Have you ever been shopping on Amazon, but found yourself too lazy to read the user reviews at the bottom of a product listing? Well, you’re in luck because Amazon has recently implemented a generative AI to its platform that will summarize reviews.
The company states the AI tool will offer short paragraphs “on the product detail page” highlighting key features as well as overall “customer sentiment”. Customers can quickly scan the short block of text to get an idea of whether a product is good or not instead of having to read dozens of reviews. Amazon states in its announcement you can direct the AI a bit by having it focus on specific “attributes.” Say you want a smart TV that’s easy to use. Users can select the “Ease of use” tab to have the summarizer specifically talk about that attribute or something else like its performance is while streaming content.
Work in progress
Unfortunately, the AI feature was unavailable to us as we were excluded from the rollout, but The Verge had access. In their report, The Verge claims it saw the tool show up on listings for “TVs, headphones, tablets, [plus] fitness trackers.” It isn’t very consistent either. They state the summarizer is available on the Galaxy Tab A7, but not the Galaxy Tab A8. Also, it appears Amazon’s AI heavily favors writing positive content, as it spends “less time on the negatives.”
We reached out to Amazon with several questions about the new tool, including if there will there be a desktop version and if the company plans on providing links directing users to the AI's source reviews. Google’s SGE tool does this for the generated content it produces. It’d be nice to see sources in the paragraph. However, Amazon has nothing more to share at the moment.
Analysis: Remaining skeptical
Amazon has been dabbling in AI for a while now. Back in May, Amazon listed a job listing for a “machine learning focus engineer,” revealing the company is looking for someone to help develop an “interactive conversational experience” for its search engine. We could see the Amazon search bar one day offer a ChatGPT-like experience where you talk with the AI when looking for a product.
It would be wrong of us not to add a little asterisk to all this AI talk. As you may know, generative AIs are known to “hallucinate”, which is to say, they sometimes provide inaccurate information. It’s gotten to the point some experts believe this problem will never be fixed. So read the summarizer’s text with several grains of salt. As it turns out, you just can’t beat good old-fashioned human opinion – like the kind TechRadar provides every single day.
Labor Day is coming up and that means savings. Be sure to check out TechRadar’s guide for Amazon’s Labor Sale for 2023. Price cuts for certain electronics are already live.
In this article, we’re going to look extensively at how the new operating system was received – and its teething troubles, naturally – and also at what else Microsoft was up to in 2021. That included the usual clutch of new Surface hardware, and admirably striding ahead on the accessibility and eco-friendly fronts, as we shall see. But first, let’s dive in and examine how Windows 11 has panned out…
Windows 11: The good, the bad, and the compatibility
The launch of Windows 11 as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users was the biggest development for Microsoft in 2021, without a doubt. The operating system that was never meant to be – remember that Microsoft said Windows 10 would be the final ever Windows version (not that we believed it) – was swirling around in preview for the latter half of 2021, before finally being unleashed and rolling out from October 5, billed as a “new era for the PC”.
In a nutshell, the compatibility problems for some PCs are easily enough solved by a BIOS tweak or update to turn on TPM 2.0 – the tech being present, just not enabled on some modern systems – but the whole affair left a bad taste in the mouth before Windows 11 was even out.
The fact that some relatively modern CPUs from just five years ago – namely Intel’s 7th-gen range (or later) – aren’t compatible was frustrating news for owners of those kind of PCs, again compounded by the revelation that Windows 11 can actually (unofficially) run on something as old as a Pentium 4 (Cedar Mill) CPU from 15 years ago.
That’s another oddity with Windows 11, that Microsoft made it so you can upgrade to the OS on non-TPM 2.0 compliant machines via various loopholes, but that this isn’t recommended, and really you shouldn’t do it, plus you might not get vital system updates in the future (even if you do now, at least anecdotally).
So, there were unfortunate slips and general vexation around Windows 11 compatibility before and after release, and these weren’t the only elements causing a degree of bewilderment around the operating system – we’ll come back to that later, but first, let’s look at the initial reaction to Windows 11.
Broadly, the atmosphere around Microsoft’s big redesign for its desktop OS was pretty positive. We felt it was a big step forward visually, and plenty of folks agreed. With the new streamlined desktop – and the likes of simpler File Explorer menus – everything is tidier and neater, and more modern-looking to boot (with those rounded corners for windows and menus, of course).
Okay, so there was flak fired at the new Start menu, which appears to have taken a leaf out of the Chrome OS playbook – not everyone likes its new centrally-aligned Launcher style vibe – and it’s a bit of a clunky fudge. There was also disappointment at there being no support for running Android apps on the desktop from the off (this is now in testing, though).
