Get a Gateway all-in-one desktop for $530
And it's a touch-screen desktop at that, with all the finger-tapping multi-touch goodness afforded by Windows 7.
I've always been a sucker for all-in-one PCs. There's something uniquely appealing about a desktop that consists of a big screen, a keyboard, and nothing in between. (I know, I'm weird.)
While supplies last, TigerDirect has a refurbished Gateway ZX4800-02 all-in-one desktop for $529.97. Shipping will run you about $15 more.
Though fine for, say, a home office, this strikes me as a nearly perfect kitchen PC. It sports a 20-inch LCD--not too big, not too small--and it's a touch screen, meaning you can navigate Windows (in this case Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit) multi-touch-style, no mouse required. Indeed, you could probably leave the mouse and keyboard (both of which are wireless) tucked in a drawer until needed.
Other specs include a dual-core Pentium T4300 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 750GB hard drive (that's impressive), and 802.11n Wi-Fi. It also packs a built-in Webcam and "sound bar" speakers.
I won't say the ZX4800 rivals an iMac in terms of looks, but I think it's a pretty snazzy desktop. (Make sure to check out all the photos on TigerDirect's product page. I don't think the one I've included here does it justice.)
praised its design, hard drive, and power efficiency, while dinging it for lacking FireWire and digital audio outputs. (Meh. The only real need for FireWire these days is to connect a higher-end camcorder.) I will agree that a TV tuner and media-center remote would have been nice inclusions, but you can add those mighty cheaply if you wish.
If I didn't already have an old laptop in residence in my kitchen, I'd snap one of these up in a heartbeat. (I'm still mighty tempted to do so.) But, like I said, I'm a sucker for all-in-ones. And this is one of the slickest I've seen in this price range.