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Telikin touch-PC targets the gray dollar

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February 1, 2012

The Telikin is a new touchscreen family computer aimed at older users, designed to make ev...

The Telikin is a new touchscreen family computer aimed at older users, designed to make every-day tasks such as photo-sharing and email as easy as possible

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The Telikin is a new touchscreen family computer designed to make everyday tasks as easy as possible. It is clearly aimed at the older user, which explains why its most vaunted features are social in nature, and make a lot of sense for grandparents with distant relatives. Video chat (thanks to a built-in camera), photo sharing and email are first among its advertised features - all of which come ready to use out of the box, provided an internet connection is available, of course.

Operating system and software

The operating system's home screen includes a menu giving one-touch access to a calendar, weather information, news, the web and games. All are available at the touch of a button - a button clearly labelled with the relevant words rather than an abstract icon. The menu remains visible at all times, so users can easily navigate to wherever it is they want to be. The remainder and bulk of the home screen is filled with useful, accessible alerts and data including family photos, new email notifications, news headlines and trivia.

The Telikin home screen

It's a thoughtful approach which - and excuse me while I patronize old people everywhere - provides a much more accessible path into home computing than a daunting, empty desktop and start button, or a forbidding dock with baffling icons.

Photo-sharing curtails the need for email attachments by sensibly offering full support for Facebook albums. The included email client, meanwhile, can be set up to use an existing webmail account, though Telikin offers to set up an account if necessary. There's even a word processor, called Write, compatible with Microsoft Word documents.

Among the games included are those fogey-pleasing stalwarts Solitaire, Freecell and Mahjong (or at least, that de-stacking solo game that seems to pass for Mahjong on computers the world over).

The web menu of the interface provides something of a walled garden reminiscent of early AOL software. A series of links are provided to big-name sites under categories like Social, News, Shopping and Faith/Spirituality. Still, it is possible to search the web and presumably surf to one's heart's content thereafter.

The Telikin website promises "free lifetime updates" which suggests that, once purchased, it's inconceivable that users will be asked to pay for operating system upgrades in the future. Perhaps that shouldn't be surprising given that, according to IEEE Spectrum at least, this thing runs Linux. Spectrum caught a glimpse of the tell-tale penguin during boot-up, but say the Telikin's OS itself is so locked down, it's impossible to determine which distro. It's so locked-down, in fact, that it's impossible to install additional software on the machine - something its makers would no doubt position as a feature rather than a flaw, perhaps not without justification.

Hardware

The Telikin comes in two models. A white "Telikin Touch" comes with an 18.6-inch LCD touchscreen, and a black "Telikin Elite" has a 20-inch touchscreen and a significantly larger hard drive. The full specs run-down looks like this. You'll notice the Elite model seems to have a slower processor, which is contrary to the other specs. That's the information we have, but have queried this and will let you know if it turns out to be an error:

Telikin Touch

  • 18.6 inch LCD touch screen
  • Dual core 1.8 GHz processor
  • 2GB SDRAM
  • 320GB hard drive
  • 1.3 MP webcam with microphone
  • 4 USB ports
  • 6 in 1 memory card reader
  • Wireless 802.11 b/g/n
  • Built-in speakers
  • Wired keyboard and mouse

Telikin Elite

  • 20 inch LCD touch screen
  • Dual core 1.6 GHz processor (pending confirmation)
  • 2GB DDR3 Memory
  • 500Gb 3.5 SATA ll hard drive
  • Stereo speakers with SRS technology
  • 1.3 MP webcam with microphone
  • 4 USB ports
  • 6 in 1 memory card reader
  • 1 HDMI out
  • Wireless 802.11 b/g/n
  • Built-in speakers
  • Wired keyboard and mouse
The Telikin's keyboard

Until we've had a chance to try one, it'd be wrong to pass judgement, but the keyboard at least appears to be a continuation of the accessible design evident in the operating system, with nice large print and a not-too-thin keyboard which hopefully provides meaningful feedback. IEEE Spectrum points out that there isn't much point in a three button mouse, if the software only supports one button and a scroll wheel. Something of an oversight, that being the case.

All that remains to report is the all-important price. The 18.6-in. Telikin Touch will set you back US$699, the Telikin Elite $999. Buyers will get 60 days VIP support, which costs $9.99 per month thereafter. Value cannot be judged on the hardware alone - a lot of thought has gone into the software that comes with it. That's something to consider when weighing up just how many gray dollars a Telikin is ultimately worth.

A lifetime of never having to uninstall superfluous toolbars from Mom's web browser? That has to count for something.

