The all-in-one PC is alive and well

The all-in-one PC is alive and well

Summary: The laptop may have dethroned the desktop, but the all-in-one PC is still growing at a rapid rate. Several companies have announced new models with Intel's latest chips.

TOPICS: Hardware

The laptop may have dethroned the desktop (only to be challenged by the upstart tablet), but in the era of mobile computing one type of desktop, the all-in-one PC, is alive and well. At Intel's analyst day earlier this month, executives said they expect to see continued growth in all-in-ones. "In the desktop space we've also seen a new all-in-one category that for the last couple of years, I don't think people realize, has growing over 35 percent per year," said Kirk Skaugen, who heads up Intel's PC Client Group.

There are many reasons for this resurgence. The space-saving and clutter-free designs have long been attractive to home users. Desktop components continue to get faster and to integrate more features, largely eliminating the need for after-market upgrades. Processors now have both the CPU performance and graphics chops to handle all but the most demanding 3D games. And even entry-level all-in-ones often come with 4GB of memory and at least 500GB of storage.

In addition, the emergence of faster and more flexible I/O options, such as USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, makes it easier to add new peripherals without ever cracking the case.

No wonder PC companies, which are battling sluggish demand overall and new competition from tablets, are rolling out lots of new all-in-ones. Some of these new all-in-ones aren't shipping yet because Intel has not released the dual-core versions of its 3rd generation Core processor, or Ivy Bridge, but they should be available within a few weeks.

The latest is Dell, which has just announced three new all-in-ones. The top-of-the-line XPS One 27 has a 27-inch display with a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels. It will start at $1,400 with Intel's 3rd Generation Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive. Options include faster processors, Nvidia discrete graphics, larger hard drives (and a flash memory cache for better performance), a slot-loading Blu-ray player and TV tuner.

The Inspiron One 23 and Inspiron One 20 are less expensive models. The One 23 has a 23-inch 1080p display and starts at $750 with a 2nd Generation Core i3, 2GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive. Options include Ivy Bridge processors and AMD discrete graphics. The 20-inch model tops out at 1600x900 and starts at $530 with a Pentium G620T dual-core processor, 2GB and a 500GB hard drive. It has fewer options, but both models can be configured with more memory, larger hard drives, Blu-ray players and TV tuners.

HP didn't wait around for Intel's dual-cores. Last month it announced five desktops--including three all-in-ones--with quad-core Ivy Bridge processors. (My colleague, Sean Portnoy, covered the announcement here.)

The HP Omni series includes models with 21.5- and 27-inch displays. The 220qd starts at $950 with a Core i7 quad-core processor, 8GB of memory, AMD Radeon HD 7450A graphics, a 2TB drive and a Blu-ray player. The larger model, the Omni 27qd, has more configuration options and currently starts at around $1,200 with a 3rd Generation Core i5 quad-core, 8GB of memory, a 1TB hard drive and a slot-loading DVD burner (there are cheaper models with older Intel chips).

The TouchSmart 520xt is the latest in HP's line of all-in-ones with touchscreens and the company's own touch-optimized software. It starts at $900 with older Sandy Bridge chips, but at $1,000 with a 3rd Generation Core i5, 6GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive and a slot-loading Blu-ray player.

All three models have options such as AMD and Nvidia discrete graphics, larger drives (including SSDs) and TV tuners. HP has been taking online orders on these since April 29, but they won't be available in stores until late June.

Earlier this month Lenovo announced two business all-in-ones based on Ivy Bridge: the ThinkCentre Edge 92z, which has a 21.5-inch "infinity glass" display and starts at $700, and the ThinkCentre M72z, which has a standard 20-inch display and starts at $600. Both models have optional touchscreens and will be available this summer.

Vizio, a newcomer to the PC market, has announced two all-in-ones, a 24-inch model and a 27-inch one. The company announced the models at CES in January, and they will reportedly begin shipping in June, but we still have no details on the pricing or configurations.

The best-selling all-in-one, Apple's iMac, is also overdue for an update. The current models, the iMac 21.5-inch and the iMac 27-inch, are more than a year old. Next month Apple will hold its Worldwide Developer Conference, and while WWDC is likely to focus on iOS and Mac OS X 10.8, or Mountain Lion, the company may also use the show to announce new systems.

