Category Archives: Windows

Samsung announces Galaxy Book powered by Windows 10



If you are looking for a portable workspace and require Windows then you have a growing number of options beyond the Surface. These include many easily portable laptops and tablets. Now Samsung is looking to give everyone another alternative.

The company is unveiling its latest offering at Mobile World Congress. The big event takes place annually in Barcelona, Spain.

“Samsung announced an expanded strategic partnership with Microsoft that will help professionals use digital technology to work anywhere, with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Book powered by Windows 10 and improvements to Samsung Flow”, announces Microsoft.

The Samsung Galaxy Book is a new premium 2-in-1 that is designed for the enterprise. It’s a 12 inch with full Microsoft Office desktop integration. It “enables you to easily use Windows Ink or markup and draw on websites in Microsoft Edge, and the S Pen is equipped with the tilt SDK for Windows Ink, providing artists with advanced shading and brushstrokes”.

“Samsung improved Samsung Flow with Microsoft on the Galaxy Book. Samsung Flow allows customers to sync their Galaxy smartphone with the Galaxy Book for convenient login and Wi-Fi connection through the smartphone’s mobile hotspot when a data connection is not available, and the Samsung Flow app will display notifications from your smartphone”.

Pricing and availability are not yet available.


Where Are The Desktop SSD’s?



Windows logo blueI have a Compaq desktop PC that’s a few years old that is handy for tasks such as doing taxes or writing articles with. Unfortunately, it came with Windows Vista. More than a year ago I installed an inexpensive 128 gigabyte SSD in it. The SSD sped things up dramatically to the point where Vista was actually usable. To be honest, apart from being a bit of a resource hog, Vista has been quite stable on this machine.

While doing my 2016 taxes I received an on-screen Microsoft notification warning me that the Vista “End of Life” date is April 11, 2017. That presented me with a dilemma. Should I pay for the upgrade to update the Compaq to Windows 10? Or, should I just replace the machine with a newer model that came with Windows 10 preinstalled?

If I were buying a new machine, I would insist on an SSD. Unfortunately, after a bit of looking, it seems that desktop computers with factory-installed SSD’s are as rare as hens teeth and if they are offered at all they tend to be on the pricey side.

The other problem is that the old LCD monitor that’s attached to the Compaq is VGA only. I would have to also have an HDMI to VGA adapter unless I wanted to replace a perfectly functional monitor.

PC manufacturers complain that PC’s just aren’t selling very well. Have they ever thought about the fact that the models they are offering for sale tend to be mediocre? How about offering a $500 desktop tower that has a reasonable processor, a reasonable amount of RAM, and a 128 or 256 SSD?

Is that too much to ask?

In my opinion the SSD offers one of the biggest performance boosts of any upgrade ever, and yet PC manufacturers seem to be mindlessly failing to utilize it to excite consumers with. I’m afraid it doesn’t make any sense. Why should the consumer get excited about machines slowly booting from spinning hard drives that offer performance that is, from a perception standpoint, not that much different from the Windows machines on sale in the same stores a decade ago?

The only excuse for the lack of SSD-equipped desktop PC’s that seems to be offered is that customers “expect” one terabyte or larger drives on which to store massive amounts of pictures, music, etc. I don’t know if that is true or not. Personally, I stopped storing my stuff on my computer hard drives starting upwards of three years ago. I use a network-attached, Internet-savvy Western Digital MyCloud drive to store all of my digital stuff on. I also employ multiple inexpensive large spinning drives as redundant back-up drives. All of my 8,000 plus pictures are additionally stored with Google Photos for instant access to every picture I’ve ever taken right from my phone. I use my computers as creation and manipulation tools and NOT as mass storage devices.

In the end, I opted to go the cheaper route and buy a copy of Windows 10. It came on a USB thumb drive. It installed just fine on the Compaq. Everything seems to work, with the exception of an old Canon scanner that Canon offers no Windows 10 driver for. The loss of the Canon scanner is not a problem since my HP all-in-one WiFi printer can handle any flatbed scanning needs I might have. It did a large Windows update, and I installed a couple of things such as Dropbox and TurboTax 2016. The Compaq won’t win any speed competitions, but it’s poised to continue to do chores such as taxes until October 14, 2025, Windows 10’s scheduled end of life date. By then it might be time for a new computer.


