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A touching update to Dell's all-in-one desktop

Dell follows HP into making touch-screen all-in-one desktops, hoping consumers will use the Studio One 19 as a family PC in the kitchen or living room.

Dell Studio One 19 desktop
Rafe Needleman/CNET

The Studio One 19, announced Thursday, is the newest incarnation of Dell's all-in-one desktop.

The Studio One, has been given a slight cosmetic makeover, but the biggest change is inside, where the company has added a touch screen and multitouch software.

With the touch screen, Dell hopes consumers will use the desktop as a family PC in a common room, like the kitchen or living room, said Alex Gruzen, Dell's senior vice president of consumer products, in an interview earlier this week. "It's also a chance for parents to see what kids are doing on the computer again," he added.

Desktops are rapidly shrinking category, and all the PC makers are trying to find ways to get consumers excited about them. All-in-one devices are apparently what the industry has settled on. Most of the biggest PC makers offer one, though the feature levels vary between the Apple iMac, Hewlett-Packard TouchSmart PC, Lenovo IdeaCentre A600, Gateway One, Sony Vaio LT, and Asus Eee Top.

HP managed to stand out in the group with the TouchSmart's touch interface. But now it is no longer the only maker of an all-in-one with a touch screen. The Studio One 19 uses Dell's own multitouch software, which it is calling Dell TouchZone, for gesture-based inputs.

But that's not the only difference from the Dell XPS One, the company's first attempt at an all-in-one. This desktop isn't nearly as heavy looking, and has some added design flair, like the color speaker frame the surround the 19-inch screen.

The starting price gets a downgrade. It starts at $699, but can be customized with almost any combination of specs. The Studio One can be loaded with an Intel Celeron up to a Core 2 Quad processor, up to 4GB of memory, a 750GB hard drive, an optional Blu-ray player, web cam, wireless, six USB ports, and a 7-in-1 card reader.

The catch is that it will be available March 19 in Japan first--it's the world's largest market for all-in-one desktops--with the U.S. and other countries to follow in the spring.