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HP Pavilion All-in-One MS225 review: HP Pavilion All-in-One MS225

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MSRP: $599.99

The Good Strong performance among low-cost all-in-ones; classy, understated design; 802.11n Wi-Fi comes standard.

The Bad HP could have made this the perfect kitchen PC with a mouse-driven version of its TouchSmart Recipe Box software; audio output a bit soft.

The Bottom Line Don't expect the world from HP's low-cost Pavilion All-in-One MS2255, but as a basic day-to-day PC for light-duty productivity or Web and media accessibility in the kitchen, it's a very good deal. You'd be wise to look here before considering an Atom-based Nettop.

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7.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

Thanks to a robust, low-cost AMD chip and a healthy portion of system memory, HP's Pavilion All-in-One MS225 ably spans the divide between hobbled Nettops and pricier Intel-based all-in-ones. If performance is top of mind, we'd point you to a true budget desktop. Otherwise, the manageable, self-contained design of a smaller all-in-one has a lot of appeal, and it's worth paying a small premium for this $599 HP, whose components are robust enough to handle the day-to-day tasks that confound its competition.

An 18.4-inch display and all-matte-black housing/gray stand combination make the Pavilion All-in-One MS225 an approachable, unobtrusive piece of hardware. It's easy to imagine it perched on a desk or tucked away on a countertop. The screen isn't touch-enabled, and the included mouse and keyboard are both wired devices, so you'll either need to endure some traditional input device clutter, or spring for a wireless desktop set. The good news is that it does come with 802.11n wireless networking, so at least you won't have to worry about running an Ethernet cable through your kitchen.

To the input method, we don't expect to find touch input in a capable $599 all-in-one (at least in the first half of the year). We're actually very skeptical of touch-input in desktops, but HP's TouchSmart all-in-one line stands out for its superb recipe software that can scrape and organize recipes from a wide variety of popular Web sites. We wish HP had extended that software to this system. A mouse-driven version of its Recipe Box program would be perfect in this countertop-friendly design.

  HP Pavilion All-in-One MS225 Averatec D1133
Price $599 $549
Screen size, resolution 18.4-inches, 1,366x768 18.4-inches, 1,680x945
CPU 1.6GHz AMD Athlon II X2 250 1.5GHz AMD Athlon X2 3250e
Memory 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics 512MB ATI Radeon HD 3200
Hard drives 320GB, 7,200rpm 250GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11g wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit)

The Averatec D1133 we reviewed back in September has been around for a while. Averatec offers a new, Windows 7-based model for $599 (currently on sale for $479), but aside from the new operating system, the hardware is the same. From a value standpoint, HP gives you a larger hard drive and more system RAM, the latter of which has a noticeable performance impact.

We're not able to speak to the streaming video capabilities of the Averatec system, as we only tested it with a DVD, which we found satisfactory. The HP's video playback quality for DVDs was also fine, and it handled Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and HD movie trailers with no trouble. The HP's audio output was perhaps a little louder than the Averatec's, but by no means would it fill a large room. Between the soft audio and 18.4-inch displays common to both systems, neither is a digital media stand-out, but they should be enough to provide decent background entertainment or up-close viewing.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion All-in-One MS225
Lenovo C300

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion All-in-One MS225
Lenovo C300

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion All-in-One MS225
Lenovo C300

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Acer Aspire Z5610
Gateway One ZX4800-02
HP Pavilion All-in-One MS225
Averatec D1133 All-in-One
Lenovo C300

Our lab testing puts the Pavilion All-in-One MS225 exactly where we expected to find it. It's not quite as fast as more expensive all-in-ones from Gateway and Acer, both of which run full-power Intel Pentium Dual Core CPUs. But to its credit, the HP outpaces both the Intel Atom-powered Lenovo C300 and to a lesser extent the Averatec, which has only 2GB of RAM backing its AMD chip. We expect that a budget desktop with an Intel Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad CPU would be faster still, for roughly the same price, but among $500 to $600 all-in-ones, the Pavilion All-in-One MS225 is a clear winner. As long as you don't attempt any overly ambitious multimedia editing or challenging 3D games, we expect you'll encounter few slow-downs during everyday use.

You also shouldn't get too ambitious in terms of the devices you'd like to connect to this HP. It has a pair of USB 2.0 ports on the left side, and four more on the back, but that's about it for external device support. The system also has a media card reader, a pair of analog audio jacks, an Ethernet port, a Webcam, and brightness controls. All of those features are welcome, although we'd trade the brightness controls for volume buttons or a dedicated display power button. The volume controls on the keyboard work, too.

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