With the Commodore 64 turning 40 years old this year, this company couldn’t have announced their product at a more appropriate time or venue as the C64 was also announced at CES.

I’m talking about the Pentaform Abacus Basic, which is their answer to the question of how to give even more people access to a functional computer. This to me is a slick piece of kit because it has some excellent I/O, can run whatever OS you want (Pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux 18.04) and more impressively, use all sorts of hardware for your display. It can use a CRT TV, with adaptors, for example. That to me is really forward-thinking as many places that don’t have access to computers won’t have access to the latest display technology either.

The Abacus Basic, like the C64 and ZX Spectrum before it, takes the form of a keyboard and now, a touchpad. The specs of this machine are also respectable:

  • 64bits Quad Core X86 Processor

    • Intel Atom x5-Z8350 Cherry Trail

  • Quad-core processor @ 1.44 GHz / 1.84 GHz (Turbo)

    • Intel Gen8 HD graphics @ 500 MHz

  • LPDDR3 64bit dual channel LPDDR3@1866Mb/s, 2GB/4GB/8GB options
  • eMMC module (Optional industrial compatible high performance eMMC module, 16GB-128GB available)

  • μSD card (μSD slot supports up to 512 GB μSD card)
  • HDMI 2.0 up to 4k@30

    3.5mm jack with mic – HD codec that supports up to 24-bit/96KHz audio.

    USB 3.0 OTG X1, hardware switch for host/device switch, lower one

    USB 2.0 HOST X2

    GbE LAN with Power over Ethernet (PoE) support additional HAT is required for powering from PoE

    USB-C, support USB Type C PD 2.0, 9V/2A, 12V/2A, 15V/2A, 20V/2A.

    Qualcomm® Quick ChargeTM: Supports QC 3.0/2.0 adapter, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A

  • 802.11 ac wifi with a powerful off-board antenna

    Bluetooth 4.2

    InfiniteConnect – Dedicated 2.4Ghz wireless keyboard connection.

  • More GPIO than you can shake a stick at…

It’s energy-efficient, made from recycled plastics and ticks several more sustainability boxes. I also like the idea of the housing for the single-board computer can be removed from the keyboard and touchpad to be used wirelessly which further broadens the applications of this device. Pre-Orders are starting soon at £99.

While I’ve never personally experienced a folding screen device yet, the behemoth 17″ ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold gives me pause. When it is folded up, it is essentially the size of a 12″ laptop and that to me is very close to the perfect size for me. But a device that folds out entirely to something 17″ in size seems a bit unwieldy. I remember avoiding the Surface Book 2 15″ for that very reason.

While it might be huge, it does allow for a respectable amount of room for some good specifications. A few to note are:

  • Intel® Core™ i7-1250U Processor 1.1 GHz (12M Cache, up to 4.7 GHz, 2P+8E cores)
  • 17.3-inch, 2560 x 1920 FOLED 4:3 aspect ratio
  • 16GB LPDDR5 onboard
  • 1TB M.2 NVMe™ PCIe® 4.0 Performance SSD
  • 2x Thunderbolt™ 4 supports display/power delivery
  • 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack
  • 5.0M camera with IR function to support Windows Hello
  • Wi-Fi 6E(802.11ax)+Bluetooth 5.2 (Dual band) 2*2
  • 75Whr Battery
The Zenbook 17 Fold in its various configurations.

Now looking at this device and its US MIL-STD 810H military-grade standard testing being passed, the comparisons against the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold that was announced last year are immediately drawn. In fact, seeing photos of the Zenbook 17 Fold closed makes it look like the X1 Fold’s big brother.

While I had mixed feelings about the launch of the first-generation device, I think the size and form factor of the X1 Fold makes a bit more sense. In short, I can imagine far more easily the person that would use an X1 Fold than I can imagine the person that would use the Zenbook 17 Fold. The X1 Fold has a 50Whr battery to drive its modest screen whereas the Zenbook 17 Fold has a lot more computer to drive with only a slightly larger 75Whr battery. The X1 Fold has a keyboard as well but also has the option for a pen. We don’t yet know if the keyboard on the Zenbook 17 Fold will be included.

The other matter of interest is the hinge mechanism which is rated for 30,000 folds according to ASUS and looking at the design of the hinge, it even looks somewhat similar when compared to the competition. It almost makes you wonder if ASUS has some kind of deal with Lenovo to share some design secrets. If nothing else, it would be hard to deny that somebody at ASUS was inspired by what Lenovo was doing last year.

