Computers

Windows 11 is official with major UI and performance changes

There’s a lot of new changes here!

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This is it: Windows 11 is now official. Weeks after an early build leaked to the public, Microsoft took to the stage to announce the next Windows six years after the last major version. Windows 11 is a major departure from its predecessor, featuring big UI and performance changes.

The new Start menu, taskbar, and Teams integration

Booting up Windows 11, users will notice a new and refreshed experience. By default, the taskbar is now centrally aligned. The system tray (systray) icon also sees some major change while invoking a sense of familiarity.

The Start menu is still there, yet gone are the live tiles that defined Windows 10. Simplicity is the norm here, as the Start menu surfaces app icons and recommendations by default. By the way, the recommendations are now tightly integrated with Microsoft 365 and cloud experiences.

The new Start menu. Image Source: Microsoft

However, live tiles aren’t completely gone. Windows 11 introduces Windows Widgets, which is a separate place for AI-powered widgets. It looks like familiar to the one on iOS right now, and frankly, this is where Windows 10’s News & Interests widgets now reside. Still, it is a welcome addition to Windows, considering that Windows 7 also has an almost-similar functionality in the form of  Sidebars.

Windows Widgets. Image Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Teams are also getting a much tighter integration on Windows 11. Users can now access the Chat from Microsoft Teams right from the taskbar. In a way, it replaces the People section on the taskbar which is gone from Windows 11.

Tighter Microsoft Teams integration. Image Source: Microsoft

Improved window snapping experience and desktops

Microsoft states that Windows 11 “cuts through complexity and brings simplicity.” One way they did that with the new Windows is by bringing an improved window snapping experience.

With the improved snapping experience, users can take advantage of bigger screens and snap up to three windows. A new fly-out appears when snapping with different layouts for the windows. Snapped windows show as groups in the taskbar too, so users can easily switch on a whim.

Improved snapping experience. Image Source: Microsoft

Desktops — a feature introduced by Windows 10 — is also getting some nifty improvements. Windows 11 will now remember the desktops for each screen. For example, users can use a desktop for work and project it to their second monitor. Upon reconnecting to that second monitor, Windows 11 will automatically surface that desktop for work.

Focus on gaming, Microsoft Store gets an overhaul

Windows 11 will also bring improvements to gaming. Microsoft name three big additions to improve the gaming experience: Direct X 12 Ultimate, DirectStorage, and Auto HDR. It is worth noting though, that Auto HDR is not totally new since Windows 10 users are also getting that feature.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Store is getting a major overhaul for Windows 11. This is welcome news for many Windows users, as Microsoft Store has been traditionally ridden with problems. Big changes include major UI overhaul, as well as changes to the commerce model.  Microsoft will now allow app developers to publish their own apps and keep all the revenues to themselves.

The new Microsoft Store. Image Source: Microsoft

Android apps are coming along with new app designs

Microsoft also teased major UI redesigns for some of its in-built apps during a separate session for developers. That includes redesigned Settings, File Explorer, refreshed Microsoft Paint and Notepad, and more. The session also teased a new Microsoft Office design. All in all, these designs feature the Fluent Design that Microsoft has been pushing across all its apps and services for the past few years.

A redesigned Settings app. Image Source: Microsoft

Finally, one of the biggest highlights of the Windows 11 is the capability to run Android apps. Microsoft partnered with Amazon to bring a selection of Android apps to the Microsoft Store. Sure, there are limitations on what Android apps can run in Windows 11. However, this is still a big addition to Windows, since users may now run supported Android apps natively without resorting to any third-party solutions.

By the way, the capability to run Android apps is all thanks to Intel Bridge, a new technology resulting from collaboration between Microsoft and Intel.

Android apps on the Microsoft Store. Image Source: Microsoft

Availability

Microsoft didn’t announce any concrete dates for the launch of Windows 11. Rather, the company announced a general availability during the later part of 2021. The new Windows will be offered as a free update for eligible Windows 10 PCs. Users may check if their PCs are eligible through this website.

Computers

HP unveils Experience Hub flagship store in Malaysia

X-Hub for short

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X-Hub

Computer company HP on Wednesday announced the opening of the HP Experience Hub (X-Hub) flagship store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The X-Hub is a seamless online-to-offline (O2O) experiential retail experience for tech consumers.

