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.
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.
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.
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.
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