Shenzhen: Lockdown In China’s Silicon Valley Rattles Investors

A pro-Beijing supporter holds China's national flag as he and others gather outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on November 12, 2020, a day after the city's pro-Beijing authorities ousted four pro-democracy lawmakers. Anthony WALLACE / AFP
A pro-Beijing supporter holds China’s national flag. Photo: Anthony WALLACE / AFP

 

Its factories tool the world with mobile phones, while some of China’s best tech brains go there to churn out apps and games — but Shenzhen is now in lockdown as the coronavirus inflicts economic pain on the country and rattles markets.

Residents in the city of 17.5 million — sometimes dubbed China’s answer to Silicon Valley — have been ordered not to leave unless necessary and public transport has been halted as the country battles its worst virus outbreak in two years.

Most firms have been told to switch to working from home, which is impossible for many factories whose disruption is fuelling unease over supply chains and services. But how significant is Shenzhen to China’s economy?

Hi-tech Exports

Home to Chinese tech giants including Huawei and Tencent, Shenzhen ranks third among Chinese cities in economic output meaning any prolonged closure will be felt sharply.

“It is a manufacturing hub and also a tech centre for China,” Hong Hao, of financial services firm Bocom International, told AFP.

Already, major Apple supplier Foxconn has suspended operations in Shenzhen while other tech manufacturers such as Netac Technology also halted some production.

Mechanical and electronic products make up 80 percent of exports from the southern powerhouse, which neighbours Hong Kong.

“This is a very significant lockdown and I think the full impact is yet to be revealed,” Hong added.

Ripple Effects

Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist of Pinpoint Asset Management, said consumption would be “hurt quickly and severely” in a lockdown, followed by production and investment.

“It’s a ripple effect,” Hong of Bocom said, noting that other parts of China which depend on Shenzhen’s output could be hit.

“They would be working less efficiently than before.”

At least six companies on Apple’s supplier list are based in Shenzhen, where other producers such as electric-vehicle firm BYD are also based.

But some businesses deemed essential remain open.

Restrictions across the country hitting key hubs could pile pressure on China’s growth target of around 5.5 percent — already the lowest annual GDP target in decades — while Shenzhen’s proximity to Hong Kong is stoking fears of challenges in stopping transmission.

Port Operations

The Yantian port, among the world’s busiest, is also in Shenzhen.

It is the largest single port in China, with economists noting it accounts for 10.5 percent of China’s foreign trade container throughput.

In previous outbreaks, the port has been forced to suspend the processing of containers, leading to backlogs, and the current outbreak adds to worries over already-high shipping prices.

The port appears to be operating for now, although virus cases could trigger disruptions.

Economists say the impact depends on how long restrictions persist.

Zhaopeng Xing of ANZ Research told AFP he believed authorities “can manage Omicron” as well as before within a month or so.

“The shock is short-lived,” he said, adding that it would be unlikely to hit the long-term outlook.

Trump Touts ‘Fantastic’ TikTok Deal With Walmart And Oracle

In this file photo illustration taken on November 21, 2019, the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok is displayed on a tablet screen in Paris. – When India banned TikTok in June 2020, it closed a window to the wider world for legions of women outside the big cities that provided fun, fame and even fortune. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP) / TO GO WITH India-China-TikTok-science-software-lifestyle,FOCUS by Aishwarya KUMAR

 

President Donald Trump said Saturday he had approved a deal allowing Silicon Valley giant Oracle to become the data partner for TikTok to avert a shutdown of the massively popular Chinese-owned video app that Washington has called a security risk.

The deal, announced by the companies, also includes Walmart as a commercial partner and would create a new US company named TikTok Global.

“I think it’s going to be a fantastic deal,” Trump said. “I have given the deal my blessing. If they get it done that’s great, if they don’t that’s okay too.”

Shortly after, TikTok — owned by China’s ByteDance — confirmed the agreement, which came with companies racing against a Sunday deadline set by Trump’s administration after which new downloads of the app would be banned.

Oracle could buy a 12.5 percent stake in TikTok before a future IPO, and Walmart a 7.5 percent stake.

According to a source close to the matter, ByteDance would keep the rest of the shares. But since the Chinese company is 40 percent owned by American investors, TikTok would eventually be majority American-owned.

