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Three noteworthy IT novelties

By Jean-Claude Elias - Nov 08,2018 - Last updated at Nov 08,2018

Among the countless novelties we see every day in the world of Information Technology, including entertaining gadgets and more serious devices, there are three of them that deserve particular attention in this end-of-year. This despite the fact that one of them is not yet available to buy, though it should not be long.

These are Microsoft Office 2019, the very latest version of the company celebrated software suite, Cujo’s incredibly smart and affordable firewall and Samsung’s upcoming high-end smartphones, two of them with esoteric foldable screens and one of them “regular”.

MS-Office is largely considered as an indispensable software tool, used by hundreds of millions. It is considered a mature, very stable product by now, and of course a highly efficient one, covering a huge range of needs for computer users, however advanced they may be. Since version 2010 and the ensuing 2013 and 2016, all new versions have brought improvements that range from minor to significant.

The new version 2019, released a couple of months ago, and as explained by Microsoft, has better visual impact, faster translation between languages, “inking” capability, more charting options and nice audio cues to guide you while working.

However, the extra features are not the most interesting aspect of the suite. It is rather the competitive situation between Office 2019 and the company’s online version, Office 365, a situation entirely created by Microsoft itself, of course. The company is strongly pushing Office 365 for it is available based on subscriptions, a system that has proven more lucrative than selling straightforward offline licences. To entice users to go for Office 365 Microsoft is making Office 2019 rather expensive, about $450 for the Pro version. 

In comparison, Office 365 regular annual subscription is $80, plus the advantage of always having the very latest version of Office and a good amount of cloud storage on the way. Whether to buy a regular Office license like 2019 or an Office 365 subscription is a matter of personal choice.

Cujo’s firewall is a very smart little device that can prove very efficient to protect your network at home and therefore all machines connected to it. Firewalls are nothing new. You set up their parameters to allow or deny access, and they protect you from hacking, malware and intrusions. They perfectly complement antivirus software.

The difficulty insofar has been the price and then the complexity of setting firewalls parameters, the latter requiring the intervention of an IT professional. Firewalls made by famous companies like for instance Cisco RE in the $1,000 to $3,000 at initial purchase, plus a yearly subscription costing about $500.

Cujo’s device comes at a humble $100 and is a breeze to set up. It is a huge relief for households and small offices who need a good physical firewall, but were reluctant to buy one because of the price and the difficulty to do the set up. 

Last but not least is the never-ending story of always “new and improved” smartphones. Samsung is cooking its next flagship model Galaxy S10 due in about four months from now. We know little of it, except that it will feature the upcoming ultrafast 5G wireless Internet connectivity. It is not, however, the S10 that is the real novelty but the Galaxy F and the Galaxy X.

These two models are expected to create the revolution everybody has been expecting for a few years now by featuring foldable screens. It is the only way to give the consumer a very large display area without making phones that would not fit in a shirt’s pocket or a lady’s purse anymore. Despite the need for smartphones with very large screens, few people are willing to carry units larger than the current six inch (diagonal) standard.

Carrying phones the size of a tablet or phablet is not doable and folding screens are the only solution. Though there is a lot of information and countless discussions on the web about the Galaxy F and X, no date has yet been set for their actual commercial release, though many expect at least one of these two models to be available in 2019.

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