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08/04/2017

ASUS ZenBook UX31A Battery

While it will arrive running Honeycomb, Asus promised an upgrade to the latest Android version, Ice Cream Sandwich.Nvidia is partnering its four cores with a low-power A9-based chip it dubs a companion core, which is reined in to 500MHz and is designed to handle low-power tasks such as video and audio playback.Nvidia claims this core helps web browsing consume 30% less power than Tegra 2, with audio playback requiring 61% less juice.Each of Tegra 3's four main cores, as well as the companion chip, can be activated or deactivated depending on the intensity of the task being carried out, with Nvidia confirming that the OS won't be affected by switching between cores.The updated graphics processing unit, meanwhile, has been designed to provide additional physics realism, dynamic lighting and particle effects, with Nvidia demonstrations illustrating improved water effects, sharper textures and more detail throughout.The introduction of a fifth core invites comparisons to ARM's big.LITTLE scheme, which partners a powerful Cortex A15 MPCore processor with an entry-level A7 chip that’s used for less intensive tasks.We were immediately struck by the Kira's looks that, in stark contrast to the Portégé Z10t's business-focused frumpiness, prioritise tasteful sleekness over bulky practicality. The back of its plastic lid and the keyboard's base both have an attractive, brushed-metal finish, the bottom of the Ultrabook possessing a more even metallic hue. The corners are softly rounded and the lightweight magnesium-alloy base slopes upwards, rendering the front of the device significantly slimmer than the back, at 9.7mm.There's no hybrid mechanism to match the Dell XPS 12 or Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro, but this gives it a key advantage; at only 1.25kg and 23mm thick with its rubber feet included, it's more compact and portable than either of its rivals. And, ergonomically, the Kira is a breeze to use: its Scrabble-tile keys are evenly spaced and gratifyingly clicky, and the metal base means there's no visible flex to the keyboard. The buttonless touchpad is even better; gesture-tracking is competent, and for once we were impressed by the responsiveness of the integrated left and right mouse buttons.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new laptop, however, doesn't concern how it looks when it's switched off, but what your eyes are confronted with when you hit the power button. The Kira sports a high-DPI, 2,560 x 1,440-resolution touchscreen that simply bursts with life. Although it isn't the brightest screen around – we measured it at 251cd/m2 turned up as far as it would go – the 1,569:1 contrast ratio lends images a solidity few others can match. Colour fidelity was good, too, the Kira yielding an average Delta E of 2.4.The quality of the display is perhaps down to fact that it uses the same IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) semiconductor technology as employed in the iPad Air, instead of the more prevalent amorphous silicon. This comparatively new technology, which debuted at IFA in 2012, delivers smaller, more power-efficient, transparent transistors.Elsewhere, there's more good news. The Kira boasts a Haswell 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-4500U CPU supported by 8GB DDR3L RAM, which puts it in good company. In our Real World Benchmarks it was able to keep up with our February Ultrabook Labs winner and runner-up, the Dell XPS 12 (0.68) and Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro (0.59), scoring 0.65. The Kira's gaming capability fell in line with what we'd expect from a high-end consumer Ultrabook. With graphical grunt handled by Intel's integrated HD Graphics 4400 chipset, the Kira managed a respectable average of 50fps on Low quality settings in our Crysis benchmark.Alongside the CPU and RAM is a 256GB Toshiba SSD, which performed admirably in the AS SSD benchmark, racking up sequential read and write scores of 497MB/sec and 456MB/sec respectively. These are fast scores that, as a point of comparison, outdo the SSD in the XPS 12, which scored read and write scores of 487MB/sec and 407MB/sec respectively.

The Kira-101's stamina is highly impressive, too, benefitting hugely from the combination of Haswell processor and the efficient new screen technology. In our light-use battery test, its 52wH, 3,380mAh battery lasted 12hrs 45mins, a comparable score to the XPS 12's 12hrs 41mins and significantly superior to the Yoga 2's 7hrs 50mins.The Kira includes surprisingly generous selection of ports, too: along the left-hand side is a full-size HDMI output and two USB 3 ports; on the right edge is an SD card slot, plus a 3.5mm stereo headset jack and another USB 3 port. There's also dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4 connectivity. It's a fine selection for a laptop this small.The Toshiba Kira-101 marks an excellent debut for the Kirabook range, and proof positive that Toshiba really does know how to build a luxurious consumer Ultrabook. It's the best Toshiba laptop we've seen for a very long time, and goes toe to toe with the finest Ultrabooks out there. Despite lacking the fancy hybrid features of the Dell XPS 12 and Yoga 2 Pro, the Kira-101 matches them blow for blow. Our only reservation is that slightly high £1,299 price tag.

