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GUI Linux Hardware

Faint Praise From WSJ For a Linux Touchscreen PC For Seniors 59

quarterbuck writes "The Wall Street Journal has a review of the Telikin, an all-in-one desktop, with a touch screen, that starts at $699 and comes from a small Philadelphia-area start-up called Venture 3 Systems. It is much simplified (e.g., no PowerPoint editing), and the hardware is thought through (two microphones), but the review claims that the software is still buggy." I only wish it was based on a revenue stream derived from a cancellable subscription.
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Faint Praise From WSJ For a Linux Touchscreen PC For Seniors

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  • Thought through? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @02:27AM (#37077366)

    I don't understand why having two microphones means that the hardware is "thought through"? Wouldn't hardware that was really "thought through" have only a single high quality microphone (or maybe an array of noise cancelling mics) instead of "an odd little add-on microphone poking out from the bottom"being necessary because "[the company] wasn't satisfied with the quality of the internal one."

    And why does omitting Powerpoint Editing make for a simplified interface? Is the ability to edit Powerpoint presentations what makes other computers so complicated?

    • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @05:17AM (#37077730)

      No, Powerpoint editing is what makes other computers EVIL!

      • by sjwt ( 161428 )

        No, that would be Powerpoint displaying.

        Edit all you want, just dont inflict that on others!

    • This obviously is some rebranded hardware built by a taiwanese/chinese company-with-a-thousand-names, you can bet the same hardware is old under other brands (such as acer, asus or another altogether)

      It fits the bill but the microphone doesn't, because it's a physical device that needs quality and doesn't benefit from Moore's law. it makes the most sense for old people as they wish to hear and be heard when talking over it

    • Because computers designed for seniors needs powerpoint! How else are they going to do their high power presentations?

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Saturday August 13, 2011 @02:35AM (#37077386) Journal

    This author has promise. He doesn't go the Evangelist route. He starts by praising the system, explains his lengthy experience, and then goes on to explain that it might be good "but for" some plausible reasons that matter to the target audience - but pointing out that improvements are promised before warning that promises are often unfulfilled. The author is biased we know, but this is an awesome hatchet job. I'll give it 8 of 10. Poor placement by the vendor.

    Or - which seems more likely - the product is not quite satisfactory, and a software rev would put it in the green.

    • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

      That's what the phrase faint praise (or more completely, "damning with faint praise") means. It's from a poem which also includes the line, "without sneering, teach the rest to sneer". It's a great way to make something or someone look bad without yourself being dismissed as biased, except by particularly astute readers. Of course, you don't see it as much these days, as the media has found even more insidious ways to say without saying, such as FUD and JAQing off.

      • I wasn't complaining that this author isn't artful. He is. Nor was I complaining about the quality of the summary, which was moderately done. I was just giving my opinion about what TFA meant. I know what faint praise is - I use it often. The author of the article is well known to have biases, but to also be most often correct even when that seems improbable. He has a rich and respectable history. I have a long history and a deep reservoir of knowledge in the field too, but when I enter his domain I r

    • by drolli ( 522659 )

      Well to me it seems (sssuming he does not lie) a fair description.

      From what he says i gather: use it for web-surfing and simple email and it works ok. But the same would be probably true for any system with a slightly revamped ui for firefox and thunderbird.

      What i dont understand why he does not comment that a computer like this probably would better have a 32G flash drive that a 500G hard drive. A beginner not doing many photos, downloading/editing movies, installing several virtual machines, or having the

      • Walt Mossberg is a relic to a byegone era. He doesn't lie. It's not in him. He doesn't warp the truth the slightest bit. He's quite careful to avoid the lingo of astroturfers and shills, which makes his job considerably harder. He tells the truth as he sees it. I don't always agree with him, but I always respect his opinion even when I disagree with his conclusions. His job is getting easier these days.

        In an environment where every press agent, reporter and editor is a wholly owned agent of somebody

  • I can't understand what makes companies believe that they can offer a device for $699 that offers half the functionality of a (Android|Windows|Linux|Mac|WebOS) box and still have it sell. Why do companies insist on making *everything* from scratch except the kernel (the entire UX looks totally alien to me) and then release it - bugs-n-all - for review?

    Get cheap touchscreen ARM hardware, throw Android/MeeGo/whatever on there, make your own look-and-feel changes and RELEASE IT WHEN IT'S READY. PLEASE.

    • Re:Price point (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [eilrigyag]> on Saturday August 13, 2011 @05:08AM (#37077714) Homepage

      Where else do you get a desktop PC with a touch-screen, stylus, and 24/7 support willing to help you with setting up Facebook account or holding your hand through writing an email? What, can you repeat that a bit louder, I can't hear you. Yes, that's right: nowhere!

