Category Archives: Hardware Reviews

We are constantly getting a wide variety of hardware and software to test and exercise under a range of conditions. As you might expect, some work better than others, some play nicely with others (or not), and a few are genuinely pleasant surprises. Here you’ll find a collection of reviews on a range of products. We’ll be updating this section frequently as we run across new stuff, so come back soon and often!

Panasonic FZ-55 Semi-Rugged PC

OK, then. I got a half-hour+ with a Panasonic team yesterday via Zoom. This group of folks included a couple of engineers, a couple of marketing folks (including the US product manager), and the PR person who put things together for me. The focus of our call:  the Panasonic FZ-55 Semi-Rugged PC shipped out for eval just before Christmas. It was a great call: I learned a lot.

Understanding the Panasonic FZ-55 Semi-Rugged PC

The best info nugget in the call: learning the FZ-55 Toughbook is a “semi-rugged” device. I also learned that the category of “ruggedized PCs” includes a “fully rugged” type as well. I snapped the default desktop background from the FZ-55 for the lead-in graphic: it’s pretty cool.

Semi-rugged PCs use cases invovle “somewhat harsh” conditions. But they’re not completely watertight or dust-proof. That’s what distinguishes them from fully ruggedized PCs (which indeed are water- and dust-proof). That said, as a  semi-rugged PC, the FZ-55 targets  use in field structures (including tents, vehicles, and so on). It’s also great for factory-floor conditions where there’s no airborne water (e.g. rain). Here’s a link to the US specsheet for the FZ-55.

Such PCs can handle wide temperature ranges (at least -25C/-13C to at least 50C/122F). They’re also built to withstand ambient dust and grit (with port doors closed), moderate vibration and shock, short-lived spills or moisture, and more. As one of the Panasonic techs explained “The FZ-55 is intended for use away from the weather, but works well in vehicles, tents, or other temporary strucures.” That’s because it’s semi-rugged: got it!

What About Fully Rugged (Toughbook 40)?

The Toughbook 40 is the FZ-55’s fully rugged counterpart. As you can see in the next image, it’s completely sealed up to make it water- and dust-proof.

Panasonic FZ-55 Semi-Rugged PC.tb40

The Toughbook 40 is fully ruggedized: that makes it bulkier but completely dust- and waterproof.

It’s got the same modular design, with user-removable expansion packs that include various port combinations, storage and memory add-ons, oodles of wireless options, and more. Surprisingly, it costs only around 25% more for similar equipment as compared to the semi-rugged FZ-55.  Peripherals and expansion modules are about 50-60% higher, on average. That said, the Toughbook 40 is an 11th-gen Intel platform not a 13th-gen platform. Thus, it lags somewhat behind the FZ-55 but with good reason, as I explain next.

A Tale of Two Lifecycles

Simply put, the FZ-55 is on a faster lifecycle than the Toughbook 40. In part that’s because fully-ruggedized PCs have a longer design and test cycle. It’ also because fully-ruggedized PCs have to be bigger and bulkier, to seal everything up. They require more expensive and demanding parts, with various related supply chain complications. In large additional part, however, it’s also because fully rugged devices aim more squarely at defense and emergency use (think FEMA, after a hurricane or firestorm). These agencies have hairy, complicated acquisition and purchase models and mechanisms, and don’t like things to change more often than absolutely necessary.

The upshot of all this is that semi-rugged devices run on a 3-5 year lifecycle for enclosures and platforms, with an 18-24 month lifecycle for the innards involved. That explains the FZ-55-3 model number, which indicates this platform (FZ-55) is on its third set of innards (3). On the other hand, the rugged PCs run on a 5-8 year lifecycle for enclosures and platforms, with a 36-48 month lifecycle for those innards. That explains nicely why an 11th-gen intel CPU remains a “current model” (this CPU family made its debut in early 2021, and is still inside the current window for both enclosure and innards).

That’s how things go in Windows-World, where semi-rugged PCs chug along on a faster timetable than fully rugged ones. Cheers!


