The Venturer brand has been in South Africa for about 18 months now. The business is growing month on month as more people discover the wonderful benefits of our low-cost, high-quality 2-in-1 laptops and tablets. But who is Venturer SA and where did we come from?
Venturer is manufactured in China and the brand is owned by Alco International Ltd, with their head office in Hong Kong. They have been in the business of manufacturing consumer electronics for over 50 years. Going back 20-30 years they manufactured a lot of audio-visual equipment such as VHS video players and personal HiFi systems (for those of us who remember that technology!). As things have changed over the years, they have kept pace with the times and now they specialise in producing high-quality laptops and tablets.
The need for Venturer
Venturer's arrival in South Africa was borne from the need to find a Windows tablet/laptop, offering a decent specification, at an affordable price. As a Director for Inclusive Solutions, a company that specialises in disability and education technology, this was my goal when I discovered Venturer. Inclusive Solutions has been serving people with disabilities in South Africa for nearly 20 years, and one of our core strengths is providing people with computer access and communication.
As technology has improved we have been able to provide solutions for people with the most complex of disabilities, and one piece of technology that has helped tremendously with that is eye tracking. Really quickly (for those that aren't familiar), an eye tracker is connected to a tablet or laptop via USB and just by looking at the screen, a person is able to control a computer using only their eye movement. It's truly amazing technology that can unlock people's worlds.
However, eye trackers are expensive and going back 18 months, the tablets they needed were also expensive, such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (available at the time). Disability is expensive for many reasons, such as the costs of medical care a person often requires, and as a company, we are always looking for ways we can offer better value to our customers.
My first Venturer
Venturer became the solution that I had been looking for. Firstly, it was inexpensive - the price was very reasonable. Secondly, when I opened the box of my first Venturer I was so impressed with the quality of the product. This, I thought, could be perfect for our eye tracker clients. We can offer a low-cost alternative to the expensive Windows tablets that we are currently able to source and this will make the whole solution a lot more affordable for families, schools, hospitals and all our other client groups that use eye tracking technology.
That was the real starting point for Venturer in South Africa. But I felt this winning combination of low-cost and high-quality (let's face it, what so many of us seek in every purchase that we make), had relevancy in many other areas besides disability. A key focus for our company is technology for education, serving all students, not just those with a disability...and what a perfect device for education the Venturer range would turn out to be!
Making it happen
I quickly made contact with Alco International in Hong Kong and told them how impressed I was with their product, and that I felt it had huge scope to be successful in South Africa and would they be interested in Inclusive Solutions becoming distributors for them. They responded positively, I wrote them a proposal and a few days later, flew to Hong Kong to meet in person. I was blown away by the production facilities - the attention to detail, the obsessive quality checks, the spotlessly clean working environment and of course, the cutting-edge technology and robotics they use to put these devices together - it was and is, incredibly impressive.
Most importantly, the people at Alco were super cool - honest, open and very genuine. They immediately saw the value in Inclusive Solutions already serving the education sector, and they understood how the Venturer brand could bring low-cost computing to South Africa in a way that perhaps the bigger brands are not able or wanting to. We struck up a great rapport and our working relationship goes from strength to strength as we continue to build the Venturer brand in SA.
In addition to manufacturing Venturer products to an extremely high standard, Alco support us locally by providing spare parts, screen replacements, software firmware & drivers, technical support and access to new & exciting, innovative products that are coming through from their R&D teams in Hong Kong and China.
What is special about Venturer?
Aside from the value for money that I've already mentioned, the performance and the features that these devices offer are perfect for students of all ages. The 2-in-1 form factor offers great flexibility to have a fully functioning laptop, that can instantly transform to a tablet with a quick pull on the screen.
The real beauty (and unique feature) of these devices is the Magnalink™ connector - super-strong magnets hold the screen and keyboard firmly together, but when you want to detach the screen for using a touchscreen tablet there is no fiddling or faffing with buttons or locks - just pull up on the screen and hey presto!..now it's a tablet. Docking the screen back on the keyboard is just as simple. Line up the tablet over the connector and the pull from the magnets snaps the screen and the keyboard back together. It's very simple, incredibly useful and strangely satisfying!
Another feature to enjoy on these devices is having all the ports on one side, down the left side of the screen, conveniently and easily accessible. Also (unlike some 2-in-1 devices you might find) all the ports are on the tablet and not on the keyboard, so whether the keyboard is attached or not, you still have access to all the ports you need.
Talking of ports, this is what you get on all our devices:
USB 3.0 port (USB 2.0 on Android devices)
3.5mm headphone jack
MicroSD card slot (expandable up to 64GB on Windows models and 128GB on Android models)
Mini-HDMI port (for outputting the screen to a TV or monitor)
Micro USB port (for charging only)
The full USB port is quite unusual on our Android units, because normally Android tablets come with just a micro USB port, and then if you want to connect a USB flash drive, mouse or other peripheral you can't, unless you have an adapter cable (known as an OTG cable). So the full USB port is a really nice feature on our Saturn 10 Pro and Neptune 10L models.
To be able to output the screen to an HD TV or monitor via HDMI is very nice, if you want to put a Netflix show on the big screen for example. And having multiple ways of expanding the on-board storage, such as using a microSD card or a USB flash drive, is also extremely useful. Connect your favourite headphones via the 3.5mm jack or using the built-in Bluetooth, you can connect a wireless headset instead.
If you're away from home and don't have your AC adapter with you, it's convenient to know you can recharge your Venturer device using the micro USB port, and as the micro USB cable is the most readily available in the world, it helps when needing some extra juice wherever you may be.
One of the lesser known features is that our Android units also have GPS built-in. So you can download Google maps and have a fully functional Sat Nav in your car - with a 10.1" display, running offline and charging off the car via micro USB.
So in summary, there's lots that's special and unique with the Venturer range of laptops and tablets. We're incredibly excited to be able to represent this brand in South Africa and feel they are ideal in many educational environments. If you have a child in school, please consider Venturer as a cost effective solution for their computing needs.
Our pledge to you
We are committed to providing the best solutions to support education in South Africa. We've been doing this for almost 20 years, and we've helped provide access to education for people with the most complex challenges - often for people that it would never be thought possible.
With the Venturer range of laptops and tablets we take this a step further, bringing high-quality computing to everyone, at an affordable price. So to all students...no matter their age, or their abilities or their circumstances - choose Venturer and Pursue Your Future!