      This device is aimed at people who want/need a VERY simplified computing experience, so just slapping Android/MeeGo/whatever on there is not and will not be enough.

      • by qxcv ( 2422318 )

        Equivalent (if not better) hardware ~US$100 cheaper here [], though admittedly I wouldn't expect anything more than palm-off from Lenovo tech support if you asked them how to set up anything more than a dialup modem on M$ Windows. OTOH I've never been a fan of purchasing products on the premise that you will receive support when/if you need it, because you USUALLY (though I could be wrong with this particular company) don't get it.</disgruntled former M$ customer>
        Also their website seems to say that $699

        • by Lennie ( 16154 )

          I think the use of Android/ARM could potentionally bring down the price a lot more than what they produced.

        • Buttons on the front isn't the same as a touch screen - this isn't equivalent hardware.
          • by qxcv ( 2422318 )

            Sorry, this [] is closer (but $80 dearer as it has twice the memory and a much faster chip). I thought the one I linked to was a touchscreen, but it wasn't.

      • $699 to spend to give an older person their first computing experience? Give them an iPad.

        We did that for my grandmother on her 80th birthday. She wanted to use email and the web, but couldn't figure out the old PC with WinXP that had been setup for her. Plus she hated waiting for the thing to turn on.

        I bought an iPad, loaded it up with a decade or so of family photos, setup a Gmail account and put a few home videos on there. She loves it and even takes it along to her favorite sandwich shop.

    • by murdocj ( 543661 )

      Try reading the article and maybe you'll understand.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @02:39AM (#37077402)

    What more could you want? But seriously, folks...

    I'm curious why they don't seem to list the resolution of that 18.6" screen anywhere... And why "photo viewing through Facebook"? That's a rather odd feature to list.

    I'm also unclear why the submitter is apparently puzzled that the Mossberg's review says the Telikin is buggy - Mossberg is pretty specific what exact buggy behaviors and odd limitations he ran into (frequent freezes, backups don't work, can't attach photos to emails, can't "reply all" or forward email, no refresh button on the browser).

    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @02:53AM (#37077434) Journal

      can't "reply all" or forward email

      I am willing to bet that most /. readers know someone that they wish did not have access to forward and reply all buttons!

      But seriously, it's a review by Walt Mossberg and it's not a Mac or an iPhone/Pod/etc. What did anyone expect?

      • Yeah, I saw the lack of forward/reply-all and thought, "Oooh, someone on that team has a sense of humor." Of course they'll put it back in, but it's tempting to go as is and call it a real feature.
      • But seriously, it's a review by Walt Mossberg and it's not a Mac or an iPhone/Pod/etc. What did anyone expect?

        Yeah, those comments he made about frequent freezes, backups that don't work, and missing functionality - what an obvious shill!

    • by dotancohen ( 1015143 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @04:33AM (#37077660) Homepage

      What more could you want? But seriously, folks...

      I'm curious why they don't seem to list the resolution of that 18.6" screen anywhere... And why "photo viewing through Facebook"? That's a rather odd feature to list.

      Because people don't want a computer, or a browser, or Linux or Windows. They want to view photos on Facebook. This gets right to the point.

      • by murdocj ( 543661 )

        Sigh.... if ONLY I could mod the parent up. It hits the nail on the head and drives it through the board in one blow. Well said.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      The fact that he thought there was no refresh button on the browser might have just been an artifact of current design trends.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm curious why they don't seem to list the resolution of that 18.6" screen anywhere...

      It's targeted at seniors. Like a former co-worker of mine who, upon upgrading from a 17" CRT at 1024x768 to a 21" CRT (capable of 1600x1200), immediately set it to 1024x768. "Because now the icons are bigger and I can read the text."

  • No cancellable subscription?
    Has someone built a ninja old folks iPad?
  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @05:25AM (#37077752)

    As a community, we are far too lenient on poorly designed and buggy Linux software. What this guy has done is write a reasonably balanced and fair review of a product that appears to have been rushed out with some very visible shortcomings. That the supplier puts their hand up and acknowledges that a lot of the problems noted "will be fixed" or are known, supports this view.

    This is very obviously a "version 1" product. Give it a few years and software revisions and it could be a worthwhile offering. Though personally I doubt that many of my frail, elderly relatives would find using a vertically mounted touchscreen to be in any way practical as the amount of strength needed to hold your hand up to the screen (try it) for extended periods of time is more than most of them can muster.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      "Critics" in general have no clue what a non-geek needs out of a computing experience. This includes all manner of platform partisans and isn't just limited to Linux users.