Incase Takes Over MS Branded Keyboards

Last year, MS announced it would stop making its company-branded mice and keyboards. As somebody’s who’s been using MS keyboards since Homer was a pup, I was naturally concerned. But those concerns were allayed last week. That’s when peripheral maker Incase announced it would sell those products as “Incase designed by Microsoft” items. Indeed, Incase takes over MS branded keyboards as part of that deal. As you can see in the lead-in screencap, that includes my beloved Natural Ergonomic 4000 (top center).

When Incase Takes Over MS Branded Keyboards, Then?

The announcement isn’t completely clear about exactly when this cutover will occur. When MS announced they’d  exit this segment of the hardware business (they’re sticking purely to Surface branded hardware going forward), they simply said they’d sell out of existing stock. Methinks Incase will need to ramp up and get going before the new incarnations of the old MS-branded items will reappear for sale.

Currently, my fave model under the old brand goes for about US$400 on Amazon. The last time I bought a pair was in 2020, and I paid US$108 for 2 of them from Newegg. I still have one unopened in the original box, but the one I’m typing on right now is about ready to be retired. It still works like a champ, but the keycaps for A, S, D, C, V and M are worn to invisibility, and many of the other right- and left-hand main keys are spotty at best. And I’ve spilled at least three coffees on this puppy over the past 3-4 years…

Hopefully, Incase Restores Rational Pricing

Most other vendors are selling ergonomic keyboards in the US$35 to $70 range (I just checked at Newegg). I’m hoping that means when Incase turns the tap back on they’ll fall somewhere in that range. If and when that happens, I’ll order another pair of keyboards. When I need a new one, I always order two, so I’ll have a spare in case something goes wrong with the one I put in service first. Fingers crossed.

At any rate, I’m grateful Incase took over these venerable mice and keyboards from MS. Hopefully, I’ll keep clacking away at the same layout until I decide to hang things up for my own retirement. Even then, I’m sure I’ll keep at least one around for old time’s sake.


Panasonic Utility Takes Roundabout Path

Heh! I have to chuckle about this one… In learning the ins and outs of the new Panasonic Toughbook FZ-55 I have in hand right now. I’ve been following instructions from the manual and, via e-mail, from the PR team. It’s been interesting. All of these sources have asked or advised me to “run the PC Information Viewer.” Good enough, but more interesting than it needs to be from a find & launch perspective. Indeed, this Panasonic utility takes roundabout path to get to the desktop. Let me explain…

Why I Say: Panasonic Utility Takes Roundabout Path

To begin, the tool is named PC Information Viewer. First, off I looked in the Start menu under “PC” and “Panasonic” (just in case, given its origins). Nada. Nothing under “All apps” matches this value.

Then the very nice and helpful PR person asked me to send output from aforementioned PC Information Viewer so the tech folks could look it over. Still couldn’t find it. But it did finally turn up. Inside the Panasonic PC Settings Utility, there’s a Support tab up top. When you click that tab, lo and behold! As you can see in the next screencap, a “Launch PC Information Viewer” button appears at bottom center. Notice also it’s deliberately low-res with big print and extremely easy to read (good design move, developers!)

Panasonic Utility Takes Roundabout Path.panpcsettings

THERE’s the right launch button!

And sure enough, when you click the button the PC Information Viewer utility opens right up, to wit:

Panasonic Utility Takes Roundabout Path.SetDiag.exe

And finally, here’s the PC Information Viewer application: SetDiag.exe.

By right-clicking its taskbar entry while running I was able to pop up the Properties window, where I learned the name of this program is SetDiag.exe. If only I’d been able to find that somewhere in the docs, I’d have been able to get there eventually using the run box. As it turned out I had to use the voidtools Everything search tool  to see its home folder:  C:\Program Files (x86)\Panasonic\pcinfo. That’s apparently not inserted into the PATH variable, either.

Sigh. Just sigh. But with a little perseverance I got it sorted… That’s the essence of thriving in Windows World: taking the directions as stated, and figuring out how to make them do something useful.


