Acer All-In-One: Style Over Substance on Windows 8

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All-in-one desktop computers have been around for a good few years, with Apple cornering the high-end look-at-me market a couple of years ago with the stunning iMac. Now it’s time for Windows 8 users to be treated to the style-over-substance world of all-in-one PC desktops available from the likes of Sony, Acer, HP and Dell.

What is not understood by many is an all-in-one desktop computer has more in common, components-wise, with a laptop than a traditional tower and screen PC setup. Now, that used to mean style over performance; but these days an all-in-one isn’t necessarily a by-word for slow.

Acer’s latest offering, the ZC-605, is a low-cost all-in-one that isn’t going to compete with the iMacs of this world, but it does have some redeeming features including: a 19.5-inch display, Dolby Home Theater v4 surround sound and 16 GB of onboard RAM.

The weakest part of the ZC-605 specs list is the processor, a dual-core Pentium 2117U, clocked at 1.8Ghz, which as far as were aware, is a new chipset from Intel that’s only been on the market since January 2013, and while it’s not going to blow your socks off it’s not a bad base for a mid-range all-in-one.

One saving grace for the ZC-605 is that comes with a healthy dollop of RAM: 16 GB DDR3, to be exact – which is impressive. But we can’t help but feel it might be a bit wasted when it’s paired up with a less-than-stellar dual-core processor, with a built-in graphics chip – a gaming rig this is not.

Elsewhere the ZC-605 continues the all-in-one aesthetic on a shoestring, with the 19.5-inch screen, which comes with a huge bezel, again, compared to an iMac it doesn’t do the ZC-605 any favours in the looks department, but it’s actually not all that bad, because it allows more space for some decent speakers – a massive bugbear of most all-in-ones.

The screen does have 10°-30° tilt adjustment so you’ll be able to find a comfortable position, whether you are relaxing watching a film, playing a game or working. The screen has a reasonably impressive resolution of 1600×900, though, it’s quite someway off 1080p. There’s also an adjustable 720p HD webcam, but there’s no touchscreen capability, which really could have seen the ZC-605 stand apart from the competition, especially alongside the new touchy feely Windows 8.

The most frequently used ports, including a USB 3.0, are all grouped together in a handy port capsule to the side.

Sound is handled by Dolby Home Theater v4 Surround Sound and compared to some all-in-one desktops it’s quite impressive, with decent bass levels and even there’s even an attempt to create virtual surround sound via cleverly shaped speakers in the screen’s case.

One For All: Indoor Aerials to Tackle 4G Interference

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Everyone has gotten terribly excited about the emergence of 4G – and for those who live or work in central London and other cities, much has been made of the fantastic upload and download speeds you can already see on your smartphones.

But one of the downsides of the progression made in data speeds is that the rollout of 4G across the 800MHz spectrum this year could lead to up to two million UK homes suffering interference with their Freeview signal. So say aerial makers OneForAll, which pinpoints homes near a 4G transmitter, blocks of flats with one aerial and places where the Freeview signal is already weak as those most likely to have issues with reception.

To combat the problem, One For All has produced a pair of indoor aerials that feature built-in 4G LTE filters designed to cut down interference from the 4G signals. It works by cleaning the transmission received by yourset-top box, which means that any signals above the 790MHz spectrum are filtered out.

SV9395

The top-of-the-range aerial is the SV9395, an amplified indoor antenna for the best TV reception up to Full HD and also in 3D. It features 360-degree multi-patch technology, which increases reception capability, allowing the aerial to be positioned flat, standing or on the wall. It has a touch control digital amplifier up to 51dB and is DVB-T/T2, Freeview and DAB compatible.

The SV9385 is a smaller antenna with active noise reduction filters including the innovative 4G LTE filter and a GSM-block filter. It offers dual-patch technology that offers gives it a 180-degree reception angle and has an adjustable digital amplifier up to 47dB.

Both have gold-plated coaxial cables and will work up to 15 miles from the nearest TV transmitter. You can check your distance from the transmitter at the OFA . Follow the steps for Aerials.

The All In One SV9395 (£49.95) and SV9385 (£39.99) can be found at Currys, Amazon, Maplins and Tesco. For more information go to OneForAll.

But before you splash out, check out the at800 site. Ofcom made it part of the bidding process in the 4G auction that the winners would fund an organisation to help any homes affected. That organisation is at800 and it should proactively identify who is affected and what can be done to help them. They will provide filters for aerials to tackle the problem – but only one per household so you may have to purchase more. Where the filters are not strong enough to work, the organisation will cover the costs of moving your TV service to cable or some other solution. You can register your interest to be kept up to date with developments on the website.

