The Dell All-in-One
Dell has a nifty all-in-one that should match what Apple has to offer.
Reviewers, at times, can be somewhat myopic. I speak for myself in this particular instance. My job as a writer is to test hardware on a daily basis, and as such I have a very keen understanding (or so I hope) of the intricacies of computer design. If I need to build a machine, whether for test purposes or something that my wife can play Song Pop on, I have a near infinite variety of components that I can choose from to fit the needs of the project. As such, we often forget that not everyone has that level of expertise. Most people, in fact, just want to be able to buy something that not only fits their needs, but also simply just has to work.
Dog is unimpressed with packaging. UPS complained profusely though.
This is the reason why we have the Dells, HPs, and Lenovos of the world. The vast majority of people out there are unwilling to build their own machine and support it themselves. They neither have the time nor patience to dive in and learn the ins and outs of a modern PC and the software that runs them. This is not a bad thing. Just as I do not have the patience to learn how to sew, I still like wearing clothes. At least during our podcasts. For the most part.
We must also admit that we are moving well away from the typical beige box that dominated the 90s and early 2000s. Manufacturers have a much better eye for not only functionality, but also aesthetics. No longer do we have the hulking CRTs of yesteryear, and neither do we have the large boxes that are nearly indistinguishable from one or another. Multiple form factors abound and these large manufacturers have design teams that pay very close attention to things like compatibility, power consumption, and thermal dissipation. With these things in mind, they are able to create unique devices that not just serve the needs of consumers, but also just simply work.
Apple has been at the forefront of this type of design for quite some time. This is a company that has prized fit, finish, and functionality far more than they have pursued cost cutting and homogenization. This has lead to much higher margins for the company, and a nearly rabid following by the people buying their platforms. We certainly can argue that they probably perfected the “all-in-one” machine back in the Macintosh days, and since that time they have not stood still. The iMac was a further advancement in that field, but the introduction of relatively inexpensive and large LCD panels allowed them to further shrink the all-in-one. It also allowed them to further sculpt the design into what we see today.
Everything is nicely supported in the box.
Obviously people around the industry have noticed this trend, and noticed the devoted following of the Apple consumers. It is hard to miss. The world is a big place though, and surely there are people who crave the type of design that Apple pushes, but do not necessarily want to jump on that particular bandwagon. Dell has recognized this and created their XPS One lineup of products. Not everyone wants to run OSX and pay the Apple tax. If this is the case for a reader, then this might be the product that catches their attention.
XPS One 27” General Overview
Dell has designed an entire lineup of all-in-one systems built around the 27” PLS 2560×1440 panel. PLS is a technology from Samsung that appears to be an extension of IPS, but with advantages over the previous panel type. Samsung claims that it is superior to the more traditional IPS technology, but cheaper to produce. While I do not know of the cost of manufacturing these parts, I can attest to the overall quality of the panel. The lowest end XPS One 27 is approximately $1299 and it scales up to around $1999 when fully upgraded to maximize memory size. The unit I have uses Windows 7, but all current XPS One models will be shipping with Windows 8 as standard.
Removing the top packing exposes the amount of space given this system so that it is not harmed during shipping.
The sculpted base of the unit is a solid chunk of aluminum. This is a relatively heavy piece, and it is needed as such to support (and stabilize) the large 27” panel and the internals of the unit. The unit has a nice heft to it, and the panel rotation is nice and stiff. Nobody likes their screen to start drooping during the middle of a movie, or writing an article. The body of the machine is not bulky at all. The panel has a nicely rounded back that does not bulge in odd places, unlike our intern Ken. All of the components fit nicely in this setup. The unit also features an internal power supply, so a large power brick is not required. This simplifies installation for users, and does not leave a large and ugly power brick just sitting around either on the desk or on the floor.
Our first full look at the XPS One 27". Some stylistic changes vs. the Apple product, but all "all-in-one" flat screen PCs will be very similar in appearance.
These products feature the Intel “Ivy Bridge” processors, and they range from the Core i5 3450 up to the Core i7 3770S. These are processors that go up to a max of 65 watts TDP, so they are not fire breathers that require hefty cooling systems. All of the machines utilize the Intel HD graphics solutions, but the top end adds the NVIDIA GT 640M 2GB card for a bit more muscle in 3D applications.