Update

We've received word in the comments from Telikin CEO Fred Allegrezza, who clears up one or two of the more ambiguous points above. The 1.6 GHz processor of the Elite model is an AMD processor while the 1.8 GHz processor of the lower-specced Touch model is an Intel processor. It still isn't clear exactly which processors are used, but Allegrezza tells us the 1.6 GHz processor is the better performing. This wasn't clear from the specifications on the Telikin website, so we welcome the clarification.

Further, it appears that IEEE Spectrum's claim that "the operating system supports only one button and the scroll wheel" is not strictly correct. "We try to avoid right click functions on the mouse, they are often not obvious," Allegrezza said. "We do use right click for spelling corrections."

So there we have it, clear as crystal. You can see Allegrezza's full comment below.

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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7 Comments

James,

Thanks for the review. It is clear you understand our customers and the concept of the Telikin. To clarify a few items:

1) The AMD processor executes instructions in less clock cycles than the Intel processor so the 1.6GHz AMD actually executes more instructions per second than the 1.8 GHz Intel. see www.cpubenchmark.net for comparisons.

2) We try to avoid right click functions on the mouse, they are often not obvious. We do use right click for spelling corrections. The scroll wheel is functional.

3) We run a modified version of Tiny Core Linux OS. We lock down the OS to avoid viruses, malware and software incompatibilities. We provide SW updates free and automatic. The concept is to provide an integrated, tested set of applications. This is an "Application System" as opposed to a "Operating System."

4) A very big part of our business is providing support. We can provide much better support with a preloaded, preintegrated set of applications.

Hope this helps. Again thanks for the review.

Fred Allegrezza CEO Telikin

Fred Allegrezza
1st February, 2012 @ 08:09 pm PST

the only reason that the internet still exists is that my Son and I took away my Mums apple, we had to go to her home everyday for Issues, she found every way to foock things up, can Fred promise this system is 85 year old mother safe?

Bill Bennett
1st February, 2012 @ 11:29 pm PST

Bulletin bulletin bulletin all "seniors" are not technically challenged. I wrote my first computer program in 1963, yes folks that's 48 years ago and yes there were computers then just for your information. These articles that imply that computing ability is described mathematically as ability is the numerator with age as the denominator don't know what they are talking about for a large segment of the population. True, I didn't start computing at age 3 as did my daughter but when I was that age there was nothing but an abacus or Turins machine. While there is undoubtedly some kind of market for social media devices for the computing illiterate, these articles imply that everyone that is "older" is technically challenged. Listen up, no we aren't, we were designing digital circuits and writing code before your parents were born.

grtbluyonder
2nd February, 2012 @ 08:57 am PST

grtbluyonder is clearly not technically challenged but I would agree with the developers of this device that large numbers of "older" users are desperately in need of something like this. I congratulate the makers of it and wish them well.

I am a qualified professional engineer and I still find it VERY difficult to sort out how to use large swathes of the stuff on my PC, and it is definitely getting worse.

I suspect grtbluyonder is just the sort of person who writes software and totally fails to understand what it is like for a typical older person, who only came to computing very late in life, and is utterly bewildered by the whole insane process.

If Telikin have got it right (or soon do get it right) I think they will be amazed at the take-up.

Ted99uk

Ted99uk
4th February, 2012 @ 04:01 am PST

Why not get an iPad instead? All of the advantages of a locked down system, but with the best customer service in the world and training and service available at over 350 locations worldwide for only $99/year. And it is portable too.

Michaelc
4th February, 2012 @ 02:09 pm PST

The computer looks suspiciously like the MSI Wind Top AE1900 desktop PC in another gizmag article.

http://www.gizmag.com/msi-wind-top-ae1900-touch-enabled-all-in-one-pc/11511/

Michaelc
4th February, 2012 @ 02:20 pm PST

I do understand the need and niche for a computer like this. I have friends who struggle with Windows 8.1, and view my Mac with suspicion. However, the commercials for this computer and other items aimed at the over-50 crowd do make me grind my teeth a bit (Jitterbug, anyone?). The whole, condescending - "I'm over 50, I can't possibly understand the ADVANCED technology of a computer" spiel get's old after awhile. While I don't write computer programs (I'm envious, grtbluyonder), I'm fairly gifted with both OSX and Windows incarnations myself, and would love to play with Linux. (Trust me, I spend a great deal of time, doing friendly tech support, lol!). I can also manage a cell phone that does more than dial numbers, surprisingly. Sheesh....

sandshadow
11th July, 2014 @ 03:31 pm PDT
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