This 27-inch all-in-one from Asus features a touchscreen, but it isn't able to recline — meaning that it's likely to give you a case of gorilla arms. What is fancy, though, is that it doesn't use infrared sensors, meaning that it's less likely to get confused with multi-touch than competing brands do, and it supports up to 10 simultaneous touches. We asked Asus if it was capacitive, but it wouldn't be drawn on the tech used.
The display itself is odd. Asus claims 178° viewing angles, and the panel is VA based — yet the vertical viewing angles are quite shallow, with a visible darkening occurring as you move outside of the narrow optimal-viewing range. Indeed, get slightly off angle, and the brightness drops sharply. For those who care to look, there is also a faint but noticeable grid across the screen; a side effect, perhaps, of the touch sensor used.
Aside from these unique features, the ET2700INTS keeps things different by including a desktop processor and a hard drive, where usually mobile components are used. Intel's Core i7 2600 beats at the heart of the machine, giving significantly more grunt than its mobile peers have, although sadly Asus has chosen to hobble the performance of the system by making the included 2TB desktop drive one of Western Digital's slower green drives.
What is still mobile is the graphics chip: Nvidia's GeForce GT 540M, paired with 2GB of memory. An Intel HD Graphics 2000 processor is in here as well, allowing Nvidia's Optimus to be used to save on power. It's not as critical as with battery-powered machines, but any money saved on your power bill is a plus.
As a result of this hardware, the ET2700INTS can build up a bit of a whine when it needs to cool itself down, but it never breaks the threshold of annoying. What does, though, is Asus' choice to hide most of its ports behind an obstructive, hard plastic flap, including an SD card reader; two USB 3.0 ports; a combined USB/eSATA port; speaker, headphone and microphone jacks (that can be reassigned as 5.1 outputs if desired); and a subwoofer-out port.
Yes, Asus bundles a passive subwoofer, and it does help round the sound out a lot better than just a set of tweeters would. But it's also incredibly muddy, with bass becoming an amorphous mess rather than having any clarity to it. The tech used is smart; pull the subwoofer, and the speakers in the all-in-one system automatically change their tone to add more bass. The sound still isn't great, though, creating a muffled and dynamically flat experience that just appears to shoot out from under the monitor.
The right-hand side is kept reasonably clear, featuring only a Blu-ray drive with the biggest tray cover we've ever seen.
Buttons under the monitor are beyond frustrating. Despite each having a physically raised area for each, they're touch buttons. The volume buttons on our review sample didn't work at all, only functioning as up/down buttons in the menu.
Hitting the menu button in particular can be problematic; since the buttons are touch activated, and are wont to activate when your finger is near the button rather than on it, it's all too easy to immediately turn off the screen by accidentally activating the menu button twice, as "Panel Off" is the first menu item.
Flip the ET2700INTS around, and you'll find gigabit Ethernet, two USB 2.0 ports (one of which is occupied by the wireless receiver for the keyboard and mouse) and an antenna for the included analog/DVB-T TV tuner (which isn't a dual tuner — hit record, and you won't be able to watch another station). There's also VGA and HDMI-in, should you choose to use the ET2700INTS as a monitor. The HDMI capability is basic, there's no 24Hz support, judder was apparent in our Mission Impossible: III vertical- and horizontal-panning test scenes and HQV failed all interlaced and noise-reduction tests. It'll suit you just fine if your plan is to hook in a console and play at 1080p, but it won't give you great results if you deviate from this path.