Topic: Hardware

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  • I fell in love with the iMac

    Mostly because I hate wires
  • Giant monitors are like king-sized beds

    once you have one, you can never go back.
    • Hear, hear

      And I have yet to see laptops dethrone desktops, whether at work (not a single laptop on our entire floor of over 100 employees) or for personal use (of the 9 PCs I can think of off the top of my head owned by myself & my immediate relatives, only 2 are laptops, of which only 1 is the owner's primary/sole PC).
      • Opposite for me...

        There are only a couple of desktops left at the office I work in... desktops have been getting fazed out since the last hardware refresh.
    • Yes I had one once

      Never again will I be locked into hardware and a monitor. Had a iMac and even though the monitor still was bright and functional. I had a motherboard failure and it was not practical to fix. Their are big compromises in "All in ones" Many actually use mobile chips rather then full desktop chips to keep heat levels down . Just read how Lenovo was recalling thousands of their all in ones for over heating and catching fire. It was the PSU which is another weak spot for All in ones.
      • This is the problem

        As a PC Technician, I can tell you these machines may be desktop PC's but they are more closely related to Laptops in their construction, external power supply's, mobile chip sets, slim optical drive, 5 layers of propreitry micro hardware packed into an inch of space. What that means is any serious repair and you are looking at big money relative to a similar repair on a good old ATX box.
        Scarface Claw
  • The change

    My school bought a new all in one, and is planning on shiping out the Dell Optiplex for the all in ones by hp.
    • Ooh, talk about nostalgia

      I swear, my last 3 jobs all used Dell Optiplex machines of 1 form or another...
  • Not very practical even today

    Even as technology has slowed down and a 5 year PC is still viable. I question combining hardware and a monitor. Because if your hardware dies or becomes obsolete. So does your monitor even though monitors tend to outlast PC's. I know people buy laptops all the time and they are basically the mobile design of a "All in one" desktop. But again laptops can be easily traded or sold and most of the time both the hardware and monitor are needing replacement. Desktops on the other hand last longer. I myself I upgraded my tower PC twice with graphics, CPU and hard drive. Try that with a "all in one". Some people might be satisfied with the compactness of a "All in one". I just think their are better options.
    • RE: I question combining hardware and a monitor.

      I do not necessarily agree.

      There are situations where an AIO (all in one) is preferable; such as office staff doing basic work. If you lease (i.e rip and replace) your computers on a 3 or 4 year cycle; why pay for the expense of expandability? Keep the cost savings in the IT budget, and pacify the bean counters. Win-win for all.
      • Which side's bean counters?

        Computer companies want all-in-ones because it means higher net profit in the end.

        Businesses want separated components for modular reasons, and lower cost to repair or replace individual components.

        Still, with the right verbiage anybody can be bamboozled... and at the right time (e.g. "bait and switch" or "quietly lower product quality over time so nobody notices"...)
  • Application of a well planned technology.

    It's nice to hear this is a growing segment of the hardware industry. However the available applications on this technology may be what is driving the continued acceptance. I didn't see ASUS mentioned in the review so I thought I would mention an example of the the ASUS All-In-One prouct running AWE's All-In-One education product for instance.
  • 2 things lacking in computer industry

    A full strength all in one pc with massive monitor. I have 2 HP and 1 sony all in one both too slow. I'd love someone to make one not bloated with software, big screen and power and memory for video editing.
    Another niche for microsoft and related companies is tablets with 14 inch screen. (instead everyone copies the 10"..??????)
    The 10" iPad is gr8 but not enough real estate to use in business.
  • All in ons are catching on and most are touch!

    And just in time for Windows 8. When people see Win 8 on their all-in-one touch screens, they will confess to the whole world the goodness of Microsoft and all will live happy ever after with Win 8 and big touch screen all-in-ones. Peace!!
    • All-in-ones are catching on and most are touch-based!

      Peace means tolerance of other platforms. Not blind loyalty to any one company as some sort of tiny peacock feather fluffing ego-fest. Enjoy the game. Don't take sides, since the side won't care for you either way the moment you no longer serve their purpose.

      Touch screens have been around for years. As have touch interfaces. Why didn't Microsoft do this a decade ago? Or were the screens too small in size? Amongst other efficiency and productivity concerns? A large screen does not mean larger productivity by default.

