Dell Inspiron One 2320 £799
14th Nov 2011 | 15:30
This all-in-one touchscreen PC provides real power
We're certainly warming to all-in-one computers, and if they continue to be as good the Dell Inspiron One 2320 we can happily see them taking over all of our desks. Positioning itself between low-end models such as the bargain Advent Discovery MT1804 or the well-balanced MSI Wind Top AE2210, its pricing comes in under high-end models such as the ultra-expensive Apple iMac 27-inch 2011 and the more wallet-friendly Sony Vaio L Series.
The £799 price means a lot, and there's a lower-end Pentium model also available, at an MSI Wind Top AE2210-beating £599.
As with the other PC all-in-ones we've mentioned, the main "new" headline feature - despite the option of the Sandy Bridge Core i5 processor - that the marketing boys are dying to tell us about is the touchscreen. Decades of careful mouse-based interface design down the tube, as it's far more fun stabbing your podgy fingers at a desktop screen.
But what a lovely screen to stab your fingers at. Again Dell hasn't cut corners, with a Full HD 1920 x 1080p 23-inch display, large enough to be happily used to watch TV or enjoy films. Unlike many other models, the Dell Inspiron One 2320 can even be wall-mounted by removing the feet and rear stand.
As a wall-mounted unit the touchscreen would come into its own, as Windows Media Centre is touch-enabled and that in itself takes care of all your media entertainment adeptly enough. For desktop use, a black wireless full keyboard and mouse are supplied. These match the black bevelled styling of the main computer, which uses two minimalistic silver feet to raise up from the desk.
We tested the more powerful Core i5-2400S model, and frankly Dell couldn't have put a better choice for a processor in the Dell Inspiron One 2320. The Sandy Bridge Core i5-2400S processor provides quad-core processing at 2.5GHz and single-thread speeds up to 3.3GHz.
The S model draws less power at 65W, but is technically slower than cheaper versions. The payoff is a quieter life, and processing power still abounds - we're talking about a 600MHz deficit at worst over other Core i5 models.
If you're eyeing up the cheaper version of the Dell Inspiron One 2320, then don't let the Pentium G620 processor put you off - this is actually still a Sandy Bridge Socket 1155 processor. More specifically it's a dual-core 2.6GHz unit with 3MB L3 cache, effectively a slightly cheaper/slower Core i3 without the HyperThreading, which still has the integrated Intel HD Graphics 2000.
The higher price of this model also gains you a solid 6GB of 1333MHz DDR3 memory in the dual-memory configuration of a 2GB and a 4GB DIMM. This is alongside the 1,000GB hard drive that seems to be the standard mid-range storage option these days.
Dell does raise the game with a combined Blu-ray reader/DVD rewriter drive, but don't get any ideas about 3D, because the display isn't 120Hz capable. The lack of 3D is something of a shame, since it does come equipped with an Nvidia 3D-capable dedicated graphics card in the form of the GeForce GT 525M, with 1GB of memory.
That slight disappointment aside, the display in general terms is good - the 23-inch size makes it more able to function as a standalone TV in a reasonably large room. It's also Full HD 1920 x 1080p resolution, which makes for a superb desktop resolution at this size, and gets the best out of HD films.
A digital TV tuner is in there too, so you're able to take full advantage of Media Center's recording features.
Interestingly, Dell has included a number of useful video inputs that would be more at home on a standard HD TV, including HDMI, component and VGA D-Sub. These features enable it to double as a standard HD TV with standard AV equipment attached to it.
Peripheral-wise, two JBL speakers are built into the display, and it comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse. An IR blaster is also provided, and let's not forget the useful integrated 720p webcam that can provide facial recognition-based login.
As a piece of audio video equipment, the Dell Inspiron One 2320 will sit in the corner like a well-behaved child. There's no audible fan noise while it's idling. With gaming this does ramp up, but then so does your speaker noise. Noise is handled well by the JBL speakers, with no distortion or even an amount of bass.