With the amount of media coverage that recent data breaches such as those experienced by the likes of eBay, Evernote and Domino's Pizza quite rightly attract, you may be forgiven for thinking that cybercrime is a big-business problem.While there's little doubt that with the potential for a profitable payout the bigger business is a more attractive target (and the Target retail compromise in the US is another good example), it would be foolish to think that as a small business you're not on the radar.Most cyber-attacks are actually oblivious to business size; the bad guys, and the automated bots they employ, are simply looking for security holes through which to climb.Most cyber-attacks are actually oblivious to business size; the bad guys, and the automated bots they employ, are simply looking for security holes through which to climbMost cyber-attacks are actually oblivious to business size; the bad guys, and the automated bots they employ, are simply looking for security holes through which to climbAlthough it would be correct to say that there's a certain amount of diverged evolution in attack methodology, with larger enterprises being on the end of the most sophisticated and targeted threats, it doesn't mean the small business is any less at risk.Opportunity is the name of the game, with attackers casting the widest possible net into which those smaller businesses with less understanding of the IT security threatscape will find themselves.

The combination of low understanding of risk and application of best practice serve to put the average small business firmly on the attack radar. Understand the top security threats to your business and you could become a less attractive target to the cybercriminal.Social engineering remains the number one threat to the security of data for most small businesses. Be that in the form of targeted trojans or spear-phishing, which aim at a specific member of staff, more general social-media profiling of your business to appear like a genuine customer, or blended attacks that combine all these attack methodologies. The good news is that all of them can be addressed in much the same way, and that's via employee education.Relying upon a combination of hardware and software alone will never be enough; you need to ensure that your staff aren't simply opening the door to the bad guys and letting them walk off with your valuable data. Once staff are aware of both the value that data holds and the ways in which security can be compromised to access it, then they can mitigate the risk by simply changing their behaviour.The smaller the business, the easier this is to achieve for one simple reason: they have fewer employees to train and maintaining that awareness is less costly.Although growth of malware on the PC has remained pretty static over the past year, the same isn't true of mobile devices: the malware graph for Android devices is shooting off the scale. The main problem this brings to the small business is transference of the threat.Malware active on a mobile device will quickly find its way into your business systems unless steps are taken to prevent this.

Obviously, it's best not to get infected in the first place, so ensure staff avoid unofficial app stores and make installation of device-based security software part of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy.And yes, even the smallest business should have some kind of BYOD policy. To not have one blurs the boundaries between personal and work data, and is a data compromise waiting to happen. Equally important: ensure your business network is protected by up-to-date intrusion-detection and anti-malware solutions. And finally, always encrypt work data stored on mobile devices in case of loss or theft.The cloud isn't inherently insecure, but you do need to think carefully about what data you're storing in it and how that data is protected.Especially if you're using free or freemium public cloud services that remain very popular in the smaller end of the business spectrum, since these public clouds are also popular with the bad guys. If you choose to store data in this way, ensure you encrypt it beforehand so as to protect it in transit and thereafter.

More problematical is when staff are using cloud-based services to make their job simpler or more convenient, be that as a webmail provider, data store or note-taker.Anything off the business radar presents a potential risk (what if the third party is compromised, for example: you wouldn't see that as a risk to your data since you'd be unaware of staff using it in this way) so educate employees about the security implications of using such services.I shouldn't really need to tell you that weak passwords are a problem, nor that the use of Post-it notes to recall stronger ones is also a bad idea.However, despite the availability of free and low-cost password vaults - which not only help create and manage passwords and passphrases but prevent easy theft as well - many small businesses still opt for the insecure option.So, use a password vault; and better still, add another layer of protection by using two-factor authentication, which requires both a login/password and a token. These needn't be expensive to obtain and maintain, even for the smallest of businesses. Needless to say, logins should always be revoked when a staff member leaves the business.SMB security: the physical threatBig companies are well aware of the physical threat, but it's often quite shocking how many small businesses forget about this particular aspect of data security.

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