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back to article All-in-one PCs: bright star of the desktop biz, says analyst

World+Dog will buy - or, rather, the planet's PC makers will produce and ship - some 16.4m all-in-one computers. So forecasts market watcher IHS iSuppli, which gleefully notes that the resultant "robust" growth - shipments will be up 20 per cent from 2011's 13.7m - could see the AIO platform become the saviour of the desktop …

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Lets wait and see

What screen resolution they offer, shall we?

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Not here..

Unless they develop a dual-screen version... All staff get dual monitors.

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Re: Not here..

Surely they could still have a second monitor?

although, yes it would seem a bit pointless over a regular desktop

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Touch screen desktop monitors?

It just isn't comfortable, unless the screen is angled like a Wacom digitising monitor. A small touch-screen device on the desk next the keyboard might serve many people better.

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Surely a more cost-effective way to achieve that would be some sort of desktop-tablet integration, so basically you run an application on the tablet computer which then makes it function as an input peripheral to the desktop.

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Dell Inspiron 2320

My Dell Inspiron One 2320 is the quality you expect for the price (plasticy and makes weird casing vibration noises), and I have used the touchscreen capability for about 5 secs in the 6 months since I bought it. I did get it for decent size screen / relatively smaller and cleaner footprint though.

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Anonymous Coward

For most people, the computer needs to be upgrade much sooner than the screen...

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So it's a way to sell more screens.

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Anonymous Coward

* UPGRADED

When did they stop teaching inflection and tense in schools?

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I've gotten a few of these for various situations. One is actually running software that controls a motion platform used as a camera test rig; it's not 'industrial', per se, but it's so cheap that you could go through seven of the things by the time you paid for the industrial equivalent. Since it's used in a relatively clean area it's hardly an issue. And in that case, the touch screen is quite nice; I designed the UI specifically for it, so the test lab won't be wondering where the keyboard is or breaking mice, and it'll be marginally more difficult for users to alt-tab to run solitaire...

I also got a couple for general office use around here. Yeah, they're not dual monitor and not super high resolution, but for checking schematics before printing, doing general documenty kinda things, email, web, etc, they're fine, and the form factor is a massive plus for a place where desk space is limited and you really don't want computers sitting on the floor.

Sure, the computer will need upgrading before the screen, but christ, the things are $600. For business use it costs almost as much to set the things up; the monitors are essentially throw-away. The rest of the machine... well, these things won't ever be upgraded or mucked with. There's no point. If someone needs a good computer, they get a real one. If not, I'd rather not be screwing around with it.

As far as the touch screen not being useful in everyday stuff - sure, it's not, but you don't HAVE to use it. It's there. If you don't like it, pretend it isn't, but it's a really bad reason to not buy that kind of computer!

The only real bad point about them is the time it takes to exorcise all the pre-installed crud (I'm talking to you, Symantec).

As for build quality, the HP and Gateway we have are both fine. They don't make you feel warm and fuzzy when you caress them like Apple kit does, but I don't spend a lot of time caressing my computers. (This also applies to car reviewers, who will complain when the interior b-pillar is made out of 'hard plastic'; presumably they spend time rubbing on the things and want them to be comfortable). No vibration or other problems.

Probably the worst thing about them is the awkwardness of the DVD drives, which seem to have trays made out of tissue paper, but they get used so seldom these days that it's hardly a dealbreaker.

Anyway.

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Isnt all of this a little like going back in time?

I am young enough to remember when computers had everything they needed right there under the keyboard, like the Acorn Electron, BBC Master, Amiga etc.

Going back a few years before them, didn't most micros come with the monitor attached to the whole thing? A bit like the PET. Or was that about the same time?

Even then, the monitor was an input device, light pens if I am not mistaken? Granted, it is all a little different than today's offerings, with ultra thin flat screen monitors and SSD's etc.

Funny how things go round and come back again.

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I am young enough to remember when computers had everything they needed right there under the keyboard, like the Acorn Electron, BBC Master, Amiga etc.

That old stuff is back in fashion. I just got a 5155 which was IBM's first AIO. It works like new, but that 8088 does have its limitations.

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Why?

My first x86 was an IBM Aptiva and it cost a small fortune. Many years later I've ditched a desktop completely and am completely satisfied using my $800 Toshiba Satellite. Except in very specialized situations (CAD, active 3D simulations & advanced code development) I just don't see a place for desktops much longer. Networks that work & distributed computing have finally (almost) delivered on their promises & desktops are going to loose. I don't see how awkward AIO's will change that.

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Why ?

Using a laptop as a desktop replacement is a dumb idea for a vast number of people.

Try having a laptop in a household that includes a ham-fisted teenage boy. If it lasts a week without the screen breaking off or being drenched in Coke then you are extremely lucky.

Even if you don't have a problem teenager you have the difficulties relating to general reliability and expensive repair costs. (to be fair this also applies to all-in-ones which are essentially just a bunch of laptop parts crammed into the rear of a monitor). I have an ostensibly more than useable core2-duo, 4Gb, 1920x1200 laptop with inbuilt 256mb nvidia 6xxx graphics that I bought a few years ago. It is still a workable spec but it is mostly rendered useless due to the small problem of the non standard *radial* fan grinding away at itself and causing the whole rig to overheat whenever running anything that uses 3D. There is little hope of finding a replacement fan for this machine so it sits in a cupboard unused.

