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Lenovo’s Flex 5G is the first 5G laptop you can buy

With the launch of the Flex 5G laptop, Lenovo says it has become the first company to offer a notebook equipped with 5G mobile connectivity.

In the United States, the Flex 5G will launch on Verizon Wireless. Internationally, the laptop also goes by the Yoga 5G brand and will be available on carriers like EE, Sunrise, and CMCC later this year. With a 360-degree hinge, you can use the Flex 5G as a notebook, tablet, or in tent mode to present information or consume media on its 14-inch FHD touchscreen display.

“With our strategic partnerships with global 5G network carriers, consumers will now be able to access easier, faster, and more secure connectivity seamlessly from virtually anywhere,” Johnson Jia, Lenovo’s senior vice president and general manager of the Consumer Business Segment, said in a statement. The company noted that 5G mobile broadband promises up to 10 times the speeds of the existing 4G LTE standard used on many of the connected smartphones, tablets, and laptops in use today. The 5G modem supports both mmWave and sub-6 GHz frequencies, ensuring broad compatibility with various 5G networks.

While the Flex 5G runs Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system, it is powered by Qualcomm’s ARM-based Snapdragon 8cx platform and not the traditional Intel or AMD x86 silicon. This chipset makes the Flex 5G more comparable to devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Book S and Microsoft’s Surface Pro X, rather than the Surface Laptop, with the ARM-based processor being efficient enough to provide up to 24 hours of battery life on the go. There is an integrated fingerprint reader to keep your data secure while mobile. Like many modern devices, the Flex 5G can be recharged with a 45W USB-C charger.

Despite the power efficiency of the chip, users of the Snapdragon PC platform have complainedin the past  about performance bottlenecks because x86 programs have to be emulated to run on ARM. However, if you mostly stay within the web browser, work primarily in Microsoft Office, and run Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps downloaded from the Microsoft Store, then the platform is more than capable. The Flex 5G will compete against Google’s Chromebooks and Intel’s Project Athena initiative. Unlike many Chromebooks with limited native storage, the Flex 5G comes with a spacious 256 GB UFS 3.0 drive.

A big downside with the Flex 5G in an age of Zoom and Google Meet video calls is that the webcam is limited to just 720p, which really is a shame given the promise of faster 5G networks. Another omission is the lack of Wi-Fi 6 support — instead, the Flex 5G will connect to home and business networks over 802.11 ac. Like 5G, Wi-Fi 6 is still a nascent standard that’s not widely available, but its inclusion would have made the Flex 5G more future-proof.

The Flex 5G will be available starting June 18 through Verizon for $1,399. Though this may be a steep price, you will be getting 5G connectivity in the limited areas where Verizon’s network is built out, a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365 Personal, and a premium metal build with an aluminum top case and a magnesium alloy bottom. You can also finance the device for $58.33 per month on a 24-month Verizon Device Payment Plan interest-free.

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Chuong Nguyen
Silicon Valley-based technology reporter and Giants baseball fan who splits his time between Northern California and Southern…
How 5G is changing journalism
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There's little doubt that 5G is starting to touch every area of our lives -- from online classrooms to 5G-powered bots supplying medication to remote citizens. It’s no surprise then that 5G is also changing the way our newsrooms work. 
Once widely available, 5G tools and the faster speeds they deliver will help journalists in at least three ways, professor John Pavlik of Rutgers University. First, he says, “5G can enable journalists working in the field to report more effectively from their digital devices, particularly with regard to high-bandwidth news gathering, such as photogrammetry, and other immersive applications for augmented reality and virtual reality (e.g., volumetric video capture), as well as high-resolution video from mobile devices.”
Second, 5G can enable news organizations to operate effectively without relying on a central, physical newsroom by supporting high-speed internet file sharing. Finally, 5G can help improve newsrooms by supporting better engagement with the public.
The best example of how 5G has made journalism more effective can be seen with the latest collaboration between The New York Times and Verizon. In 2019, the two companies came together to build a 5G Journalism Lab. Tools born out of this collaboration include environmental photogrammetry, Beam, and Eclipse.
Environmental photogrammetry
“Environmental photogrammetry involves taking thousands of still photographs and stitching them together as one large 3D model, giving readers the ability to immersively navigate the space as if they were actually there,” explains Sebastian Tomich, senior vice president and global head of advertising and marketing solutions for The New York Times.
This technology was first used in a 2020 story that toured the Los Angeles mansion where gamer conglomerate FaZe Clan lived and worked. “An article that employs environmental photogrammetry uses as much data as streaming an hourlong television show,” Marc Lavallee, head of research and development for the Times, said in a press release. “Making this kind of reading experience seamless for our readers requires cutting-edge networks like 5G.”
Beam and Eclipse 

Talking about their first proprietary photography app, Beam, Tomich said it allows Times journalists working in the field to capture and automatically upload high-resolution images to the newsroom with nothing but their smartphone and camera. 
Building upon the advances of Beam, the Eclipse app leverages Verizon 5G to expand video journalism. Eclipse can use 5G to transmit professional video files that meet The Times’s quality standards at a speed that competes with uploads of mobile phone videos, which have file sizes roughly 14 times smaller, Tomich said. It allows video journalists to get material into their editors’ hands in close to real time, rather than hours later.
“This "always on" connection facilitated by Beam and Eclipse enables deeper coordination between the newsroom and photo and video journalists in the field,” he said. “With the ability to review footage in near real time, editors can now request additional photos or videos while the journalist is still on the scene.”
Real-life applications
These tools developed by the 5G lab aren’t just ideas inside four walls. The team has already started implementing them to improve the speed and quality of journalism. 
For instance, when the team went to cover the 2020 Oscars red carpet arrivals, Verizon set up a 5G network at the event. Using Beam, a Times photographer roamed the red carpet freely, without interruption or regard for file transfer limits. “He ended up sending eight times more photos than the previous year’s photographer, with an average upload time of 2.1 seconds,” Tomich said. “With Beam, shooting IS filing.”
However, creating powerful tools isn’t always enough for effective real-world practices. Factors like awareness, availability, and access to resources play a huge role in shaping journalism. As newsrooms and 5G providers are waking up to the transformational power of 5G-powered, Pavlik suggests three ideas to better capitalize on the 5G tools available on the market.
He advises newsrooms to: 

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One of them is a 5G home router and the other two are a 4G home station and a mobile Wi-Fi device. Be warned, their names are a mouthful; The Linkhub 5G CPE HH515 is TCL's newest 5G router, while the two 4G routers are the Linkhub LTE CAT6 Home Station HH63 and the Linkzone LTE CAT6 Mobile Wi-Fi MW63.

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