd give you a run-in on what's new in the world of contactless payment.
Square's new QR code method of payment
If you've been to a restaurant recently, you may have noticed that social contact is more limited, or at least that's what restaurant owners are trying to achieve.
Square has introduced a sort of life-saving solution, in the form of QR codes?
Yes, you heard me right - You know what QR codes are, but you probably never thought they could download menus straight onto your phone, where you can interactively order your food, did you?
Well now you can, and it is a bit of a game-changer, as the only social contact now seems to be when waiters/waitresses come to serve and collect the food to/from the customers.
The biggest benefit to the customer is that the waiting times for ordering food, as well as getting the bill/check, are dramatically reduced. You don't have to rely on the waiter to present your total payment due, as the QR code app will automatically generate your bill when you are finished - Pretty neat right?
Amazon's palm reading payment scheme
Now you may remember when Apple pay came to light, and you found out you could pay via facial scanning and fingerprint sensors - It was a bit much to take in, right? Well, it's pretty normal now, and in the new normal we face today, Amazon is the next tech giant that hopes to make good use of the growth in contactless-style payments.
The scheme is currently being piloted in some of Amazon's own stores, where customers initially pay by inserting their payment card and registering their palm print. After their details are logged onto the system, customers can simply return and pay using the palm scanning technology attached to the payment machines located in-store.
Amazon has already filed a patent application for this style of payment technology, and it hopes to rapidly expand its use to all of its 20+ stores globally, as well as in other stores like Whole Foods.
At a time like this, a contactless payment scheme via biometrics probably seems like an amazing idea, but it is possible that shoppers will have split opinions on the matter. We have seen how data privacy affects online shoppers, and it would come as no shock if data was currently being stored and used to Amazon's advantage. This may be done by tracking where customers shop after scanning their details at an Amazon Go store for the first time.
FlightRadar24 suffers 3 cyber attacks in 2 days - As it happened
Flights probably aren't the biggest thing on your mind right now, as they aren't really a risk-free form of travel (Especially if you're travelling international), but the world's most popular flight tracking app received plenty of attention for a rather unfortunate reason.
The tracking tool FlightRadar24 suffered from 3 separate DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks within 2 days (28th + 29th September), leading to many hours of downtime, and plenty of users complaining.
The app in its peak can track up to 180,000+ flights every day, where users can see basically every commercial airliner's journey - When there is downtime like this, it affects both plane enthusiasts (People who view for fun), as well as those people remotely looking out for distress signals sent out by aircraft. With so many hours of downtime, plenty of emergencies could have been missed (Although these are generally picked up by air traffic controllers pretty quickly).
Fortunately the app is now back up and running, but the fear now will be whether the attackers will be able to repeat the same process during post-covid times, when flights are plentiful, and the app faces potentially a lot more traffic than it does right now.