Toshiba packs a punch with its latest range of PCs

Toshiba has announced the launch of its latest range of PCs, including Ultrabooks, business laptops and an all-in-one desktop PC. Ever forward-thinking, the company’s newest range includes some record breakers in the form of the world’s first 21:9 laptop and the world’s lightest 13.3-inch laptop. Let’s look at each machine individually:

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First up is the Satellite U840W. This is the world’s first laptop featuring a 21:9 display, which eliminates black bars from movie playback. If that wasn’t enough, Toshiba has installed high quality harman/kardon stereo speakers to complete the cinematic experience. Thanks to its Ultrabook-level performance, the laptop packs in all these features, while retaining the slim-line portability and all-day battery life found in previous Ultrabook models.

While computers are traditionally marketed to gamers, designers or businessmen, the Toshiba Satellite U840W is designed for cinema enthusiasts, and its wireless streaming capabilities and stellar battery life make it the perfect companion for long journeys.

Also announced was the Satellite U840 Ultrabook, which comes with a winning combination of performance, design and portability to produce an affordable, light-weight laptop. With a brushed metal design and elegant, embossed pattern the laptop delivers on style, while its third-generation Intel Core processor and 14-inch HD LED screen together provide stunning graphics and performance.

The Portégé Z930 is another first for Toshiba, and currently stands as the world’s lightest Ultrabook. Designed with business in mind, the netbook has ultimate portability, a slim design but is still powered by the latest generation Ultrabook processors. In addition to these features, each Portégé Z930 machine comes with advanced Intel security and remote management features, taking the weight off your shoulders in more ways than one.

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Joining the Portégé Z930 in Toshiba’s business laptop inventory is the R9 range. Designed using input from business users, the R9 Series produces premium machines with industry-leading features that include strong reliability, faster performance and advanced security. Laptop sizes in the R9 Series range from 13.3 inches to 15.6 inches, and each of the three models in the range has a range of customizable specifications.

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The last of Toshiba’s latest offerings, but by no means the least, is the LX830 all-in-one PC. Like the Satellite U840W, this machine is designed with entertainment in mind, and comes with a Freeview-enabled TV and Blu-Ray player, a 23-inch HD screen that is available as a touchscreen or non-touchscreen. Despite these features, the desktop computer retains a slim, space-saving design.

HP TouchSmart 520: Family friendly All-In-One

HP officially released news of the TouchSmart 520, its updated redesign of the previous TouchSmart all-in-one devices, and a stylish attempt at providing a family-friendly machine primarily used for entertainment within the home. As the worlds leading producer of Windows using machines it would appear to be well placed to position itself as the main opposition to the iMac as the all-singin’, game-playin,’ youtube-blarin’ machine that’ll be just as loved by little Jimmy as it will his Mum and Dad. According to this wonderfully handy press release, 34% of consumer desktop purchases last July were all-in-ones, so they are also very much on-trend.  Hats off to Hp, then.

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As it’s not released in October we haven’t managed to get our hands on a copy or a review yet, so we cannot comment on performance, but from the pictures we’ve seen it is an attractive little thing, with the 21.7 x 58.05 x 45.74 cm  screen hinged onto a frame like an artist’s easel.  This allows the screen to tilt back, forwards and around for supreme ease of sharing when you’ve just got to show that video with the guys on the treadmill to your nearest and dearest across the dinner table.

Users will be able to access all regular Windows applications, as well as a raft of ones built especially for the touch experience.  In a rather nice touch, the machine also harnessed the divine power of the TouchSmart Magic Canvas with HP LinkUp, which means purchasers of the TouchSmart will be able to use programs from their musty old notebook machines on this super-speeded all-round sexier model.

In a sign that it is making a pitch for all those music-lovers that have got thoroughly bored with listening through tinny speakers the music they’ve lovingly trawled halfways across the web to find Hp will also be incorporating the Dr Dre sponsored Beats Audio software.  The technical wizardy at play with this invention is alien to a philistine such as yours truly, but we are assured that its sole purpose in life is to make music sound the way the artist intended which, as far as we’re concerned, is a pretty good thing.

