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Packard Bell oneTwo M review: Packard Bell oneTwo M

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If you're after a computer for the bedroom or living room that can pose as a TV and doesn't require its own desk, then an all-in-one is for you. 

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8.3

Packard Bell oneTwo M

The Good

Good performance for the money; Freeview TV tuner built in; HDMI-in lets you hook up a games console.

The Bad

Resistive touchscreen can be awkward to use; accessing the TV functions is too complicated.

The Bottom Line

The Packard Bell oneTwo may not offer the best touchscreen experience, but its built-in Freeview TV tuner and ability to link games consoles via the HDMI-in port makes it a good choice for a student flat or as a second family computer.

Like many models, the Packard Bell M offers touchscreen functionality and comes with a built-in Freeview TV tuner plus an HDMI-in port, allowing you to hook up a games console or Blu-ray player.

We tested the M I3871 model, with a 21.5-inch screen and an Intel Core i3 processor, selling for £580 from Dixons among other retailers -- there is also an M I5871 version with a 23-inch screen and i5 processor for £730. But will it please today's discerning family or students?

Design and build quality

Gone are the days when if you wanted a computer to sit on your desk you needed an enormous tower purring away underneath. All-in-ones pack all the components and fancy whirring do-das inside the monitor. This not only saves space, but it allows you to put it in your living room without cluttering it with cables.

From the front, the oneTwo looks unremarkable. It's mostly a big black screen that could pass for any TV or monitor, with a small silver support bar at the front bearing the Packard Bell branding.

It's not exactly ugly, but nor is it pretty. It manages to be just about interesting enough for us to not immediately fall asleep when looking at it, but we're not sure we'd want it taking pride of place in our living room. The Apple's iMac still holds the crown as the most beautiful all-in-one desktop PC, in our books.

Packard Bell reckon this is the "slimmest ever" all-in-one. That's probably true, but at 56mm deep, it's still not super-skinny. If you're hoping for something similar to the 4mm thick LG TV we saw at CES, then you're going to be disappointed. It's not exactly lightweight either, so we suggest finding a suitable spot for it to sit and then leaving it there.

Packard Bell oneTwo M I3871 side
It may claim to be the slimmest all-in-one TV and PC ever, but you still won't want to lug it around the house.

On the sides you'll find a DVD drive, two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot and headphone and microphone jacks. The back offers up four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI-in port and an aerial socket for the TV functions.

Having an HDMI-in port is handy as it means you can hook up a Blu-ray player or games console to your PC, as you would a normal TV. It doesn't need any extra installation and a button on the side allows you to quickly switch between the inputs. It's a handy feature and will no doubt appeal to students who are debating whether to have a TV or a PC in their small student flats.

Screen

The 21.5-inch screen is of the resistive touch variety, supposedly letting you ditch the keyboard and mouse that come with the computer (both of which are pretty cheap and nasty). Instead, you navigate around Windows 7 using swipes and pokes.

Sadly, the touch experience isn't a particularly pleasant one. Being a resistive rather than capacitive screen, it takes a fairly firm poke for it to register your contact. It's also not very accurate, so tapping on small links, icons or buttons can be awkward.

Windows 7 isn't designed to be a touch interface -- we're waiting for Windows 8 for that. To compensate, Packard Bell has developed a program that acts like a skin over the operating system, allowing you to load your media and browse the web in a more touch-friendly way. Frankly though, the interface is terrible and we found it quite processor-heavy. We didn't want to spend much time using it and we doubt very much that you would either.

The touch experience is something of a let-down here. We imagine that you -- like us -- will spend most of your time using the computer with the keyboard and mouse instead.

The screen offers a resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels so it's perfectly capable of playing back your Blu-ray discs at their best -- all the more reason to use that HDMI-in port. It does a decent job of handling colours but it's not as bright as we'd like, which can leave it seeming a little lacklustre at times.

It'll do fine for showing-off your holiday snaps, browsing YouTube or putting on the latest escapades of Miss Hannah Montana to keep the little 'uns quiet on a Sunday though.

Packard Bell oneTwo M I3871 screen
The screen resolution is ample for watching HD material, but it could be brighter.

TV tuner

The oneTwo comes with a built-in TV tuner. If you don't have room in your living room for a TV and a computer, then you can hook this guy up to your aerial and it will act as both. Setting up the TV is a simple matter of bunging an aerial lead into the socket in the back of the computer.

Actually watching TV is slightly more complicated though. Rather than being offered a nice, big, easy-to-see button on the desktop saying something akin to "watch TV by clicking this", you need to delve into the murky depths of Windows Media Center, where you'll find a TV guide full of the channels that are available to you.

It comes with Freeview as standard so you get access to channels like Dave and E4, for which you'll need a TV licence.

Performance

Stuffed inside you'll find an Intel Core i3-2120 processor running at 3.3GHz, teamed up with 3GB of RAM. The Core i3 is at the lower end of Intel's Core series of chips, but that's a nippy clock speed so we expected decent skills.

We ran the PCMark05 benchmark test and were given a score of 8,131, which is very respectable, considering the price. The Geekbench test offered similar results, squeezing a score of 8,695 out of the machine.

The oneTwo was generally fairly nippy in our testing and coped well with high-definition video playback and multi-tabbed web browsers streaming video. It fared less well when we booted up Adobe Photoshop Elements (pre-installed alongside Premiere Elements), with which we noticed a slowdown in general performance when applying changes to photos.

It will cope reasonably enough touching up your holiday pics, but if you want to edit high-resolution raw files or render 1080p videos in Premiere Elements, then you may find it screaming rather loudly in protest.

The oneTwo doesn't come with a dedicated graphics card so you shouldn't expect it to handle much in the way of gaming. The graphics grunt that the Intel Core processor does have will only lend a hand with high-definition video, but you might coax it into running some old games like Half Life 2 if you dial the settings back.

If you plan on buying the latest games like Skyrim, you're better off sticking to your Xbox. You can at least use the oneTouch as the TV for your console.

Conclusion

The Packard Bell oneTwo M isn't the most stylish of computers to have in your house. The touchscreen is pretty poor. But its decent power, handy HDMI-in and built-in TV tuner might make it a good choice for a student flat or as a second PC for the family.