Computers

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: Dell embraces a circular economy

Sustainability is at the core of everything Dell does

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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

Photo from Dell

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

Photo from Chakr Innovations

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

Photo from Dell

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

Photo from Dell

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.

Photo from Dell

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.

Computers

Lenovo expands ThinkBook, ThinkVision lineup

Lenovo expands ThinkBook, ThinkVision lineup

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Lenovo has been rather busy recently updating their entire product portfolio. So this ThinkBook and ThinkVision refresh was absolutely inevitable and most definitely welcome.

We’re going to go through all the ThinkBooks and ThinkVisions real quick. Ready? Take a breath. Let’s go!

ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 i

This was co-engineered with Intel and meets the requirements of the Intel Evo platform. That’s true across hardware specifications and key experience targets for device responsiveness, instant wake, battery life and fast charge.

It has a high resolution 13.3-inch display with a new 16:10 aspect ratio that offers 90% screen-to-body ratio with ultra-narrow bezels and is available with optional touch.

You’re also getting Thunderbolt 4 port and optional PCIe Gen 4 storage.

We’ll be going on virtual meetings for the foreseeable future. Taking that into account, the ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 i features microphones that has three audio modes: private, shared, and environmental.

  • ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 i is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $829
  • ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 AMD is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $729.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga i

Need something flexible? Well, here you go. The popular Yoga form factor means this thing can bend and a different number of ways.

For performance, it’s powered by 11th Gen Intel Core processors. It also comes with the Lenovo Smart Pen to really help you let your creativity run wild.

It’s available in Mineral Grey with an Abyss Blue version added to the mix.

  • ThinkBook 14s Yoga is expected to be available from November 2020, starting at $879.

ThinkBook 14/15 Gen 2 i

If working smart is your think then it doesn’t get any smarter than this. It’s powered by 11th Gen Intel Core Processors (will also come in AMD variants) with flexible storage options: HDD + SSD or dual SSD.

Working remotely and need support? The service hot key helps users reach Lenovo support at the press of a button, automatically including device details such as serial number for a fast track support experience.

But here’s the kicker. It comes with ThinkBook wireless earbuds that can be stored within the laptop. The earbuds charge automatically when stored and connect to the laptop audio instantly when taken out. Double tapping toggles the mute function, and it has dual mics and environmental noise cancellation.

  • ThinkBook 15 Gen 2 i is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $569.
  • ThinkBook 15p i is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $939.
  • ThinkBook 14 Gen 2 i is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $569.
  • ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 is expected to be available from November 2020, starting at $699.
  • ThinkPad E15 Gen 2 is expected to be available from November 2020, starting at $699.
  • ThinkBook 15 Gen 2 AMD is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $549.
  • ThinkBook 14 Gen 2 AMD is expected to be available from October 2020, starting at $549.

ThinkVision T27hv-20

This single cable USB-C Hub monitor is designed to to meet the collaboration requirements of a hybrid working model. The 27-inch display features a 1080p IR/RGB webcam, noise cancelling microphones and integrated speakers that help users conference with confidence

It has Smart Guard that blurs the screen the moment you look or move away or detects someone peeking over your shoulder. Meanwhile, Smart Energy will turn off the screen when it senses that you have moved away from your desk, saving power and protecting data.

  • ThinkVision T27hv-20 is expected to be available from December 2020, starting at $549.
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Computers

Alleged Windows XP source code leaks online

Source code of other legacy OS from Microsoft leaked too

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The alleged source code of Windows XP just leaked recently on various platforms online. This huge leak contains everything and reveals some interesting tidbits about the beloved OS.

However, it remains unclear if it’s real or not. The anonymous leaker first posted the source code as a torrent on the popular forum site, 4chan.  The torrent file is a massive undertaking, clocking in at 43GB overall.

It is worth mentioning that the torrent file doesn’t only include the source code for Windows XP. Source codes for MS DOS 3.30, 6.0, Windows 2000, CE 3, CE 4, CE 5, Windows Embedded 7, CE, Windows NT 3.5 and Windows NT 4 are also included. The leaker says that two months were spent compiling all of them.