The physical store in Malaysia is combined with an integrated O2O platform to create a seamless omnichannel commerce journey across six Southeast Asian countries.

More immersive retail experience

The Experience Hub unifies the retail experience across the Southeast Asia region, connecting the Kuala Lumpur flagship store to 82 online stores spread across Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, with Thailand and Vietnam to follow in March 2022.

Online consumers may be able to personally interact with HP Live Advisors, a team of dedicated experts based on the X-Hub via real-time video calls and chat functions.

These will be made available in preferred local languages, while live streams on the latest HP products is also made possible via the HP Virtual Showroom.

This way, consumers will be able to continue shopping without having to be in Malaysia physically.

Interactive ‘Test Drive’ stations

As for customers who want to visit the physical store in Malaysia, there are interactive ‘Test Drive’ stations to experience all of HP’s technology.

These stations include:

  • Premium (High-end consumer devices)
  • Gaming (Laptops, desktops, and monitors)
  • Commercial (Business-grade devices)
  • Print (Home and office printing)

Visitors can also access personalization services such as custom engraving and printing, or connect to in-store or online HP Live Advisors for real-time inquiries.

Location

The HP X-Hub flagship store in Malaysia is located at Pavilion Bukit Jalil (level 4) in Kuala Lumpur.

The flagship store was created in partnership with Thunder Match Technology Sdn Bhd, Malaysia’s largest tech retailer. HP also partnered with Shopee and Lazada. Both of which support the online experience.

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CES 2022

Samsung’s Odyssey Ark monitor is built different

Curved, 55-inch, 4K, gaming screen

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Odyssey Ark

This looks incredible. Samsung’s Odyssey Ark gaming monitor is turning heads at CES 2022.

The Odyssey Ark is a next-generation flexible monitor. It’s made literally for anything from editing to gaming at home. The Ark is the new industry-leading gaming display with a curved 55-inch display and 16:9 aspect ratio. That’s huge.

It’s HAS or Height Adjustable Stand can pivot and tilt functionality. In addition to advanced ergonomic design, it offers every gamer optimal comfort.

Odyssey Ark

It can go into a new vertical cockpit-style rotating display that provides a new gaming experience and allows portrait or landscape orientation for multi-tasking and multi-window setup. Multiview options allow users to adjust Odyssey Ark exactly how they want it with a totally adaptable screen size to fit the game or the program without compromising its 4K display and bright, colorful images.

The monitor also features a wireless, dial controller to manage lighting and the interface.

Pricing has yet to be announced but Samsung hopes to bring it to market in the second half of 2022.

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CES 2022

Lenovo launches new ‘Think’ line at CES 2022

Small and Medium Business Portfolio

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Hybrid work, work from home, and what have you. There are plenty of work setups now and Lenovo hopes to be in the forefront of everything as they launch plenty of ‘Think’ line of devices for small and medium businesses.

ThinkCentre neo

The ThinkCentre neo offers a stylish and minimalist design for a contemporary look with a new terrazzo color and material finish. A nice departure from the bland look of most SMB desktop PCs.

Connectivity options and smarter online meeting experiences enable futuristic collaboration, ThinkShield compliance enhances security and sustainability commitments are reinforced with Lenovo’s first ever use of ocean- bound plastic in packaging and eco-friendly design using post-consumer recycled content and paint-free raw materials.

All powered by 12th Gen Intel Core processors, there are three ThinkCentre neo models: ThinkCentre neo 70t, ThinkCentre 50s and ThinkCentre neo 30a

ThinkCentre neo 70t

A tower model designed to meet the needs of high-performance content creators, developers and anyone who works with complex workloads.

It features up to 128GB DDR5 memory, up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTXTM 3060 Ti GPU, giving it the benefit of the NVIDIA Studio platform, and 2TB HDD / 1TB SSD storage to perform multiple tasks without disruptions.

It has a Smart Cable which instantly connects two computing devices while simultaneously operating them within one screen. Using neo 70t’s Smart Storage feature, it is easy to automatically backup data securely and access it from multiple devices.

ThinkCentre neo 50s

It’s a small form factor desktop designed to provide performance and space savings in a 7.4- liter design. EPEAT Gold certified for energy efficiency and Intelligent Cooling Engine 5.0 ensures the desktop runs with optimal power consumption. TÜV-certified Ultra-Low Noise (ULN) and packaging made from ocean-bound plastic, as well as raw materials that are painting-free, promise quiet performance and environmental friendliness.