“We are pleased that the proposal by TikTok, Oracle, and Walmart will resolve the security concerns of the US Administration and settle questions around TikTok’s future in the US,” a spokeswoman for TikTok told AFP.

ByteDance also confirmed the deal on social media, saying the three companies would reach an agreement that was “in line with US and Chinese law” as soon as possible.

If it comes to fruition, the deal could mark the deescalation of a technology battle between Washington and Beijing.

It could also allow Americans to continue using the wildly popular app: the US Department of Commerce announced it was postponing the ban on TikTok downloads until September 27, citing “recent positive developments.”

– Security concerns –
Trump has claimed for weeks that TikTok is collecting user data for Beijing, without ever providing evidence for his allegations.

In early August, he gave ByteDance until September 20 to hand over TikTok’s US operations to an American company.

And on Friday, the Trump administration ordered a ban on downloads of the video-sharing app, as well as Chinese-owned messaging platform WeChat.

TikTok’s brand of short, quirky phone videos has become a global phenomenon, especially among young people, with 100 million users in the United States alone.

Trump said the “security will be 100 percent” and that the companies would use separate cloud servers.

The deal will lead to the creation of a new company, headquartered in Texas, that will have “nothing to do with China” but will still be called TikTok, according to the president.

Oracle will be in charge of hosting all US user data and the security of the associated computer systems, while Walmart will supply its online sales, order management and payment services.

In a joint statement, Oracle and Walmart said TikTok Global would “pay more than 5 billion in new tax dollars to the US Treasury,” while they and the other companies involved in the deal would launch an initiative to develop online education.

Trump, who previously said the federal government deserved a cut of the deal for authorizing it, had initially announced the companies would make a “contribution” towards education.

– ‘Bullying’ –
Under Friday’s US order against the Chinese apps, Tencent-owned WeChat would lose functionality in the United States from Sunday.

Following the TikTok-Oracle-Walmart deal’s announcement, TikTok users will be banned from installing updates starting September 27.

In response, China’s Commerce Ministry on Saturday condemned what it called US “bullying,” saying it violated international trade norms and that there was no evidence of any security threat, shortly before launching a mechanism that would allow it to sanction foreign companies.

China’s long-expected “unreliable entities list” is seen as a weapon for Beijing to retaliate against the United States, which has used its own “entity list” to shut Chinese telecom giant Huawei out of the US market, in addition to the recent moves against TikTok and WeChat.

“While the US/China tensions continue across all aspects of the technology food chain, resolving this TikTok and ByteDance standoff and complex Rubik’s Cube political backdrop is a relief for tech investors with Oracle in the winners circle,” said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.

According to the US Treasury, the TikTok deal still needs to be finalized by the involved companies and approved by a federal national security committee.

With Trump facing a tough reelection campaign, US officials have described the measures as essential to safeguard against potential Chinese espionage through the platforms.

But Trump critics have said that while TikTok’s security risks were unclear, the sweeping ban raises concerns about the government’s ability to regulate free expression.

 

 

-AFP

Facebook Cancels Developers Conference Due To Coronavirus

Breaking Up Facebook Isn't The Answer, Says Zuckerberg
This file photo taken on February 18, 2019 shows the US social media Facebook logo displayed on a tablet in Paris. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP.

 

Facebook on Thursday canceled its annual F8 developers conference, the biggest annual event for the US tech giant, over fears about the possible spread of the novel coronavirus.

The gathering in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose — which had been set for early May — typically draws thousands of software makers from around the world who collaborate with the tech giant on its platform.

“In light of the growing concerns around COVID-19, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person component of F8 this year, in order to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,” Facebook said.

Face-to-face interaction at the conference center in San Jose will be replaced with presentations streamed online. F8 sessions and demonstrations usually span its “family” of offerings including the main social network, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and virtual reality unit Oculus.

“This was a tough call to make — F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world,” director of platform partnerships Konstantinos Papamiltiadis said in a message to developers.

“We explored other ways to keep the in-person part of F8, but it’s important to us to host an inclusive event and it didn’t feel right to have F8 without our international developers in attendance.”

The World Health Organization declared Thursday that the new coronavirus epidemic was at a “decisive point” as countries across the globe battled to contain the deadly outbreak.

Alarm is growing as China is no longer the only breeding ground for COVID-19, with other countries including South Korea and Italy becoming hotbeds of infection, raising fears of a pandemic.