Also, scratching under the surface of the shiny new desktop, much remains the same, really, and as we pointed out in our full review of Windows 11, it’s really akin to a reskin of Windows 10. This is more like a good start of a redesign than a whole new operating system, but then we wouldn’t expect Microsoft to totally shift away from Windows 10 – in some ways, the OS which launched in 2015 hasn’t gone away, in actual fact. At least not yet.
Perhaps the thorniest issue of all for us regarding Windows 11 is that it appears to be following suit with Windows 10 when it comes to bugs. As you’re likely aware, Microsoft’s ham-fistedness around bugs is well-established with Windows 10, sadly, with repeated scenarios demonstrated where bug fixes fail or even cause other unintended problems.
Now, we realize that revamping an entire desktop operating system is a mammoth task fraught with all sorts of nuance and complexity, but breaking the core part of the interface in these kind of ways – at least for some users – doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in Microsoft’s implementation and troubleshooting skills.
As we’ve said before, Windows 11 does still feel like a work in progress a few months after launch, but at least in the main, the operating system appears to be moving in the right direction. As the end of 2021 rolls around, the pieces of the desktop OS feel like they’re coming together in a more cohesive and logical manner, so we’re optimistic for the future. Microsoft has also promised to concentrate on making Windows 11 faster in 2022 (we should think so, too, given that nuts-and-bolts interface performance on the desktop really shouldn’t be an issue with any compatible PC configuration).
It’s worth considering what Microsoft has done for PC gaming this year, and that’s principally wrapped up in Windows 11. The good news is that Windows 11 delivered some nifty gaming features, such as the built-in Xbox app with tighter integration in the OS, and the Auto HDR feature which gives non-HDR games a similar level of added pep with contrast and vibrancy. DirectStorage will also make a big difference to SSD loading speeds and general performance in the future, when games support it.
Crucially, gaming performance is on a par with Windows 10, and in some cases a touch better. The one cloud on the horizon is Virtualization-Based Security or VBS, which as the name suggests is a security feature that considerably strengthens your PC against malicious intruders, but it comes with a gaming performance hit.
Now, you don’t have to turn on VBS – and PC gamers likely won’t want to, even if the performance hit isn’t that big in some cases (it varies depending on the game, though it’s pretty hefty in some titles from testing we’ve seen) – but the trouble is that Microsoft is set to make it compulsory with certain OEM systems over the next year.
So, while this isn’t happening now, it could be that before too long, prebuilt PCs from the likes of HP or Dell come with VBS turned on, and less tech-savvy users won’t even know they’re getting lesser gaming performance with their rig. They will, however, be more secure, which is the flipside… but the crux really is how far this compulsory enablement will go, and whether it’ll come to gaming PCs. We’d hope not in the latter case, for sure, because Microsoft needs to be careful how it treads here.
Further notable gaming news came in December 2021 when Google revealed that it will bring titles from the Google Play Games store to Windows 10 and 11. Google will have its own Windows app to facilitate this experience, allowing mobile games to be played on Windows PCs with seamless continuity, so it’s possible to pick up where you left off on your phone when playing on the desktop. In other words, you could be enjoying Candy Crush on your PC come 2022 when this feature rolls out (though it’s still early days, and it isn’t clear which mobile games will be supported).
So, quit the nagging, Microsoft – and that goes for Windows 11, as well, which follows in the footsteps of Windows 10 with some unfortunate ads appearing in places like File Explorer (pushing other Microsoft services like OneDrive).
The usual Surface highs and lows
Plenty happened with Microsoft’s Surface range this year, including what we’d been awaiting for so, so long – a meaningful refresh of the flagship Surface Pro. The new Surface Pro 8, which was released on October 5 (alongside Windows 11), represented a breath of fresh air for the device, giving punters a great-looking, more modern design, much better performance levels than its predecessor, and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. Oh, and a bigger gorgeous screen with a 120Hz refresh rate.
Sadly, the display wasn’t the only thing to get bigger, and the fly in the ointment was the price tag becoming something of a towering affair, starting at $ 1,099 / £999 / AU$ 1,649 rather than $ 749 / £799 / AU$ 1,249 as seen with the Pro 7. Still, that doesn’t stop the Pro 8 from being an impressive step forward, albeit a much-needed one given how much the series was stagnating in recent iterations.