For surround sound, an SPDIF output is provided. The display is bright, defines colour well and we love the 1920 x 1080p resolution. Horizontal viewing angles are good, vertical not so much, with light bleed along the bottom of the display, but this isn't going to detract from normal viewing.
The touch-enabled panel only provides two-point capabilities, which is enough for pinch-to-zoom and rotate, but it's a bare minimum. As a touch panel it works extremely well, and almost identically to the MSI Wind Top AE2210. It actually picks up finger placement just before it touches the screen.
We doubt we're ever going to be happy with any hard controls - there are volume and brightness controls down the left-hand side and power on the right. These are out of sight, and while responsive enough, are a little painful to use. A Media Center remote is supplied, so that in many ways does compensate for this.
The Core i5-equipped Dell Inspiron One 2320 we had to test put in its usual strong processing performance. It ranked 4.1 in CineBench 11 for general multi-core performance, while for encoding it ran through x264 HD v4 at 114.12fps Pass 1 and 22.34fps Pass 2.
For many people these types of results are almost irrelevant, since even the lesser Pentium model would be fast enough for any standard task.
Where this model picks up the game is with the Nvidia GT 525M graphics, scoring P922 in 3DMark11 and 7589 in 3DMark06.
This shows it's capable of running modern games at 720p resolutions with medium quality settings, and older games at 1080p resolutions.
We're disappointed with the supplied peripherals - they're like something that fell out of a Christmas cracker. The one saving grace is that they are at least wireless. Neither have any redeeming features other than the fact that they're black and they work.
On a more positive note, the supplied software is good. There's a nicely designed scrolling touch-enabled launcher with access to a suite of touch-enabled media tools, games and resources. Personally we'd be happy with Media Center, but the more the merrier.
For an all-in-one computer, we feel the Dell Inspiron One 2320 hits all the right notes. Ignoring the mediocre peripherals, it provides a well-styled, well-built PC that wouldn't look amiss in any corner of your home.
We've been waiting for PCs to hit that crossover point from interesting lump of technology to digital entertainment hub. The Dell Inspiron One 2320 very much manages to offer just that.
Drop this 23-inch black-framed slab into any wireless home and it'll happily entertain you with music, TV, movies and HD photos and content. It's not just the abilities of the system and the combination of traditional wireless peripherals, but also the remote control and touchscreen that effortlessly enable you to interact with the hardware on almost any level. Turn on Windows voice recognition for yet another.
Interestingly, the computer/multimedia unit can be wall-mounted, which certainly adds to its flexibility, since we can see the temptation to mount these in the kitchen or around the home.
An all-in-one computer really sells itself from the screen in which it's encased, and Dell hasn't let itself down with the Dell Inspiron One 2320 - we were more than happy to scoff down popcorn while watching an HD film on its bright 1080p screen. Helping the visuals along, the built-in speakers certainly does a fine job, with no distortion and a donk of the old bass.
Many might bemoan the Nvidia graphics, but for the target audience the 3D performance is more than adequate, and with services such as OnLive, access to high-end gaming is there for all.
It's hard for any manufacturer using the Sandy Bridge platform not to get the basics right, so wireless N and Gigabit LAN connectivity is a given, while the Core i5 processor provides a level of processing power that's beyond anything most people will need to use. It rounds off an impressive package.
Hopefully you've already picked up on how much we dislike the plastic keyboard and mouse - we'd say they're like a smack in the face for spending £800 with Dell, but that'd probably break them.
We'd have preferred more audio and video output options, especially for surround sound, since you're limited to external amplifiers with optical inputs, but that's understandable in a limiting-cables way.
We could also question the lack of a 3D-capable 120Hz display, because everything else is in place such as the Blu-ray drive and Nvidia graphics.
Any complaints we have about the Dell Inspiron One 2320 tend to be easily dismissed as requirements of desktop gamers. For everyone else, Dell is providing a well-packaged all-in-one touchscreen computer that lives up to that name.