A close-up of the hinge mechanism in the Zenbook 17 Fold is found on the product website.

Pricing and availability of the new foldable have yet to be released but ASUS is saying later this year.

In a not at all surprising twist, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is getting another round of updates that should keep it the king of the pack in terms of ultraportable. Some  notable updates to this generation of X1 Carbon include:

  • Up to 12th generation Intel® Core™ i7 vPro® U and P Series processors, up to 14-core
  • Up to Windows 11 Pro, Linux Ubuntu, or Fedora
  • FHD Webcamera now standard in a new Communications Bar
  • Up to 32GB LPDDR5
  • Up to 2TB Gen 4 performance PCIe NVMe SSD
  • 57 Whr battery
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6E (requires Windows 11)
  • Bluetooth® 5.2
  • NFC
  • New screen options, see below for details
A breakdown showing the new FHD webcamera setup. A much needed upgrade.

Ports include:

  • 2x Thunderbolt™ 4
  • 2x USB 3.2 Type-A Gen 1
  • 1x HDMI 2.0b
  • 1x Audio (Headphone and Microphone Combo Jack)
  • 1x Nano SIM
A new range of impressive screens are not available.

More screen options than you can shake a stick at listed below:

  • 14” WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS LP AG
    (400nit, 100%sRGB, Eyesafe)
  • 14” WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS LP AG Touch
    (400nit, 100%sRGB, Eyesafe)
  • 14” WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS LP AG Touch with Privacy Guard
    (500nit, 100%sRGB, TUV ePrivacy Cert)
  • 14” 2.2K 16:10 (2240×1400) IPS AG
    (300nit, 100% sRGB)
  • 14” 2.8K 16:10 (2880×1800) OLED AGARAS
    (400nit, 100% DCI-P3, Eyesafe)
  • 14” WQUXGA 16:10 (3840×2400) IPS LP Glare
    (500nit, 100% DCI-P3, HDR400, Dolby® Vision™, Eyesafe)
  • 14” WQUXGA 16:10 (3840×2400) IPS LP AOFT Touch AGAR

Overall this appears to be a great machine and would likely give me pause if I were buying a new laptop today. If I had the choice between a ThinkPad X1 Carbon or an X1 Nano, I think I’d go with this now that it has the nicer display options.

Lenovo has announced the next generation of ThinkPad X1 Nano with some tasteful updates:

  • Intel vPro® with 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processors
  • up to 32GB LPDDR5 memory
  • a larger capacity 49.6 Whr battery
  • Up to Windows 11 Pro, Fedora, and Ubuntu Linux
  • FHD webcam now standard
  • Up to 2TB PCIe SSD
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6E (requires Windows 11)
Note the redesigned Communications Bar.

The rest remains unchanged and that is fine by me as I still enjoy my Gen 1 device. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. This should also do some interesting things to the prices of the X1 Nano Gen 1 which is still a fantastic device. I’m happy to see that this line continues as I think more people will appreciate this exceptional thin and light laptop.

Lenovo is bringing back the ThinkPad Z series this year at CES 2022.

Back in the day, the ThinkPad Z series was the first of the ThinkPad line to use the 16:10 screen which was adopted on every other line afterwards. It was also the first time a ThinkPad featured the use of titanium. If you want to learn more about the Z series, see the two videos below where I take a look at the Z61t and hear about the creation from the project manager, Rob Herman.

Aug
19

Rob Herman Interview (Product Manager of i , A, R, Z, P Series and the X tablet)

If you haven’t seen the interview I did with Rob Herman, I will link in directly below. If you’d like to just listen to the interview, here is an mp3 of our talk.   It was really great to speak with Rob and learn about his unique perspective in the creative process. Every person that […]

The original ThinkPad Z series had a slew of multimedia-centric features and it looks like the new generation is following in its footsteps. The ThinkPad Z series is returning in two flavours in a slim 14mm chassis, the Z13 and Z16. Images also show a leather-like cover very similar to the Reserve Edition that was available for the 15th Anniversary. Both new machines feature a bump at the top (called the Communications Bar) that houses the cameras (regular and IR) which are now FHD and include a microphone array. 

