Tired of cables? Sick of a boxy, old PC cluttering up your desktop? Then it might be time to invest in an all-in-one PC. Dell's latest all-in-one offering, the Studio One 19, takes up relatively little space, is easy to set up and has an optional touch-sensitive screen. Our review sample bears the full product code 'D00SO03' and is available now for about £800. The cheapest base configuration starts at about £600 and the most expensive costs around £1,000.
The One 19 is an odd-looking machine. It sports two bezels: the first is made of a Perspex-type material and the second is wider, sits directly behind the first, and is made of cloth. Yes, you read that correctly -- it's made of cloth. It's not just any ordinary cloth either. It's the type of material with which car manufacturers used to line the seats of cheap cars during the early '80s -- the type with the sort of fine honeycomb pattern that makes your eyes go funny if you look at it for too long. We hate it. It's available in a variety of colours, but we're pretty sure we'd hate it regardless of the hue.
Oddly, the rear of the One 19 is quite pleasing to look at, proving Dell's got its priorities wrong. Its curved, ivory-white casing has an Apple-esque vibe, but only makes it more obvious how unattractive the rest of the machine is. Round the back, it sports four USB ports, an Ethernet socket and a line-out audio jack, while, at the side, the One 19 rocks a memory card reader, two additional USB ports, mic and headphone jacks and a power button.
The One 19 package is rounded off with a wireless mouse and keyboard. The former is a contender for the worst mouse ever seen in the UK, including the real-life rodents that brought us the Black Death. The top layer of the mouse is secured to the bottom section via a pair of very weak magnets, and can become disconnected relatively easily. Knock it off the desk (yeah, we're pretty clumsy) and it'll smash into several pieces -- the top, bottom and batteries flying everywhere. It's fairly easy to put back together, but we spent more time on our knees picking up the pieces than we ought to have done.
Luckily, the keyboard is much better. It boasts dedicated shortcut buttons that allow the user to launch common applications such as a Web browser, calculator, the 'my computer' window and an email client. A further set of shortcut buttons allows the user to launch Windows Media Player, and skip forwards or backwards through audio tracks, while a dedicated wheel control lets you adjust the system's volume.
We almost dismissed the One 19 as a gimmick out of hand, since most touch-sensitive PCs don't work very well. But it's obvious Dell has done its utmost to circumvent the fact Windows Vista wasn't really designed for touch input. The One 19's 18.5-inch display is, for a start, multi-touch-compatible, meaning the machine is receptive to a wider variety of finger commands than your average prod-along PC.
Use a pinching or stretching gesture, for example, and it's possible to zoom in and out of the desktop, making icons appear almost as large as you wish. This makes pointing and selecting far easier than on most touch-based machines. Dell also provides the 'Touch Zone' software, an Apple Cover Flow-style application that launches commonly used applications. The fact that you can't add new applications or modify old ones, however, means its long-term usefulness is limited.