Reviews related to : Computers

A very broad subject these days - home computers now come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but in each case the basic architecture is the same. Even the distinctive Apple MAC range now adheres to an Intel architecture under the hood and Apple hardware is capable of running the Microsoft Windows operating systems (but why would you want to having bought a MAC?)

Browse the reviews below of not only a variety of desktop and laptop computers, but also the peripherals that will help you get the most from your machine.

This is a small but extremely powerful tower system. Acer does a number of different versions under the same name and model number both with and without an SSD drive, it also has various Intel and AMD processors so do think about all this prior to selecting where to purchase it from as certain models like this one are only available from two outlets.
It’s 35cm from front to back but add another 5cm for cables to be inserted. It is 16.5cm wide and 35cm tall. The top has a wireless charging plate towards the front. The front has a vertically mounted optical drive and towards the right near the base an SD card port, a USB ‘C’ and a USB3 port (always on) as well as 3.5mm headphone and microphone sockets. The back has kettle style mains lead, lower down are four USB2 sockets and below this two USB3 ports and an Ethernet port.
Raspberry Pi has launched its 4th generation model which is significantly faster and more capable than any of the existing products.
Size matters and here this is a small tower that can deliver as much as most large towers except of course take up far less desk space. So if you need expansion then this unit can give it as there are three slots although one is occupied in the setup sent to me by the graphics card. So what has Acer squeezed into this small format desktop tower.
It is 34cm deep, 16cm wide and 33cm tall. There is a vertically mounted optical drive 6cm down from the top just right of the centre of the front, above this is the turn on button. Towards the bottom of the front on the right edge a pair of always on connections USB ‘C’ and USB3 and below these 3.5mm sockets for headphone and microphone. On the front edges at the top are two small flip out handles to hold your headphones as for a gamer hearing tiny sounds can be life or death.
This is one of the Predator gaming range, most of which are big heavy powerful notebooks, this is slightly different in that it is a big heavy Tower system, it has a rather unusual configuration of external connections in the supplied unit.
It is 56cm tall, 52cm deep and 22cm wide. The front has a couple of blue LED lines as well as the on/off button and an optical (DVD) drive. The front of the top of the unit has a pair of USB3.1 ports, another USB3.1 and a USB ‘C’. The rear has a pair of USB2 ports, a line of four USB3.1 ports, a pair of USB2 ports and an Ethernet port. Six audio ports next taking two of the eight expansion bays two Display Port sockets, one HDMI socket and a further Display Port.
Unlike our personal shadows, which follow us where ever we go, whether visible or not, the Blade company’s Shadow (note the capital letter indicating its different status) is an entirely different entity. Let me explain
Blade is a French company founded in 2015 by Emmanual Freud, Acher Criou and Stéphane Héliot.  The company was originally set up to serve the French market but has recently expanded its influence into a more worldwide spread.  This has been brought about by success at raising ₡51 billion in order to help it reinvent the way personal computers are used worldwide by creating the PC-as-a-service. otherwise known as Shadow, residing in the Cloud.
All In One PC’s are not exactly new but here is a large screen offering that is equipped with lots of good features and even includes a Thunderbolt 3 socket as well as HDMI in the latter ideal for you to attach a PVR for those after work hours watching.
The screen is 63x39x2cm the stand is fixed and raises it by 10cm from your desk. The stand is in the shape of a ‘V’ with 13cm being behind the screen, the sides of the ‘V’ are 33cm long which means it needs a total of 25cm from back to front of desk space. The notional diagonal imperial screen measurement is 27inches.
When space is at a premium you might like to consider a tower system from Lenovo.
The Lenovo Ideacentre 620S could be classified as a tower computer but that could send out the wrong message regarding this device.  Yes this Lenovo kit does consist of the elements (keyboard, mouse and system box) making up a tower system but one aspect marks this computer as a breed apart.  That aspect is the system box which immediately reminded me of a binocular case, door stopper or even a speaker unit with regards to its size and shape.
I had read a good bit about this tiny bare board computer that a lot will use for a single purpose. Then I was offered the chance to review one of the new batch that can take the required power from an Ethernet cable which seemed unusual at least.
My computing life goes back before the PC, in fact my first computer was made by Tandy and you had to load the operating system and files from a cassette tape. My first surprise was the lack of size the box it arrives in is 9.5x7x2.5cm and the total weight is 60 grams including the box. The next is that it comes with no instructions only a health and safety sheet.
Normally when I hear ‘All In One’ it refers to a printer and scanner unit. This however is a PC everything is built into the touch screen with the only external bits the wireless keyboard and mouse so much less desk space is required.
The overall size is 53.5x33.5x3cm, the stand is 23.5x23.5cm and raises the screen by 6cm. The only other parts are the keyboard and mouse both are wireless controlled by a single tiny USB controller. Apart from one USB 3.1 port, a headphone socket and an SD Card port on the left side bottom edge of the screen everything else is on the rear of the unit. On the right side of the connecting arm are an HDMI, two USB 3.1 and a USB 2 port as well as a small Kensington Lock Port.
It’s a very long time since I have reviewed anything from Dell and even longer since I have reviewed a Tower system from anyone, in fact if my memory is correct after my last Tower review I actually purchased it and that was running Windows 7. Here this system is running Windows 10 and version 1703 at that.
The Dell Vostro 3650 Desktop Mini Tower is 28cm deep (34cm with leads attached), 15cm wide and 34cm tall. The face has the on/off button, optical drive, two USB3 ports and an SD Card slot. The back has three audio sockets, video connections for VGA and HDMI, two pairs of USB ports and an Ethernet. Four internal external bays and near the base a kettle style mains lead socket. Dell describe the Vostro as a ‘Business System’.
This next offering from the Dell family of products sets out to reduce the amount of office space required for its presence.
I suppose, at a pinch, you could describe this next product, which is the Dell OptiPlex 3050 All-in-One, as a laptop for the desktop.  This particular product, which Dell claims to have been “crafted for functionality and flexibility”, consists of a combined screen and system unit partnered with a bog standard tethered keyboard and mouse.  An optional extra of a wireless keyboard and mouse is available at an additional cost.
867757 Gigabyte P34W V3 CF1 14 Inch Gaming Lapto