Venturer EliteWin S 11KT Review



Venturer LogoLess than a year after launching their first foray into the market, the team at Venturer have given their 2-in-1 Windows notebooks a quick refresh and adding an “S” into the product name. Consequently, on review here is the EliteWin S 11KT, the big brother to the BravoWin S 10KR, and these new editions are priced at an additional GB£50 over the original models. Let’s take a look and see if the new ones are worth the extra cash.

(The picture makes the keyboard look bigger than it is – it’s the same size as the screen..)

As before, there’s not much between the BravoWin S and EliteWin S models other than the size of the screens, which are 10″ 1280×800 and 11.6″ 1366×768 respectively. Both are IPS screens and at 11.6″, it’s a big tablet. The good news is that the bigger screen of the EliteWin S brings the benefits of a larger keyboard, which was my main gripe about the BravoWin when I reviewed the previous model. This time round, the bigger keyboard suits me much better, so it’s a good first impression.

As a hybrid, the EliteWin S comes in two pieces, namely the screen and the keyboard, which come together by slotting the screen into a hinge on the keyboard. The overall dimensions are roughly 30 cm by 19 cm (at the hinge) by 2.7 cm when closed up with a bit of an air gap between the keyboard and screen, though it tapers towards the front. The tablet itself is 11 mm thick. The screen can be positioned both facing into the keyboard or turned round for alternative viewing positions.

Opening the EliteWin as a notebook, the hinge rotates downwards to raise the rear of the keyboard up for a slight slope. Two rubber pieces on the hinge protect the desk surface and while the keys on the keyboard are quite small, they do travel nicely. There’s a small button-less touchpad at the front too where double tapping on the left and right side of the touchpad simulates the mouse buttons. It takes a little getting used to without any feedback.

The styling is much improved with the this iteration. Corners are rounded off and there’s a certain Surface-esque trapezoidal shape to the tablet section. Additionally, the flat surfaces are covered in a soft-touch exterior which is surprising in the first instance, but is much grippier than the usual metal or plastic. Coloured in gunmetal grey, the tablet looks much better, though the underside of the keyboard could do with a bit more styling and a matching finish.

Looking over the ports, there’s a microphone hole, HDMI mini, micro SD slot, DC power in, micro USB port, 3.5mm earphone, power on/off button, USB 2 port and Windows button. The EliteWin S can be charged both via the micro USB and the DC power in, with a PSU supplied in the box. On the back of the tablet, there’s volume up / down controls and camera. There are still no USB ports on the keyboard.

In terms of build quality, it appears to have improved. The keyboard and keyboard hinge seem quite sturdy, as before. The tablet itself is plastic although with the soft touch cover and gunmetal colour, it gives a good impression of being metal. It’s pretty sturdy too though it will flex if you force it. Though it’s not the best small keyboard I’ve ever used, it’s certainly very usable and I typed much of this article using the keyboard.

As before, the 11.6″ 1366×768 IPS screen is perfectly acceptable though it does continue to suffer a little from backlight bleeding around some of the edges. It’s most noticeable when the notebook is booting and the screen is black. It’s not something I’d worry about in day-to-day use, though. In terms of touch, I found the screen responsive and at times, I ended up using the touchscreen more than the touchpad.

Specwise, the processor is an Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core clocked at 1.3 GHz (boosts to 1.8 GHz) with 2 GB RAM and 32 GB (28 GB reported) of storage. A 64 GB microSD card is included in the box as there’s only around 16 GB of space free on the C: drive. Windows 10 Home is installed, though it’s only the 32bit version despite the 64-bit processor. There’s 11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth too.

Performance is perfectly adequate for what you might call undemanding tasks – surfing the web, watching YouTube, playing Cut The Rope – and you can have a few apps open before switching apps slows it down. Obviously this depends on the apps you are using and the EliteWin S is no Surface Pro 4, so adjust expectations accordingly. Regardless, I found it very usable. Battery life is rated at 8 hours and I got over six hours one day without completely exhausting the battery. However, it is possible to burn through the battery much quicker if you are streaming video.

The 2 MP cameras are a bit disappointing (tablet cameras usually are) but in an improvement over the BravoWin, all the cameras actually worked with the standard Camera app. Cortana interaction is much improved too and she was able to hear me clearly, also unlike the previous BravoWin.