The  Z13 will offer a 13.3″ 16:10 setup with two display options. (WUXGA IPS 400nit Low Power (touch option) or WQXGA OLED 400nit, Touch, Dolby Vision, Low Blue Light) The Z13 will house a 50Whr battery. 2x USB-C (4.0) ports and a audio jack are present.

The  Z16 will offer a 16″ 16:10 setup with two display options. (WUXGA IPS 400nit Low Power (touch option) or WQXGA OLED 400nit, Touch, Dolby Vision, Low Blue Light) The Z16 will house a 70Whr battery. 3x USB-C (4.0) ports and a audio jack are present. The Z16 is the only model with an SD Card slot.

These laptops will come in the following colour options:

  • Z13: Black Recycled Vegan Leather/Bronze AL, Arctic Grey Recycled AL, Black Recycled AL
  • Z16: Arctic Grey Recycled AL

Other important features include AMD Ryzen Pro 6000 series CPUs (with an exclusive Ryzen 7 Pro 6760Z) with no Intel option currently announced. The Z16 can also be configured with the AMD Radeon™ RX 6500M discrete graphics card. Memory will be Up to 32GB LPDDR5

Z13 is powered by AMD Ryzen PRO U-Series processors with integrated AMD Radeon graphics plus Microsoft Pluton security processor. Z13 is also available with an exclusive AMD Ryzen PRO 6860Z processor

Z16 is powered by AMD Ryzen PRO H-Series processors with integrated AMD Radeon graphics or optional AMD Radeon RX 6500M discrete graphics, and include the Microsoft Pluton security processor

AMD Ryzen PRO 6000 Series processors with Qualcomm® FastConnect 6900 offer advanced manageability and industry leading Wi-Fi connectivity on Z13 and Z16. Additionally, Qualcomm® 4-stream Dual Band Simultaneousi (DBS) on AMD Ryzen™ PRO 6000 Series processors enables sustained low latency potential of Wi-Fi Dual Station, natively supported on Windows 11

Haptic ForcePad and fingerprint reader on the Z16. The Z13 has a keyboard that goes right to the edge and has a different speaker configuration.

The eagle-eyed users will note a TrackPoint but no dedicated buttons and be concerned. However, this laptop features a similar haptic feedback pad that was released on the X1 Titanium last year. Speaking of the TrackPoint, it can now be double-tapped to access a Communications menu for common microphone and camera settings. This isn’t the first time that tapping the TrackPoint had a function and this is a welcomed return.

ThinkPad Z13 will be available from May 2022, starting from $1549
ThinkPad Z16 will be available from May 2022, starting from $2099

For more information, see the following launch video from Lenovo.

The TrackPoint is a polarizing way to interact with your computer. You either love it or hate it. Several journalists and technology writers have said that it seems out of place on a modern computer with TrackPads now being the norm. However, the TrackPad is not always as useful as the TrackPoint, especially in certain circumstances. As you might know from a previous article on this website, I like TrackPoints.

Jul
22

TrackPoint Keyboards

If you are looking for a greater, in-depth article, please consider checking out this fantastic summary of several of the keyboards below here. PS/2 Era or Earlier IBM Model M13 A classic with Buckling springs. Very rare with no active listings on eBay. For more information on this beauty, check out LGR’s episode where he […]

So as I was doing some digging around for patent drawings and such, I found some really cool documents and photos. These were found on a Microsoft Research website archive called the Buxton Collection and I am uploading them below just in case the page is ever removed. This article will also serve as a companion piece to a video that I am currently editing that is related to this subject, but wouldn’t really focus on some of these neat little details.

IBM T. J. Watson Research Paper TrackPoint IBM

TrackPoint Interact 90

Buxton Collection Story(PDF of website above)

The following images below come from an issue of Interactions, September-October 1997 “A Conversation with Ted Selker” and give some insight to ideas they had for TrackPoint’s future.

For more information on the TrackPoint Mouse, check out the following links to the G1, G2 and G3 variants. I’m not sure if any of these three examples exist in the wild, but ScrollPoint technology was developed and released to the general public which is similar but not identical. The ScrollPoint II and onward series has the most in common with the G3 type which featured a different cap/interface. The ScrollPoint I more closely resembles the G1 and G2.

As an added bonus, here is a launch video for the TrackPoint. This promotional video by IBM features Ted Selker introducing the TrackPoint in its early stages before it would make its most memorable appearance on the ThinkPad 700C.

If you follow me on Twitter, consider posting your favourite TrackPoint photo on this thread: