With Windows 10 set to become available on July 29, and supposedly being the last version of the OS ever, manufacturers have begun to announce their hardware which will be ready for the launch of the new operating system.
Let’s take a look at what exactly makes hardware suitable for Windows 10, with new features like Cortana and Windows Hello, and then run down some of the upcoming offerings from manufacturers.
If you’re thinking of buying a new system especially for Windows 10, be sure to jump into the comments section afterwards to let us know what you’ll be spending your cash on.
What is Windows 10 Ready Hardware?
The release of a new operating system is a great time for manufacturers to push out and promote new machines. However, while buying directly from a manufacturer like HP or Dell is often a good way of off-setting the cost of a Windows license, this time Windows 10 is being offered free to many people. So what incentive is there for new hardware purchases?
The draw are some new features that Windows 10 offers, which will require specific bits of hardware to be used. One such example is Windows Hello, biometric security which ditches the password and lets you verify your identity through a 3D camera or fingerprint scanner.
The real drive in the biometric camera market is coming from Intel with their RealSense 3D camera, which is currently only available to purchase separately for developers. While it’ll probably reach the wider consumer market eventually, it’s still an expensive technology, meaning that the layman is unlikely to pick it up over a traditional webcam.
A 3D camera, and by extension Windows Hello, may not be a system seller, but it’s certainly another advantageous feature to be bundled into high-end computers, especially when manufacturers will be keen to highlight why people should buy new systems instead of upgrading their current kit. Whether it’s technology that’ll reach the masses and become a commonplace remains to be seen.
There’s also Cortana, the new personal assistant that sits on the taskbar. Cortana can handle your system search, but it can also give you travel information, track parcels, tell you the weather, and much more. This can all be activated by typing, but an enticing draw is that Cortana will respond to your voice, too. Once activated, saying “Hey Cortana” will activate it, allowing you to ask a question or give a command.
The neat thing is you don’t need any special equipment for this – just a microphone. Though in saying that, the higher quality your microphone, the more likely Cortana is to recognize what you’re saying. Many laptops have microphones built-in, but manufacturers are now promoting their new dual-array microphones and the noise canceling capabilities. Good for Cortana, but also great for things like Skype.
Finally, there’s Continuum. This feature allows you to automatically and manually switch between desktop and tablet mode. Convertible notebooks or tablets with the keyboard attached will run in desktop mode; detach the keyboard and it’ll switch to the tablet view, giving changes like larger icons and some full screen menus.
These detachable systems aren’t new, but the fact that Windows 10 can cater for both traditional and touch modes (which is something that Windows 8 sorely lacks) is excellent and certainly makes these types of devices even more appealing.
The Best Windows 10 Ready Hardware
All the manufacturers will be promoting their Windows 10 ready systems. There’s never going to be a single machine which suits everyone’s needs, so we’ve rounded up some of the best new offerings.
Remember, although they don’t all come with Windows 10 out the box, that’s not a problem. You can just use the free upgrade in the first year of the operating system’s launch.
Unrelated to the upcoming Bond film, but there is something to pay attention to in the name of this device from HP and that’s the number. This laptop comes with a 360 degree hinge, meaning that you can swing the screen around and position it wherever you like; it can turn from laptop to tablet in a second. Available in a range of models, with changes in things like storage space or RAM, the HP Spectre x360 retails at $899.99 upwards.
It’s available now, which means it doesn’t have Windows 10 pre-installed, but of course you can use the free upgrade to jump right in when it’s ready. No matter how you position the screen, the built-in microphone is always on show, ensuring Cortana is just a few words away. And you’ll be able to make full use of Continuum, with the automatic switch between touch and keyboard no doubt coming in very handy.
ASUS Zen AiO [No Longer Available]
While pricing and availability has yet to be announced on this beauty, it’s set to be one of the smartest looking (and likely most expensive) Windows 10 machines. Boasting i7 processors, masses of RAM, half a GB of SSD storage and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics card, the ASUS Zen AiO is packing serious punch. If you’re looking for a stunning system that you can multi-task and game on, this is one to check out.
One of the highlights here is the 3D camera, which is going to let you make use of Windows Hello. There’s no need for any external kit, it’s all built right into the front of the monitor. Sit in front of the screen and let your face do the logging in – not only for your Microsoft account, but for websites, too.
Toshiba Satellite S [No Longer Available]
Of note from Toshiba’s Satellite line is the S50-CBT2N01, which comes with Windows 10 and is expected to ship on July 30th. Toshiba made a point announcing that all their systems from now on will come with a dedicated Cortana key, but in reality it’s just a magnifying glass icon on one of the function keys. Whether it’s necessary is debatable though, since Cortana is a click away on the Taskbar.
This is a good, all-rounder laptop that offers a large 15.6″ screen and an ample 1TB of hard drive space. While not offering anything fancy like a touch screen or a swinging hinge, if you’re wanting a laptop that is durable and can provide power, the latest in the Toshiba Satellite line would make a solid choice.
Do You Need New Hardware?
We know that the new hardware is available, but the real question to ask is whether you actually need it. There’s no point in buying a new system for the sake of it. If you’re running up-to-date versions of Windows 7 or 8 at the moment, then chances are you’ll be able to run Windows 10.
In fact, there’s a very simple way to check. Click the Get Windows 10 app in your taskbar, then the hamburger icon and then select Check your PC. This way you can find out if you have the necessary system requirements for the upgrade. Alternatively, check Microsoft’s system requirements page.
Although you might be able to run Windows 10, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to take advantage of all the new features. If you don’t have a touch screen, you’ll have no need for Continuum; equally, if you don’t have a biometric camera, you can’t use Windows Hello.
If these particular features aren’t system sellers for you, perhaps it’s not necessary to buy new hardware. Remember, Windows 10 will be available free for a year for those using modern versions of Windows, so if you don’t need any new kit then the new operating system won’t cost you a cent.
Get Ready for 10
If 3D cameras and touch screens don’t bother you, it might still be worth hunting for a new machine when Windows 10 launches. Manufacturers might discount their older Windows 7 or 8 systems, meaning you can snag a perfectly decent device which could still be upgraded to the new OS if you desire.
But if you do want the full Windows 10 experience, chances are you’ll need to get spending, if only for the facial recognition technology. Or if you’re always on-the-go but can’t decide on a tablet or laptop, why not check out a 2-in-1 device and get the best of both worlds with enhancement from Continuum.
Will you be buying a new system for the launch of Windows 10? What device in particular takes your fancy?