Speccy ToughBook BSOD Analysis

Here’s an interesting situation: after installing Piriform’s Speccy hardware inspection tool on the new loaner Panasonic Toughbook FZ55-3, it crashes every time I run the program. Indeed, you can see the corresponding BSOD screen in the lead-in graphic. The stop code is SECURE_PCI_CONFIG_SPACE_ACCESS_VIOLATION. The culprit: the cpuz149_x64.sys driver. After some online research, my Speccy ToughBook BSOD analysis tells me that this driver is attempting PCI data access that Windows 11 disallows.

To be more specific I found an Open Systems Resources (OSR) community discussion that lays out exactly what’s going on. The datails are nicely covered in an MS Learn item. It’s named Accessing PCI Device Configuration Space, dated 3/13/2023. Essentially it  constrains developers to use the BUS_INTERFACE_STANDARD bus interface, and specific read-config and write-config IO request packets to interact with said bus. Based on its BSOD error, the cpuz149_x64.sys driver apparently fails on one or more of those counts. That made me wonder: is there a workaround?

Speccy ToughBook BSOD Analysis Says: Don’t Use That Driver!

For grins, I found the offending item in my user account’s …\AppData\Local\Temp folder hierarchy. I renamed it with a sy1 extension. Then I tried Speccy again: it still crashed. Drat! The program is “smart” enough to see the file is missing and supplies a new one. Now that folder shows the old renamed .sy1 file and a .sys replacement (with today’s data and a recent timestamp).

Speccy ToughBook BSOD Analysis.file-returns

When I rename to deny access to the current instance, Speccy supplies a new one.

That can’t work. Inevitably, the program promptly throws another BSOD. According to the Speccy forum, this happens with Memory Integrity enabled (as it is on the TB, and I want to keep it that way). This is what causes the BSOD. What to do?

If You Can’t Fight, Switch!

Fortunately, there are plenty of other freeware hardware profile and monitoring tools available. I happen to like HWiNFO64 myself. So I’ve removed Speccy and am using it instead. It is well behaved in its PCI bus access behavior and causes no BSODs.

Frankly, I’m surprised Piriform knows about this issue and hasn’t switched to a different driver (apparently, it comes from Franck Delattre over at CPU-Z, judging from its name). But boy howdy, is that ever the way things go sometimes, here on the wild frontier in Windows-World. Yee-haw!


Unboxing Toughbook Then Updating Same

I just got the kind of Christmas present that delights me. Even though I won’t get to keep it, I’m having a total gas unboxing, updating and setting up the Toughbook 55 PC that Panasonic sent Friday week. It’s a “ruggedized PC” designed for field use in hazardous duty situations (military, first responders, hostile environments, and so forth). In some surprising ways, tho, unboxing Toughbook then updating same has posed some interesting challenges and roadblocks. But it’s been fun!

And I totally lucked into this situation. At the end of November, my TechTarget story “The 6 best rugged computers for business use cases” went live. Shortly after, Panasonic contacted me to share more information about their latest Toughbook model. My response: if you can, please send me one to review. It took a while, but now I’ve got one in my hot little hands. Read on for more info, in what I plan as a series of descriptions and discussions. This one covers unboxing and initial setup and impressions. Others will go into more detail.

FZ55-3 Toughbook Specs

Here’s what came with the particular model FZ55-3 I received:

  • i7-1370P (14 Cores, 20 logical processors)
  • 32 GB DDR4-3200 Samsung M471A2G43CB2-CWE
  • Integrated Iris Xe Graphics Raptor Lake-P/U  GT2
  • 512 GB NVMe SSD Kioxia KBGBAZNV512G
    (PCIe 4.0, 1.4x OPAL)
  • 14″ InfoVision Display 1920×1080 (Full HD)
  • 1 or 2 GbE Ethernet adapters (I219-LM)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ax (Intel AX211)
  • USB 3.2 (USB-C) & 3.1 (USB Type A) ports
  • Multiple Serial ports (Com 1, 3, 4 & 6)
  • LG-BU40N Blu ray player/burner
  • Plug-ins for (1) fingerprint reader, (2) smart card reader, (3) 2 serial ports (D-9 & D-15) + PS/2 Keyboard port

As you’d expect from a MIL-STD-810H compliant device, it’s tough, all buttoned up and ready for some harsh, demanding action.

