New range of PC's tout universal design

Plug it in. Switch it on. Get online. BenQ launches a range of PC’s featuring simplicity of use for the old and the young and I’m pretty excited. It looks like a company who has clearly considered the needs of the ageing consumer and designed products to suit …even thought it may be a bit of Mac catch-up!

Some folks can’t be bothered with computers is because of complicated tasks such as program installations, software updates, cable connecting.  So it’s great to see the new BenQ net-top eliminates all that, promising to be a simple computer for everyone.BenQ

The nScreen only comes with a monitor, mouse, keyboard, and power supply. The LCD is fairly slim despite the company cramming all the PC components inside it. Setting up the device only takes four simple steps: take out all the contents (mouse, keyboard, monitor, stand, and power supply), plug the input devices and the power supply, turn on the device by pressing the knob up front, and follow the Windows XP installation process.

Along the left edge there’s a memory card reader, two USB ports (four more on the rear), a microphone jack, and a headphone jack, allowing users to instantly connect their multimedia devices. A brightness button is found on the opposite side for easy adjustment.

Right above the screen is a built-in webcamera and microphone for instant video calling. A knob on the bottom right of the display is used to control the volume of the net-top and turn the unit on/off.

Wi-fi is built-in (no cables required).

The unit runs on Windows XP and comes pre-installed with some great software. The Dragnifier function is great for users with limited eyesight as it magnifies objects or texts with a single click. The TruSurround HD function launches automatically as soon as an audio or video file is played, giving users a chance to tweak audio output settings. BenQ has even included a ‘Senior Mode’ on the output settings, which improve the audio for the elderly.

Other programs include WebCam Companion 3, AirFrame, Microsoft Office 2007 Trial, Norton Internet Security 2009 (60-day trial), Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Adobe Reader, and Yahoo Widgets. Backing up important data is also not an issue as BenQ has included the QDataTrove software for creating factory recovery DVDs.

Every time a user needs to go online, one only needs to press the knob and wait for the OS to load. The icons are big and using the webcam for video calls can be done by enabling it on the messenger.

Strangely, it seems no special enhancements were made to the mouse or keyboard, which is crammed.

Back to the labs for version 2.0!