The occasionally upgraded Athlon64 desktop that predates it (whose oldest part dates back to last century) is still going strong.

Then there are drivers. For some reason you can get drivers for any old random manufacturer graphics card that uses an nvidia chip from the nvidia website, *unless* the chip is in a laptop. Then I am required to rely on the manufacturer to provide drivers and we all know how good most of those assholes are at providing up to date drivers for anything that they are not selling that week.

No, laptops are not the answer. Laptops are well suited to mobile computing (which funnily enough is what they are designed for) but a proper desktop is much better value, is more reliable and allows much more flexibility for upgrading than any laptop (or all-in-one) will ever do.

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Re: Why ?

For ham-fisted teens, use separate keyboard and mouse. Add separate screen and you have an all-in-one that doubles as a desktop and a mobile. (not to mention less wear on built-in keyboard and trackpad)

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Stop

Re: Why ?

But by the time you've added all that, you lose the mobility and the price exceeds that of a desktop.

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Touchscreens 24" or whatever

The whole idea of a 24" touchscreen is bonkers except in a very few instances.

An iPad or other tablet sitting on one's lap works, because the arm is essentially at rest. And the distance the hand has to move is relatively small.

If you have a 24" touchscreen at arm's length, the arm is not at rest. It is being made to work hard. Too hard to be comfortable.

The few cases where a 24" touchscreen could work would be information booths and that sort of thing, where the interaction will be over and done with in a matter of minutes. And the whole experience is a bit of a gimmick and a novelty.

There are large touchscreen home AIOs available now. They look OK, but who actually uses them as touchscreens?

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Re: Touchscreens 24" or whatever

I used to work with a graphic designer who used to slap the fingers of anyone who had the temerity to touch his (non-touch) pc screen. The smears and fingerprints drove him crazy. A touchscreen would probably just about send him over the edge.

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at home...

I really wasn't the least bit impressed with this form factor until I read about the HP Z1. HOLY SHIT I AM BUYING THAT! next tax return

http://www.reghardware.com/2012/06/08/review_hp_z1_workstation/

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FAIL

Why won't touch screen desktops work?

Hold your hand out and put your finger on the screen. Keep it up there for half an hour.

Now you know.

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Different markets

Essentially at the moment many different markets are buying "desktop computers". Certain markets are now switching to other possibilities.

Take the "web terminal" market. In the past nearly everybody who wanted to access the WWW had a desktop PC. Now more and more people are switching to mobile phones or small laptops.

Or the "workstation" market, which in the very early past was dominated by RISC UNIX workstations, but since the mid 1990s is moving onto "desktop computers" usually running Linux.

Then there's the business terminal market. They are currently nearly fully hooked onto Windows on "desktop computers", but might switch, once Windows terminal servers become affordable.

And then there are probably a lot of markets I forgot about, like the small servers market.

Those are different markets all buying "desktop computers". If you want to do any kind of forecast you need to see them individually.

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Not everything relates to Apple

AIO's are great for minimising the mess and cables in non-workplace environments - such as the home.

The downside is that no-one has done this well with standard ATX componants. Otherwise its just a large-screen laptop and you may as well get one and plug an external screen in. The HP Z1 starts down right road with upgradeable componants.

If the vendors could get their act together with being able to power down noisy graphics cards and switch dynamically to low-power built-in graphics and possibly clock-back the main CPU for ultra-quiet operation, we could get something nice going with systems hidden behind big 27" screens, but with "proper" big cpu oomph for gaming.

I suspect that a full ATX system could be clipped to the back of a 27" screen, plus a reasonably-sized disk array. Add a couple of bondable gig-e ports and you have nice home-server. I'd be happy to put a power-brick on the floor if required.

It's the neatness and quietness of AIO's combined with the bigscreen that you don't get in a normal laptop which makes them attractive.

A laptop+bigscreen is easier to handle and gives you a portable pc to boot, but an AIO could be a far more flexible solution, but currently they aren't.

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WTF?

Touchscreen?

Completely irrelevant. Any PC is able of supporting a touchscreen - what has it got to do with AIOs?

AIO PCs are popular for a couple of reasons:

1. They are usually prettier than a normal desktop PC

2. They don't take up as much space as a normal desktop PC

3. Less cabling to faff around with

4. They have more grunt than a laptop

Speaking from my job's perspective - AIO machines are the machine of choice in many places (although some are USFF with a AIO stand), as it allows for easier security, and for more PCs to be put in a smaller space.

Touchscreens don't even come into it! No-one wants to spend all day prodding their monitor.

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Coat

Nothing new here... IT saviour Surrallan was there before he was Surrallan. If we'd all bought the stunning Amstrad Integra, British IT would be in a very different place now!

http://www.fvempel.nl/amstradcg/metia/eintegra.html

Mine's the one with the stack of floppy disks in the pocket...

