If you don't have enough room in your flat or student pad for a TV, Freeview PVR, monitor and PC, this all in one computer from Advent is a handy and affordable solution. Its innards might not be powerful enough for epic gaming, but its nifty touch interface and usable Windows Media Centre software make it very versatile
In these heady days of total technological mobility, is there really much market left for desktop PCs? Who wants to be tied down to just one room? Advent is hoping its latest all-in-one PC is enough to convince you that leaving the study is for suckers -- all the cool kids are hanging out inside with the MT22, available from PC World and Curry's for around £580.
The MT22 certainly doesn't come across as shy -- a whopping great 21.5-inch LCD display is the first thing you'll notice, and nestled in a futuristic black frame, this hulking 1,920x1,080-pixel screen certainly makes a positive first impression.
The second impression isn't quite so rosy. The display is crisp and colourful, but that glossy screen causes so much reflection we could actually see more of our own faces than we could of what was on-screen (and if you've seen our faces you'll know this is never preferable).
Those reflections aren't helped by the fact that the display is none too bright. It's a shame, because with this high resolution even the Windows 7 default desktop and taskbar look pretty stunning, let alone our array of hi-res test images. A brighter screen would let us see what's on it a little better, and would help cancel out some of those annoying reflections.
The MT22 is fully touch-enabled, and we're impressed with the Windows Touch interface. Tap to click, hold for a second to right-click and drag to highlight are the basic tools at your disposal. The display resolution is so high, however, that some icons, particularly minimise buttons and scroll bars, appeared as tiny squares nestled in the corner of the screen. Actually hitting those parts of the display proved very tricky.
Still, it's not much of a complaint considering the low cost of this machine -- well-implemented touch interfaces are pretty rare, and to find one for under £600 makes us very happy. Perhaps the greatest accolade we can bestow is that we frequently found ourselves using the touchscreen interface rather than the included keyboard and mouse.
The MT22 chugs along on a 2.2GHz Intel Pentium T4400 CPU, propped up by 3GB of RAM. That's some pretty tasty hardware considering the MT22's price, but be aware it's not exactly a computing powerhouse.
We ran into difficulties running our PCMark05 benchmark test, but we were able to obtain a graphics benchmark using 3DMark06, where the MT22 scored a disappointing 1,714 despite using an Nvidia Ion GPU. Shaky performance during gaming backed that up. Running Call of Duty 4 at the recommended settings yielded a frame rate of only 15fps, and cranking the graphics up any higher rendered the game pretty much unplayable.
Gaming is a no-go then (unless you stick to Bejeweled) but video content is still very much on the cards. We were impressed with the smooth playback of our HD test clips, and viewing video on the MT22 was very pleasant once we found an angle devoid of meddlesome reflections.
As for the MT22's chassis, again we have a few gripes, but nothing serious. Considering this all-in-one pitches itself as a media PC, for example, we'd have liked to see some easily accessible volume keys somewhere around the frame, and certainly a headphone socket somewhere other than right around the back. Looks-wise, whether or not you like the MT22's clear plastic frame and glowing blue LEDs will very much depend on your personal feelings about the aesthetic stylings of the movie Minority Report.
Odds and sods
As far as ports and extra bits go, you'll find six USB ports, a multi-format card reader, an Ethernet port (though the MT22 also supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity), a DVD re-writer, VGA out and an HDMI port, which is an odd choice seeing as the MT22 isn't really portable enough to plug into a TV. As far as storage, the MT22 comes with a 640GB hard drive, which should satisfy your video-hoarding needs for a good while.
USB keyboard and mouse are included, and both are perfectly usable. There's also a media remote, which will come in very handy if you're a fan of selecting your video through Windows Media Centre.
Additionally, the MT22 features a built-in Freeview tuner -- plug in the USB aerial adaptor and hook that up to a normal TV aerial and you'll have access to numerous live, free to watch channels. As a bonus, you can also record, and pause or rewind live TV through the intuitive Windows Media interface. We had to hook the MT22 up to our office TV aerial wall-socket, however -- the tiny aerial that came in the box simply didn't pick up any channels whatsoever.
There's an HDMI input round the back, which means you can hook up a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or other HD-enabled machine and use the MT22 as a monitor.
The MT22 is a let-down in some areas -- that hyper-reflective screen being literally the most glaring problem. The MT22 would be much more useful as a PC if it were powerful enough to handle some gaming too.
At only £580, however, you really do get an awful lot for your money. We can't think of many other ways to bring well-constructed touchscreen technology and a high-resolution display into your home for that kind of money. It's not perfect, but it's an affordable splash of luxury, and a solid PC to boot.
Plus, with its TV tuner and HDMI input, we can see this machine being a big hit with students, or anyone who chews through tonnes of video but doesn't have very much living space, and would prefer one screen to handle everything.
Before buying it though, we recommend you check out the similar Medion Akoya P4011 D.
Edited by Nick Hide