Although I’m comfortable with Windows 10 as a PC operating system, I still struggle with it as a tablet OS. The tablet mode does help and the EliteWin S did detect the removal of the keyboard and pushed tablet mode for my approval, which was handy. The duality of Windows 10 is hardly the fault of the EliteWin, but it does make supporting the 2-in-1 nature of the device that little bit harder.

As I come to the end of the review, readers might be thinking that this review is very similar to the review I did before…and you’d be right because there’s very little difference between the generations. Cosmetically, the EliteWin S is much improved over the previous generation, so while S might stand for Speed with Apple, S equates to Style with Venturer. So….

Question 1: is it worth an extra GB£50 for the newer model? Probably. The S model looks better, seems to be a bit more robust, has a soft touch finish and it comes with a 64GB microSD card.

Question 2: Is the EliteWin S the best buy at GB£249? Harder to answer. There are definitely some competitors out there, even in the 2-in-1 space, and if you aren’t concerned about a detachable keyboard, there are a couple of options at the price point.

In terms of personal peeves, there’s not much to complain about. It’s a bit chunky, the rear of the keyboard could be styled better and an extra USB port would be handy.

The EliteWin S 11KT is available from Amazon for GB£249 and the BravoWin S 10KR is at IdealWorld for GB£189.

Thanks to Venturer for the loan of the EliteWin S and there’s an unboxing video below.


Microsoft begins rolling out an update to Windows 7 and 8, removes the get Windows 10 message



getwindows10Despite seemingly endless complaints from customers, it still isn’t gone even though the free period has passed. Now the company is finally relenting and removing the nagware from both Windows 7 and 8.x.

Let’s face it, you’re either already on Windows 10 or you’re sticking with version 7. people never saw much middle ground with 8.x. Now those sticking with any older version will no longer need to periodically curse and close that window., and it only took until two months after the offer ended.

Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB) article 3184143 can be checked for more information. If you choose to ignore the update then it’s still possible to get the free upgrade if you’ve had a change of heart.

Complaints about the “feature” have trailed off in recent times, though some people are likey nagged by it. A response received by Mary Jo Foley read simply:

“The Get Windows 10 (GWX) application was designed to make the Windows 10 upgrade process easy for existing Windows 7 and 8.1 customers for the one year free upgrade offer which ended July 29th. Beginning on September 20th, the Get Windows 10 app and all other updates related to the Windows 10 free upgrade offer will be removed from Windows 7 and 8.1 customer’s devices. Beyond the statement above, the company has nothing more to share.”


Venturer BravoWin Hybrid Notebook Review



Venturer LogoMicrosoft and small Windows devices are in a difficult space. There’s no doubt that for serious work, a full desktop or laptop is needed, whether based on an Apple or Microsoft OS. When it comes to tablets and phones, Windows is away in the distance behind iOS and Android.

Into this place comes the Venturer 2-in-1 Mini Windows Notebooks, consisting of the BravoWin 10KT at GB£149 and the EliteWin 11KT at £199. These are hybrid devices, capable of switching between tablet and notebook mode by detaching the keyboard. The main difference between the two models is the screen size (10.1″ 1280×800 v. 11.6″ 1366×768) and here we have the little brother, the BravoWin. I’d never heard of Venturer before but they’re a Hong Kong-based outfit so let’s take a look.

BravoWin Tablet

As a hybrid, the BravoWin comes in two pieces, namely the screen and the keyboard, which come together by slotting the screen into a hinge on the keyboard. The overall dimensions are roughly 26.6 cm by 16.8 cm by 2.4 cm when closed up with a bit of an air gap between the keyboard and screen, though it tapers towards the front. The tablet itself is 1 cm thick.

Opening the BravoWin as a notebook, the hinge rotates downwards to raise the rear of the keyboard up for a slight slope. A soft felt pad along the hinge protects the surface and while the keys on the keyboard are quite small, they do travel nicely. There’s a small button-less touchpad at the front too where double tapping on the left and right side of the keyboard simulates the mouse buttons.

