Windows-based all-in-ones finally give Apple some competition
Round-up of three large screen all-in-one desktop reviews
Executive Editor / Reviews - Home and Wellness
Rich moved his family from Brooklyn to Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013 to start CNET's Appliances and Smart Home review team, which includes the CNET Smart Home, the CNET Smart Apartment, and the Appliances Review lab. Before moving to Louisville, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D-printed guns to Z-Wave smart locks.
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.