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Desktop touchscreen?

bad for back bad for eyes probably bad for the carpet when it gets pushed off.

My screen(s) is as big as possible as far away as possible cos I value my eyes.

I thought the whole point of screens was to display more data not cover ten lines with a finger while typing 'vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv' with your belly/(man)boobs

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Meh

Re: Desktop touchscreen?

I like the All in One's. Put some in my brothers estate agents office and they look great in a customer facing office. Also it's harder to spill coffee on the important bits wehn it's on the desk, unlike a laptop. I could only get the touchscreen variety at the time but I just cannot see why you would use it when the keyboard and mouse is close to hand.

Now I remember back a few years when I had a manager who was a bit of a git. Unfortunately, he also had a skin condition, where his hands were always flaky and weeping. One day he was pointing out something on my old CRT screen, when the electrostatic conditions plucked a large chunk of weepy flesh and it embarrisingly stuck right where we were looking. So with touchscreens, I can just see it being used by 3rd parties leaning over my shoulder taking control and I don't particularly want my managers sweaty fingerprints, bogies and food traces smeared across my screen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Serious Suggestion

If you don't know how to use an apostrophe, just don't bother.

Or even better, take all of thirty seconds to read and learn?

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Re: Serious Suggestion

Well sorry about that! You are not my old manager are you? I'll try better with my writing ,if you promise to go to charm school.

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Unhappy

Re: Desktop touchscreen?

You know, I really could have done without seeing the phrase 'large chunk of weepy flesh' today. Or any day, really. I mean, honestly.

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If your all in one PC breaks then it will take a fortune to fix

When you buy a new PC make sure that all of its components (case and motherboard etc) are completely standard. Then when one component breaks you can simply go to your local friendly PC maker and ask then to replace the case or motherboard or whatever for probably no more than £80 per component. You will also probably find that your new component is slightly faster.

I was given a HP laptop last year (which sells second hand on ebay for about £120). After a few months the SATA disk controller on the motherboard failed. I asked a PC shop for a quote for fixing the laptop. Their quote was £250 for the new motherboard and £150 for labour. If my desktop PC motherboard had failed then the repair would have cost around £80 for a new motherboard plus £20 for labour.

If you build your own PCs then costs can be even lower. My son has bought all of the components for the 3 PCs that he has build from SCAN. He believes that suppliers such as SCAN actually sell better quality components than many of the computer manufacturers. He raves about Corsair power supplies.

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Re: If your all in one PC breaks then it will take a fortune to fix

I should also mention that SCAN sell pre-built PCs.

It is interesting to note that although the new MacBook Pro with a retina display costs $2,100, it is partly glued together. It is therefore less repairable than most Apple products. The people who buy Apple products need to consider what would happen if they were to fail when they are out of warranty.

The only way to reduce the cost of repairing both all in one PCs and laptops is of course for there to be international standards for the boards and cables in these devices much as there is for desktop PCs. Then if a laptop motherboard was to fail, it could be cheaply replaced by a third party compentively priced laptop motherboard.

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All in ones are the way to go

No clutter, nothing. We use Dell computers in our company and have been installing nothing but All-in-ones for the last couple years. 2 cables...power and network since they all come with wireless keyboard and mice.

Touchscreens are worthless. Some of the models we've used have them and nobody gives a crap after the novelty wears off during the first week. Desktop is NOT the form factor for touch screen.

As far as repair, the new models are a joy to work on. External laptop-like power supply, 2 screws and the back cover comes completey off making for a very simple hard drive replacement. The newer ones (FINALLY) have a port to connect a second screen to (no more USB adapters!!).

As far as standards, we wouldn't have the great variety and innovation if manufacturers had to stick with antiquated standards for everything. Try making a super-thin notebook or a all-in-one PC utilizing standardized components...it either can't be done or would look like a piece of crap.

Who honestly give a sh*t about the super-high resolutions? My experience with these hi-resolution displays is that personnel turn the resolution down so things are "big enough" for them to see. I am sitting 3 feet from a bog-standard 20" 1680x1050 display and can't make out a pixel with my 20/20 vision if I had to. I guess it makes for great marketing hype...and makes the hardware driving everything have to work 4 times harder. Retina is purely marketing BS...the hi-res displays have been out for a very long time (1920*1200 15" laptops have been around for many years...and they suck to use for the 99% of us who aren't doing CAD).

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Re: All in ones are the way to go

Having seen the high res display on my wife's iPhone, I can testify personally that it makes a MASSIVE difference.

What's more, you mock people wanting high resolution because it's marking hype and it's impossible to tell the difference - but then imply that it does indeed make a difference for people doing CAD. (Presumably those who do page layout, image editing, 3D modeling, wanting to read stuff, etc, don't care about smooth, sharp lines, whereas CAD users do).

I have lousy vision and can quite easily tell the difference between a sheet of paper at screen-distance and my 30" 2560x1600 monitor. Text without antialiasing would be damn near unreadable; this alone should be enough to show that very high resolutions do indeed matter an awful lot.

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