Gadgets:: This Apple guy gives HP, Windows a try with Spectre ONE

By GREGG ELLMAN

Twitter.com/greggellman

HP Spectre ONEIn general I stay away from reviewing Windows-based computers, basically because they get so much coverage on their own and also, to be honest, I’m a long-time Apple user.

So when I was offered a chance to check out the new HP Spectre ONE (23-e010se) all-in-one desktop PC, I looked it up online before accepting. It’s hard to not compare it to an iMac, so I had to get ahold of one.

There’s no need for me to go into what the Windows 8 operating software does in a computer like this; Microsoft does enough promoting on its own.

What’s packed inside this gem is a 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3470T dual-core processor 2.9GHz, along with a 1TB (5400 rpm) hard drive and my unit had 10GB of RAM for testing.

Before I even plugged it in, I had to admire its 23.6-inch glass LED-backlit display (it’s not a touch screen), which is slightly less than a half inch thick and is home to the computer itself.

Like its competitors, HP had to eliminate something to get it so thin, so you’ll have to purchase an external optical drive to use or burn CD’s or DVD’s since there isn’t one built in.

The entire system has just one wire, a power cable, which is plugged into the back of the display stand. After you connect the power, hit a button on the top right of the display to get it going.

All the accessories are wireless and work with a USB dongle under the display in a live USB port.

A pair of AA batteries each goes into the keyboard, mouse and trackpad for power. After that just hit the connect button on each device and from there it’s almost plug and play.

The operating system goes through a short startup to connect to your Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) network, or plug in a network cable to the back of the monitor.

All of your connections are on the base of the monitor, which includes a pair of USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, power and a Kensington lock. A pair of USB 3.0 ports are on the right side of the base, while a SD card reader and headphone port are on the left side.

A HP TrueVision HD webcam is built into the front of the display, inside is Bluetooth.

You really can’t get a clearer display than the 1080p this produces and the sound, which is listed as Beats audio, sounds great.

Even with the latest Window’s operating system, it still seems like a chore to do anything for a Mac user but after a few days on the Spectre One, it’s obvious HP has finally made a PC you would call fun.

Details: www.hp.com starting at $1,299.99

EPSON WORKFORCE PRINTER IS A WORKHORSE

WorkForce WF-3540The Epson WorkForce WF-3540 is another in what seems like a never-ending line of all-in-one desktop printers for home or small businesses.

Regardless of the brand, we all feel the same way about the cost of ink so you have to look at the features of a printer when choosing what to buy.

This one has everything, including Epson Connect, which allows you to print digital files (emails, photos, documents) from anywhere around the world.

With the group of mobile apps, Apple devices and other computers, tablets or smartphones can be linked to print on the 3540.

The printer is a little big and bulky (17.7-by-22.2-by-12.1 inches) so it will take up a little more space than the average ink jet printer.

The all-in-one describes printing, copy, scan and fax. For most, printing is the key feature and it’s endless what you can do.

Among the printing features is double sided printing, a 500-sheet paper capacity, a 3.5-inch touch screen LCD and is rated for 1 sided 15 black pages per minute and 9.3 for color.

A four color DURABrite ink system is used (black, cyan, yellow and magenta) that comes in high-capacity sizes, that lets prints come out in dry and smudge free prints.

Scanning (up to 2,400 dpi) is simple with scans able to be saved as PDFs that are text-searchable and can be saved to flash drives (not included) plugged into the USB port. Single pages can lie right on the scanner or use the 30-sheet auto document feeder.

Other options for connecting is an Ethernet port and built-in Wi-Fi for wireless printing and even emailing.

A card reader is built-in for direct access to files on removable media, and it prints envelopes, labels and card stock.

Even with all these wireless functions, it still can be connected directly to most any computer with a Windows or Mac operating system.

Faxing: that’s so yesterday, but the 3450 will take care of it if need be.

Details: www.Epson.com $149

FATCAT PORTABLE POWER GREAT TO HAVE ON HAND

FatCat mPowerWith the portable electronic world growing at a rapid rate, I could write every week about portable power options to keep your devices running. This week’s entry is the pocket-sized FatCat mPower Travel Charger Series.

The chargers come in a variety of colors but most important are the size choices of 2,000, 4,200 or 9,600 mAH. All you need to understand with those numbers is bigger is better.

They give you the option to charge most any portable USB-powered device at least twice or with the biggest model can do a mobile phone up to about eight times.

Power hungry tablets such as the iPad will need the bigger 9,600 for the 2.1 amp charge they require.

Details: www.fatcatgear.com Powerbar 2000mAH $49.95, 4200 $69.95 and the 9600 $119.95

Contact Gregg Ellman at greggellman@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman

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