Neos all-in-one Android PC looks modern, acts old

/ Updated: 27 November 2013, 12:00 am AEDT
The Neos all-in-one ships with Android 4.1.1 and comes pre-loaded with various apps. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

The Astak Neos all-in-one packs the appeal of Android in a shareable, user-friendly desktop PC, but its dated specs result in underwhelming performance that don't justify its $499 starting price. Even though the device boasts a sleek and modern design, its laggy touch-screen, dull display, and mediocre capabilities make it a half-baked attempt at being a media hub for the family.

Design
The Neos comes in a white and silver design and is light enough to be easily lifted, however, it isn't meant for mobile use and can only be used with the power cord. There are capacitive home/wake and volume buttons on the top right corner of the device and power button on the back.

The Neos can lay on its back, but its bad viewing angles make it hard to use. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Ports include a 3.5mm audio jack for playing music through the speakers, SD card expansion slot, USB port, and LAN port. There is no headphone jack for personal listening and keyboard or mouse accessories are not included.

The Neos sits upright, like a typical monitor, and features no ergonomic support. It can also be used flat on its back but, due to its angular design and poor viewing angles, this set-up is awkward and only useful for portrait orientation apps.

There are only a few ports on the back, including an SD card expansion slot. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Features
The Neos can run pure Android 4.1.1 or with the pre-installed Kloud user interface, which categorizes apps into groups. A variety of apps come pre-loaded and sorted, but can be easily uninstalled if unwanted.

Highlighting an app for a few seconds gives you the option of placing it in a certain group, like games or lifestyle, and you can also create your own group if you'd like.

The 15.6-inch screen is very pixelated and displays dull colors. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

I personally didn't find much use in Kloud, but I can see how the user-friendly approach can appeal to families with children. The good news is that the Neos has access to Google Play store, but the bad news is that not all apps are compatible.

Hardware
The Neos houses a 1.6GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 dual-core CPU, PowerVR SGX 540 single-core GPU, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage.

The capacitive buttons on the upper right corner respond quickly. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Performance
The screen is drab, with large pixels, bland color saturation, low maximum brightness. The touch-screen response often lags and small text is sometimes blurry, making it difficult to read.

Video quality, even in HD, looks a bit fuzzy and, once again, the Neos' poor viewing angles didn't do it any favors. Colors on the 1,366x768-pixel resolution screen appear dull and bright images sometimes look blown out.

I wasn't lying about those bad viewing angles. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

The 5-megapixel front-facing camera works fine for video conferencing, but don't expect to get any amazing photos from it; colors are washed-out and focus is blurry, however, there is a manual focus option.

A performance upside for the Neos is its Onkyo 5-Watt stereo speakers that can connect to a smartphone, MP3 player, or other media device. The speaker quality is good and audio quality holds up at most volumes; at its loudest, bass sounds slightly muffled, but at low and mid-ranges everything sounds clear and full enough for a pleasurable listening experience.

You can use the speakers to play music from your smartphone or MP3 player. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Popular Android games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja ran smoothly for the most part. The touch screen's ever-present occasional lag made it difficult to play sometimes and although larger apps and games take their time to load, wait times were faster than I expected.

A shareable Android device -- without the accidental damage hazards of a tablet -- is an appealing investment for families, but the Astak Neos is too dated to warrant its $499 starting price. HP offers the Slate 21 all-in-one, which features a bigger screen with a higher resolution, better viewing angles, ergonomic support, and a newer version of Android for $399. Even though it's not a performance powerhouse, it one-ups the Neos for less money and provides a better alternative for those in the market for an Android desktop PC.

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Where to Buy

Astak Neos

Part Number: IA-NEOS15
Pricing is currently unavailable.