Design and features
While we're not sure whether we like the idea of all-in-ones as business machines yet, the Vostro 320 certainly gives its best stab at it. Black is the order of the day, although the monitor stand is curiously red. Curious, because mostly this will be hidden from sight — it's like a designer somewhere decided to subtly get their revenge over all the black business machines.
The front panel is devoid of anything functional, save the screen and embedded webcam — everything else has been moved to the side. Unfortunately, this means you can't see the status lights at all without moving your head to the side. It's certainly not a deal breaker, but if the point of status lights is to have a quick glance to make sure everything's behaving as it should, putting them out of view isn't necessarily the smartest thing to do.
The screen itself is a basic 19-inch, TN-based, 1440x900 model, and unlike the recent spate of Windows 7 machines it doesn't even mention the word touch. While the aforementioned stand only offers limited tilt adjustability, the Vostro can easily be mounted to an adjustment arm for further manoeuvrability.
Being a business machine, the Vostro is subject to the usual anachronistic mess of ports, from the six USB ports, one FireWire and SD/MMC/MS card reader, to the ancient parallel port, serial port and PS/2 ports on the rear. A headphone and microphone jack is also included on the right-hand side of the unit, and while there are speakers included, they're bad enough to only be satisfactory for system sounds.
Dell has included a wireless keyboard (which has a jog dial for volume control, and multimedia/web/mail/computer/calculator dedicated buttons); however, it requires a wireless dongle — the receiver isn't built into the unit. While our review unit included a corded mouse, retail samples should include a wireless mouse hooked into the same receiver as a keyboard — but an internal receiver would have been a better option so we could reclaim the extra USB port.
Internally our review sample sported an Intel Core 2 Duo E7400, 2GB RAM and a 160GB hard drive, all tied up by the X4500MHD chipset for graphics. This is a bit different from what's available at retail — with either the option of a Core 2 Duo E5300 or E7500 for AU$799 or AU$999 respectively. It currently sells with Vista with no XP downgrade rights (although Windows 7 should be available as an option soon with downgrade rights to XP), and unlike the rest of Dell's lines, there's no configurability at all as far as specs are concerned, although you can of course increase your warranty.
As a business machine, the Vostro isn't required to be too grunty, but the 1047 score in 3DMark06 isn't too bad (at least it'll run Aero just fine), and the 5892 in PCMark05 makes it fine for production work — and the viewing angles are acceptable too.
The Vostro 320 does have its shortcomings, yet for a sub AU$1000 machine we find we can't complain too much. Still, Apple is the king in this arena and we'd be sorely be tempted to spend the extra AU$600 on the iMac 21.5-inch. For your cash you get a significant upgrade, with a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive and GeForce 9400M graphics — although non-Mac friendly businesses may not have that option.
While a few tweaks such as an in-built wireless receiver for keyboard/mouse and a video input so it could double as a monitor for your laptop would be nice, if you're looking for a cheap all-in-one PC, it's hard to ignore the Vostro 320 as an option.
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