The most futuristic car ever, for me, was the Citroën DS, launched the same year as me, 1955. I have never driven one, but when I see a classic for sale, I still get the hunger – this in spite of my father being warned once by a French friend to buy two, so there would always be one to drive while the other was up on bricks in the workshop.
Citroën’s reputation for reliability is somewhat different today, and its cars are still beautiful and innovative, like so much French technology. That said, French companies do have a habit of releasing exciting products before they are quite market-ready. So it is with this revolutionary virtual PC, Shadow, by Paris startup Blade.
Shadow is a top-specification Windows 10 PC in the cloud. The sleek (but cheaply finished and quite noisy) box is a portal to this remote computer. I wired my sample into my 24in Lenovo 4k screen and plugged in a keyboard and a mouse. But if you are working on a MacBook, mobile phone or tablet you don’t even need the box. There are Shadow apps for Windows, Apple and Android products, meaning that all you need to maximise your PC’s performance is a decent internet connection. The virtual PC you subscribe to with Shadow is well-endowed enough to play serious games as well as that boring-but-vital B2B software your work requires, but won’t run on your MacBook or iPad. And as Blade constantly upgrades your cloud computer at its end, the Shadow will never become obsolete.
There are minuses, all of which Blade says will be dealt with via upgrades. Your Shadow currently has only 256Gb of storage. It will be increased, says Blade. The box doesn’t have WiFi, so has to be wired into a router. Irritating. Most annoyingly, as a non-gamer, my main reason for buying into Shadow, beyond being able to run a desktop PC alongside my Mac, would be to run a VR headset like Oculus Rift, which needs a gaming-level computer I don’t have. Shadow won’t yet run VR, Blade says – but will soon. As a certified geek, I’m happy enough to buy into a technology that’s almost there. But Shadow is not – yet – for everyone.