SLIDESHOW

All-in-One PCs: What's New and What's Next

From budget-oriented 'nettops' with touchscreens to top-of-the-line designer models, it's easy to see why the single-piece desktop is making a comeback.

The Next Generation of All-in-Ones

A slew of snazzy next-generation all-in-one PCs are either already in stores or set to ship soon.

Acer and Dell have just announced their next-gen offerings; Gateway is rumored to have a "high-end" "Windows 7 multitouch system in the works; and Asus, HP, Lenovo, and MSI have all recently released new models.

There's a lot to see and a lot to consider. Click ahead to get a glimpse at what's out there and what's on deck.

Next: Acer Aspire Z5600

Acer Aspire Z5600

Acer has a couple of new all-in-one PCs on the way. First is the Acer Aspire Z5600, boasting a 24-inch touchscreen display controlled by the Windows 7 operating system. For now Acer is staying mum on the specifics, but the company is promising "the latest generation of Intel processors" and "MXM [Mobile PCI Express Module] graphic processors." The Z5600 will offer up to 2TB of storage along with a TV tuner, a Webcam, and an integrated DVD/Blu-ray writer.

Acer has yet to release any pricing information, aside from the vague statement that the Aspire Z5600 will be "affordable." It has also not announced a launch date.

Next: eMachines EZ1600

eMachines EZ1600

Likely to be far more economical than the Aspire Z5600, the eMachines EZ1600 will come with an 18.5-inch display and an Atom N270 processor--the same netbook-friendly CPU used in the Asus Eee Top 1602 all-in-one system.

As a result, the eMachines EZ1600 (like the Eee Top) won't be appropriate for resource-intensive tasks. It's built more for basic computing--word processing, Web surfing, or DVD viewing, for example. The PC will include a 945GSE integrated graphics chipset, up to 160GB of storage, a DVD-RW drive, Wi-Fi functionality, and a card reader. It will be available in silver or black.

As of this writing, eMachines has revealed neither pricing information nor a release date.

Next: Dell Studio One 19

Dell Studio One 19

Expected to start shipping any moment now, the Dell Studio One 19 attempts to combine power with style. The 18.5-inch display is built from glass, aluminum, and even fabric. The PC comes in a choice of five colors, each with a fancy name like "powder pink."

Inside, the Studio One 19 offers several Intel processor options, including Celeron, Dual Core Celeron, Pentium Dual Core, Core 2 Duo, and Core 2 Quad Core chips. For graphics, you can choose either the nVidia GeForce 9200 or the 9400. The system can come loaded with up to 4GB of RAM, up to 750GB of hard-drive space, a DVD burner, and a seven-in-one card reader.

While the Studio One itself will sell for $699, the good stuff will cost you a fair bit more: A touchscreen panel will run an extra $100. You'll have to purchase a Blu-ray drive, a Webcam, or a Wi-Fi setup separately, as well.

Next: Lenovo IdeaCentre A600

Lenovo IdeaCentre A600

Here's a machine you can actually get your hands on right now: The Lenovo IdeaCentre A600, an updated all-in-one, started shipping in early April with a starting price of $999.

The Lenovo IdeaCentre A600 has a 21.5-inch screen with 1920 by 1080 HD resolution, and it offers a Blu-ray drive, an ATSC/HDTV-ready tuner, built-in speakers, and Wi-Fi. You get a wireless mouse and keyboard, too, along with a special remote that can function as a mouse, game controller, VoIP handset, or media center controller.

Still not enough? The IdeaCentre comes with a Webcam and VeriFace security software that--you guessed it--can scan your face and use the image as your system password.

The IdeaCentre A600 runs on your choice of Intel Core 2 Duo processors and ATI Radeon graphics cards. It supports up to 4GB of memory and 1TB of storage space.

Next: HP dx9000 TouchSmart Business PC

HP dx9000 TouchSmart Business PC

Also recently released is the HP dx9000 TouchSmart Business PC. Unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, the new TouchSmart is tailored to businesses with its 22-inch multitouch screen, Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 CPU, and 4GB of memory. The TouchSmart offers storage space as high as 320GB along with a built-in DVD burner, a five-in-one card reader, and speakers.

Don't expect to get this one cheap, though: HP's latest TouchSmart starts at a price of $1400. Still, that's slightly less than the $1500 price tag its predecessor, the TouchSmart IQ506, had when it debuted last year.

Next: All-in-one options

All-in-One Options

Your options don't end there. MSI recently introduced a brand-new line of systems, including what it's billing as the first dual-core-Atom-powered all-in-one to hit the market. Shuttle has a dual-core-Atom offering of its own on the way, too, and Gateway is rumored to have some sort of souped-up Windows 7 system in development, as well.

Another alternative, of course, is the current iMac, descendent of Apple's original single-package Macintosh system. In a few weeks, schools will be able to snag a special 20-inch iMac for $899--a good 25 percent off the cost of the standard entry-level iMac system.

Particularly with the advent of touchscreen technology, an all-in-one system can offer both appealing functionality and an attractive interface. Bear in mind, though, that you largely sacrifice the ability to expand via internal drives or cards--if you need to upgrade down the road, you could find yourself facing limitations. Of course, you could also be using your face as a password. You win some, you lose some.

More: Get the latest PC reviews, news, and tutorials at PC World's Desktops Product Center.

Connect with JR Raphael on Twitter (@jr_raphael) or via his Web site, jrstart.com.