capsule review

Asus EeeTop PC ET2203T: 21.6-Inch Touchscreen All-in-One Does Blu-ray on a Budget

At a Glance
  • Asus EeeTop PC ET2203T

    PCWorld Rating

    Solid performance, a 1080p touchscreen, and Blu-ray playback set the ET2203T up for success, but you might want to judge the display's picture quality in person before you buy.

Although the 21.6-inch EeeTop 2203T all-in-one PC cuts corners a little here and there compared with other models on our Big Screen All-in-One PCs (Over 20 Inches) chart, Asus has done an excellent job of balancing features and price ($1050 as of February 1, 2010).

The 2203T runs a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 alongside 4GB of DDR2-667 memory. In our WorldBench 6 test, the system achieved a respectable result of 87. Of the competing big-screen all-in-one PCs with similar performance, Lenovo’s 21.5-inch IdeaCentre A600 comes in at $1149, and HP's 23-inch TouchSmart 600xt costs $1600. But top bang-for-buck honors go to the Acer Aspire Z5610, which scored 101 in WorldBench 6, has a 23-inch screen, and costs just $900.

While the Aspire Z5610 might best the 2203T on performance, Acer’s all-in-one cuts total storage capacity from the 2203T’s 500GB to a less impressive 320GB. The Acer system also goes for a standard DVD burner, while the 2203T has a Blu-ray drive to complement its 1080p-capable 21.6-inch (16:9 ratio) display. The Aspire Z5610, even with a screen size of 23 inches, maxes out at a 1366-by-768 resolution. These are the trade-offs you need to watch out for.

In addition, the rival IdeaCentre A600 isn’t even a touchscreen PC. However, it does best the 2203T on total storage capacity with one total terabyte of space. The A600 is also extremely upgradable compared with the 2203T, if not the rest of the all-in-one category as a whole. You can’t change any part of the 2203T’s insides--at least, no provisions for doing so were shown in any included manual or guide. The A600’s connective offerings are anemic, as the system only features support for USB and FireWire 400 devices (it does have an integrated TV tuner).

In contrast, the 2203T’s rear comes with a single gigabit ethernet port (and integrated wireless 802.11 b/g/n connectivity), as well as four USB slots, an optical input, and an HDMI input. The side of the system features only two USB ports and a multiformat card reader. The 2203T’s total package isn’t a tremendous amount of connectivity for the all-in-one category, but it’s nevertheless a strong offering against competing systems in price and performance.

The "T" in EeeTop 2203T stands for touch, and it's worth noting that a cheaper, nontouch version is available. Asus also offers touch and nontouch versions of the nVidia Ion-based EeeTop 2002, a budget 20-inch alternative. Like that model, I found the screen quality of the 2203T to be pleasant, but not overwhelmingly positive. The contrast and saturation of the display were slightly below what I’m used to seeing in all-in-one PCs. The raw details of images and movies weren’t quite as sharp as what I was hoping for, nor were the colors especially vibrant or eye-catching.

Worse, like many all-in-one PCs, the 2203T opts for a glossy panel. With a number of these systems, it’s impossible to watch darker scenes without being distracted by a reflection of yourself in the panel--unless you want to turn off all the lights in whatever room you happen to be in. At least the 2203T’s speakers are definitely stronger than your average all-in-one; I was more impressed with their sound than with the 2203T’s picture, for sure.

Asus throws a wireless keyboard and mouse into the 2203T’s packaging. They’re generic input devices for their raw functionality, but the wireless capabilities (and slender frame of the keyboard) are nice touches.

It’s difficult to find an all-in-one that truly has it “all” without summoning forth a serious expenditure. Asus’ EeeTop 2203T provides an excellent balance of performance, connectivity, and storage capacity for its more-than-fair price. While the actual display of this touchscreen-equipped system won’t blow you out of the water, you’ll at least be able to accomplish (and connect) more on this system than you would on competing all-in-ones.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Solid performance, a 1080p touchscreen, and Blu-ray playback set the ET2203T up for success, but you might want to judge the display's picture quality in person before you buy.

    Pros

    • Blu-ray playback
    • Touchscreen

    Cons

    • No upgradability
    • Less-than-impressive display quality
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