Gotchas While Unboxing Toughbook, Then Updating Same

I did run into a series of little gotchas while bringing up the Toughbook (TB), then applying WU updates, and adding some some software to put it through its paces. Here’s the current list:

1. The TB wouldn’t connect to my Asus WAP right next store to my desk on a butcher’s rack. It would, however, happily connect to the Spectrum Arris box in the master closet (25′ away).

2. As an experiment, I elected to synch my local apps, settings and so forth with those on another PC (P16 Mobile workstation) during OOBE. This quit at some point with a generic and unhelpful “Something went wrong” error message. That said, this functionality returned on a later reboot and completed successfully. Go figure!

3. Updating and downloading took longer than I’m used to (possibly because of the more distant Arris Wi-Fi connection). I eventually switched over to wired Ethernet (GbE). It still took longer to download and update stuff than I expected it to: stiffer security built-in perhaps? That would make sense for certain kinds of “digital hostility” that this unit is built to withstand. A subsequent check (LAN file transfer for an iso Win11 image) showed it could well be the NVMe SSD that’s the bottleneck. More testing will resolve this.

4. Among my various usual post-install/acquisition software items, I installed Piriform Speccy. It immediately crashed the TB as soon as it ran. Sigh. BSOD with an out-of-bounds memory error. I’ve seen this on other PCs before, it’s from unauthorized access to the PCI bus. I’m using HWinfo instead (it works fine).

Seems pretty normal for bringing up a new PC in general, especially one that’s been deliberately hardened.

First Impressions

NVMe access speeds aside, this is a fast, capable laptop. I like the display (it’s bright and easy to read). The keyboard is immediately usable with tangible key travel and good key placement. It switches between Wi-Fi and GbE with ease and aplomb. Switching from a 14″ built-in display to a remote 27″ monitor means I have to pay attention to where I leave apps I close (or leave open) — otherwise, they show up off-screen on the smaller built-in display.

A unit configured like mine costs somewhere between US$3,600 and $4,000, as far as I can tell (from online shopping comparisons). This is the kind of system that costs more, but is designed to withstand grueling and rigorous situations and uses well outside the range of usual home or office environments. So far, color me impressed…

Stay tuned! I’ll be writing more about this unit over the next month. I’m especially impressed with the TB’s swappable modules and keen attention to protecting itself from schmutz and dust. I’ll explain more later — I promise!



P1 Mobile Workstation Uptake & Intake

OK then: the day before we left on vacation, the Boss looked out the door and asked me: “Are you expecting something?” I hadn’t been exactly, but Jeff Witt from Lenovo had indeed promised to ship me another business laptop. So here ’tis: a ThinkPad P1 Gen 6. Its Lenovo Commercial Vantage info serves as the lead-in graphic. I’ll now share some details from the P1 Mobile Workstation uptake & intake here at Chez Tittel.

More About P1 Mobile Workstation Uptake & Intake

When you fire a review unit up from Lenovo, it goes automatically into a predefined account. So usually, the first thing I do is to check for OS and Vantage updates. Next, I add my MSA as a second, password-protected admin account. Then, I set up Remote Access. That lets me use my dual-monitor production desktop PC for some serious rooting around.

I find myself occasionally re-learning how to set up Remote Access on the LAN. To begin, enable Remote Desktop. I also have to make sure the LAN is designated a private network. Next — at least temporarily — Discovery for Public Networks and All Networks gets turned on. Otherwise, the first remote desktop connection attempt just doesn’t work. Go figure!

