Friday, March 21, 2014

Sci-tech watch, 15: Setting up an all- in- one . . ." super-tablet" . . . PC based home/small office work station

The Macintosh (HT: Wiki)
I have been looking at small/home office workstations recently, and have gravitated towards today's successor to the old classic Macintosh from the 1980's and early '90's, the all-in-one PC. (Abbr: AIO.)

 The sort of profile I have been looking at is more or less a shelf [perhaps 22 - 24" deep, at 29" top surface level, maybe fold-down], maybe with an underslung 27" wide  keyboard tray, running on drawer slides at 26" top surface height.

(Those dimensions, BTW, are ergonomically chosen. The keyboard tray width allows using a mouse at the same level. [And, BTW, the arms on arm chairs can add to stress on tendons if you type with arms resting on such; consider using an armless Secretary Chair instead for anywhere you have to do a lot of typing.])

 I have been exploring as well video teleconferencing and have noted reasonable cost hang- on- the- wall TV/Monitors [40" for US$ 350 - 400], with the possibility of teleconferencing web cams and boundary layer [aka "pressure zone"]  conference table microphones.

Here is a "hang on the monitor" Logitech 920 Web Cam with built in microphones (set up for Skype at 1080 p HDTV level resolution):

I am finding that a layout where a small conference table is butted up against a wall and a large screen monitor on the wall is shared, is a useful group workstation mode (HT: Gateway)l:

It is advisable, of course, to use something like this Logitech wireless keyboard and track-pad to allow interactive sharing by simply passing it around:

For such a rig, of course, a good all- in- one scan/ copy/ fax/ printer is by now standard.

I would add a 2' x 3' or so whiteboard on an easel, the easel also being rigged to hold an old fashioned flip-chart. (The flip chart has certain advantages that nothing else can match to this day.)

I would also add a small podium, for preference one that adjusts from 30" to about 45" for the lower edge of the working surface . . . and I am trying to get one made that can attach both a shield at the front and a larger working surface so it can function as a mini, portable notebook PC workstation.

 Here is a news vid on a home office setup, which highlights a Lenovo unit, but many others are available:

I find that to complement this, a tablet and phone or "phablet" ( the larger sized smart phones that incorporate tablet features) will be a significant productivity boost. Where of course the 7" or so tablet in a folio with keyboard using Kingsoft Office has certain advantages as a mini notebook . . . and of course for educational computing (HT: Amazon):

Some may also want a light notebook, and with the screen real estate investment being in a 20 - 27" AIO, a light 12" or so unit will be adequate. Or, one can go for a "transformer" type 10" tablet, which docks to its own keyboard.

As late breaking news, if you are willing to go with a US$ 180 low end "Chrome Box," it looks like you can have a functional unit, with an additional US$ 70 - 80 getting a basic keyboard, mouse, monitor and HDMI-VGA adapter. (This unit of course is effectively a thin client that uses Google's cloud based services. Such a thin client also can easily be attached to the back of a wall monitor, or a convenient place. That might fit in with living room decor, and could make a dandy set-up for a home used as a cell group meeting place [or even a micro "cell church"] or Bible Study group facility . . . or, a seminar or class room. [Cf. here.])

I do confess to being less than happy with Google just now, as I have been using Picasa as image storage with Blogger for years. Google bought both, and is killing off Picasa, which hosts my blog images. Indeed, they just forced me to enroll with Google Plus, which I find is irritating. No, I don't want to socialise online and don't need all those helpful hints.

A spot of luck, this article helped me get my old Picasa back (for now . . . ), after frustrations on trying to delete pics. I am hoping the decision makers at Google understand the headache of having to rebuild from scratch 400 or so images from years of blog posting. And BTW, if you use a photo host service, check out terms and conditions on image sizes and overall hosted space.

Living on the cloud sacrifices control and independence, save if you rent server space and host your own site. For that BTW, I now highly recommend going with WordPress and a suitable template. END