BravoWin Hybrid Tablet

While beauty might be in the eye of the beholder, the BravoWin is no looker. It’s two tone plastic, part dark gray, part silver with buttons, speaker grilles and ports all over the place. Well, not quite everywhere; most are located on one end of the tablet. There’s an HDMI mini, micro SD slot, DC power in, micro USB port, 3.5mm earphone, power on/off button, USB 2 port and Windows button. The BravoWin can be charged both via the micro USB and the DC power in, with a PSU supplied in the box. On the back of the tablet, there’s volume up / down controls and reset button. There’s nothing on the keyboard which is a pity as an extra USB port or two would have been handy.

Edge of BravoWin

In terms of build quality, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The keyboard and keyboard hinge seem quite sturdy. The tablet itself is plastic and it creaks a little in use. It’s not flimsy but it’s not tremendously reassuring either. Having said that, the promotional material extols the BravoWin’s drop resistance, claiming that it’ll survive a drop from 1.2 m. I didn’t test this…..

BravoWin Hinge

The 10.1″ 1280×800 screen is perfectly acceptable and possibly quite a bit better than some I’ve seen recently. It does suffer a little from backlight bleeding around some of the edges, but it’s most noticeable around the hinge when the notebook is booting and the screen is black. It’s not something I’d worry about in day-to-day use, though. In terms of touch, I found the screen responsive and at times, I ended up using the touchscreen more than the touchpad.

The processor is an Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core clocked at 1.3 GHz (boosts to 1.8 GHz) with 2 GB RAM and 32 GB (28 GB reported) of storage and there’s around 16 GB of space free so the micro SD slot is going to come in useful – it will take cards up to 64 GB. Windows 10 Home is installed, though it’s only the 32bit version despite the 64-bit processor. There’s 11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth too.

Performance is perfectly adequate for what you might call undemanding tasks – surfing the web, watching YouTube, playing Cut The Rope – and you can have a few apps open before switching apps slows it down. Obviously this depends on the apps you are using and the BravoWin is no Surface Pro 4, so adjust expectations accordingly. Regardless, I found it very usable. Battery life is rated at 8 hours and I got over six hours one day without completely exhausting the battery.

BravoWin Back

The 2 MP cameras are a bit disappointing (tablet cameras usually are) and I couldn’t get the front-facing camera to work in the standard Camera app – the app kept crashing. It did work fine in Skype so it’s not a hardware problem in itself. Cortana wasn’t very happy with the microphone either, complaining about low volume. The microphone is positioned on the end of the tablet along with the ports and wasn’t very good at picking up sound unless you were quite close to the mic.

My biggest problem though was with the keyboard and touchpad, and while this sounds like a break-up letter, the problem was me. I’m a man with big hands and I really did not get on with this keyboard. Technically it worked fine but I was constantly pressing the wrong keys, hitting the touchpad when I didn’t mean to and so on. Probably a better choice for children or people with smaller hands than mine.

The BravoWin is the first tablet I’ve used with Windows 10 and it’s certainly much better than its OS predecessors. I still get frustrated at the hybrid nature of Windows 10 at times, with it seemly unable to decide whether it’s a desktop or tablet operating system. Still, this is hardly the fault of the BravoWin so we’ll move on.

Coming to the end of the review, it’s difficult to place the Venturer BravoWin in the marketplace. It’s competing both against Windows laptops and notebooks, and against Android and Apple tablets. It’s not easy to pigeonhole the BravoWin and identify the best use cases, though the obvious ones are people who need Windows on a device strong enough to throw in a bag without worrying. Sounds like a student to me.

Let’s state this plainly: the BravoWin is a cheap small robust hybrid notebook running Microsoft Windows 10. If that’s what you need and you don’t have much cash, then take a look as it fits the bill nicely. People with large hands might want to check out the bigger EliteWin.

Both the BravoWin and the EliteWin are available from Amazon and other good retailers with an RRP of GB£149 and £199 respectively.

Thanks to Venturer for the loan of the BravoWin and if you like the wallpaper, check out Smashing Magazine’s monthly selection.


Windows 10 Update takes down professional gamer live on Twitch



Microsoft logoA lot has been made about Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 10. Many people prefer it over the operating system it replaced, though that isn’t necessarily saying much. The big problem people have with this latest platform is how much Microsoft is pushing it, and doing so hard.

The latest problem that Microsoft’s relentless pushing has caused happened to professional gamer Erik Flom, and it was live on the game streaming site Twitch.

