Polywell AIO-H6100AA: All-in-One PC Is All Work, No Play
At a Glance
This all-in-one delivers category-leading performance, but is saddled by lackluster entertainment options.
I really want to like Polywell's H6100AA all-in-one PC: It's an excellent performer, and it has 2TB of storage space. But the omission of a discrete graphics card--even as an option--seriously limits this machine’s potential.
Our review model, priced at $1199 (as of October 31, 2011), features an Intel Core i5-2405S processor, 8GB of RAM, and 2TB of hard-drive space. Although it has no discrete graphics card, it does come with a built-in webcam and microphone, as well as Bluetooth and a touchscreen. In PCWorld's WorldBench 6 benchmark tests, the H6100AA performed very well with a score of 140. In the wide world of desktops, that isn’t a stellar result; but all-in-ones generally sacrifice performance to fit into their svelte shells, and the H6100AA sits at the top of the budget all-in-ones category. In our tests, most budget AIOs score 20 to 30 points lower, with a couple of notable exceptions (the CyberNet iOne H5 earned a score of 133, while the HP Compaq 6000 Pro reached a mark of 116).
Since the H6100AA relies on integrated graphics hardware, its not-so-great performance in our graphics tests is understandable. In our older Unreal Tournament graphics tests, it managed to produce a smooth frame rate of 54.3 frames per second when we dialed the settings down to medium quality and a meager 1024-by-768-pixel resolution. In contrast, the iOne H5, armed with an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5730 graphics card, blazed through the same tests at a rate of 129.7 fps.
You won't find the H6100AA’s design particularly exciting. The 21.5-inch glossy touchscreen is surrounded by a thin black shiny bezel. Black speakers sit below the screen, and the entire machine stands on two little feet that poke out of the bottom of the speakers. I'm not a huge fan of this type of design, though it can be useful if you have a slim keyboard to slide underneath the screen. You can prop up the display by using a thin, adjustable stand (similar to a picture stand). Though you can adjust the screen's angle, I don't recommend playing with it too much--the stand seems rather flimsy to me.
The power button, as well as brightness-adjustment buttons and an input-change button, are hidden on the side of the screen. On the right side of the machine you’ll find two USB 2.0 ports and headphone/mic jacks, as well as the tray-loading DVD-RW drive.
The rest of the ports are located on the back of the computer, in the lower-left corner. Included are a built-in TV tuner, a pair of yellow "always-on" USB ports, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, ethernet, eSATA, HDMI-out, and DVI-in.
Our review model came with wireless Logitech peripherals that require a plug-in USB wireless dongle. The keyboard features regular keys and rounded edges. Keys are easy to press--perhaps a little too easy--and are particularly quiet. Though the keyboard is generally comfortable to use, the combination of the keys' close positioning and their soft-touch feedback can make things a little difficult for fast typists.
The mouse is generic, offering just two buttons and a scrollwheel. It's small and round, and I found it very comfortable in my small hands, but it might be a little too compact for other people. It’s also sensitive out of the box, causing the pointer to jump quickly across the screen. You can tweak the settings in Windows.
The Polywell's 21.5-inch touchscreen is decent, but not great. The display itself isn't terribly bright, and colors look a little dull. Off-axis viewing angles aren't very good--moving even slightly to the side produces a big drop in picture quality. Video does not play well on this computer: Lots of artifacts mar light and dark scenes alike, and movement appears blocky. Even native video clips are practically unwatchable--unfortunate, as the screen supports full high-definition and has a native resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels.
The "touch" part of the touchscreen fares much better. The touchscreen is responsive, and pretty accurate. It isn't the best touchscreen I've used, but it is quite good as far as AIOs go.
Audio on the H6100AA is also strong. The forward-facing speakers are extremely loud, and offer rich, full sound. At the absolute highest volume, they do lose a tiny bit of audio quality, and I heard some blips and squeaks in my testing. But that setting is honestly too loud if you’re sitting near the computer; you likely won't use the speakers at that level unless you're throwing a party.
The Polywell H6100AA is a confusing all-in-one PC. On one hand, it packs some high-end features and specs: It carries a Sandy Bridge Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, USB 3.0, Bluetooth, and a generous 2TB of hard-drive space. But on the other hand, it's packaged in a flimsy, unattractive case and has no discrete graphics card. This creates a weird dissonance--it's an excellent performer, but it's awful at multimedia playback.
If you hate watching movies on a PC but love storing large files and using lots of non-graphics-intensive applications, this desktop could be a good fit. But if you’re looking for a system that’s a little more well rounded, check out the rest of our tested big-screen all-in-ones and budget all-in-ones for a better option.