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.
Apple discontinues the 12-inch Macbook and 2017 Macbook Air
Both models are gone from Apple’s online store
Apple is discontinuing the 12-inch Macbook which was announced and sold by Apple four years ago. The company is also killing off the 2017 Macbook Air.
The 12-inch Macbook was introduced in 2015. The controversial and highly-divisive laptop features a 12-inch Retina display, an Intel Y-series processor, and a single USB-C port. Meanwhile, the 2017 Macbook Air was a refresh of the second-generation Macbook Air featuring a 13-inch non-Retina display, an Intel 5th-generation processor, and USB-A ports with a MagSafe connector.
As it stands, both the 12-inch Macbook and 2017 Macbook Air are not available anymore at Apple’s online store. The move by Apple follows its recent revamping of its Macbook lineup. Following the recent revamp, both the third-generation Macbook Air and Macbook Pro receive substantial updates and lower price tags.
Starting today, only the third-generation Macbook Air and the Macbook Pro is available to purchase from the online store. However, Apple authorized resellers and physical stores might still sell the discontinued products until their supplies last.
Raspberry Pi 4 offers more power for the same price
Now with support for 4K
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the fourth version of its popular and very useful miniature budget computer. The Raspberry Pi 4 keeps the same form-factor and starting price of its predecessor, but it has more power to offer. This would mean wider applications and nifty inventions for those who like to tinker with a Raspberry Pi.
The most notable upgrade of the Raspberry Pi 4 is its CPU. The new chipset features faster and more efficient four Cortex-A72 cores clocked at 1.5GHz. This will deliver three times better performance. Memory has also seen an upgrade from the LPDDR2 standard to LPDDR4. It now comes with up to 4GB of memory, which is four times that of any previous Pi.
Complementing the new CPU is a better GPU. The new VideoCore VI GPU can handle 4K/60fps HEVC video playback. It can support dual-monitor setups at up to 4K resolution as well using the micro HDMI ports. Moreover, the board now has two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, and now charges via USB-C.
As for wireless connectivity, there’s Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi. Additionally, there’s a Gigabit Ethernet for an even faster internet connection.
The Raspberry Pi 4 is available starting today through Approved Resellers worldwide and directly at the Raspberry Store. It comes with 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of RAM for US$ 35, US$ 45, and US$ 55, respectively.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: Dell embraces a circular economy
Sustainability is at the core of everything Dell does
As consumers our top considerations when buying a new device are specs, performance, value for money, and design. We rarely think about the impact we and the technology we use have on the environment. The only time we probably ever do is when we need to dispose an irreparable phone or a dinosaur laptop. When that moment comes, we also don’t know exactly what to do or where to bring our old devices.
Fortunately there are companies like Dell that think ahead and consider the entire lifecycle of their products — from sourcing materials, to manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and recycling — and beyond. This approach is called a circular economy.
In a traditional, linear product cycle, recycling or refurbishing is thought of at the end of the product’s life, if at all. In Dell’s circular economy, the concept of waste is designed out of the system. This means sustainability is at the core of everything that they do. Here are some ways Dell is minimizing their footprint as a company while helping us consumers reduce ours as well:
Trade-in and recycling programs, not just for Dell products
Through Dell Reconnect, you can take that old computer sitting in your attic to a Goodwill store for recycling or refurbishing. The program also provides green jobs, and ensures that no environmentally sensitive materials are sent to landfills.
If you’re due for an upgrade, the company can also recycle your old laptop for you, no matter the brand. You may also trade in any eligible piece of electronics, including smartphones and consoles, to earn a gift card that you can use to buy yourself a shiny new Dell laptop.
Packaging made of bamboo, mushrooms, ocean-bound plastics
To solve mountains of packaging problems we face after unboxing a new device — large fancy boxes, plastic, and foam — Dell has come up with the 3Cs packaging strategy, which stands for cube (size and shape), content (material choice), and curb (recyclability).
For Dell, wasted space inside any packaging is just that — wasted — so the company is continuously finding ways to minimize the amount of material needed to create packaging, as well as reduce box sizes so as to fit more products in storage and during shipping.
More importantly, Dell uses the best possible material to protect the product, and consider that which makes most sense for each region by using what’s locally available. In 2009, Dell was the first to use packaging made from bamboo. Not only is it a renewable alternative to petroleum-derived foams, the bamboo they used also grew near their manufacturing facilities.
In 2011, Dell developed cushion packaging made of mushroom, which has a smaller footprint compared to the usual protective foam, and is compostable. Recently, the company also started taking ocean-bound plastics back to the economy where they can be reused to make the trays found inside Dell boxes.
The company reuses boxes up to 7 times before they are recycled. So when you buy a new laptop and the box is not in its most perfect form, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In certain markets, Dell also rewards customers for returning packaging that can be refurbished and reused.
Ink made of smog
Here’s an unexpected way Dell is putting waste back into the economy and using locally available materials at the same time. Traditionally seen as a pollutant, the company is using ink made from smog in India to print some of its packaging.
A startup called Chakr Innovations developed the device called Chakr Shield which captures 90% of particulate matter emissions from diesel generators. The captured soot is then turned into carbon black, which is used to make ink. Dell is the first to use the ink on a larger scale and it works just as well as regular ink.
Backpack made of recycled windshields
Dell doesn’t just make computers and printers, they also make a whole array of accessories, and some of them are made with sustainability in mind. The Dell Pro Backpack 15 is made with a more environment-friendly solution-dyeing process. It’s also water-resistant, which is made possible by a layer of coating that’s made from reclaimed windshields.
Jewelry made of used computers
In its effort to reduce waste dumped in landfills, Dell also reclaims gold from motherboards through its recycling programs, reuses them to make not only new motherboards, but jewelry as well. So that old laptop you’re going to trade in for a new one? Parts of it will end up on someone’s finger or ears at some point, not in a developing country that becomes a dumpsite for other companies and countries.
Vivian Tai, Head of Global Environmental Affairs for the APJ region says the company is integrating sustainability efforts not for Dell’s benefit, but to provide better value for customers. She says sourcing and bringing what many consider “waste” back to life is challenging but is important to the company. Just this year, Dell already reached two of its 2020 goals: recover two billion pounds of used electronics and use 100 million pounds of recycled-content, plastic and other sustainable materials, one full year ahead of schedule.
Next time you need to buy a new laptop, take sustainability into consideration, too. Technology plays a big role in making our lives easier, and the good that it can do should not end at that but also extend beyond its usual lifecycle. It’s not just big companies who benefit from minimizing our ecological footprint — it’s also us, consumers, and the generations that come after us.
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