      Sadly enough this also includes most "professional" designers.

      • Which brings up an interesting question... is there such a thing as a computing experience that serves "non-geek needs"? It seems like such a varied thing.

        It would be hard enough to design a computing experience that's very usable for, say, my mother. But assuming you could, it would have to change quite a bit for my dad. Too simplistic, and the user is aggravated. Too complicated... well, we know how that ends.

        Maybe trying to make a universal user experience that works well for all non-geeks is a
        • .. is there such a thing as a computing experience that serves "non-geek needs"? It seems like such a varied thing.

          Yes. It's called an iPad. Which is why they're selling like mad and why the general Slashdot HiveMind(TM)(C)(Patent Pending) can't make any sense of it.

          • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

            The iPad is little more than a crippled Mac. The aspects of the iPad that are crippled don't have anything to do with usability.

            We can make plenty sense of it. Fanboys just don't like what we come up with.

            iPad apps are toys relative to what's available for other modern GUIs. Many are just ensapsulating websites that no longer work well because you're not using the form factor and types inputs that those websites were designed for. "apps" have to be simple because it's hard for the controls to keep up.

    • This is very obviously a "version 1" product. Give it a few years and software revisions and it could be a worthwhile offering.


      But if you are 71 today, you were 41 when the IBM PC was released and 61 when Windows 95 took the world by storm.

      Which means we are close to the point where ownership of a Mac or Windows PC or tablet or both can be considered a given for anyone who retires with a middle class income ---

      and make no mistake about it, the $700 "net appliance" is and always has been middle class.

      A product looking for a market.

  • Many people have longed forever for a clean, easy, task oriented interface. Either for themselves or for a familiy member. This looks like the best design to date, and is reminiscent of the Amstrad PCW, a successful task oriented all-in-one of the eighties. Or keyboard based monochrome PDAs, or even an Apple II or PC/XT, $favorite_computer where you just insert a floppy disk and run simple, straightforward software.

    Notice the lack of translucency, dock, animation and all that crap. Not including these goe

    • It's exactly the set of features that my approaching elderly parents use their computer for.

      Hope the execution improves slightly, if the WSJ article's criticisms are correct, but overall I give it an A for requirements fit and usability design for the
      target actor role.

    • Lastly here's a good showing for Linux, it's refreshing, after the firefox debacle ruling it out in business, on top of the desktops debacle and Open/Libre Office confusion.

      Foolish pride. This could have Windows, Solaris, [insert modern OS], etc. beneath the covers and it wouldn't affect the core functionality of a product like this. They won't have to pay per unit royalties for an OS kernel by using Linux, and that doesn't even mean they won't be paying royalties for whatever else they used to accelerate developing this thing. Hip hip hooray go team or whatever. Give credit where it is actually due.

      I'm sorry man, but this Linux pride stuff just kills me. I wonder how much b

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        Any time someone does something really exotic in the Unix world, it is immediately criticized for being different. It will be criticized by exactly the same people that would elevate it as genius if done by Microsoft or Apple. The ideological case against Flash is the perfect example of this.

        If I pipe text into a program designed before you were born, it's usually to deal with the failings of GUIs and commercially developed software.

        This includes the shell script I used to have for my iPhone.

  • This is another kiosk type appliance based on GNULinux. I'll give them this. Its cool to see they are up front about everything. GNU/FOSS is like a game everyone likes. They start making Mods. Then they graduate to full conversions.

  • ... in some probably unnecessarily fancy/expensive hardware?

    Eldy [], runs on most hardware [], it's about a 13MB download [] free as in Gratis/Freeware and packs a Developers Network [] for bugs, translations and so forth.

    In other words: Go ahead and recycle some hardware! Get a sturdy desktop or better yet, build a frame around it if needed be or hook it to a bigger (flat)TV.

    I'm sure there exists some keyboards with bigger keys today if that is a requirement. Anyhow, it would be cool with a free as in Freedom oshw key []

  • I think Walt did a very through review. Unfortunately he hit a few bugs. I am not happy about this. Most are fixed or in the process of being fixed. We do have a number of users that are very happy with Telikin. We are working hard to make sure all customers have a great experience. 1) We do have a "Forward" button. We will add a "Reply All." Surprisingly I do not think any of our customers missed this or asked for this. 2) The screen resolution is 1366 x 768. I think the reason a number of people p
  • I watched the video on their site, and afterwards YouTube showed a video for this:

    They look identical except for the logo. Is one of them a clone?

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.