The virus has already killed more than 2,700 people, mostly in China — where it first emerged in December — and infected more than 81,000 in over 45 countries.

US public health officials confirmed a coronavirus case in Northern California, the first of unknown origin out of about 60 cases, and have told Americans to be ready to cancel mass gatherings and work from home.

The epidemic has prompted warnings of a financial impact from tech giants including Apple and Microsoft.

Both Facebook and Microsoft said Thursday they were withdrawing from the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco set for March.

AFP

Apple Offers $2.5bn To Address California Housing Crisis

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 14, 2016 the Apple logo/AFP

 

Apple said on Monday it would commit $2.5 billion over the next two years to help address the shortage of affordable housing in California and reduce homelessness.

The move by Apple follows similar initiatives from Silicon Valley peers Google and Facebook, which each have pledged $1 billion for housing programs.

“Before the world knew the name Silicon Valley, and long before we carried technology in our pockets, Apple called this region home, and we feel a profound civic responsibility to ensure it remains a vibrant place where people can live, have a family and contribute to the community,” said Apple chief executive Tim Cook in a statement.

“Affordable housing means stability and dignity, opportunity and pride. When these things fall out of reach for too many, we know the course we are on is unsustainable, and Apple is committed to being part of the solution.”

Apple said data showed some 30,000 people left San Francisco between April and June of 2019 and that its efforts are geared to help “community members like teachers, firefighters, first responders and service workers” who cannot find affordable lodging.

Apple said it was working with California Governor Gavin Newsom on several programs to address housing and homelessness.

The iPhone maker said $1 billion will go to the state’s affordable housing fund that will extend credit to develop and build additional housing faster and at a lower cost.

Apple also said it would make available land it owns in San Jose worth some $300 million for homes.

The company is committing $200 million to support new lower-income housing in the Bay Area, including $150 for a public-private partnership.

It will also offer $50 million to support the efforts to address homelessness in Silicon Valley with the nonprofit group Destination: Home.

“We have worked closely with leading experts to put together a plan that confronts this challenge on all fronts, from the critical need to increase housing supply, to support for first-time homebuyers and young families, to essential philanthropy to assist those at greatest risk,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president for environment and social initiatives.

AFP

Osinbajo Meets Nigerian Girls Who Won Silicon Valley Global Tech Competition

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday received a group of Nigerian girls who recently won the Global Tech Competition at Silicon Valley, in the United States of America.

The group of six girls which forms the Team Save-A-Soul were received at the Presidential Villa in Abuja by the Vice-President

They include Adaeze Jennifer Onuigbo; Okoye Vivian Mmesoma; Jessica Ogochukwu Osita; Nwabuaku Mercy Ossai; Promise Amara Nnalue; and Miracle Oluebube Igboke.

The Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke was also there with the girls.

Team Save-A-Soul which recently represented Nigeria at the 2018 Technovation world pitch junior division in San Francisco, United States defeated teams from the United States of America (USA), Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan and China to win the competition.

The Nigerian girls developed a mobile application called ‘FD Detector’ to tackle the problem of fake pharmaceutical products in the country.

The young Nigerian girls were selected from 2,000 mobile app developers to represent Africa at the world pitch.

See photos below…

“We’re Proud Of You”, Osinbajo Congratulates Teenage Girls Who Won Global Tech Competition

Yemi Osinbajo

 

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has congratulated a team of teenage Nigerian girls who represented the country and won the 2018 Technovation world pitch junior division in San Francisco, USA.

In a tweet on Friday, he said “These young ladies in Junior Secondary School, developed a mobile application called ‘FD Detector’ to tackle the problems of fake pharmaceutical products in Nigeria.

“Yesterday, they won the 2018 Technovation World Pitch in California. Congratulations! We are very proud of you”.

Read Also: Nigerian Teenage Girls Win Global Tech Competition In Silicon Valley

The girls, team Save-A-Soul, developed a mobile application called ‘FD Detector’ to tackle the problem of fake pharmaceutical products in the country.

The young Nigerian girls were selected from 2,000 mobile app developers to represent Africa at the world pitch.

This is the first time a Junior Nigerian team will emerge among the finalists to visit Silicon Valley and the Nigerian teenage girls will be pitching their app to investors in Silicon Valley, California.

Technovation is a program that invites girls to identify a problem in their communities and then challenge them to solve them by developing apps.

According to Team Save-A-Soul, Nigeria has one of the largest markets for fake drugs. The teenage girls from Anambra State plan to partner with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), using the app, to tackle this challenge.

Nigerian Teenage Girls Win Global Tech Competition In Silicon Valley

A team of teenage girls representing Nigeria has defeated teams from the United States of America (USA), Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan and China to win the 2018 Technovation world pitch junior division in San Francisco, USA.

The team Save-A-Soul from Nigeria developed a mobile application called ‘FD Detector’ to tackle the problem of fake pharmaceutical products in the country.

The young Nigerian girls were selected from 2,000 mobile app developers to represent Africa at the world pitch.

This is the first time a Junior Nigerian team will emerge among the finalists to visit Silicon Valley and the Nigerian teenage girls will be pitching their app to investors in Silicon Valley, California.

Technovation is a program that invites girls to identify a problem in their communities and then challenge them to solve them by developing apps.

According to Team Save-A-Soul, Nigeria has one of the largest markets for fake drugs. The teenage girls from Anambra State plan to partner with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), using the app, to tackle this challenge.

The team, on Thursday night, came first at the finals after facing judges from around the world.

Apple-Samsung iPhone Design Copying Case Goes To Jury

 

Jurors return to a Silicon Valley courtroom Monday to put a price on patented iPhone design features copied by Samsung in a legal case dating back seven years.

Apple is seeking slightly more than a billion dollars in damages, while Samsung wants a figure closer to $28 million.

The jury has been asked to determine whether design features at issue in the case are worth all profit made from Samsung smartphones that copied them or whether those features are worth just a fraction because they are components.

“Samsung isn’t saying it isn’t required to pay profits,” Samsung attorney John Quinn said during closing arguments on Friday.

“It is just saying it isn’t required to pay profits on the whole phone.”

The three design patents in the case apply to the shape of the iPhone’s black screen with rounded edges and a bezel, and the rows of colorful icons displayed.

Samsung no longer sells the smartphone models at issue in the case.

Two utility patents also involved apply to “bounce-back” and “tap-to-zoom” functions.

“This is a case that is focused on design, and the application of design to smartphones,” Apple attorney Joseph Mueller said in closing arguments.

When one company copies a rival’s design, that “is not a level playing field, and that is just not right,” he contended.

Apple argued in court that the iPhone was a “bet-the-company” project at Apple and that design is as much the “article of manufacture” as the device itself.

Apple attorney Bill Lee equated the notion to a carmaker copying the look of the Volkswagen Beetle and coming to market with a competing model.

Determining whether the design features qualify as the “article of manufacture” will be key to whether jurors award the profit from all the Samsung phones involved, according to legal standards presented by the court.

The case dates back seven years. An original trial finding that Samsung violated Apple patents was followed by lengthy appellate dueling over whether design features such as rounded edges are worth all the money made from a phone.

Technology vs Style

Samsung, which had been ordered to pay $400 million, challenged the legal precedent that requires the forfeiture of all profits from a product even if only a single design patent has been infringed.

The US Supreme Court in 2016 overturned the $400 million patent infringement penalty imposed on the South Korean consumer electronics giant.

Justices ruled that Samsung should not be required to forfeit the entire profits from its smartphones for infringement on design components, sending the case back to a lower court.

The ruling found that the penalty — one element of a major patent infringement case — was inappropriate because it represented “Samsung’s entire profit from the sale of its infringing smartphones” for copying the iPhone’s “rectangular front face with rounded edges and a grid of colorful icons on a black screen.”

The key question of the value of design patents rallied Samsung supporters in the tech sector, and Apple backers in the creative and design communities.

Samsung won the backing of major Silicon Valley and other IT sector giants, including Google, Facebook, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, claiming a strict ruling on design infringement could lead to a surge in litigation.

Apple was supported by big names in fashion and manufacturing. Design professionals, researchers and academics, citing precedents like Coca-Cola’s iconic soda bottle.

The Supreme Court stopped short of delving into details of how the lower court should determine how much phone design components are worth when it comes to patent infringement violations.

Presiding US District Court Judge Lucy Koh gave jurors in her San Jose courtroom a four-factor test to determine an “article of manufacture,” but it is up to the panel to decide how the evidence fits that framework.

The case is one element of a $548 million penalty — knocked down from an original $1 billion jury award  — Samsung was ordered to pay for copying iPhone patents.

AFP

Ghanaian Chalkboard Computer Teacher Gets Microsoft-Sponsored Invitation

The viral picture of Richard Appiah Akoto drawing on a chalkboard while teaching computer science students.

 

A Ghanaian schoolteacher who used chalkboard drawings to teach computer science because his farming village had no laptops found himself the star of a global conference in Singapore.

Richard Appiah Akoto, who drew coloured chalk diagrams to teach impoverished rural pupils how a PC works, rubbed shoulders with Silicon Valley hotshots in the glitzy Asian tech hub.

Akoto, who had never been outside of Ghana before, said he was invited to the Microsoft-sponsored meet after video of his jury-rigged lessons went viral.

Facebook users delighted in his intricately detailed computer screen — replete with toolbar icons — and his precisely decorated keyboard and mouse, which he drew for children who had never seen a computer before.

“Then I will just draw the mouse with the cord and I would say this is the mouse, this is the body and this is the tail of the mouse,” he said.

Ghanaian schoolteacher Richard Appiah Akoto poses next to the Singapore river outside a hotel in Singapore on March 16, 2018. PHOTO: Roslan RAHMAN / AFP

 

As a teacher of information and communication technology (ICT) at a junior high school in the impoverished Sekyedomase farming village in Ghana, Akoto said he had to improvise because the school had no computer and his own laptop had broken down.

After pictures of the class were uploaded, the global response was immediate, with pledges of donations pouring in.

“People started calling me… I said what trouble have I created for myself. But it’s all good. At the end of the day, something good has come out from it,” he said.

One donor from Britain donated a laptop, and a Ghanaian IT firm gave five desktops to the school and another laptop for Akoto.

When the students saw the computers for the first time, they were excited but they already knew the parts from his drawings, Akoto said.

After a three-day conference in Singapore, at which he was given a standing ovation, the 33-year-old said the donations meant he would never have to resort to a chalkboard again.

“I hope to get more computers so that every student will be behind one,” he said Friday.

“I also hope that the other surrounding schools who are also lacking like my school, we hope to get more so that we also give them (computers) to help in their teaching of ICT.”

AFP

Review: Five favourite tablets of 2012 – itproportal

Microsoft founder Bill Gates was the man of the moment, when in 2001 he unveiled a prototype tablet computer.

Bill Gates however made history after he showed knowledge of events on the evolution of tablets before it started to happen, because now the tablet market has exploded, with mobile computing due to eclipse traditional PCs in the near future.

Though Apple can take credit for taking tablets mainstream with the introduction of the first iPad in 2010, the Cupertino-based company is certainly not the only player in that market nowadays. And so with the holiday season on the horizon, a list of five favourite tablets of 2012 has been compiled to guide you this Christmas.

 

Apple iPad mini

Apple’s miniature tablet is likely to top many Christmas wish lists this season, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise – the iPad mini packs a slew of impressive features in its slim, 7.9in frame. It offers a richer experience than some of the other tablets in the 7in category by being slightly bigger, but its major selling point is that it is considerably more portable than the full-size 9.7in iPad. At just 308g and thumb typing-friendly, it’s a great option for anyone looking for a lightweight tablet. Plus, it has an IPS LCD display with a 1,024 x 768 pixel resolution, as well as both rear and front-facing cameras.

The device promises up to 10 hours of battery life, so it’s particularly useful for commuters or those who spend a lot of time travelling. Another feature in the iPad mini’s favour is Apple’s App Store, with an unbelievable library of titles available, 275,000 of which were designed specifically for the iPad. The iPad mini is available in two colour schemes – black and slate or white and silver – and ships in Wi-Fi-only or Wi-Fi + cellular models, with three storage options – 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB, depending on what your usage is like. Pricewise, the iPad mini starts at £269 and runs to £529 for the 4G enabled 64GB model.

 

Apple iPad with Retina display

Apple’s fourth-generation iPad sits at the higher-end of the tablet spectrum, its Retina display boasting a dazzling 9.7in screen with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. But though the incredibly sharp display is its primary calling card, the latest iPad is chock-full of other attractive features. The new Apple A6X processor, for instance, means that graphic-heavy applications and CPU-intensive tasks are considerably faster and more fluid; according to Apple, it’s twice as fast and twice as powerful as its predecessor, making it ideal for media consumption.

