Ergonomics plays a large role in how appealing and useful we find electronic devices, thus ergonomics ends up affecting out behavior more than we realize.
Like many people back in the 1990’s I was heavily into building my own computers, typically using the ever-popular tower case to house things in. The basic machine included a tower, a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. We figured out ways of placing the various elements to make using these machines as comfortable as possible, and this basic configuration is still dominant today in most offices.
Over the years, especially early on, I was able to sell many of my old cast-off machines when I would get new equipment. By the time the 2000’s came, computers had saturated the market and older machines weren’t as easily gotten rid of. So, thus began somewhat of a psychological barrier to remain on the upgrade path.
Also at some point I felt that performance had gotten good enough that it really wasn’t as necessary to continually change out the hardware. I ended up keeping machines longer, and they sort of morphed into appliances. I bought a few Macs and they are all still hanging around, including two Mac Minis. Mac Minis, though they are small, still follow the same familiar tower-monitor-keyboard-mouse paradigm.
My recent purchase of a Surface Pro 3 256 did something I didn’t think was possible. It got me excited over the possibilities of an all-in-one touch form factor running Windows 10.
As a result, I’ve been looking at all-in-one desktop touch computers from companies such as HP, Dell, Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Samsung. I developed a bit of a feel for features versus price in the current all-in-one market.
For $449 dollars at my local Office Depot store, I ended up buying a Lenovo C40 series machine with an AMD processor, 8 gigs of RAM expandable to 16, Windows 10 preinstalled, 3 USB 2.0’s, 2 USB 3.0’s, 2 HDMI’s out, a 1920 x 1080 21.5” inch capacitive touch display, integrated CD/DVD writer, Bluetooth 4.0, SD card reader, wired USB keyboard, wired USB mouse, and a one terabyte hard drive. The display machine set up in the store also passed my cursory performance tests, which include how fast menus snap open, as well as how quickly the machine can reboot.
I am enjoying the all-in-one form factor even more than I thought I would. A large portion of the enjoyment surprisingly comes from the ergonomics afforded by the all-in-one form itself. This particular Lenovo model on its stand sits about 4 inches above the surface of the desk. This gets it up high enough that it becomes easier to look at. Also, the USB ports on the side are extremely handy – no fumbling around on the floor behind a machine to try to plug in a USB memory key or SD card – the USB 3.0 ports and SD card reader are conveniently located along the left side of the machine as you are facing it thus placing the ports right where in my case plenty of light falls on them making using them a snap.
Another aspect is that it is easy to bring the entire machine forward far enough that I can encourage myself to keep good posture as opposed to realizing that I’ve unconsciously hunched over into an uncomfortable position.
As noted above the memory can be boosted to 16 gigabytes and the hard drive is also accessible. Rudimentary instructions are included on how the machine comes apart to get at these items.
Despite the fact that the machine is quick and responsive even with video editing, certain processor-intensive tasks such as video rendering are not as fast as the performance one would get out of an Intel i5 or i7. The slow video rendering is likely exposing one of the key weaknesses of the AMD A6-7310 processor. Nonetheless, for basic everyday tasks this model is snappy enough.
The all-in-one touchscreen computer does seem to be catching on with consumers. Windows 10 is the right operating system at the right time. Millions of people have grown quite comfortable with the touchscreen experience and an entire new generation of kids that were born after the advent of the modern capacitive touchscreen are simply expecting it.