2008 will go down as the year Windows PC makers finally gave Apple and its pioneering iMac a serious challenge. Yes, every major vendor had an all-in-one PC prior to this year, but few distinguished themselves from the iMac in either price or functionality. Sony's JS190J and its sub-$1,000 starting price gave cost-conscious shoppers a serious alternative to the lower-end iMacs earlier this year. And we've just finished our reviews of all three major large-screen Windows all-in-ones, which finally have an answer for Apple's 24-inch iMac.
We liked the 24-inch Sony LV180J best of these three systems, because Sony had a very clear vision for this model and it executed this almost perfectly. If the idea is that a 24-inch all-in-one can have a Blu-ray drive and still stay around $2,000, it makes sense to use that system as a secondary home entertainment center. Each of these all-in-ones has Blu-ray, which the iMac lacks, but Sony is the only vendor with a VESA-mount compatible bracket built into the back of its unit. Even better is the HDMI input and the single accompanying button that lets you switch between video input signals, TV-style. That feature alone makes this system uniquely capable of integrating seamlessly with your other living room hardware.
If HP's 25.5-inch TouchSmart IQ816 doesn't offer quite as much practical functionality as the Sony, the touch interface is at the very least a crowd-pleaser. On a macro-level, it's also an experiment in a new usage model that promises to become more and more popular, and we're glad HP continues to support the touch desktop experiment with a major product line. The IQ816's massive 25.5-inch display doesn't hurt, of course, especially for watching movies. You'll just want more powerful audio output, as well as a faster computer for actually getting work done.
From the productivity angle, Dell's XPS One 24 makes the best impression with its quad-core chip. It's not quite as fast as it could be thanks to 32-bit Vista (dear Dell, the time for 64-bit across the board was six months ago), but no other all-in-one offers the mix of multimedia performance with this system's ability to multitask.