There were several other compelling Surface launches in 2021, including the Surface Laptop Studio, a truly innovative premium option for creatives – seemingly replacing the Surface Book – but not without flaws, most notably in lackluster performance levels, and an eye-watering price tag (again).
There was disappointment away from the high-cost hardware, with no sight of a Surface Laptop Go 2, and while we did get a new affordable Surface Go 3, it turned out to be underpowered, suffering in terms of battery life, and difficult to recommend in all honesty. All of these devices arrived later in the year, alongside the Surface Pro 8 – oh, and the Surface Duo 2 phone, which made a middling impression.
Finishing on a brighter note, Microsoft also unleashed the Surface Laptop 4 in April 2021. This scored highly in our review, and made a good case for itself thanks to a gorgeous display, stylish design, excellent keyboard, and a relatively affordable price tag for what you’re getting with this machine.
Those voice controls appear to be the result of drafting over much of the functionality of excellent speech recognition app Dragon – remember, Microsoft bought Nuance in April 2021 – and they’re very in-depth, allowing for control over all sorts of elements of the OS. This looks like the start of Microsoft turning voice controls into something big with Windows 11.
In October, Microsoft made a laudable pledge to ensure its devices are more easily repairable – and therefore better on the sustainability front – albeit following pressure from a non-profit shareholder advocacy group drumming up support on the environmental responsibility front. Microsoft had already been making its hardware easier to repair, as seen with the Surface Pro X in the past, and we can expect more progress along these lines in the future.
If we had to call it – and we do have to call it, that’s the point of this article – we’d give Microsoft a thumbs-up for this year. The software giant is doing a lot right, but there are still caveats and serious issues which represent multiple winged creatures stuck in the ointment.
Of course, some of those nasty bugs pertain directly to Windows 11, and really worrying flaws around core bits of the interface like File Explorer, along with problems with SSD sluggishness. All the confusion around Windows 11 upgrade compatibility really didn’t help, either (though to be fair, TPM does up the ante with security as Microsoft has shown us).
Microsoft still needs to address the issues the company continues to have in terms of quality assurance and bug squashing with its operating systems, and also quit with the nagging on the Edge front.
But on the whole, despite problems with bugs and glitches, Windows 11 made a positive impression on us, even though the OS still feels much like a work in progress. It’s definitely a more modern and better-looking piece of software, nicely streamlined in many ways compared to Windows 10, and Microsoft is slowly making good progress across a number of fronts here.
Hardware was a mixed bag, with some sterling Surface offerings coming out this year – the Surface Pro 8, Surface Laptop 4, and Surface Laptop Studio in particular – even if the company charged an arm and a leg for these admittedly premium devices. Wallet-friendly offerings disappointed, however, with the Surface Go 3 really missing the mark, and the Surface Laptop Go 2 failing to emerge.
Microsoft definitely gets some pats on the back for its progress with accessibility in 2021, and also being greener, as well as the firm apparently starting to listen to user feedback more (this was a big drive with Windows 10, which we felt was waning as Windows 11 went through testing – but Microsoft now seems to be correcting course again).
So, Microsoft is much like Windows 11, in that it’s moving in the right direction, but there’s still more work to be done.
TouchBistro Inc. is an all-in-one mobile Point of Sale (POS) and restaurant management system that helps to streamline the running of your restaurant.
It often comes up in conversations about the best POS systems for restaurants, thanks to its ease of use. Although, some online reviews suggest that it might not be quite as good as it appears at first glance.
In the rest of this TouchBistro review, we analyze every aspect of this company to help you determine if it’s a viable option for your next restaurant POS solution. We evaluate TouchBistro prices, main features, user interface and support, plus more, so you don’t have to.
TouchBistro POS plans and pricing
How much does TouchBistro cost? Good question! Expect to pay into triple figures each month to get the best from TouchBistro's restaurant management systems.
The TouchBistro website provides a small amount of pricing information, but there isn’t nearly as much transparency as we would have liked to see. According to the company’s website, POS licenses start from just $ 69 per month, which is comparable to the entry-level plans of most other companies.
Various menu management
24/7/365 customer service support
Unfortunately, though, there’s no readily available information about what higher-end plans are available or what they include.
There are various TouchBistro POS add-ons, shown below.
TouchBistro Inc POS pricing add-ons
From $ 50/month
From $ 229/month
Gift card support
From $ 25/month
From $ 99/month
From $ 69/month
Digital Menu Boards
From $ 20/month
Kitchen Display System
Hardware costs only
Customer Facing Display
Hardware costs only
On top of this, you can expect to pay some sort of card processing and/or transaction fees. However, these will vary according to your country/region, and the TouchBistro website provides no information about exactly what you will pay.
