More Features and Overall Impressions
Memory sizes go from 6GB at the low end to 16 GB at the top. Optical drives range from CD/DVD writer combos to the top end Blu-ray reader and DVD-writer. Hard drives go from 1.5 TB single units to the combination 30 GB Samsung SSD paired with a 2TB spinning drive (the SSD acts as a cache in this case). This particular model that I am testing features 8 GB of DDR-3 1600 memory, 30 GB cache SSD, and a 2 TB spinning disk.
The rear panel holds the cable tuner input, many USB 3.0 ports, HDMI in and out, GigE port, audio connections, and of course the power plug.
These machines are focused on cutting as many cables as possible. Dell has not totally gone wireless though, as it integrates a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed hub that plugs directly into Intel’s USB 3.0 controller. This gives up to 6 USB 3.0 connections for the machine. It also includes a Gig-E wired connection for those needing speedier networking transfers. Otherwise, the setup includes 802.11 b/g/n wireless controller paired with a Bluetooth 4.0 unit. Other wired inputs and outputs include two HDMI ports (in and out), optical out, microphone in, and in some models a cable TV input (for those with the integrated cable TV tuner).
The biggest feature is of course the 27” PLS panel. This uses the increasingly common 2560×1440 resolution. The DPI of the unit might take a little getting used to for some people, and might be a little tough to read for those used to the large pixel sizes of most modern 24” 1080P units. Dell is now offering touchscreen enabled XPS One 27” units, but this particular part is a slightly older version of what can be purchased now (though will not be shipping until Nov. 16 or 29, depending on the model).
The unit is very slim, but still very solid. The base holds it all up very nicely and is not easy to shift around.
The mouse and keyboard for this machine are interesting. They are both wireless units and run on AAA batteries. The keyboard features the “chicklet” style keys that have a small amount of travel. I was not personally impressed with the keyboard, but tastes will differ. I prefer a larger unit with greater key travel, but aesthetically the low profile, wireless keyboard matches up nicely with the unit as a whole. The mouse is a wireless device as well, but as compared to the keyboard this has a much more comfortable feel with good travel for the buttons and nice scrolling feel. The mouse is interesting in that the entire top cover is attached to the body by small but strong magnets. Taking off the cover is easy to replace the battery, and it snaps on with some real force. Never in use did the cover come off the mouse and it worked perfectly.
The wireless keyboard and mouse are accentuated by the Windows Remote that is included with the XPS One 27".
The XPS One 27” features integrated speakers. I was actually quite surprised with these units, as they feature a bigger sound than I expected. Sound was not perfect, and one does not expect that with integrated speakers. Still, the units were clean with good depth, though were a tad boomy in bass heavy parts. Obviously a dedicated speaker system with a sub will give better overall sound, but these do fairly well in most situations.
The system overall is light enough that a single person can move it around. There is a certain amount of bulkiness that is involved with a 27” all-in-one, but it can be easily moved as long as a person is careful.
The packaging of the system is pretty bulky, but that is needed to protect the unit. A person could easily crouch inside the box and be fully hidden from view. Cats naturally will love it and will want to set up shop. The unit is nicely protected by internal cardboard and foam supports. Shipping will always be a concern with any computer components, but Dell seems to have alleviated most potential issues with some nicely designed packaging. Removing the unit is also easy, and the box features directions on how to safely do so.
It is really fun to actually set up a machine that only features one cable as the bare necessity. My primary machine with 3 monitors, external speakers, game controllers, flash readers, and other accoutrements make it a small nightmare to connect and disconnect for maintenance purposes. This unit simply has a power cord that plugs in, and if the user has a wireless home network, then that will be the only cable that this product needs.
The recovery disk setup takes around an hour to complete, so plan wisely.
The first boot will prompt the user to create recovery disks for this installation. Two DVD-R disks are necessary to complete this operation. It took some time to gather files and actually burn the disks. I was surprised when it took approximately 1 hour. This is something a user will want to do and get out of the way as soon as possible. One never knows when a spouse or child will decide to check out that email link from the Better Business Bureau or print out those Delta tickets that you didn’t order.
The issue that I have, and I am not alone here, is that most major OEMs bundle a bunch of unnecessary programs with their new products. Remember the days of AOL and Realplayer being standard programs that would pop up and require your attention upon first boot? Happily, Dell has chosen to go with a more minimalist approach. For this, I am most grateful. The programs active on startup are McAfee anti-virus (not guilty of murder version), Intel HD Graphics control, Dell Webcam control, Bluetooth, Intel Rapid Storage, NV Graphics control, and the Dell Data Safe program. We are not greeted by dozens of icons across the desktop featuring programs and products that we neither want nor will ever use.
The panel is lovely to behold, but only in certain circumstances. Those circumstances require a user to be in a fairly dark environment. The screen does not feature any anti-glare coating. It is highly reflective of outside light sources. If a user has an office that has plenty of windows and is brightly lit, then the reflections on the screen can be annoying. Especially when watching videos that are dark, or working on photography projects that also feature a lot of darks. In a properly lit environment the panel does come to life. It really is a great looking unit with deep darks, excellent contrast, bright colors, and a surprisingly even picture. I did not notice any overly light or dark spots throughout the panel, and I did not notice any dead or stuck pixels.