Other Set-up and Configuration Tasks

It always comes as a shock to me on a new install that I have to download and install the latest PowerShell version (7.3.6 as I write this). Then I have to change the default profile to that version in PowerShell Settings/Startup. Finally, leading-edge PS comes up instead of the built-in version (5.1.22621.1778). No thanks!

Next, I install Winfetch, OhMyPosh, import nerd fonts, edit my OMP profile and get PowerShell where I want it to be. The new approach to ZIP files in Windows 11 hides their true nature, so I also had to remember to unblock the ZIP file, extract its contents, and then copy the nerd font files into C:\Windows\Fonts. Sigh: it’s always the little things… That will get corrected in the next phase (see below) when I actually install 7Zip and let its default behaviors take over…

After that, I download PatchMyPC Home Updater to grab all the apps and tools I like to have installed on my PCs. That list of 12 items appears in this next screencap, following installation (takes about 3 minutes altogether, much faster than I could do on a one-off basis). Notice it comes from SUMo (Software Update Monitor) and shows 18 items (OneDrive, Edge, GeForce, and X-Rite came pre-installed; CrystalDiskInfo and CrystalDiskMark get counted for 32- and 64-bit versions separately: go figure!)

P1 Mobile Workstation Uptake & Intake.sumo

4 items pre-installed, and CrystalDisk stuff counts double, for 12 actual items added.

Initial Observations

This is my first exposure to Gen13 (Alder Lake) Intel CPUs. This CPU is a smoker with 14 physical cores, of which 10 run dual threads (i7-13800H). The 2800MHz DDR5 RAM (32 GB, single module) ain’t bad, either. I’m not familiar with Raptor Lake-P/PX Integrated graphics (Raptor Lake-P GT2) but it seems pretty snappy as well. This laptop even comes equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce RTC 4060 GPU which is likewise robust when run locally. The KXG8AZNV1T02 LA KIOXIA 1TB PCIe x4 NVMe SSD speeds along quite handily, too. All in all, it specs out — and acts — like a pretty formidable laptop.

I’m going to have to spend more time with this system but I’ve liked everything it’s shown me about itself so far. As equipped, this unit lists for around US$2,750 on the Lenovo website. All I can say for now is: So far, so good — I like it! Stay tuned, I’ll report back with more info later this week.


Failing Backup Signals Regime Change

OK, I think that’ll do it for my current production PC. I noticed this morning what when my scheduled backup started,  it failed almost immediately thereafter. Further investigation into the Macrium Reflect logs shows me it has failed since last Friday. That’s because on the weekends I’m not usually at my desk at 9AM when the scheduled job runs. Upon further investigation, the N: drive where I target my backups had gone missing (it came back after a  restart, though). Nevertheless, this tells me it’s time to start acquiring parts to build a replacement PC. That’s why I aver that a failing backup signals regime change. My 2016 vintage i7 Skylake needs to go.

Why Failing Backup Signals Regime Change

It’s just not right that a drive attached to one of the SATA ports on my Asrock Z170 motherboard should drop off the map over the weekend. And now, dear readers, you know why I schedule my backups to occur while I’m working at the PC: it’s the best way to get timely notification that “something aint’ right.” That’s what happened this morning, and that’s what tells me:

  • I’ll need to keep a close eye on this daily until I transition to a new PC, to make sure scheduled backups run to completion
  • It really, really is time for me to transition over to a new primary production PC

For sure, 7 years isn’t a bad lifetime for a heavily used, major storage PC. Indeed, I’ve got a nominal 17.1 GiB, or approximately 15GB of storage on this beast. Of that total, about 40% (6GB) is occupied, so I’ll throw a couple of new 8 GB SATA drives into my new BOM for the build, along with 2 2TB NVMe PCI-e x4 or x5 SSDs.

It’s Now Official: I’m Transitioning

I’ll wait until August 1 or thereabouts to start pulling parts together for the new build. I’ve already got an Nvidia 3070 Ti GPU and a Seasonic Focus PX-750 PSU I can use. I’ll need a new case, a CPU, 64 GB RAM, the aforementioned SSDs and HDDs, and a motherboard. That will give me something to think about — and report on here in my blog — as the month winds down.

