If the analysts are right and with the amount of stats available at their fingertips, they are generally not too far off, the All-in-One (AIO) PC market is booming. As a consumer, I certainly see them available from every major PC vendor, and understand the attraction of such a space-saving form factor. At the same time, I can't help but wonder at the growth numbers that have the notebook segment eclipsing anything on the desktop. Perhaps this optimism applies more for the corporate desktop segment, with Gartner predicting that new form factors like AIO will make up more than 50% of the corporate desktop market in 5 years.
Anyway, vendors appear keen to refresh their consumer desktop AIO lineups, with Lenovo showing off three of its models at an event today. The first and most eye-catching of the bunch is the Lenovo IdeaCentre A310, which is a slight refresh to the A300. Slim and elegant, it won't feel out of place in your living room. And the A310 updates the internals to the Core i5 platform (i5-450M) from the A300's Core 2 Duo.
With its 16:9. 21.5-inch LED panel supporting Full HD resolutions (1920 x 1080), the A310 can play your HD content flawlessly, and more importantly, with both HDMI input and output, you can connect it to a HDTV to play content from its internal HDD (up to 500GB). A TV tuner is also integrated if you want to watch local programming. Connectivity options include both Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi, so both your wireless devices, like the included keyboard and mouse, will work and it will connect to your network without a hitch. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait till end-Oct for the A310 to arrive in Singapore and as yet, no local pricing has been revealed.
The other AIO that stood out is the Lenovo IdeaCentre A700, which comes with a 23-inch Full HD widescreen display. With its touchscreen capability and a form factor that's more typically associated with AIOs i.e. a large slab consisting of the display tilted at a slight angle, it's easy to overlook it. What's different about it besides its updated Core i7/i5/i3 internals is the technology behind its touchscreen.
The A700 apparently uses sound acoustic wave technology (SAW), making it the first PC to utilize it. Lenovo quoted affordability and better resistance to dirt and smudges as reasons for choosing this technology. Basically, it works by having a layer of sound waves moving across the surface of the screen and any disruption of the waves, due to fingers or a pen or any foreign object will be treated as a contact point. So it doesn't just work with fingers like capacitive touchscreens.
Like the A310, HDMI input and output is supported on the A700, and it comes with a wireless 'air' mouse that can be used like a remote to control the movement of the mouse pointer or in motion driven games, besides its primary function as a mouse of course.
Personally, I'm not sold at the idea of touchscreen for a desktop PC. It's just too tiring for long usage and too imprecise for anything important. Besides, even with the larger icons in Windows 7 or custom touch applications created by vendors, it's hardly an improvement over the mouse and keyboard. Sure, you can have it to entertain the kids, but for me, the AIO's attraction is in its smaller footprint, not the often gimmicky touch interface.
Vincent Chang / Former Senior Tech Writer
Vincent has written enough about tech to know that he doesn't know enough about tech. But that's not keeping him from going jargon-heavy about processors and mobos. After all, "you can't stop the signal".