Upgrading Tech: PC Workstations

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to purchase a PC / workstation for my office (I bought a pretty fast / powerful workstation many years ago and it’s still doing the job). But I’ve had to pick up some new tech for the studio over the past few years.

When we started to live-stream yoga classes, I needed to invest in some laptops. Realizing there was no need for a lot of permanent memory (these are are effectively single application Zoom streaming devices), I opted for devices with SSD memory: an I3 for the portable zoom cart, an I5 for the Studio A permanent streaming device (Zoom has some guidelines on device minimums). So far, so good on both accounts.

The laptops were inexpensive enough that I decided to invest in one for my own yoga room. Again, no significant need for on-board storage, so a device with an SSD promises to be faster (booting / memory access) and with the biggest potential failure point (the hard drive) eliminated. Amazing that memory tech has gotten so powerful and so inexpensive.

As we crawl our way out of the pandemic, the studio front desk POS workstations have become a bottleneck – two ancient tower PCs that have become slow, wonky, and more of a challenge for the new cast of staff and work-study, less patient or skilled at working with crappy tech.

Old (right) vs New (left)
The tower was actually the smaller and faster of the two front desk workstations.

Inspired by a mini-PC workstation in the back office (itself a few years old), I went to see what was out there – and what a pleasant surprise! I picked up two of these little dudes:

Mini PC with Windows 11 Pro (8GB DDR4/128GB M.2 SSD) Equip with Intel Celeron J4125 Up to 2.7GHz, Portable Desktop Small Computer, with Dual HDMI, Ethernet, Dual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 4K Support

Amazing how tiny these little guys are. The workstations have one purpose – run a web browser to access Mind Body, the web based client management service – no need for a lot of on-board memory or a hard drive. I had to hunt around a bit to find a device with SVGA output (the default is HDMI these days) but I wanted these to be plug compatible with the existing hardware without adapters. Max’d out the USB ports with a mouse, keyboard, bar code reader, and credit card swiper.

I went the extra mile and mounted the new devices on the side wall under the desk, keeping cables secured and nothing underfoot. The desk itself is custom-built, with screens mounted underneath a smoked glass cut-out.