Gigabyte P34

Not that long ago a 14inch notebook would be unlikely to display 1920x1080 this unit is IPS QHD (3K) which shows 2560x1440 and its quite useable. So what other features does this Intel i7 offering with Windows 10 have to offer.
The Gigabyte P34W measures 34x23.5x1.5cm and weighs just under 1.8kilos. This is a mixture of conventional and the latest, a Kensington Lock Port, Ethernet, VGA, USB3 (with charging when off), USB 3.1 and 3.5mm socket for headphone/microphone are the left side. The front has a line of five LED’s. The right side has USB3, SD Slot, USB3, HDMI and DC input. The rear is clear as the lid comes down to 135 degrees. The viewable screen is 31x17.
I have reviewed several Chromebooks before, they are small laptops running the Chrome operating system. This however was the first Chromebox I have reviewed it is a full featured PC all you need to add is a panel via HDMI or DisplayPort.
Small is perhaps an inadequate word in this case. I have reviewed mini PC’s before but never something smaller than even a small mobile phone and this PC runs Windows 8.1 so can something that slips into a pocket deliver?
It is 10x4x1cm with connections once plugged into an HDMI port on the back or side of your TV. It could also connect into a standalone panel. It weighs only 45grams.
A small Tower PC but with everything you need apart from a Panel and speakers and if you connect via HDMI you do not even require speakers. While they are no longer fashionable this is small and has far more connectivity than a notebook.
The Acer XC600 small tower system measures 37x10x26cm and while it will work horizontally it is designed to work vertically. The front has two USB2 ports and a multi card slot it also has 3.5mm sockets for microphone and headphones. Behind a flip open door is a DVD multi recorder drive. The right side and top have extensive ventilation slots.
It almost crossed my mind that I had been forgotten by Acer with regards to review products when an offer arrived to check out an Aspire model. I was reasonably impressed.
In the past I have had the opportunity to look at a number of Acer computers.  These models have been exclusively laptop units belonging to either the Aspire or TravelMate family.  Now it is the turn of another Aspire model to supply my computing needs but this time it is a desktop system.  The Acer unit in question is the Aspire XC600_W.
The most recent notebook I reviewed had Windows 8 – sadly without touch – it also had a Gigabyte motherboard. This is an All in One PC from HP with Windows 8, touch and it has a Gigabyte motherboard and even a TV tuner.
Windows 8 no longer contains Media Centre, so here the card required for TV is provided by Aver Media and of course the remote control to make channel changing easier. Here ‘All In One’ means that the screen contains the PC as well as being a touch flat panel. The external parts are only the Wireless Keyboard, Mouse and Remote Control. The screen is 57x40cm and the stand is attached to raise this by 7cm above your desk.
I am not talking a printer, scanner, copier here, but a screen that has a computer and all the connections built into it, the screen is controlled either from the supplied Bluetooth keyboard and mouse or touch should you wish.
While Desktop PC’s seem to have lost out to Notebooks or even smaller offerings the Touch panel is still emerging. This is all things to all. With the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse provided you can use it hands off but it is still perfectly useable hands on as the screen supports multi touch. For good measure its also a Media Centre. The overall size is 51x40x19cm on its easel type base. The viewable screen is 47x27cm which equates to 21.5inches diagonal.
This is a slimmer, faster and better specified version of the original Packard Bell oneTwo. It is a full featured Windows PC with Touch Screen working out of the box but it is also a Windows Media Centre unit with remote.
The screen is 51.5x32x5.5cm with only the sprung stand increasing the width to a figure of your choice between 22 and 30cm dependant on the amount of back tilt you require to suit you. The diagonal imperial screen size is 21.5inches. This shows 1920x1080 in a clear crisp sharp screen. The left side has headphone and microphone sockets, two USB3 sockets and a multi card port. The top centre of the screen surround has a web cam and beside it a pinhole microphone.
The arrival of a battered box is not always bad news, the arrival of a box with space in it probably is. This unit had been doing the rounds and when it got to me all I got was the system box, not even a power lead or any instructions.
Looking at the various DSG websites it seems there should have been also a wired keyboard and a mouse apart from a ‘Welcome Pack’ and of course the power lead. First switch on was not an improvement as I had to do ‘Windows Repair’ as it would not boot. However this story of doom and gloom does start to become a happier tale. A lot of people would have just boxed it up and said take it back.