ThinkCentre neo 30a 24

It’s a collaborative all-in-one (AIO) desktop with a 23.8-inch FHD 16:9 WVA (Wide Viewing Angle) display, audio by Harman and a retractable webcam.

Focused on delivering a highly productive AIO and a smarter conferencing experience, neo 30a 24 includes AI Meeting Manager that offers Real time Translator, Voice to Text, Subtitles, Meeting Notes Editor and Amazon Alexa Voice Interaction10 for futuristic collaboration experience. Lenovo Smart Appearance enhances facial features and blurs the background for professional-grade video conferencing.

New ThinkBooks

The latest ThinkBooks come with vibrant high refresh rate displays and high screen-to-body ratios, slim form factors and smarter features.

ThinkBook 13x Gen 2

A very thin (12.9mm) and light (1.21kg) premium aluminum laptop design that will meet the requirements of an Intel Evo laptop. It has Intel’s hardware specifications and key experience targets for responsiveness, instant wake, battery life, fast charge and intelligent collaboration.

It features the latest Intel 12th Gen Core U-Series processors and designed for mobile professionals. The ThinkBook 13x Gen 2 includes a bright EyeSafe certified 13.3-inch 16:10 display with high STB ratio greater than >91%, an edge-to-edge keyboard and optional touch.

A large 56Whr battery and ambient light sensors to manage display power efficiency mean power anxiety is not on the agenda. A unique ThinkBook Wireless Multi-Device Charging Mat is optional and can deliver 65W wireless laptop charging via Power by Contact, and the integrated Qi charger can charge a compatible mobile device up to 10W.

ThinkBook 14 and 16 Gen 4+ i

It offers highly flexible configuration options, from mainstream productivity needs to high performance models. All have a slimmer design to previous generation and move to 16:10 aspect ratio with a larger display area.

Display options include a 90Hz 2880×1800 14-inch and a 120Hz 2560×1600 16-inch panel with hardware color calibration, and both can be powered by optional NVIDIA RTX graphics.

A larger Touchpad with glass surface adds to the interactive experience and Dolby Atmos Speaker System delivers immersive audio for calls and entertainment. Optional sensor-based smart features are focused on security and collaboration.

ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 Sling Backpack

A sturdy and stylish bag with weather-resistant materials, a convenient padded and adjustable shoulder strap for extra comfort and includes zippered and hidden pockets to store valuables. As hybrid working takes hold, easy to use input devices have become a mainstay of many.

ThinkBook Rechargeable Mobile Mouse and ThinkBook Rechargeable Performance Mouse

Premium and consistent designs with dual-host Bluetooth connections allowing pairing to two different devices, USB-C recharging, and adjustable DPI up to 2400.

Easy Install

Easy Install is a deployment service specifically designed for SMBs. Lenovo will provide remote and on-site install services of new technology.

Companies can leverage the Lenovo Service so that they can rest assured that their employees’ hardware, accessories, and software were installed correctly, properly configured, tuned and tested, improving productivity and the employee experience.

Easy Install Services will be available to customers via their preferred purchase method, i.e., directly from Lenovo and Lenovo’s Partners.

Price and availability

  • ThinkBook 13x Gen 2 will be available from April 2022, with starting price of US$ 1099.
  • ThinkBook Wireless Multi-device Charging Mat available from April 2022, with starting price of US$ 199.99
  • ThinkBook 14 Gen 4+ i will be available from April 2022, with starting price of US$ 839.
  • ThinkBook 16 Gen 4+ i will be available from April 2022, with starting price of US$ 859.
  • ThinkCentre neo 70t will be available in selected markets from March 2022, contact Lenovo locally for pricing.
  • ThinkCentre neo 50s will be available from March 2022, with starting price of US$ 799.
  • ThinkCentre neo 30a 24 will be available from March 2022, with starting price of US$ 1069
  • ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 Sling Backpack will be available from April 2022, with starting price of US$ 69.99
  • ThinkBook Wireless Mobile Mouse will be available from April 2022, with starting price of US$ 39.99
  • ThinkBook Wireless Performance Mouse will be available from April 2022, with starting price of US$ 39.99
  • Easy Install is available initially in the US in January 2022 starting at US$ 68 per unit for the remote service and US$ 135 for the on-site service. It will expand to other markets starting February 2022.
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