      Let's wait and see how this technology pans out. There are some conveniences, but it won't be a panacea. Some people will prefer real keyboards to type on, for efficiency reasons. Or graphics tablets from companies such as Wacom or Vistablet. That allows people to do work AND see what is on the screen, since nobody has found a way to cloak the huge arm getting in the way of what's underneath and no amount of reality will make that sci-fi dream ever come true for such short distances.

      Still, if XP's UI was called "Fischer Price" due to its look, Win8's big duotone-block interface will be given much more colorful descriptions under the right conditions... (indeed, note Microsoft is ditching Aero and claiming it looked bad. The real reason is the devolution of hardware. Aero and 3D graphics systems require processing power that drains battery life. Since these market forces are causing change, Aero had to be ditched and a clever excuse to be made because most people just don't care for technical details to begin with...)

      Touch screens have a place (sci-fi shows and movies have been showing their usefulness for decades), but the day Photoshop can be worked with the stroke of a finger directly on screen with such precision... it's possible, but not desirable. Real peace also means freedom, and not conformity to one set of rules.

  • Hate wires?

    My iMac has a desktop full or wires coming out of it. Usb wires, power wires, external hard drive wires, external Blueray wires, ethernet wires, printer wires, mouse wires, keyboard wires. Computers use wires, just keep adding stuff.
    • That does not even make sense!

      "Usb wires, power wires, external hard drive wires, external Blueray wires, ethernet wires, printer wires, mouse wires, keyboard wires."
      Ethernet? Um, WiFi.
      You most likely don't need more than one or two "USB wire(s)", to a USB hub. External hard drive wires? BD?
      What interface does your HD and BD drive use? I suspect USB. So counting those separately is disingenuous at best.
      Same with your printer.
      And mouse.
      And keyboard.
      In fact, all three can easily be done over Blue Tooth and WiFi, so those don't really count either.
      So let's see, we have one power connection and one USB "wire".
      If your desktop is full of wires, that is on you, not the iMac.
      • That's a PC with no thought into design. Solution iMac

        iMAC While seemingly pricey has lots of value. The Current iMac has comes stock with an ultra HD screen up to 27", Fast Quad Core i5 with Radeon HD 6750, 1TB HDD, up to 16GB of Memory, Internal DVD drive, N wifi, bluetooth. Use the 27" Imac with the apple bluetooth keyboard, and magic touch pad. No wires, Legendary Performance that even rivals top PC rigs.
      • Reality bites

        2 Firewire 800 Hard drives and a Firewire 800 Blueray player. That's 3 wires. Wi-Fi ? used for portables. A video cable to a second monitor. A Usb Digital Camera connection, a USB printer connection on an older Epson C88 and a wired 5 button Microsoft Intellimouse and a full Apple keyboard all on separate cables along with power cords for everyone. It adds up to a bunch of wires. If it makes you feel better, the trackpad is wireless but it will soon need new batteries.
      • Misinformed

        And given that you were already told as much, one would htink you would know better.
        First, I find it VERY difficult to believe you are talking about an actual machine, since you appear to just be making things up as you go. All of a sudden we are to believe, after you ranted about USB, that you have firewire devices, Yeah, right.
        But that said, the solution is the same as before. Get a firewire hub, or, better yet, a combo USB/Firewire hub. One "wire" (they aren't wires, BTW, they are cables).

        "Wi-Fi ? used for portables."

        Who says? What on earth gave you that idea. In fact, I would wager that the MAJORITY of desktop PCs use WiFi cards rather than Ethernet. But regardless, the idea that WiFi is for portables is just plain dumb.

        " A video cable to a second monitor."

        Or you could use AirPlay.

        "A Usb Digital Camera connection, a USB printer connection on an older Epson C88 and a wired 5 button Microsoft Intellimouse and a full Apple keyboard all on separate cables along with power cords for everyone."

        Once again (and please pay better attention) the fact that you chose not to use a hub is on you. It is NOT a design defect of the device. It is NOT "a bunch of wires," it is ONE. PERIOD.
        As to your contention that every one of those devices requires a power cord, you really make it clear that you are full of crap.
        First, neither the Intellimouse nor the keyboard require power cords. Second, the power cords for external devices are just that, for the external devices. They have NOTHING to do with the computer. None of these cables is coming out of the iMac, as your original post claims. ("My iMac has a desktop full or wires coming out of it.")

        This EXACT system could very easily be set up with only one or two cables.