Samsung and MSI release all-in-wonderful PCs

Up until the launch of Windows 7, all-in-one (AIO) PCs have been the equivalent of a bargain ready-meal for one – they look a bit pathetic in your home, and no-one really enjoys them, but at least it is better than starving to death.

However, Samsung and MSI are preparing some gourmet offerings, combining the power and functionality of high-end computers with the aesthetics and ease-of-installation of AIOs. And both companies have thrown in touchscreens.

Samsung-All-In-One

Samsung, entering the desktop market for the very first time, are launching two new AIO systems – the U250 and the U200, both styled like a giant iPads. And the similarities don’t end there – the devices also offer multitouch touchscreen using Windows 7’s powerful backend, meaning that the computer could quite happily replace a TV as an entertainment device, without a keyboard or mouse in sight.

While the screen may be a bit small to use as a primary viewing set, at 20-inch (U200) and 23-inch (U250), the picture quality is definitely there, with each model offering a degree of HD compatibility. The U200’s 1600 x 900 resolution means that 720p can be displayed, while the U250’s massive 1920 x 1080 allows for Full HD support.

Behind the screen, the internals are equally impressive for an AIO. The U200 boasts an Intel T440 dual core, while its bigger brother has a Core 2 Duo T6600, alongside a dedicated Geforce graphics card (G310M 512mb), 500gb hard drive and two or more gigabytes of RAM.

Disappointingly, there is no mention of an included Blu-ray player, which would really make the most of the gorgeous screen.

MSI’s offering, the “Wind Top AE2400”, is a premium model, and looks set to outperform (and out-cost) both of Samsung’s offerings. Offering a 23.6-inch 1920 x 1080 screen, an Intel Quad processor, a Mobility Radeon HD 5730 graphics card, a 1 TB hard drive and multitouch, the system looks set to be the biggest and strongest AIO on the market.

Time will tell if either of these companies can match Apple’s success in the AIO World, whose iMac line has been the trademark of designs for the last decade, and a benchmark of quality all-in-one builds.

Apple iMac (late 2009) 27-inch Review

new-imac-quadcore-led

iMac’s used to be the obvious choice for people who prefer style over substance. This is no longer the case, over the last 10 years Apple have steadily improved their all-in-one computer and the latest incarnation is the fastest all-in-one solution on the market to date. The two ultra-high-end 27-inch iMacs are the first to uses Intel’s Core i5 and i7 quad-core processors. And the other lower spec iMac’s feature Intel’s core 2 duo.

The Display

The first thing you will notice in Apple’s new all-in-one computer range is the amazing screen. The 27-inch model is bite the back of your hand beautiful and has been made with high definition video in mind. Featuring an insanely high resolution of 2560×1440 graphic designers and techie types will certainly take notice of the new iMac screen, especially now that it features energy efficient LED technology. Like many of the top LED HDTVs, the black border that surrounds the new iMac screen reaches out to the very edge; the aluminium border from previous iMac’s has now gone and Apple’s engineers have managed something quite beautiful.

The never-ending glass edge gives the impression that the screen is bigger than it really is. The only downside of screen is the glossy finished which often means you can see yourself in the reflection. But, on the upside the glossy finish allows the display to produce deep blacks and rich eye-popping colours. With the increased screen real estate the question you will ask yourself is: “Do I put this in the office or in the living room to show off?”

The Look & Sound

The body of the new iMac is made entirely of aluminium, the plastics from previous models have gone and you’re now left with the best looking computer on the market. Like previous iMacs, the ports are located behind the computer in the bottom left corner. Featuring a headphone/optical output minjack, an audio line/optical digital audio input minijack, four USB 2.0 ports, one firewire 800 port, a mini DisplayPort and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Apple has strengthened the possibility of using this piece of kit as part of an entertainment centre with an upgraded speaker system. The new speakers are a vast improvement. You’ll still probably want to add some external speaker if you put it in a big room, but if you have it a normal sized bedroom, den or office the new speaker have more than enough power.

Performance & Kit

Apple has included quad-core compatibility for the first time in an iMac; they give you the option of Intel’s I5 2.66 quad-core or i7 2.80 quad-core. The i5 features technology that Intel calls Turbo Boost. If an application isn’t using every available core, the cores that are idle shut off, and the active core speeds up to 3.20 Ghz.

For the first time the new iMac come with Bluetooth keyboard (not a full sized effort with the number pad missing) and the much lauded Magic Mouse. The mouse has been attracting quite a bit of attention, first of all the new mouse looks beautiful and feels instantly comfortable. Apple claims nothing less than a reinvention of the computer mouse. But then, Apple would. It features the trackpad technology used is Apple’s laptops to the surface of the mouse. The mouse’s surface allows you scroll up and down with supreme smoothness and a quick flick of you two fingers left or right will allow you to move between photos or back and forward in the web browser. Over the lat few days I have begun to warm to the magic mouse to the point that when I went back to using a track wheel it felt peculiar and alien after the smooth surface of the Magic Mouse.

Conclusion

The iMac is a marvellous piece of design and now if features the raw power that we have all been waiting for. Sure it does have its down sides the lack of a Blu-ray drive and no HDMI might seem unforgivable to some. But Apple has managed to create an all-in-one solution that rarely disappoints and will surely fly of the shelves over Christmas.

Our Score

4/5