Apple’s iOS is one of the factors setting the fourth-gen iPad apart from offerings from competitors – the mobile operating system is tighter, more streamlined and altogether smoother than Android. The new iPad in particular counts Siri among its premier features; Apple’s voice-activated digital assistant promises improved voice recognition and can look up movie times, manage your calendar, and post Facebook statuses for you. There’s also Apple’s unmatchable App Store, which is home to hundreds of thousands of apps, running the gamut from games to fitness management to music production. Ultimately, if you’re prepared to swallow the price – it starts at £399 for a 16GB, Wi-Fi-only device and ranges to £659 for a Wi-Fi + cellular model with 64GB of storage – it’s the best large-format tablet on the market.

 

Google Nexus 7

Google’s Asus-produced Nexus 7 proved to be incredibly popular when it was released this summer, and its recent refresh alongside the larger Nexus line-up will likely continue to be just as coveted throughout the holiday season. Here we have a budget-friendly 7in tablet that’s fantastic for everyday use and is virtually unrivalled in the value-for-money department – so much so that some competing manufacturers and retailers were forced to cut their own prices in response.

On the operating system front, it runs the latest version of Android, 4.2 Jelly Bean, which adds features like Gesture Typing and more integrated Google Play media, including books, music, and films. As for hardware, the Nexus 7 features an IPS LCD screen with a resolution of 1,200 x 800 pixels that, despite not being ground-breaking, certainly does the trick. It’s powered by a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 SoC, which is impressive for such a small, affordable device.

The Nexus 7 is available in 16GB and 32GB storage iterations, but lacks a microSD card slot, which could prove to be a deal breaker for some customers. However, its attractive pricing is difficult to resist; it may not be the best tablet out there but, maxing out at £239 for a 32GB model with Wi-Fi and 3G, it certainly won’t break the bank.

Google blew the display on Apple’s fourth-generation iPad out of the water when it unveiled its Nexus 10 earlier this autumn. The Samsung-made device boasts a 10in display with a 2,560 x 1,600 pixel display, giving it the title of the highest-resolution tablet in the world. And, coupled with Google Play’s improved media offerings, the Nexus 10 is an optimal tablet for watching videos, editing photos, and browsing the web.

But an astounding screen isn’t all this high-end tablet has to offer – it also runs the latest version of Android, so it benefits from the slight tweaks introduced via Jelly Bean 4.2, including the new Photo Sphere app and live turn-by-turn GPS navigation. All of that is powered by a dual-core ARM processor with 2GB of RAM, so it will prove to be a thoroughly capable tablet with less battery drain than its quad-core rivals. Surprisingly, the Nexus 10 is Wi-Fi-only and ships in either 16GB or 32GB variations with no microSD slot. If you want to avoid going down the Apple route, the Nexus 10 is almost certainly your best alternative – and priced at £319 or £389, it’s also a fair bit cheaper.

 

Microsoft Surface with Windows RT

The launch of Surface marked Microsoft’s first foray into tablet production – a sturdy, impressive hybrid tablet billed as a happy medium between a conventional tablet and a productivity-friendly notebook. Surface sets itself apart from the other devices on this list by shipping with a smartcover that offers a full touch keyboard – a spill-resistant one, at that. At 10.6in and with a solid build, it veers close to notebook territory, but the 1,366 x 768, 16:9 widescreen display offers a rich experience that feels very much like a hybrid and not simply a tablet with a keyboard attached.

The device runs Windows RT, Microsoft’s touch-optimised operating system for ARM-based hardware (in this case, the SoC in question is an Nvidia Tegra 3). Accordingly, Surface fits in well with the company’s broader ecosystem, which also encompasses Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. While that means it will initially suffer from the scarcity of apps in the Windows Store, it will benefit from a much welcome boost in the form of Microsoft Office and tight integration with other Microsoft products like SkyDrive and Skype. In terms of capacity, it comes in 32GB and 64GB models, with a microSD card slot for an additional 64GB of space. In the end, Surface is a surprise contender, so if price is no object – it ranges from £399 to £559 – this could be the device for you.