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

Acer-Aspire-ZC-605

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.

Windows 8 review of reviews: Fireman’s poles, tiles and hyperbole?

Let’s for one minute, strip away the hysteria and PR hyperbole that accompanies every Windows release and get down to the brass tacks of this latest release. Is it really the best thing Microsoft has produced since the dawn of time as it would lead us to believe? Microsoft is saying it’s the biggest upgrade to the operating system in 17 years, but what do the reviewers make of it?

Charles Arthur at The Guardian reckons it’s more like Windows 7+1 and uses a wonderful analogy of sliding down the fireman’s pole if you want to visit the more familiar Windows 7 desktop.

“The “Start screen”, as Microsoft calls it, consists only of those big tiles, and completely replaces the desktop you first see on Windows – although, let’s be clear, that old Windows desktop is still there. It’s just hidden one layer down, and if you want to jump down into it there’s a perfectly good fireman’s pole in the form of a tile called “Desktop”. Click or touch that, and you’re in Windows 7″

Win-8-Start

Engadget opens up with perhaps a more obvious statement on the much heralded tiles:

“It’s safe to say the Windows Phone-esque Live Tiles have been the single most polarizing thing about Windows 8. Which makes sense: the new, mobile-inspired Start Screen looks wholly different from anything we’ve seen on previous versions of Windows. What’s more, you can’t even interact with these apps the same way: they run at full-screen, and can’t be minimized or re-sized like the windows you’re used to. In short, these tiles are the cornerstone of the Windows 8 experience, and they’re impossible to avoid, even if you plan on doing much of your work in the traditional desktop”

Matt Warman, Consumer Technology Editor at The Telegraph on the other hand discusses whether or not trying to combine an operating system for both tablets and PC’s is a wise move: “If you have an existing PC that doesn’t have a touchscreen, Windows 8 is more of an enticement to buy a new one than it is a reason to upgrade”

Win-8-Pics

And then goes on to highlight the more eccentric aspects of the OS:

“For new users, Windows 8 will sometimes be infuriating – how do you close a programme? Why are there two versions of Internet Explorer, one for desktop, one for Windows 8 proper? (Because Windows 8 proper is more powerful.) Why is there no Facebook app, when Microsoft is a Facebook investor? Why is logging in to a wired network different from a wireless one? None of these are crises, but all of them indicate that Windows 8 remains the future – it will certainly not be the present until Intel chips power it to its full potential. And by then, the software will have been polished and the apps library filled. January can’t come soon enough”.

It seems the jury is out as to Microsoft’s bold tactic of trying to crowbar one operating system into two platforms, but reviewers are united in their praise of Live Tiles although confusion will reign at first as Jim Martin from PC Advisor says: “It’s at this point which many people will feel lost, but as with any new interface, it takes only a few minutes to gain your bearings and figure out where things are and how to accomplish tasks.”

ASUS’s slew of Windows 8 gadgets: Intuitive and impressive but what about the price?

VivoTab-TF600T

The run up to Christmas is traditionally a time when the techno manufacturers have a field day in launching and feverishly marketing their latest wares. This year’s pre-festive season gadgetry marketing hype is especially banal as in coinciding with the arrival of the ultra-anticipated Windows 8, means that the gadgets arriving between now and Christmas have been honed to compliment to the widely-hyped Windows 8.

And none so more than ASUS’s latest range of devices, created somewhat predictably with Windows 8 at the core. Here’s a snippet of four of the best from ASUS’s latest range.

VivoTab

ASUSVivoTab RT

ASUS has launched its first Windows RT tablet, which in featuring a mobile dock, transforms the tablet into a notebook, for, ASUS assure us, increased productivity and longer battery life.

A close collaboration between ASUS and Microsoft has resulted in the arrival of one of the first Windows RT tablets on the market. Whilst internally the VivioTab RT is powerful and robust concealing a potent NVIDIA Tegra3 quad-core processor and 63GB of onboard storage, aesthetically the VivioTab RT is sleek, streamlined and lightweight.

Its spec, capabilities and design certainly sound impressive, although ASUS have not yet mentioned any pricings for the VivioTab RT.

Taichi

TAICHI

Bragging a novel back to back design by simply lifting a finger, users can switch, we are assured, ‘seamlessly’, between a multi-touch tablet and a fully featured tablet.

In featuring a powerful Intel Core i7 processor with 4GB of memory, Intel HD 4000 graphics and a choice of 256GB SSD storage, dual-band Wi-Fi with Intel WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0, we can’t deny that the ASUS TAICHI certainly sounds impressive, although ASUS have once again failed to provide us with any hints about the cost of its uniquely fused notebook and tablet creation.

ZENBOOK

Expanding its range of sleek ZENBOOK ultraportables, ASUS has announced the arrival of the expanded ZENBOOK range, which features models with 11.6”, 13.3”, 14” and 15.6” full HD displays. Boasting a choice of 3rd generation Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, ASUS’s latest ZENBOOK range promise outstanding multi-tasking performance, up to 10GB of memory and powerful NVIDIA GT graphics.

PadFone

ASUS PadFone 2

We also can’t deny that ASUS’s original PadFone, which combines an Android smartphone with a dockable tablet was a blinding, award winning success, so why shouldn’t the digital era giants build on the success of its successes?

Doing just this is the PadFone 2 which, ASUS inform, consists of a higher specification quad core, LET equipped smartphone and a completely redesigned tablet. What does sound particularly impressive about the PadFone 2 is its mega long battery life which provides up to 16 hours 3G talk-time and 13 hours Wi-Fi web browsing, a far cry from the iPhone which seems to require charging after spending a few minutes on Facebook.

“It’s beautiful, it’s fast, and, best of all, it’s intuitive,” ASUS’s chairman Jonney Shih brags at an ASUS press conference in Milan, and who are we to argue, but what about the blinkin price!?

See more on the PadFone 2 here.