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Digital Life

Bundles of computing power

New designs, slimmer forms and lower prices are making the all-in-one PC a popular desktop computing choice

Published on Jul 11, 2014 5:00 AM

Andell Matthew Tan, 40, a lecturer, has been using an Apple iMac since 2010. He likes its small footprint and finds it easy to set up.

The iMac also scored highly in the looks department. He observed: "People are still impressed by the sleek lines and glossy surface. So much so that other brands are copying the design to some degree."

However, the lack of upgrade options was something of a turn-off, he admitted. Still, when he replaces it, it will be with a new iMac.

Mr Tan is one of a growing number of users choosing all-in-one (AIO) desktop computers such as the iMac which pack display and computing hardware together. They typically look like monitors, but with a bulging back or a thicker base.

Market research firm Gartner estimated that in the Asia-Pacific area, excluding Japan, AIO shipments grew by 32.3 per cent in last year over the previous year and accounted for 8.5 per cent of all desktop computers shipped.

"Vendors have become more creative in their designs, positioning the AIO as a 'decor' item rather than a functional box," said Gartner analyst Lilian Tay.

AIOs are drawing more buyers with lower prices, better performance and smaller footprints.

In Singapore, market tracker GfK Asia said sales of AIO computers have increased steadily in the past five years. Almost 33,000 units were sold here last year, for an overall market share of 8 per cent.

AIO features to look out for

First, decide on the screen size as this influences the PC's price and size. The most popular size here, according to GfK, is 23 inches, followed by 21.5 inches.

Such sizes tend to be found on mainstream models with integrated or entry-level graphics hardware with at least an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, 500GB or 1TB hard drive and an optical drive. A full high-definition screen resolution is standard.

Be prepared to pay more for a 27-inch AIO. Such premium models offer better hardware in terms of both CPU and graphics chip. They may even offer faster hybrid or solid-state drives.

Such higher-end systems are suitable for content creators who deal with videos, images and graphics. And they will run most games, too. The screen resolution should exceed 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.

Except for iMacs, these AIOs run Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system and are appropriately equipped with touchscreens. Look for screens that support 10-point touch, though 5-point touch ones may be good enough and cost less.

If you intend to use the touchscreen for long periods, pick an AIO which has a screen that reclines so you will not have to keep raising your arms to execute touch commands.




This article was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life on July 9, 2014.