How does TouchBistro's POS system work?
TouchBistro POS software
Is TouchBistro POS cloud-based? Yes, partly. Although their software is hosted through an on-site server, the data in the POS application is stored in the cloud. Not only does this mean you can continue with customer sales without an internet connection, it also allows you to access company data from any browser.
The user interface itself is quite attractive and functional, if a little clunky. There are various add-on integrations available, including a kitchen display system, a self-ordering kiosk display, and a customer-facing display.
TouchBistro POS hardware
TouchBistro uses an iPad-based system that’s designed for ease of use and flexibility. Getting started is quite simple, and, in many cases, you'll be able to access professional technical assistance to ensure you’re up and running as soon as possible.
Small businesses will benefit from a streamlined single-iPad POS system, suitable when you have one terminal to take payments and manage orders. Medium-sized systems with up to five iPads can be used with a sixth iPad acting as the central terminal, for seated table transactions.
Larger systems can be custom-built with a more powerful computer as the central hub, allowing you to connect as many mobile devices as required.
TouchBistro POS features and services
Like most restaurant-specific POS systems, TouchBistro offers a range of features designed to help you maximize occupancy, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
✓ TouchBistro table management tool
One of our favorite features is TouchBistro’s table management tool. Sure, this isn’t unique by design, but it does let you create a unique floor plan that mirrors your restaurant to make order management easier everyday.
✓ TouchBistro Tableside ordering and payment
TouchBistro’s tableside ordering and payment tools stand out as excellent. Each feature provides staff with everything they need to maximize order value, ensure accurate order placement, and process payments fast and flexibly.
✓ TouchBistro analytics and reporting
There’s nothing worse than being forced to make important business decisions without knowing what you should be doing. TouchBistro POS systems assist you in making informed business decisions, by providing a range of powerful reports and in-depth analytics.
✓ TouchBistro's staff management and scheduling tools
Save time and simplify the scheduling process with TouchBistro's in-built tools. Easily create new rosters with the click of a button, track employee working hours and labor costs, and communicate directly with employees if there are any concerns.
✓ Inventory management
Calculate basic stock inventory at speed and monitor beverage costs with ease, thanks to TouchBistro's user-friendly inventory management feature.
With real-time performance feedback, order accuracy improvement and communication transparency between back of house and front of house staff, TouchBistro's KDS is one not to miss. Your team can minimise human errors and optimise every order without a blink: TouchBistro's POS will do the thinking for you!
TouchBistro POS support and customer care
TouchBistro provides a a great range of support services, including multinational phone support and email service through its online contact form. They also have local offices in the United States, Canada, the UK, and Mexico, which have their own local phone numbers and contact information.
So, wherever you are, help is easy to reach anytime. And we do literally mean anytime: you can contact TouchBistro 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
From the very start of your experience with TouchBistro you are supported. Their “one-box POS solution” is can be setup fast so you can start using your POS system straight away. If you prefer in-person help, they can also delegate an expert installation specialists to assist you remotely.
Their online self-help resources are plentiful too, and available through the Support & Training centre. There, you'll find various setup tutorials and user guides. There are even useful videos detailing specific actions.
However, online customer reports don’t paint a mixed picture of TouchBistro’s support and post-sales customer care. The company receives a commendable rating of 4.2/5 stars (from 308 reviews) on Capterra, but its customer service rating is slightly lower at 3.9/5.
A large proportion of reviews touch on poor customer care and support services, which is a major concern.
TouchBistro's POS competition
TouchBistro has the hospitality industry pretty well covered when it comes to point of sale systems. They cater for every business from the humble food truck to the fancy fine dining restaurant.
However, if you’re looking for a higher-rated restaurant POS service provider, we’d recommend checking out Upserve POS. Its software prices start from $ 59 per month, it uses a very flexible system, and its customer service is reported to be excellent.
Another great option is Square POS, which offers flexible POS services tailored to various industries. It doesn’t charge any monthly software fees, but you will be hit with 2.6% + 10c transaction fees.
All things considered, TouchBistro provides excellent restaurant POS solutions. Its customer service receives poor online ratings, but reports suggest that this is largely because its agents are slow and response times can be long.
At the end of the day, the company’s feature-rich software, competitive prices, and simple setup process more than outweigh these negatives. We’d recommend checking out TouchBistro if you’re looking for a powerful, customizable, data-driven POS program that’s designed specifically for restaurants.