Dell XPS One 27 Touch £1399
26th Oct 2012 | 14:00
Windows 8 goes large with Dell's new touch powerhouse
The release of Windows 8 has led to a resurgence in all-in-one PCs such as the Dell XPS One 27 Touch.
While Windows 7 was an excellent desktop operating system, it sat awkwardly on touchscreens, which prevented all-in-ones such as the MSI Wind Top AE2210 and the Sony Vaio L Series from reaching their full potential. Things were even worse when manufacturers slapped their own clunky touchscreen interfaces over Windows 7.
With Windows 8, Microsoft has built an operating system with touch interfaces at the forefront, which means that navigating the operating system by touch alone is now a much more pleasurable experience in both the new Windows 8 Start Screen and apps, and in the more traditional desktop mode.
Mobile components have also become smaller and yet more powerful at the same time. This matters because the insides of a slim all-in-one computer can resemble the innards of a laptop rather than a desktop PC.
The improvements in the technology that resides within an all-in-one PCs means they can be slimmer and more attractive - essential for a PC that wants to be part of your living room, rather than hidden away in an office - while running the latest programs and apps with ease.
The combination of a brand new operating system and technology to back it up has created a perfect storm, from which a truly desirable all-in-one PC can emerge. Will the Dell XPS One 27 Touch be that PC, though?
Also, while operating system (OS) and technology innovations have conspired to create a more accommodating environment for all-in-one PCs, the economic climate remains an elephant in the room.
All-in-one PCs are usually a lot more expensive than standard desktop PCs, and the Dell XPS One 27 Touch is no exception, coming in with a full price of £1,779/AU$2,499/US$2,000 for the version we tested. That's a lot of cash to put down, so the Dell XPS One 27 Touch better be worth it.
As is often the case with Dell PCs, there are a number of configurations for the Dell XPS One 27 Touch. The basic model comes with a third generation Intel Core i5 processor, 6GB of RAM (8GB in Australia) and a 1TB hard drive, all for £1,499/AU$1,999/US$1,599 from Dell.
The mid-range version beefs up the processing power with a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 2TB of hard disk - it's also the version that we tested, and it'll cost you £1,779/AU$2,499/US$1,999.99.
Finally, a high specified version is available on the Dell US online store that comes with 16GB of RAM, the same Intel Core i7 processor, 2TB of internal storage plus a 32GB SSD, and a Blu-ray drive, and will set you back US$2,499.99.
Having a third generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor in the machine is quite a boon, because along with speed advances, the new processors include improved onboard graphics in the shape of Intel HD Graphics 4000.
While it won't be able to run a lot of graphic-intensive games, for the casual games found on the Windows Store it's more than enough.
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It also handles high-definition content without a problem, which is important, because the Dell XPS One 27 Touch comes with an absolutely stunning 27-inch screen with Wide Quad High Definition (WQHD). That's 2560 x 1440 pixels, twice the resolution of 1080p Full HD, and on the large 27-inch display it looks wonderful.
The high resolution looks great in Windows 8's new interface, and there's plenty of screen space in both the full screen apps and on the desktop. It means that on the desktop, windows and text are a lot smaller, which leaves more space for additional windows and programs to run.
On a large 27-inch screen this shouldn't be a problem to see, but if you're using the touchscreen then the smaller toolbars might be a bit more fiddly. You can alter the resolution if you're having problems, but on the whole this is one beautiful screen that's responsive to touch.
The overall design and feel of this all-in-one PC is solid and attractive. We'd have no qualms about housing this beauty in our front rooms or bedroom.
As a replacement TV it has a built-in TV tuner card, which means you can watch TV without having to turn on the whole PC. It can't be accessed through Windows 8, though, so you won't be able to use that roomy hard drive as a PVR unless you buy a USB TV Tuner.
An HDMI-in port enables you to hook up a Blu-ray player or games console to the Dell XPS One 27 Touch to use it as a HD TV, while an HDMI-out port enables you to add a second monitor or TV to the all-in-one if you want even more desktop space.
An optical audio port enables you to hook up the Dell XPS One 27 Touch to a surround sound setup or external amplifier to turn the all-in-one PC into a fantastic media device.
An included wireless mouse and keyboard rounds off the package, and though they seem a bit no-frills, they do the job.
