Are all-in-one desktops a decent deal?

Averatec, the O.C.'s other computer maker after Gateway, has released a new all-in-one desktop.

Are all-in-one desktops a decent deal?
Averatec, the O.C.'s other computer maker after Gateway, has released a new all-in-one desktop. The design doesn't break any new ground in this category, but it is simple, compact and reasonably attractive. And with a 22-inch LCD, Nvidia GeForce 8400 graphics and an integrated TV tuner, at first glance it looks like a solid value at $1,200.

The Apple iMac is still regarded as the gold standard in this category, but nearly every OEM now offers an all-in-one priced between $1,200 and $1,400. So it is relatively easy to comparison shop, though the graphics vary widely in terms of capabilities. Here's a quick comparison of the AIOs:

Averatec All-In-One Apple iMac Dell XPS One HP TouchSmart IQ504 Gateway One ZX190
2GHz Intel C2D 2.4GHz Intel C2D 2.2GHz Intel C2D 2GHz Intel C2D 1.5GHz Intel C2D
2GB DDR2-667 1GB DDR2-800 2GB DDR-667 4GB DDR2-667 2GB DDR2-667
320GB 250GB 250GB 320GB 400GB
GeForce 8400 Radeon 2400XT 128MB Integrated Integrated Radeon 2600XT 256MB
22-inch LCD 20-inch LCD 20-inch LCD 22-inch LCD 19-inch LCD
Vista Home Premium Mac OS X Vista Home Premium Vista Home Premium Vista Home Premium
$1,200 $1,200 $1,300 $1,300 $1,400
How does this stack up to a typical desktop around $1,200? Not very well. Best Buy is currently selling an HP Pavilion Elite with a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 6GB of memory, a 750GB hard drive, Nvidia GeForce 9500 GS with 512MB of graphics memory, and Vista Home Premium for $1,030. Throw in a matching 19-inch HP LCD display for $240 (though you can find cheaper LCD displays), and the total is $1,270.

There are good reasons for this. Most all-in-ones use more expensive components typically found in notebook PCs. And for many users the benefits of a clutter-free desk are worth the added cost. But the point is that even a value all-in-one such as Averatec's new model still carry a hefty premium.

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