I think I’ll call my old buddy Tom Soderstrom, who still reviews motherboards and CPUs for Tom’s Hardware, to ask for his recommendation on a new build. I need to decide on AMD vs. Intel, after which the rest will follow pretty naturally. Stay tuned: I’ll keep you posted.


SFF Upgrade Opportunities Maximize Value

Last October, I wrote a review of a tiny and terrific SFF PC entitled “P360 Ultra Is Beautiful Inside.” This morning, I’ve been thinking about that review while reading about best of breed small form-factor (SFF) PCs across a broad range of vendors. My conclusion: SFF upgrade opportunities maximize value in a chassis that’s easy to open, access and upgrade. Let me explain…

Buy Low-end So SFF Upgrade Opportunities Maximize Value

In the P360 Ultra, for those who aren’t disinclined to swap out parts, I suggest purchasing a model with the highest-end CPU one can afford (the CPU is not listed as a field-replaceable unit, or FRU — see Manual). Then, one can hold the initial cost down by purchasing minimal memory and storage, and swapping out components purchased separately.

Thus, for example, a minimally configured unit with i7-12700K CPU costs ~US$1,500, while one with an i9-12900 goes for US$1,675. This comes with built-in GPU, 8 GB RAM, and a 512 GB PCIe X4 SSD. Generally, you can purchase additional memory and storage for less than half what the vendor charges (e.g. Amazon sells compatible 2 x 32 GB memory modules for US$260-280, where Lenovo charges US$700). Similarly, you can purchase an excellent 2 TB top-of-the line SSD from Newegg for about US$229, where Lenovo charges US$30 more for a “high-performance” 1 TB SSD.

Things Get Dicier with Graphics Cards

The P360 Ultra uses a special, compact interface to host graphics cards such as the Nvidia T400 4 GB GDDR6, the Nvidia RTX A2000 12 GB GDDR6, and Nvidia RTX A5000 mobile 16GB GDDR6. You can buy the first two of these three on the open market (I can’t find the mobile version of the third for sale anywhere). Lenovo sells the T400 more cheaply than I can find it online, and you may be able to save a little on the A2000 on the open market.

All this said, buying down and self-upgrading remains a good way to buy into an SFF machine. You can decide how much oomph you want to add vs. how much you want to spend, and save vis-a-vis preinstalled prices. Think about it for upcoming desktop/workstation purchases, please.


Thunderbolt Docks Add Helpful Future-Proofing

I’m thinking about what kinds of hardware experiments I’ve conducted over the past couple of years. Especially this year (2022). Along the way, I’ve learned that Thunderbolt docks add helpful future-proofing for home and office users. Let me explain…

How Thunderbolt Docks Add Helpful Future-Proofing

Right now, Lenovo offers what can only be called a “Best Buy” in the arena of Thunderbolt 4 docks. Or maybe a couple of them, as I’ll recount shortly. Called the Universal TB4 Dock, it currently retails for just under US$290. This is about US$110 cheaper than its nearest competitors (e.g. Belkin and CalDigit, among others).

On December 8, I also wrote here about the Lenovo P27-u20 monitor, which includes a built-in TB4 dock. At US$527, with a 4K monitor included in the mix, it too, qualifies as a “Best Buy” IMO.

There is one thing, though: to make proper use of TB4, you also need TB4 peripherals. They will be no more than two years old (TB4 made its debut in H2’2020). There’s a lot of expense involved in climbing this technology bump. But if you’ve got newer peripherals, a TB4 dock is a great way to mate them up to PCs and laptops back to 8th Gen Intel (and equivalent AMD) CPUs. I’ve done that, and it works great.

Try TB3 for a Lower-Budget Approach

For readers who want to extend the life of a Windows 11 capable PC or laptop, it may make sense to invest in Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) instead. Such docks cost as little as US$40 (e.g. Dell refurb), and are readily available new for around or just under US$100. If you’ve already bought into USB-C (3.1 or 3.2 capability) or TB3 peripherals, this is a less expensive way to dock up. Worth researching anyway: I see lots of attractive options at Amazon and other online outlets.

Thanks, Lenovo!

While I’ve got your eye, I’d like to thank the laptop and peripherals teams at Lenovo for their outstanding support. They’ve sent me half-a-dozen different laptops (and one great SFF workstation), multiple docks and the aforementioned monitor this year to review.

It’s been incredibly educational and lots of fun to put different TB4 scenarios together. This lets me understand and measure how they work, and how to make them work best. A special shout-out to Jeff Witt and Amanda Heater for their great help and quick assistance this year (and beforehand). Happy holidays to one and all.


Thunderbolt Monitor Makes Life Easy

OK, then. Lenovo sent me a terrific Thunderbolt 4 4K ThinkVision P27-u20 monitor. It actually showed up the day before Thanksgiving. It’s been sitting on my office floor since then, waiting patiently for me to get around to it. I’m working with the company to get a better sense of how Thunderbolt 4 works in an office environment. And indeed, now I can say from experience that a Thunderbolt monitor makes life easy for properly-equipped PCs and laptops.

Extremely narrow side and top bezels make for a compelling and nicely stackable monitor. [Click image for full-size view.]

Why Thunderbolt Monitor Makes Life Easy

Simple: plug it it, turn it on, set the device for dual displays and extend the desktop on a laptop. You can see how this looks in the Thunderbolt Control Center on the X12 Hybrid Tablet in the top graphic.

On the P360 Ultra, it fired up on its own when plugged into the front Thunderbolt 4 port. Colors are crisp, and the monitor appears to work as fast using TB4 as it does under either HDMI or DisplayPort. Better yet, the Thunderbolt-accessible ports on the monitor include TB4 in/out, 2xHDMI 2.0, DP 1.2, GbE (RJ-45), an audio mini-jack, and 2xUSB3.1 (1 USB-Type B, and USB-C is TB4 capable). It’s also got integrated speakers (3W each, so not really major, but adequate). It runs a 60Hz refresh rate with a response time of 4 -6 ms so it’s not really a gaming monitor by any stretch. That said, it’s nice for productivity and static creation work.

Resolution is nominal 4K (3840 x 2160), and it supports DCI-PC3 and Adobe RGB. It’s also DisplayHDR 400 certified (that means 10-bit color). See the product page for complete tech specs.

Built-in TB4 Hub Makes For a Killer Price

Yes, that’s right: the monitor includes an entirely capable, built-in Thunderbolt 4 hub as part of its equipage. Very cool, for a device with an MSRP of under US$550. Indeed, even the cheapest TB4 hubs, similarly equipped, cost over US$300 nowadays. It also includes a DP cable, a TB 4 cable, and a USB TypeB2A cable to hook an external USB 3.1 device up to its Type B port. Note: I just happened to hook the monitor up through a Lenovo TB4 Dock because I have one, but it will act as a dock by itself. That’s why two devices (dock and monitor) show up in the Thunderbolt Control Center up top.

To me, this functionality makes the price of the monitor easy to justify given that it comes ready to support Thunderbolt 4 based audio, video, networking and peripherals right out of the box. If you need another monitor and you can also benefit from TB4 connectivity and access, this could be too good to pass up.

Upon first exposure and short-term use, I’m wowed. I’ll follow up with more details after I’ve had a chance to spend some time with this puppy.

Notes Added December 7

A few more noteworthy things have occurred to me as I ponder this new peripheral and its inner workings. The USB C port delivers up to 100 W of power, so it should be able to handle most laptops without a separate AC connection for juice. The on-screen menus do take some fooling with to figure out. It is kind of heavy (28 lbs/12.7 Kg) but easy to assemble, move around and adjust. Here’s an interesting technical review from PC Magazine for your consideration, too.