Dell's XPS One 2710 rises above the commodity PC crop
One highlight of this year's Consumer Electronics Show was the debut of the 27-inch Windows all-in-one. Finally, two-and-a-half years after Apple debuted the 27-inch iMac, Windows vendors found a way to compete.
I had some hands-on time with Vizio's 27-incher a few weeks ago, but the company still has not submitted a system for review. That Samsung Series 9 all-in-one has come out in Asia, but it hasn't hit U.S. shores yet.
The three remaining systems did show up in the CNET Lab, though. We also had a surprise 27-inch entry from Dell. Here's a roundup of our reviews. It might not be the best time to buy a new PC with Windows 8 refreshes likely right around the corner, but you can at least say that this last salvo of Windows 7 all-in-ones closed the gap with the 27-inch iMac.
Dell XPS One 2710
Dell's big-screen all-in-one is the most compelling of the bunch because it also has the highest display resolution. The 2,560x,1,440-pixel screen matches that of the 27-inch iMac, and because Apple hasn't updated the iMac in a while, the XPS One 2710 also has more-up-to-date components, including Intel's third-generation (aka "Ivy Bridge") Core i7 processor. The only caveat for this system: with both Windows 8 and the possibility of a new iMac looming, you would be smart to put off a purchase to see what the competition looks like around the holiday buying season. Read the CNET review of the Dell XPS One 2710.
HP Omni 27 Quad
For all the effort HP has put behind touch-screen all-in-ones, that it would debut a 27-inch all-in-one with touch input comes as a surprise. HP cited the high cost of big touch screens, but then Lenovo's touch-based 27-inch IdeaCentre A720 isn't that much more expensive. Still, with a starting price of just over $1,000, the Omni 27 Quad is the one of the most affordable big-screen all-in-ones. Read the CNET review of the HP Omni 27 Quad.
Asus All-in-One PC ET2700INKS
Asus went for a full-on home entertainment PC with this non-touch 27-incher, including a break-out subwoofer for increased bass output. It's not the most pristine audio accessory I've heard, but even without it, this system is reasonably capable for its price. Asus also has a touch-screen version, the ET2700INKI, available in the same price range. Read the CNET review of the Asus All-in-one PC ET2700INKS.
Lenovo IdeaCentre A720
Technically speaking, Lenovo's blatant attempt to copy Apple's iMac trade dress doesn't hurt the functionality of the IdeaCentre A720. Still, one look at the too-similar desktop wallpaper and it's hard not to feel like Lenovo is insulting your intelligence.
In any case, while this all-in-one seems like the most innovative systems on this list -- 27-inch touch screen, unique flexible display stand -- it lacks substance in terms of touch applications and core components. Yes, Windows 8 will expand the available touch programs, but I expect a slew of system updates between now and the time Microsoft releases its new OS. As with the Dell, you're better holding off on a big purchase and waiting to see what you can get from the updated field. Read the CNET review of the Lenovo IdeaCentre A720.
Compare these desktops side-by-side.