All-In-One Desktop PCs
All-in-one desktop PCs strive to save desktop space by integrating normally separate components of a desktop computer system into a single, compact design. There are pros and cons to the all-in-one desktop PC approach. Find out if an all-in-one computer is right for you.
Should I Buy an All-In-One Computer?
In many all-in-one designs it's hard to tell exactly where the computer is. The motherboard, hard drive, and different ports may be concealed inside of a pedestal that looks like it simply supports a monitor. Slots in the side of the monitor accept optical discs in tray-less CD or DVD drives. USB and other external peripheral ports are cunningly (or inconveniently) tucked into the front (or back) of the pedestal/case.
A keyboard may plug into the pedestal/ case, or a radical all-in-one desktop design may substitute a touchscreen for a separate keyboard. Instead of a mouse, a keyboard may have a touchpad or tiny joystick embedded in it like most notebook computers. If keyboard and mouse are separate components, they are often wireless to eliminate cables.
So an all-in-one desktop can take up less than a square foot of desktop space and appear to be just a modest-sized flat-screen TV set. All-in-one designs are ideal for cramped quarters such as a college dorm room or kitchen-table home office.
Besides saving space, all-in-one desktop computers minimize cable tangles and conserve power outlets. Setting up an all-in-one system is simpler than setting up a traditional desktop model; typically, there's just one power cable to plug in and, maybe, a keyboard and mouse.
Apple's iMac is probably the best known all-in-one desktop computer on the market. The entry level iMac ($1199) sports 4GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive, 3.06 GHz processor and a 21.5-inch screen. Other popular Windows-based contenders in the all-in-one arena include:
- Dell Vostro All-in-One ($598) - 2GB memory, 320GB hard drive, 2.8GHz processor, 19-inch screen.
- Lenovo A300 All-in-One ($729) - 4GB memory, 500GB hard drive, 2.2 GHz processor, 21.5-inch screen.
- HP All-in-One 200 Quad ($979) - 6GB memory, 1000GB hard drive, 2.8 GHz quad-core processor, 21.5-inch HD monitor.
Drawbacks of All-In-One Desktop Systems
There are a few downsides to all-in-one desktop computers. First, they typically don't have much expansion space built into them; extra empty slots for add-on cards and hard drives are eliminated to get that compact form factor. Second, if a drive or other component needs to be serviced you may have to leave the whole unit in the shop for a few days. Third, the price of an all-in-one design is generally higher than a traditional design with the same features; just like laptop computers, miniaturization and convenience come at a premium price.
And speaking of laptops, one could say that all-in-one desktop computers look a lot like laptops on a stand, with a keyboard. And of course they're less portable than a laptop. So what's the benefit? First of all, the all-in-ones are not quite as compact as a laptop or notebook, so you tend a get a bit more power and speed for the money with a desktop all-in-one. And if you care about screen size, you can get a larger screen (up to 27 inch) on an all-in-one system.
If you need a lot of computing power for online games or heavy number-crunching, a traditional desktop PC system may be better than an all-in-one design. More powerful processors generate more heat, and the cramped quarters inside of all-in-one desktop PC cases limit them to less-powerful, cooler processors.
When shopping for an all-in-one desktop , there are a few things to keep in mind. If you plan to use a touchscreen model, look for the largest screen and highest resolution you can afford. Also look for at least four USB ports so you can add external devices (printer, camera, external hard drive, etc.) if you want them later. Ask about the serviceability of components: what can be removed and brought in for service, where the nearest service center is, and the usual turnaround time for repairs or replacement parts.
For home, student, and small business users who prefer a sleek design and smaller footprint over the highest level of performance, an all-in-one desktop may be just the ticket.
Do you have an all-in-one desktop system? Tell us about your experience, or post a comment below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 1 Dec 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- All-In-One Desktop PCs (Posted: 1 Dec 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved