Dell Inspiron One 2305 review: Dell Inspiron One 2305

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.6
  • Design: 9.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 6.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Superior design; Blu-ray and HDMI input make it a complete digital media hub; discrete graphics card lends gaming capability.

The Bad Not as fast as other all-in-ones in its price range; maddening Dell DataSafe pop-ups.

The Bottom Line Dell's higher-end Inspiron One 2305 has everything we'd look for in a home entertainment PC. It's not the fastest computer out there, but it's capable where it counts, and even plays some games. Forgive Dell's intrusive bundled backup software and you'll walk away with one of the better Windows-based all-in-ones available.

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Dell's second major attempt at an all-in-one desktop, the Inspiron One 2305, impressed us for a number of reasons. First, its clean design makes it perhaps the best-looking Windows-based all-in-one. Second, our $1,149 review configuration offers that strangely elusive combination of both a Blu-ray drive and an HDMI input. And thirdly, it also features simple, relatively effective touch software. We can't recommend it for anything beyond basic productivity due to its comparatively slow performance, and we also wish Dell had left off the annoying DataSafe pop-up software. Overall, Dell's new all-in-one is a far savvier contender than its XPS One effort of a few years back. We recommend this new model to anyone looking for a standalone home entertainment PC.

Apple's iMac retains the design crown among all-in-ones, but the Inspiron One is a close second. In contrast to the stark, aluminum-and-glass iMac, the Inspiron One has a sturdy, friendly-looking plastic shell that looks more like an AV device than a computer. It achieves this effect by minimizing the exterior ornamentation and by the near edge-to-edge design of the below-screen speaker. The result is a system that advertises its audio and video capabilities through its very appearance. The only thing we don't like about this system's design are the two stubby plastic feet underneath the screen.

As Sony originated a couple of years ago, the Inspiron One 2305 comes with, among other AV connections, an HDMI input. You also get VGA and composite video ins, which together comprise this system's AV-input option. We love video inputs on all-in-ones, because they let you easily extend the large display to cable boxes, game consoles, laptops, and other devices. It also means you don't have to purchase a second display, which is a major benefit for those looking to install a media hub in a den, a dorm, a kitchen, a bedroom, or some other space-constrained location. Other all-in-ones have this functionality, but not all of them (even at the $1,000-and-up price range).


Among other features, the Dell touch interface comes with direct links to various Dell support and social-networking pages.

The Inspiron One 2305 also joins competing all-in-ones in offering touch input. Dell's implementation of touch is a bit subtler than others'. Rather than first launching a dedicated environment from which you'll run touch-specific applications, Dell has added a carousel to the bottom of the main Windows 7 desktop screen with a variety of touch-based mini apps. From this carousel you get touch-based tiles to launch audio and video players and image-sharing programs. It also links you directly to Dell's support pages, and you get one tile set aside for up to four of your own Web links. You get a couple of games, the requisite note-taking application, and the option to add tiles via a touch app loader.

We like Dell's integrated touch approach compared with the more ham-handed touch environments out there, particularly those on the Gateway and Acer systems. (HP, with its TouchSmart PCs, still leads the way in desktop touch, though, at least as far as the software is concerned.) With the Dell, it's easy and fast to just walk up to the system to play music or launch a video file. You can also ignore the touch capability, and the carousel altogether, by shutting it off.

One of the most remarkable things about the Inspiron One 2305 is that it starts at $599. At that price you still get the 23-inch, 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution display, although it lacks touch input, the HDMI, and other AV inputs, and includes much slower computing parts than our review unit. To add the touch screen you need to jump to the $699 baseline model; for touch plus the AV inputs you need to begin with the $799 baseline model. Our $1,149 review system represents the highest-end tier, and the only one with a Blu-ray drive. Dell may be able to pass on some cost savings with this bundled approach, but the downside is less configurability. Don't care about a quad-core CPU? If you want Blu-ray, you don't have a choice.

Dell Inspiron One 2305 Acer Aspire Z5700-U3112 Apple iMac 21.5-inch
Price $1,149 $1,099 $1,199
Display size/resolution 23-inch, 1,920x1,080 23-inch, 1,920x1,080 21.5-inch, 1,920x1,080
CPU 2.4GHZ AMD Phenom II X4 610e 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650 3.06GHz Intel Core i3
Memory 8GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5470 graphics card 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 4500 integrated graphics chip 256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics card
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm 500GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray/DVD burner combo drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Apple OS X 10.6.4

While that bundling might seem frustrating, the $1,149 Inspiron One 2305 still offers competitive features next to other all-in-ones in its price range. This Dell joins other Windows-based, 23-inch all-in-ones in making Apple and its 21.5-inch iMac look stingy for its price. Dell also enjoys the fastest graphics card in its price range, as well as the most system memory. It's also the only one of the three systems to offer a Blu-ray drive, although you can find the faster, Blu-ray-equipped Gateway One ZX6951-53 for $999. That Gateway lacks HDMI input, however, limiting its home entertainment potential.

We find the Dell a good deal overall, but its 2.4GHz AMD CPU keeps its performance down compared with other all-in-ones. In fact, according to our charts there seems to be an interesting bifurcation in this market segment between fast and slow all-in-ones. There's no clear line between speed and multimedia features. We mentioned the speedy, Blu-ray-equipped Gateway above. The equally fast Acer Aspire Z5700-U3112 outperforms the Dell and offers an HDMI input. What we'd love to see is an all-in-one at this price point that combines speed, Blu-ray, and HDMI input. We're surprised no manufacturer has hit on that combination yet.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Cinebench
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
HP TouchSmart 310z
2.81 
0.72 
Acer Aspire Z5700-U3112
2.77 
1.13 
Dell Inspiron One 2305
2.71 
0.69 
Gateway One ZX6951-53
2.65 
1.07 
Sony Vaio J114FX
1.17 
0.61 

We've included seven recent $1,000 or so all-in-ones in our charts to demonstrate the performance gap that has emerged. Only Acer and its Gateway subsidiary have decided to compete with Apple in terms of performance, and all three get their speed from full-speed Intel Core i3 desktop CPUs. Lenovo's IdeaCentre A700 comes in second with a mobile Intel Core i7 CPU, and bringing up the rear you have this Dell and the HP TouchSmart 310z, both of which use quad-core AMD chips, followed by Sony's pitiful Vaio J114FX, whose slow Intel Pentium CPU is a complete mismatch for this price range.

Though the Dell is on the slower end of the performance spectrum, it's still a reasonably capable PC for standard computing tasks. You won't want to use the Inspiron One 2305 for HD movie editing, but light-duty multitasking, image editing, and basic media file conversions will all be within reach. It was capable of playing every HD movie format we threw at it, and it handled the high bit-rate Blu-ray edition of "The Boondock Saints" with no stuttering. The discrete graphics card also makes this Dell a viable gaming PC. We were able to play Left 4 Dead 2 at full 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution, although even the recommended image quality settings were a bit jerky. Dropping the anti-aliasing and other settings solved the problem, and we expect you'll have a similar experience with most other PC games.

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Where to Buy

Dell Inspiron One 2305

Part Number: CNETDellInspironOne2305

MSRP: $1,149.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

About The Author

Rich Brown is an executive editor for CNET Reviews. He has worked as a technology journalist since 1994.