This isn’t the first time such an incident has occurred, we recently saw during a TV news broadcast when the weather map was suddenly overlaid by a prompt to upgrade to Windows 10. While that incident was taken good-naturedly by the meteorologist, this one did not meet with the same reaction. There was cursing involved and video of the whole incident has gone viral thanks to Reddit.

In this case, it was not a message prompting the upgrade, Flom already was using the OS. But getting it doesn’t solve the problem of Microsoft inserting itself into people’s lives. Updates to Windows 10 can also be forced. There’s an obvious reason for that — security vulnerabilities.

But as security firm Sophos points out “Unfortunately, cyberattackers don’t need to rely on zero-days, where a security patch isn’t available, because so many users remain unprotected against security bugs with fixes that are available – and have been for weeks, months, or even years”.

While Microsoft pushing these updates can be looked at as a good thing, perhaps there could be a better way, such as doing so when a PC is inactive.


Apple Watch: Now with… Windows 95?



Win95 logoIf the most-often used question when it comes to technology is simply, “Why?,” then the most common answer has to be, “Why not?” That’s what one developer must’ve been thinking when he figured out how to run Windows 95, Microsoft’s cutting-edge mid-90’s operating system, on an Apple Watch.

For those too young to remember, Windows 95 was Microsoft’s much-hyped successor to the ever-popular Windows 3.1. Windows 95 was a break from tradition in a few ways for Microsoft. It was the first time the company moved away from its standard numbering system. Instead of calling its newest Windows build simply “Windows 4.0,” Microsoft chose to brand the software package with the year of release. Thus beginning a cycle that would be repeated with Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. (That trend was ended with the release of Windows 7.) Windows 95 introduced a few things that became centerpieces of the OS, most notably the beloved Start Button.

Most PC’s running Windows 95 at the time of its release were big, beige desktop units that definitely didn’t fit over your wrist. Perhaps that’s a testament to the computing horsepower of modern devices. Even something as small as an Apple Watch has enough power to emulate an entire operating system that used to require (for its time) lots of disk space and RAM. One drawback of this emulation is that it apparently takes about an hour for the OS to be fully usable on an Apple Watch. So, it might not be the best way to relive your fond memories of playing Solitaire and surfing the web on Netscape 3.0. To see the emulation in action, check out this time-lapse video.


Surface Pro 3 Update



SurfaceIt’s been going on about three months since buying a Surface Pro 3 tablet with a 256 gigabyte SSD, an I-5 processor, and Windows 10 preinstalled, so I figure it’s time for a bit of an update.

Since getting the device, there has been one major Windows 10 update, along with countless small spyware and virus updates for Windows Defender, which is built in to Windows 10.

So far, between the hardware and the operating system, there have been zero hiccups. Windows 10 has been absolutely rock solid. I am still really enjoying the Windows 10 experience. The one area lacking with the Windows 10 tablet experience has been the lack tablet mode apps from the Windows App Store. Many types of apps are just non-existent, or as in the case of the Windows Facebook app, are barely adequate but obviously lacking in up-to-date Facebook features present in the Android and iOS counterpart apps. I am willing to overlook this poor Windows app experience because I can easily just go to the various websites and get the full website experience if I need to. Also, my Galaxy Note 4 phone is where I end up running most of the standard apps anyway, so when it comes right down to it I don’t need them on a large-screen tablet device anyway.

I also purchased the older generation Microsoft Keyboard. Additionally for a paltry $15.99 I purchased the Fintie Surface Pro 3 Case Folio Slim-fit Leather Stand Cover with Stylus Holder from Amazon. The version I got was navy blue, but it comes in a very wide variety of colors and print designs. Fintie also sells an updated version of the case for the Surface Pro 4 for $13.99. Both products are highly rated. The case does an excellent job of protecting the unit and gives me a very secure loop along the top of the screen to insert the Microsoft Pen stylus that came packaged with the unit.

Of course the big advantage of the Surface Pro line is that it packs a full, powerful PC into a thin tablet form factor combined with an amazing high-resolution screen.

I spend weeks at a time traveling and living in a very compact area. The less bulky stuff I can carry with me, the better. The Surface Pro 3 completely covers my mobile computing needs. I was able to delete an entire laptop bag from the stuff I carry around with me, which included an old white plastic MacBook and an old Asus netbook.

