All-in-one PCs a smart idea for business? I don't think so

Summary:Dell has announced its Vostro all-in-one PC, the company's first all-in-one "designed exclusively for small business." According to a Dell poll of small businesses, "cramped spaces and overcrowded desks are a headache for business owners." So why not get a laptop?

Dell on Thursday announced its Vostro all-in-one PC, the company's first all-in-one "designed exclusively for small business."

According to a Dell online poll of small businesses in the U.S., U.K., China, India, France, Germany and Spain, "cramped spaces and overcrowded desks are a headache for business owners."

Dell notes in the press release:

"Small businesses around the world are constantly looking to do more with less, and IDC predicts that by 2013 small form factor, all-in-one and ultra-small form factor desktops will make up nearly 38 percent of the overall desktop market,¹" said Richard Shim, research manager for IDC's Personal Computing program. "Solutions that help organizations migrate to space-saving desktops are well positioned to benefit from this trend."

The answer is the Vostro all in one PC, which "minimizes the amount of space the computer takes up on the desk to provide business buyers with a powerful, stylish and affordable desktop computer," according to Dell, adding that an all-in-one PC offers full desktop processing power.

[ZDNet Image Gallery: Dell Vostro all-in-one PC for small business]

Initial specs for the system are as follows:

  • 17-in. display
  • Supports up to 2GB RAM
  • Supports up to 250GB HDD
  • Wireless mouse, keyboard
  • Intel Core 2 Duo processors
  • Integrated webcam
  • Standard gigabit Ethernet plus optional integrated Wi-Fi 802.11
  • Optional Dell Backup and Recovery Manager for simplified data protection
  • Supports use of older peripherals that require serial or parallel ports
  • Optional video conferencing solution with integrated camera and included software
  • Starts at $629; available in China and Japan now; July 27 in South Asia, Australia and New Zealand; August 3 in India; August 11 in North America; and August 23 in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

But is an all-in-one desktop PC really the best way to reclaim your desk? I'm not convinced that it is.

It occurs to me that it's just as easy to order a laptop, dock and monitor for the most freedom. That way, if the monitor goes bad, or you need to upgrade, or the PC needs to be serviced, you're not completely at Dell's whim.

Sure, a desktop has more power than a laptop -- but it lacks the portability that many users prefer as an option (it doesn't hurt to telecommute once in awhile). Further, anyone who needs serious computing power that can't be provided with a laptop is likely buying a lot more computer than $629 worth.

You run into the same problem over the long-term, too: if you want to upgrade, you must upgrade the whole package.

Seems to me that an all-in-one PC isn't really the best way to spend your company's dollars.

What do you think? Is an all-in-one PC a solution for business customers, or is it a way for Dell to push desktops that few still want?

Leave your thoughts and experiences in TalkBack.

Topics: Dell, Hardware


Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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