Computers

ASUS Vivo AiO (V272) review: All-in-one goodness?

A complete desktop PC that simply works

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As a person who builds his own desktop computers and thrives on portable laptops for his on-the-go lifestyle, I admit there are times I just want a PC that can do it all — minus all the hassle of plugging accessories in and finding wall sockets for charging.

That’s exactly what an all-in-one computer aims to do, and the ASUS Vivo AiO is the latest example.

Much like the Zen AiO Pro I reviewed last year, this model only needs a single power cable to get things running. Everything else is already built in or simply wireless. Now, that’s convenience!

Here’s what it can do

Make no mistake about it: This AiO PC is quite big. With a 27-inch LCD on its adjustable base, it takes some effort to take this 8.5kg computer out of its box and setting it on a table. From there, however, the rest of the setup becomes pleasantly easy.

All you have to do is plug in the power cable, insert the wireless keyboard and mouse’s dongle into an open USB port, and you’re all set! Powering the unit on happens by pressing a somewhat hidden button at the back of the display.

You’ll then be greeted by a 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution, which isn’t that dense for a 27-inch panel, but it does allow the system to run more smoothly since fewer pixels have to be pushed at a given time. ASUS claims it has a 100 percent sRGB color gamut, which is great for editing photos and videos more accurately.

Some variants of the Vivo AiO come with a touchscreen. This is kinda unusual to have on a desktop computer, but if it’s already there, then why not, right? Still, I would stick to using the keyboard and mouse, and leave the touch gestures to your laptop or smartphone.

I’m saying this because the bundled wireless mouse and keyboard are actually quite good. While not mechanical or gaming-optimized in any sense, they’re ergonomic and work well on all sorts of surfaces with no noticeable input lag.

Despite having everything in one solid piece, there are enough ports to go around.

Underneath the display, you get a single USB port, which I found to be a perfect spot to plug in the keyboard-mouse receiver, as well as a 3.5mm audio port for your headphones or external speakers.

At the back is a decent selection of ports, from USB 3.1 to HDMI and Ethernet. The only head-scratching omission is USB-C, which is becoming increasingly common on smartphones and thin notebooks. Even ASUS’ own phones and laptops are committed to the port, so it’s strange to see it missing here.

Design-wise, my main complaint is the location of the webcam. It’s situated on the bottom bezel, allowing it to look up your nose during video calls. ASUS brags about the display’s 81 percent screen-to-body ratio, but I would’ve been fine with some bezel up top to house the front camera instead.

Even though you can tilt the unit by a few degrees to find your sweet spot, you sadly can’t adjust the height to remedy the poorly placed webcam.

What exactly can it run?

One look at the specifications sheet, and you can tell what this machine is meant for.

My review unit is equipped with an Intel Core i7-8550U, 8GB of memory, and an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics chip. This setup means the Vivo AiO can handle light workloads such as Microsoft Office, Chrome, and Photoshop with ease, but anything visually heavy will make it struggle a bit.

Like most AiO computers, upgrading components is a pain, so you’ll have to settle for whatever configuration you pay for from the start, so choose wisely.

During my time with this unit, I didn’t experience any lag while browsing websites, writing articles, and editing photos — all at the same time. That’s largely thanks to the quad-core Core i7 processor with Hyper-threading, giving you eight logical cores in total.

It’s only when I fired up a couple of graphically demanding games when the system couldn’t keep up.

For kicks, I played some Final Fantasy XV on this thing. As expected, I was forced to endure the lowest graphics settings on 1080p. However, to my surprise, the game managed to run at a consistent 30 frames per second, which made it totally playable. Any title less power-hungry than Final Fantasy XV such as Fortnite or PUBG — will definitely run more smoothly.

Video editing on Premiere Pro is enjoyable on the large monitor and its powerful stereo speakers, but don’t expect rendering to be seamless. Still, I highly recommend getting a configuration with both an SSD and HDD to speed up the processing and provide you with enough storage, respectively. My setup has a standard 128GB M.2 SSD and 1TB HDD.

All in with the all-in-one?

In a nutshell, this is pretty much the Windows equivalent of an iMac. And like an Apple product, the Vivo AiO simply works. There’s no cumbersome setup process or annoying cables and dongles to deal with; plug it in and you’re set.