A smaller 3GB file also exists which only contains the source code for the Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. The leaker states that hackers have had access to the Windows XP source code for years, and this leak marks the first time it was released to the public.

Interestingly enough, the source code leaks also contain conspiracy theory videos about Bill Gates. MacRumors also pointed out that Microsoft thought about imitating the signature look of macOS way back when it still sported a skeuomorphic design.

Microsoft has already responded to the leaks, saying that they’re “investigating the matter”.

A threat to users?

The leaked source code presents an opportunity for hackers to learn more about Windows’ operating systems. Windows 10 actually has some bit and pieces of Windows XP code.

Savvy hackers can exploit this code to gain access to Windows 10. This threat is feasible, but the risk is low for now. After all, Windows 10 sees continuous development from Microsoft, with legacy code being replaced or modified after updates.

Source: Bleeping Computer via MSPowerUser 

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Computers

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD Super review: Cheap yet superb

A Singaporean brand that deserves more attention

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Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Admit it, the pandemic is making us buy things we don’t need. At the same time, we also bought essentials to boost our productivity when working inside our rooms. In the past few months, a lot of us went under a WFH (work from home) setup — which also meant greater demands for consumer tech products such as laptops, PC rigs, keyboards, mouse, and even monitors.

As GadgetMatch’s Associate Creative Producer, I needed a large monitor that’s not too pricey yet delivers the top three features that I need: color accuracy, viewing angles, fast refresh rate.

After lending some of my time for thorough online shopping, comparing, and research, I went with Armaggeddon’s Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD monitor.

Armaggeddon may not be familiar to most of you. They’re a Singaporean brand that offers a wide array of computing products and gaming peripherals.

Ultra slim and bezel-less

What I first liked about Armaggeddon’s Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD is its design. The massive 23.8-inch display almost feels like it’s floating because of the zero bezel design or what they call the “Infinity Frame”. Other monitors of the same price look bland with their plastic black frame and stand.

Armaggeddon’s logo may not be as distinct from afar but the silver emblem is a nice complement to the monitor’s brushed metal bottom bezel.

Its sides are truly ultra thin. The only thick part is at the bottom, which houses the monitor’s internals and holds the hefty metal monitor stand in place. Side-tilting isn’t supported but it can be tilted upwards or downwards at around +15/-5-degrees.

To make it more reliable, this monitor also supports a 75×75 VESA mount for better desk setups.

Ports and cables

You get the usual port selections here. Out of the box, there’s an included 12V cable that powers the monitor through the DC port.

There’s also a bundled HDMI cable that you can connect via the HDMI port. This port is used for PC rigs, Playstation or Xbox consoles, and laptops that support it. There’s even an extra VGA port for older PC and laptops configurations with less fancy resolution output.

What you don’t get is a DisplayPort (DP) and an Optical Audio Output — which might be a dealbreaker for some of you. There’s also no room for USB-C port since having one would add more to its cost. For my part, I just use a Bluetooth speaker for loud music sessions or a pair of wireless earbuds when I’m editing.

Cable management is a little tricky though as it doesn’t include clips for fixing those cluttered cables behind the monitor.

Real IPS panel

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

There are different types of monitors out there that are being sold around the same price. You may have heard of them before: TN and VA panels are the most common in the list. They’re cost-efficient especially because they feature less bright and desaturated panels. But what made me choose the Armaggeddon PF24HD is the inclusion of a real IPS panel.

Just like in your smartphones, IPS displays offer excellent colors, contrast, and viewing angles. These are display features I’ve said from the very beginning that I need for the type of work I do.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Yes. I’m still not over Ko Mun Yeong and Moon Gang Tae

For what its worth, the display is excellent. Colors pop while there’s little to no degradation when you look at the monitor even at the narrowest viewing angle. Other advertised “IPS” monitors I found online were just re-configured TN/VA panels with poor viewing angles and color accuracy. It’s not a good thing to fool customers with product misinformation.

With my desk setup facing parallel to the window, screen glare is unavoidable. But with PF24HD’s bright panel, it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. I even adjusted the monitor’s brightness from 70 down to just 40 because it’s just too bright for me.