I still listen to a number of popular Apple-centric podcasts, and I am beginning to hear the frustrations I suffered with for at least the past year when I was trying to decide what to do in order to update my computing hardware. I thought about newer MacBooks, but because they forced newer versions of OS/X, they wouldn’t run the aging media creation software I wanted to run. The iPad experience is great for media consumption, but is absolutely painful for even the most minimal productivity tasks including writing articles and media creation.

The Surface Pro 3 has solved my problem. I am confident to travel just with it, since it is more than capable of handling all the tasks I need it to handle. I feel a bit sorry for the people who are trapped in the Apple-only mentality. Fortunately, even though I bought my fair share of Apple products in the past 10 years, I wasn’t trapped and could easily switch back to Windows once Microsoft corrected its terrible operating system mistakes (namely Vista and Windows 8) with the release of Windows 10.

I hear people use the phrase “living in the future.” For me, the future is here and I am already enjoying it as never before. I have a super-high-quality, unbelievably fast touchscreen tablet that also happens to be a full PC that can handle everything I throw at it.


ArtRage Touch



artrage4-logoThe Surface Pro 3 I purchased a few weeks ago came with the bundled Microsoft Pen, which is a fancy name for a stylus. At first I didn’t make much use of the stylus, but after a while I decided it was time to experiment with it and see what it could do. Unlike the fat stylus’s for sale that will work on any capacitive touchscreen, the Microsoft Pen will work only with Surface devices and offers extreme precision.

The Surface Pro 3 with preinstalled Windows 10 comes with a program called Fresh Paint, and I played around with that for a while. Then I started looking in the Windows App Store and found ArtRage Touch which sells for $9.99. I was already familiar with the iOS version of ArtRage on my iPad, so after playing with the trial version in short order I ended up buying the full version.

ArtRage Touch has a very similar interface across all versions. There are full desktop versions of ArtRage for both Windows and Mac, as well as iOS and Android versions.

ArtRage Touch for Windows is similar to the iOS version, but perhaps somewhat abandoned. The most notable shortcoming is with the lack of much ability to save creations. While it is possible to save creations to the standard ArtRage PTG file format, there are apparently zero non-ArtRage applications that can open these files. If you do a direct share to Facebook, ArtRage Touch simply shares a screen capture including the ArtRage interface. I found an acceptable work-around by “printing” the file I want to a PDF format file, making sure that I have the paper size adjusted to landscape and to “print” the entire image to a single page. Then, I open the just-exported PDF file in Adobe Photoshop Elements and export the image as a standard JPG file. This lack of the ability to export directly to JPG is a major shortcoming, so would-be buyers beware.

The ArtRage website itself doesn’t even list ArtRage Touch as a version for sale, though they still sell ArtRage Touch in the Windows App Store.

If I ever were to become a more serious artist, I would consider buying the full version of ArtRage 4 for desktop machines, which sells on their website for $49.90.

Setting aside the problem of how to share creations with ArtRage Touch, it is a lot of fun to play with digital draw and paint tools. Digital versions of various paints, airbrush tools, pencils and papers can create extremely realistic effects with no wasted paper or messy, expensive paint supplies to futz around with.

On larger touch screens, “digital gloves” are available that allow the side of the drawing hand to be rested directly on the screen without interacting, though obviously many other types of open-finger gloves or even a piece of cloth would likely have the same effect of preventing capacitive contact with skin. The Surface Pro 3 has excellent palm rejection with native apps such as OneNote and others, but even so the appropriate digital gloves would seem to be a no-fuss solution with larger-screen devices. It is very tiring to try to hold and use a stylus on a large touchscreen device without anything to rest the side of your hand against.

Every version of ArtRage includes the ability to pre-load another image, typically a photograph, that allows a “trace” layer(s) to be placed on top. Thus, it is possible to accurately trace out the lines of an image and then paint it afterwards, which can result in some interesting, and sometimes hilarious images.

There are also many serious video producers on YouTube that lay out extremely good “learn to draw” lessons that can teach you how to draw if you follow along.

Once purchased, ArtRage Touch can be installed on up to 10 Windows devices.


Computers Re-thought



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.Lenovo C40

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.