Computers

HP’s new line puts premium on office productivity

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When people talk about the future of technology, a lot of things come to mind. It might be flying cars, hover boards, hologram computers, or even life-like robots. And while these ideas seem to be getting closer to reality, we’ve still got a long way to go to get there.

HP, on the other hand, has a more grounded vision of the future — more specifically, the office of the future.

Earlier this month in Singapore, HP announced a host of new devices meant for enterprise users, specifically products designed from the ground up to be more efficient, secure, and built for collaboration.

From a tech innovation standpoint, none of these new products are necessarily groundbreaking, but they could just be what we need.

Don’t be too quick on thinking these devices just belong in an office, HP assures us that these products were made with its everyday consumers in mind, whether it be the average Joe looking for a daily driver, or the small business looking to set up its first computer. The brand believes the unique features it puts in its products are a differentiator from competitors rather than a feature the customer actually pays for.

Letʻs take a look at some of the products and services HP introduced in its live office showcase, and how they fit into its vision of the future.

HP ELITE X3

While Windows 10 for mobile hasn’t really caught on for most consumers, HP is targeting those who would want to be able to efficiently work with their files on a mobile device. With the Elite x3 smartphone, just connect it to a monitor and itʻll power up a close-to-desktop experience — a Windows 10 mobile function more popularly known as Continuum.

HP also introduced a case for the Elite x3 with a built-in barcode scanner, which is a mobile scanning solution enabling users to check product prices and other related information on the fly.

HP ELITE SLICE

Another device announced was the HP Elite Slice, a clever approach to the modular PC. With different modules that snap on top of each other, this may be one of the cleanest implementations of adding capabilities to an already existing desktop system I’ve ever seen. A wireless charging cover for your phone, a speaker module, and an optical disk drive are some of the existing slices available, all of which could be installed in a couple of seconds. With this much flexibility paired with its compact size, I can see how this could become the centerpiece of every desktop system in an office.

HP Z2 Mini

Similar to the proportions of the HP Elite Slice, the HP Z2 Mini is a workstation-class PC packing an NVIDIA Quadro graphics card in a tiny package. It was shown powering six high-resolution monitors side by side during the showcase, all of which were shown running various tasks from media playback to 3D animation. NVIDIA Quadro cards are known to be great for digital design software but fall short in gaming when compared to their consumer-friendly GeForce counterparts.

OTHER DEVICES

HP also announced a slew of new laptops across its entire range. The HP Elitebook series comes with a function that reduces 95 percent of visible light coming from the display at angles beyond 35 degrees at a press of a button; this is helpful in cases where you wouldnʻt want the person beside you on the plane or bus ride to be snooping into what youʻre working on.

Other devices consist of 2-in-1 convertibles, flip-outs, and even a detachable point of sale system. Who knows, the next fast food establishment you go to might be the one coming to your table to take orders.

All its new devices come with different security solutions. Some of these include the ability to always boot the device on its last good state; BIOS level security to make sure your computer is protected from the moment itʻs turned on; multi-factor authentication that requires a passcode, fingerprint, and face scanning; and many more.

The gadgets also come with features for collaboration, such as Bang and Olufsen-powered speakers, noise cancellation software, and various wireless solutions for better communication across team members.

While prices and availability arenʻt available in all regions at the moment, HP will be rolling out the devices across Asia in the following months.

SEE ALSO: HP spices up its Spectre x360 and Envy 13 notebooks

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.

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Computers

AMD unveils powerful 32-core Threadripper 2

More cores for more powerful performance

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AMD announced the arrival of its new CPU at Computex 2018, and it promises to bring more power to modern computers out there. We’re talking about Threadripper 2, a more powerful update than its predecessor — bringing with it 32 CPU cores. That’s more than enough for multitasking, photo and video editing, and gaming, too!

Threadripper 2 features the latest 12mm Zen+ architecture from AMD, the same architecture found in the latest Ryzen CPUs. Desktops running Threadripper 2 are expected to consume less power when running a ton of applications all at once. The Zen+ architecture also allows for better security and compatibility with the latest hardware available.

AMD says that Threadripper 2 will work on motherboards with an X399 architecture with its 250W power requirement, much more than its predecessor at 180W. However, older X399 motherboards might not be able to meet the power requirement for the new CPU, especially if you plan to maximize the CPU through overclocking. AMD’s partners are expected to launch newer X399 motherboards to accommodate the greater demands of the Threadripper 2.

AMD says that the new Threadripper 2 will clock in at 3.0GHz, less than the 3.4GHz the original Threadripper had. These are still subject to changes as more tests and benchmarks will be done before its official launch. At this speed, however, AMD caters to users who want to maximize the CPU for heavy workloads.

Threadripper 2 will be available in both a 24-core CPU and its flagship 32-core CPU for heavier workloads. Although AMD has not yet announced prices for the new CPU, the company expects its launch to be in the third quarter of 2018.

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Computers

Intel reveals Core i7-8086K Limited Edition for its anniversary

And you can win one for yourself!

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When you celebrate your anniversary, you gotta go all out. If you’re a major brand, you need to release something that loyal fans want — even better if it’s given away for free!

That’s exactly what Intel is doing. Today at Computex 2018, the chipset maker unveiled its limited edition Core i7-8086K processor for desktop computers. Sure, it may not be a higher-end Core i9 model, but this one is fast, fast, fast.

On top of its base frequency of 4GHz, it can be boosted up to 5GHz. And since it’s a desktop chipset, it owns six cores with hyper-threading, providing you with 12 logical cores on the system.

This announcement comes at a perfect time: 40 years after the original Intel 8086 chip was released. It was the first processor with the x86 architecture, which is still being used today. This is also Intel 50th year in existence.

Because this is a “K” model, you can overclock it for even crazier clock speeds. Expect PC enthusiasts to try this as soon as the product goes on sale on June 8.

Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but there’s better news: Intel will be giving away 8,086 units of its limited edition processor! This is a real promotion, and you can join the sweepstakes right here.

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