In my case, my IPS panel doesn’t suffer from severe “backlight bleeding” that shows brighter areas near the edges among most IPS panels. A built-in Anti blue-light filter also comes handy to protect your eyes when using it.

True 75Hz refresh rate

During my time of comparing, I noticed that other popularly-branded IPS panels of the same price only feature a modest 60Hz refresh rate. Meanwhile, faster refresh rates of 75Hz and 144Hz are available but they feature TN or VA panels — which is a deal breaker for me (and if you were paying attention earlier, you already know why they’re not advisable for creative tasks).

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Having Armaggeddon’s 75Hz IPS panel is a true feat. I first tried it on macOS Catalina and I haven’t experienced any hassle after connecting my MacBook through the HDMI port. It’s automatically set to the highest refresh rate available.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

I was also able to run both of my MacBook Pro and eGPU through Windows 10 Bootcamp. Although this one is more of a complicated process before it actually detects and runs the external GPUs, the monitor detection together with its higher refresh rate setting worked for my case.

If you have a PC setup or a Windows laptop, I think you shouldn’t worry as your device will automatically detect the monitor through HDMI port.

Photo and video editing

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

The main reason why I bought an external monitor is to maximize my screen workspace. Even if my 15-inch MacBook Pro displays a higher resolution while this 24-inch monitor only supports 1080p Full HD, it significantly improved my workflow when editing our YouTube videos through the latest update of Final Cut Pro. That added space for color correction, transition, and effects tab as well as the inspector and nearby windows really helped me work faster.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Other than that, I was able to post-process these shots for my Nike Air Max 720 review with ease. This is where color accuracy comes into play. Armaggeddon PF24HD’s IPS panel together with its 100% sRGB support helped in displaying the shot’s correct color information.

To maximize the monitor’s contrast ratio, I then changed the screen calibration. On macOS, I adjusted it through System Preferences > Displays > Color and set it to Apple RGB profile to show deeper grays and blacks and better red hues as well.

If that’s not enough, there’s also a contrast adjustment setting through the monitor’s native menu accessible via its joystick at the back.

Gaming

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Gaming on a Mac was possible thanks to this fast 75Hz monitor. As said a while ago, I was able to run the MacBook Pro and eGPU configuration through Windows 10 Bootcamp drive. That gave me the ability to play GTA V (Grand Theft Auto V) at high graphics settings without any stutters and lags.

The monitor’s 75Hz monitor also worked like a charm. Having an AMD Radeon graphics card helped a lot especially because the monitor features AMD Freesync without the need for a DisplayPort.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

“Why is he playing Call of Duty: Mobile with such gaming setup?” — well, I know what you’re thinking. By installing GameLoop, I was able to test out CoDM with max graphics settings available. I know it’s a smartphone game but trust me, running it on a large 75Hz monitor is a feast for the eyes.

Its 5ms response time might not be as responsive as other 1/2ms-rated monitors but it’s ultra responsive especially when aiming and hitting opponents in the game.

A lot of users are hyping up curved monitors for a “greater” playing experience, but I oppose. The flat display with a 178-degree viewing angle still does the job of keeping you immersed when playing.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

In a sea full of well-known monitor brands, it’s hard to tell which relatively unknown brand delivers a better display quality at a reasonable price. Armaggeddon, being Singapore-based, gave me a huge assurance and relief. Not that I don’t support Chinese products but it’s hard to rely on products with negative reviews about false advertisements.

I’ve been using this monitor for more than a month now and it’s definitely worth your hard-earned money. If you’re like me who’s a creative that needs a reliable 75Hz IPS monitor on a budget, this is definitely one of, if not the, best options out there.

If you’re someone who’s planning to build a gaming setup with a limited budget on peripherals, this is also a great purchase especially with its fast refresh rate and response time.

In Singapore, you can buy the Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD with a discounted price of just SG$ 169 that comes with a free BT150 soundbar. If you live in the Philippines, it’s being sold for just PhP 5,990 through a local distributor‘s Shopee page.

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