It comes as no surprise that the biggest draw of the Dell XPS One 27 Touch is its screen. It looks stunning, and the WQHD resolution puts the Dell XPS One 27 Touch up there with premium all-in-one computers such as the Apple iMac.
Compared to Apple's 27-inch offering, the Dell XPS One 27 Touch's pricing is actually pretty darn competitive, coming in a fair bit cheaper, depending on the model you choose. For that cash you're also getting more RAM and a slightly better processor, though you're not getting a dedicated graphics card, like you do with the iMac.
While the Dell XPS One 27 Touch's screen is a highlight, it's by no means flawless, and doesn't quite compare to the iMac's display.
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On the standard Windows 8 desktop you can see faint vertical and horizontal lines, which are a bit more noticeable on white and light coloured backgrounds. For the vast majority of us this won't be a problem, since they are very faint, but if you're looking for an absolutely flawless image - and at this price why wouldn't you? - then you may be disappointed.
Happily when playing games, watching video, on the Windows 8 start screen and in apps there's no sign of the lines.
The glass screen does suffer from some glare, but viewing angles are very good, so if you're going to use it as a TV then getting friends and family to gather around it won't be a problem.
The fast processor and healthy amount of RAM means that Windows 8 runs fast and smoothly. Apps are nice and responsive, even considering the high resolution at full screen.
However, as much as the improved integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 are over previous generations of Intel's Core i5 and i7 processors, it still can't compete with a dedicated graphics card. So while standard Windows apps and programs run fine, and media is handled without a hitch, if you want to play the latest games then think again.
In our benchmarking tests, high action scenes brought a drop in frames per second that would make modern graphic intensive games become slow and choppy.
If casual games - especially 2D ones - are more your bag, then the Dell XPS One 27 Touch will be absolutely fine. Of course with the HDMI-in port you can always attach a PS3 or an Xbox 360 to take the gaming grunt.
While video encoding speeds have been improved over previous integrated graphics by Intel, if you're serious about video editing, you're better off with an iMac.
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The Dell XPS One 27 Touch is easily one of the nicest looking all-in-one PCs we've seen, with that huge and beautiful 27-inch ultra high definition screen rightfully taking centre stage.
While the £1,779/AU$2,499/US$1,999.99 price tag for the model we tested may seem steep, compared to an iMac that has lower specifications in many areas, it begins to look like better value.
Also, to get a decent 27-inch display at 2560 x 1440 pixels, such as the Apple 27-inch Cinema Display or the Samsung Series 9 S27B970D, you're going to be spending a big chunk of money on the monitor alone.
The fact that the Dell XPS One 27 Touch includes a PC that's rocking some pretty fine components for not much more money makes it even more tempting.
The downsides are that the screen isn't quite as flawless as we'd have hoped - though it's still miles better than some we've seen in all-in-ones - and the reliance on integrated graphics means it's not quite the all-singing, all-dancing powerhouse that the iMac can claim to be.
Large, good looking screen, Blu-ray options, HDMI and TV aerial inputs and a hefty hard drive makes the Dell XPS One 27 Touch a great living room PC.
The touchscreen works extremely well with Windows 8, and there's enough power behind the scenes for this all-in-one PC to keep up with pretty much any day-to-day task. Full screen Windows 8 apps look fantastic on the large screen - this is a product that definitely has the 'wow' factor.
The lack of a dedicated graphics card is a bit of a problem if you want to use the Dell XPS One 27 Touch for gaming and video editing. It won't be a problem for everyone, and the absence of a graphics card keeps the price a little cheaper, but it's worth considering. It's the only blot on an otherwise excellent product.
As a living room PC that's dedicated to media, there's practically no faulting it, especially if you go for a model with Blu-ray built in. A Windows Media Centre remote is included, and Windows 8 comes with some pretty nice media streaming apps. The Dell XPS One 27 Touch has a lot going for it.
If you're looking for an all-in-one PC that will double as a workstation, especially one that's going to be used for graphically intensive tasks, then the Dell XPS One 27 Touch won't really fit the bill.
If you're looking for a Windows 8 PC that will cover most media bases, and looks fantastic, then the Dell XPS One 27 Touch will be seriously tempting. One look at the gorgeous screen and you'll be smitten.
If you need an all-in-one PC that will to double as a workstation, then you may be better off looking elsewhere.