With a dreadfully decent 500GB of storage, the 520 will also have space for you to store all your non Apple-affiliated tunes on, as well as all those videos in that file you keep well hidden for fear of familial reprisal and/or police investigation.  Priced at £599 it’s an affordable price, and it does come with a wireless keyboard so typing long e-mails and documents isn’t a complete faff/impossibility a la iPad.  Time will tell, but from where we’re sitting the TouchSmart looks like a pretty smart (sorry) choice.

Acer Aspire Z5761: A touching performance

Acer is bringing its latest all-in-one to a somewhat crowded market, with the likes of HP and Sony having recently released their own all-in-ones. But what just might make this one stand apart from the rest is Acer’s own TouchPortal interface (powered, by the way, by Sandy Bridge processors).

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The ‘Touch’ family of functions includes:

  • TouchBrowser: a touch-friendly web browser designed for searching, retrieving and presenting information from the Internet;
  • TouchCam: a handy touch controls to add fun video effects while chatting online, or do theme-style recording and share with friends on YouTube;
  • TouchMusic, which lets you browse, manage and play your favourite music;
  • TouchPhoto, which integrates photo management with photo sharing capabilities and is designed to interact with both local images and online albums, and
  • TouchVideo, which includes video management and sharing features. It allows you to enjoy Blu-ray or DVD movies and home videos, as well as browse and share your videos to YouTube.

Acer has also included its new media sharing system – called Clear.fi – which brings all your multimedia content into a single system with a common interface. Out of the box, it promises to identify all your Clear.fi-enabled devices on the home network and then allow any digital content stored on them to be shared seamlessly.

Acer has done its best to make this new computer look like a part of the decor, rather than a piece of gadgetry – its sharp lines combine aluminium with matt and glossy black surfaces, along with cool blue lighting to light up the keyboard. The keyboard can be slid under the PC when not in use, to help achieve that minimalist look. The silver stand has a window for organising cables.

Spec-wise, it features Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, making it powerful enough for editing multimedia files and playing fast-action games, a 23in Full HD 1080p display, an integrated 5W stereo speaker system and Dolby Home Theater v4.

There’s an optional Blue-Ray Disc optical drive and TV tuner, and connectivity wise it offers support for 802.11b/g/n, Gigabit LAN and optional built-in Bluetooth 2.1, as well as featuring an onboard microphone and high-def webcam.

Storage-wise, you’ll get up to 1.5TB plus up to 8GB of DDR3 memory and eight USB ports. Sounds like quite a lot for your money, with an expected retail price starting at £799.

More details from www.acer-euro.com

The Aspire Z5761 will be available in early May with prices starting from £799 inc Vat

Samsung and MSI release all-in-wonderful PCs

Up until the launch of Windows 7, all-in-one (AIO) PCs have been the equivalent of a bargain ready-meal for one – they look a bit pathetic in your home, and no-one really enjoys them, but at least it is better than starving to death.

However, Samsung and MSI are preparing some gourmet offerings, combining the power and functionality of high-end computers with the aesthetics and ease-of-installation of AIOs. And both companies have thrown in touchscreens.

Samsung-All-In-One

Samsung, entering the desktop market for the very first time, are launching two new AIO systems – the U250 and the U200, both styled like a giant iPads. And the similarities don’t end there – the devices also offer multitouch touchscreen using Windows 7’s powerful backend, meaning that the computer could quite happily replace a TV as an entertainment device, without a keyboard or mouse in sight.

While the screen may be a bit small to use as a primary viewing set, at 20-inch (U200) and 23-inch (U250), the picture quality is definitely there, with each model offering a degree of HD compatibility. The U200’s 1600 x 900 resolution means that 720p can be displayed, while the U250’s massive 1920 x 1080 allows for Full HD support.

Behind the screen, the internals are equally impressive for an AIO. The U200 boasts an Intel T440 dual core, while its bigger brother has a Core 2 Duo T6600, alongside a dedicated Geforce graphics card (G310M 512mb), 500gb hard drive and two or more gigabytes of RAM.

Disappointingly, there is no mention of an included Blu-ray player, which would really make the most of the gorgeous screen.

MSI’s offering, the “Wind Top AE2400”, is a premium model, and looks set to outperform (and out-cost) both of Samsung’s offerings. Offering a 23.6-inch 1920 x 1080 screen, an Intel Quad processor, a Mobility Radeon HD 5730 graphics card, a 1 TB hard drive and multitouch, the system looks set to be the biggest and strongest AIO on the market.

Time will tell if either of these companies can match Apple’s success in the AIO World, whose iMac line has been the trademark of designs for the last decade, and a benchmark of quality all-in-one builds.