Who is this for other than iMac users wanting to jump ship? I’d say Windows users who want more screen real estate than what a laptop offers, yet need to save as much desk space as possible. An AiO like this is by far easier to transfer from one point to another compared to a traditional desktop PC with its separate monitor and multitude of cables.

Of course, this costs more than a custom-built PC spec-for-spec. You may buy a Vivo AiO with a starting price of US$ 1,000, but you could assemble a more powerful rig for less.

It ultimately comes down to convenience versus power. Which one will it be for you this time? Take a long look at your work space and decide from there.

CES 2019

LG’s UltraWide and UltraGear monitors are coming to CES 2019

Meant for productivity and gaming

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LG UltraWide

CES 2019 is almost here, and when it begins, we’ll have new monitors from LG to enjoy.

The first one is the 49-inch UltraWide monitor (model name 49WL95), which has a long 32:9 aspect ratio. That’s like have two standard 16:9 screens combined!

It has a 5120 x 1440 resolution that spans the immersive curved IPS panel. With its 99 percent sRGB colors space and support for HDR10, it’s ideal for both work and play. There’s even a USB-C port that can charge a connected laptop or smartphone with 85W of power.

LG UltraGear

Next is the 38-inch UltraGear (38GL950G), a more manageable 21:9 monitor that’s geared towards gaming. It’s backed by NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology for smoother gameplay on the 144Hz refresh rate, as well as its 3840 x 1600 resolution and curved Nano IPS panel.

To give it a more gamer feel, Sphere Lighting is available to light up the back of the monitor with six color settings for you to choose from. This complements the 98 percent coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut in front.

No pricing or availability details have been provided by LG, but both monitors will be shown at CES 2019, happening from January 8 to 11.

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Computers

ASUSPRO D340MC is designed with budget-conscious workers in mind

Prioritizes security and endurance

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ASUSPRO is known for producing reliable laptops, but did you business-grade desktop computers are part of its portfolio, too?

The D340MC is an example of this, and it delivers on several fronts. It may seem like a standard boxy PC at first, but most of the features are on the inside.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; this is how it looks:

It definitely has a strong presence on any desk

Check out that port selection and DVD drive

The keyboard and mouse are part of the package

There’s lots of ventilation for cooling

Here’s a closer look at its ports

It’s easy to upgrade as needed

This is certainly a no-frills, get-the-job-done type of PC. Fortunately, it comes with good specs to show off: an Intel Core i7-8700 processor, up to 32GB of memory, 1TB of HDD storage, and a simple GeForce GT 720 graphics card to get you going.

But should really interest you are the reliability and endurance. The company claims the unit goes through rigorous quality tests in diverse environments, uses solid capacitors to lengthen lifespan, and produces little noise thanks to the thermal design.

The ASUSPRO D340MC starts at around US$ 600, but with its upgradability, it’s easy to give it more power when needed.

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Computers

Microsoft says you need a real computer, not an iPad

‘Don’t run out and buy an iPad’

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You’re probably familiar with Samsung teasing Apple and its iPhones through humorous commercials. But did you know Microsoft does the same against iPads?

Like Sammy, Microsoft loves to promote its products while humiliating those of close competitors. The latest attempt comes with this short holiday ad for the Surface Go.

Check it out:

The very first line — “Grandma, don’t run out and buy an iPad” — is already a clear dig at Apple. The little girl’s lyrics continue with, “It was fine when I was six, but now I’m 10. My dreams are big so I need a real computer to do all the amazing things I know I can.”

Yes, a real computer. If you’ve been following Apple’s promotions for the recently launched iPad Pro, you’d know that they tout it as a laptop replacement in a sense. Consumers and techies have since been debating whether the claims are true or not.

Well, Microsoft doesn’t think so, and instead believes that you need a Surface Go to cater to all computing needs. It runs desktop-class Windows 10 and is quite flexible productivity-wise when used together with the stylus and keyboard.

It seems like Microsoft’s goal here is to take away some of Apple’s strong younger market for iPads. Kids traditionally choose an iPad because of its portability, ease of use, and strong library of apps.

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