Lots of new options for all-in-one desktops

If there is a bright spot for desktop PCs this year, it is all-in-ones. In the past several weeks, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and HP have all introduced all-in-ones for both home and work.
Written by John Morris, Contributor

If there is a bright spot for desktop PCs this year, it is all-in-ones. More than a third of consumer desktop PC sales are now all-in-ones. During Apple's iPhone event earlier this week, CEO Tim Cook noted that the iMac is the top-selling desktop in U.S. retail. Even businesses seem to be warming up to the idea of all-in-ones.

So it is no surprise that the choices for all-in-ones are expanding. In the past few weeks, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and HP have all introduced all-in-ones for both home and work. Here's a look at some of the new options out there.

The Dell Inspiron One 2320 looks very similar to the previous Inspiron One 2305-both of which are based on a 23-inch 1080p multi-touch display. But the new version is smaller and nearly an inch thinner, and Dell has revamped the internals starting with Intel's second-generation Core i5 and i7 processors. The Inspiron One 2320 starts at $950 with a 2.50GHz Core i5 quad-core, 6GB of memory, a 1TB hard drive and DVD burner. Step-up models include a faster processor, 8GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics, a 2TB hard drive and a Blu-ray writer. The older 2305, which is still available starting at $700, is based on AMD Athlon II dual- and quad-core processors.

Dell's 23-inch all-in-one for small businesses has also received a refresh. It looks similar to the Inspiron One-and is based on a 23-inch display-but it is slightly larger and has fewer configuration options. The Vostro 360 starts at $700 with a non-touch display, Core i3 dual-core, 2GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive and DVD burner. Higher-priced models include a multi-touch display and more memory. In a blog post, Dell's David Chen listed other options including Core i5 processors, hard drives up to 2TB and a Blu-ray player, but those do not seem to be available yet on Dell's Vostro 360 product page.

Though better-known in the U.S. for TVs and smartphones, Samsung has been making a push with PCs. Its laptops have gotten solid reviews and the company recently released its first all-in-one desktop, the Series 7. Samsung gets high marks for a fresh design that places all of the system components in the base leaving a thin, 23-inch 1080p display that folds all the way flat. The Series 7 also uses surface acoustic wave (SAW) touch sensing, rather than capacitive touch, to track two input points at once, and has Samsung's own Touch Launcher software. The Series 7 starts at around $1,000 with a low-voltage Core i3 dual-core processor, 6GB of memory, a 1TB hard drive and a slot-loading DVD burner that sticks out of the front of the base. The step-up model has a faster processor and more memory, but the Series 7 is missing a few options usually found in $1,000-and-up all-in-ones such as discrete graphics and Blu-ray. CNET's Rich Brown just gave Samsung's Series 7 an Editors' Choice award.

Like Samsung, Toshiba has recently branched out from laptops and started offering all-in-ones in the U.S. The DX730 Series, which has a 23-inch touchscreen, is available directly from Toshiba and will soon be available at Best Buy. The DX735-ST5N01 from ToshibaDirect is $1,000 with a low-voltage Core i5 dual-core processor, 6GB of memory, a 1TB hard drive and DVD burner. The step-up model adds a Core i7 quad-core processor and costs $1,100. Best Buy will be selling what appear to be the identical configurations-only with 4GB of memory rather than 6GB-for $900 and $1,000, respectively. In August, Toshiba announced the DX1210, which has the same basic design but with a smaller display--a 21.5-inch touchscreen. Oddly this system costs a bit more at ToshibaDirect ($930) than the 23-inch model with an identical configuration from Best Buy.

HP has been pushing its TouchSmart PCs for years, and now the company is doubling down on all-in-ones. Last month it announced seven new all-in-one products creating what it claims is the "largest all-in-one portfolio in its history."

The budget HP Omni series, which does not have touchscreens, includes the 20-inch Omni 120 and 21.5-inch Omni 220. The Omni 120 starts at $400 with AMD's low-power E-Series dual-core processor or $500 with Intel's Pentium G620 dual-core processor. Though it is part of the same family, the Omni 220 has a completely different, cantilevered design which makes it look like an iMac in black. It starts at $800 with a Core i5 quad-core, 6GB of memory, a 1TB hard drive and a Blu-ray player. The Omni all-in-ones also have an impressive menu of configuration options including faster processors, hard drives up to 2TB, and AMD Radeon or Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics.

The HP TouchSmart consumer line include three new models: the 20-inch TouchSmart 320, 21.5-inch TouchSmart 420 and 23-inch TouchSmart 520. All of them have multi-touch displays. The TouchSmart 320m is based on AMD's A-Series processor (also known as Llano) with Radeon HD graphics. The base $600 model has a dual-core processor, 4GB or memory, a 500B hard drive and a DVD burner. The TouchSmart 420t is based on Intel's Sandy Bridge and starts at $700 with a Core i3-2100 dual-core, 4GB of memory, a 750GB hard drive and DVD burner. The TouchSmart 520 comes with either the AMD A-Series, starting at $800, or Intel's second-generation Core processors starting at $900.

HP has updated the existing TouchSmart 600 series, which is also based on a 23-inch display but has a different design. These start at $1,100 and up and use Intel's standard-voltage processors up to the 3.40GHz Core i7-2600 quad-core. Like the Omni series, the TouchSmarts have loads of configuration options including many processor choices, up to 8GB of memory and hard drives up to 3TB. Most models also have AMD and Nvidia discrete graphics options and the 23-inch models are also available with a Blu-ray writer.

HP has a confusingly long list of business all-in-ones too, but there are only two new ones: the simple HP Pro 3420 with a standard 20-inch display and the more upscale TouchSmart Elite 7320 with a 21.5-inch touchscreen. Both are based on Intel's second-generation Core processors. The Pro 3420 has a basic design and starts at $660 with a Pentium dual-core processor, 2GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive and a DVD burner. The TouchSmart Elite 7320 uses the same design as the new consumer TouchSmart models. It starts at $850 with the same basic specs, but with a faster Core i3 dual-core processor.

Lenovo is the other major Windows player here with both IdeaCentre consumer and ThinkCentre business all-in-ones. Of course, the iMac, which got Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt I/O back in May, is still the one to beat and the only major all-in-one that extends up to 27-inches.

Microsoft Windows 8, which is due sometime next year, is designed around tablets but it could also have a big impact on all-in-ones. Custom touch solutions such as Samsung's Touch Launcher and HP's TouchSmart may be redundant once developers begin building HTML5 and Javascript apps for Windows 8's Metro-style interface. But the overall user experience should be much better and more consistent with Windows 8.

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