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Huawei’s Matebook X Pro laptop is forgetful and forgettable • The Register

Desktop Tourism Rightly or wrongly, Huawei has acquired a reputation for being a risky proposition, security-wise. It almost beggars belief, then, that the Chinese goliath’s flagship Matebook X Pro laptop contains a literal hidden webcam secreted under a fake function key on the top row of its keyboard.

Touch the key and it clicks lightly, then springs up to reveal the camera.

It’s a terrible place for the camera because when the laptop is flat on a desk and close enough to type on, the view it affords would probably please an ear, nose, and throat surgeon conducting a remote examination. Needless to say, that angle is not going to show your best side during a Zoom or Teams session. And you can’t change the angle without moving the entire laptop into odd positions or placing it too far away to type.

Huawei Matebook Pro camera angle

Your reviewer, as seen through Huawei’s webcam when the Matebook was in a comfortable typing position.

Click to enlarge – if you dare

Complicating matters further is that the laptop’s 3.5mm audio jack is positioned at the back of its left edge, which means wired headphones with a cord of average length have just that little extra distance to stretch as you work your way into a more photogenic position.

Huawei has decided to put the camera in this odd spot in the name of privacy protection, which is noble, but I found the camera popped up unintentionally when I opened and closed the laptop.

The camera has not been integrated with Windows at all – so when the key it hides under is down, using any camera-enabled app results in inexplicable blackness. Such a novel hardware design is easy to forget and surely deserved a little help from the OS.

Putting the camera under a key does allow the laptop a very thin bezel surrounding its screen. The result is a 13.9-inch screen in a 13-inch laptop. But the odd camera placement also means the laptop is hard to use for one of the main applications laptops are needed for these days.

Huawei Matebook Pro camera

Huawei’s hidden webcam … Source: Huawei. Click to enlarge

At least it’s a decent camera, and a lovely screen – the 3K display has 3000×2000 resolution and is vividly bright and makes lovely distinctions between colors. I’ll happily work or watch movies on it all day – and I almost mean that literally, because the machine eased its way to six hours of unconnected usage.

The display’s touch sensitivity is sharp and swift, but Huawei’s swipe-to-screenshot feature didn’t work reliably for me despite the vendor advancing it as an important demonstration of its ability to add value in what is a very crowded laptop market.

The feature also feels redundant, given the Windows Snipping Tool does a fine job with a keypress many users will have memorized. The screen is so glossy that every touch leaves a mark and after a day or two the machine looks a mess, so swiping to take screenshots just adds to the smearing.

The laptop is powered by an Intel 11th-gen Core i7-1165G7 quad-core processor that can go through the gears from 1.2GHz to 4.7GHz. The laptop includes Intel Iris X graphics, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB solid state drive.

The machine did decently on my go-to nasty job: running Handbrake to transcode a five-minute 4K video file down to 1080p, consuming six minutes and 20 seconds for the job. That was just two minutes slower than the Corei9-powered Asus laptop I used on my last Desktop Tourism adventure.

However, the Huawei struggled mightily running the same workload in an Ubuntu VM under VMware Workstation. The laptop’s fans got quite a workout as it struggled through the job in 16:11, more than double the time needed by the Asus.

The machine’s fans also kicked in at seemingly random moments, and unnervingly often. Connecting an external monitor sometimes taxed the laptop notably, but on other occasions did not impinge on performance. Some light workloads caused the machines to struggle – downloads were a bugbear – but on other days it hummed along impressively under heavier loads.

The machine wakes up feeling grumpy. Flipping it open often produced either a hung application or odd errors such as an inability to play audio. Other applications just didn’t get on with the machine. My preferred cycling metaverse, Zwift, limped into action and then hung – performance far worse than a much older Windows laptop that is my everyday workhorse.

At least the laptop’s biometric-enabled On button was swift and accurate, meaning the unusual number of restarts required to work with the machine were not made frustrating by bodgy biometrics. The touchpad is also pleasingly sensitive and generously sized.

A single USB-A port and dual USB-Cs is an adequate combination, but demonstrates PC-makers’ unfounded optimism about the prevalence of USB-C monitors. The laptop did not struggle with the no-name USB-C dongles I use for things like wireless keyboard dongles and HDMI.

The machine is very pretty, and is certainly thin and light.

But it is also eminently forgettable and you can do better for the $2,000 or so Huawei charges for it – perhaps with the 2022 version of the Matebook Pro X which is starting to dribble into stores around the world.

Sadly, Huawei won’t offer the version of the machine powered by its own motherboard and Kunpeng 920 processor outside of China. I say that as I came away from my time with the laptop thinking Huawei can do better, and perhaps controlling the hardware would be a factor that might allow it to address the imperfections that made this machine a hollow experience for your desktop tourist, rather than a trip to remember. ®

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.


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Aviation and Telecom Industries Reach Compromise on 5G Deployment

The Voice Of EU | In a significant development, AT&T and Verizon, the two largest mobile network operators in the United States, have agreed to delay the deployment of 5G services following requests from the aviation industry and the Biden administration. This decision marks a crucial compromise in the long-standing dispute between the two industries, which had raised concerns over the potential interference of 5G with flight signals.
The aviation industry, led by United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, had been vocal about the risks of 5G deployment, citing concerns over the safety of flight operations. Kirby had urged AT&T and Verizon to delay their plans, warning that proceeding with the deployment would be a “catastrophic failure of government.” The US Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the issue further highlighted the need for a solution.
In response, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Steve Dickson sent a letter to the mobile networks, requesting a two-week delay to reassess the potential risks. Initially, AT&T and Verizon were hesitant, citing the aviation industry’s two-year preparation window. However, they eventually agreed to the short delay, pushing the deployment to January 19.
The crux of the issue lies in the potential interference between 5G signals and flight equipment, particularly radar altimeters. The C-Band spectrum used by 5G networks is close to the frequencies employed by these critical safety devices. The FAA requires accurate and reliable radar altimeters to ensure safe flight operations.

Airlines in the US have been at loggerheads with mobile networks over the deployment of 5G and its potential impact on flight safety.

Despite the concerns, both the FAA and the telecoms industry agree that 5G mobile networks and airline travel can coexist safely. In fact, they already do in nearly 40 countries where US airlines operate regularly. The key lies in reducing power levels around airports and fostering cross-industry collaboration prior to deployment.
The FAA has been working to find a solution in the United States, and the additional two-week delay will allow for further assessment and preparation. AT&T and Verizon have also agreed to not operate 5G base stations along runways for six months, similar to restrictions imposed in France.
President Joe Biden hailed the decision to delay as “a significant step in the right direction.” The European Union Aviation Safety Agency and South Korea have also reported no unsafe interference with radio waves since the deployment of 5G in their regions.
As the aviation and telecom industries continue to work together, it is clear that safe coexistence is possible. The delay in 5G deployment is a crucial step towards finding a solution that prioritizes both safety and innovation. With ongoing collaboration and technical assessments, the United States can join the growing list of countries where 5G and airlines coexist without issue.

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