Dell’s Big-Screen, All-in-One Beauty

Dell’s XPS Windows PC looks like an iMac, but gives you more bang for your buck. Photo by Peter McCollough/Wired

This computer got a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs” during the week it sat on my desk in the Wired office. And for good reason: Dell’s flagship all-in-one desktop, the brightest star in its XPS line of performance-minded machines, has got to be one of the nicest-looking Windows PCs currently on the market.

As with any large-screen all-in-one, the display is the centerpiece — in this case, a giant, bright 27-inch display encased in edge-to-edge glass above a subtle, black chin.

The rest of the XPS One 2710 exhibits the same minimal design. The silver case instantly reminds one of the iMac (actually, the look of almost every all-in-one PC looks like the iMac), but the finish is not quite as high-end. Rather than use aluminum, Dell opted for a plastic body with a silver-colored coating. It looks nice from afar, but when you actually touch it, it feels cheap.

Dell’s flagship all-in-one desktop, the brightest star in its XPS line of performance-minded machines, has got to be one of the nicest-looking Windows PCs currently on the market.

Unless you plan to caress your all-in-one regularly, this isn’t a huge drawback. The screen is what really matters. At 2560×1440 pixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio, the XPS One’s WLED-backlit screen is the best I’ve seen on an all-in-one Windows computer. It’s definitely up there with Apple’s 27-inch iMac, which sports the same screen resolution and pixel density. It’s not as advanced as the new MacBook Pro’s display, of course, but colors appear vibrant and blacks are rich. I was never disappointed with the way an image or video looked on the screen.

The screen’s quality can be attributed to the fact that the XPS One 2710 uses a Samsung PLS (plane-to-line switching) display. It’s a technology that Samsung touts as giving screens a wider viewing angles, increased brightness, and better image quality than the standard IPS (in-plane switching) displays. I did notice that the display never appeared washed-out, even at extreme angles.

The 27-inch display uses plane-to-line switching technology from Samsung. Photo by Peter McCollough/Wired

The only drawback: there’s no touchscreen option. It isn’t a necessity right now, nor is it a common feature on current all-in-ones. But considering Windows 8 is expected to launch this fall, the decision not to at least offer a touchscreen as an option is a bit shortsighted. I’ve tried Windows 8 using only a trackpad and mouse, and it’s just not as pleasant as the fluid touchscreen experience.

There’s always the argument that most people who use Windows 8 on a stationary computer will rely more on desktop mode than the Metro Start Screen, but it would be amazing to swipe through Metro apps on this huge screen. Alas, that’s not going to happen.

There are some touch elements: capacitive buttons on the bottom right of the display control the on-screen menu, and if hold down a button to change a setting (increase brightness, for example) you can sense some haptic feedback from the button.

The internals don’t disappoint. Dell has outfitted the XPS One 2710 with the latest and greatest third-generation (Ivy Bridge), quad-core Intel chips. My test machine came with the i7-3770S chip that can clock speeds up to 3.90 GHz. And that’s not counting the “Turbo Boost: tech, which gives the chip the power to overclock when needed. Most of the XPS One 2710 models come with NVIDIA GeForce GT 640 M 2GB DDR5 graphics processors, unless you opt for the cheapest $1,400 model which has a slightly less-impressive Intel HD 4000 graphics card. Still, it should be enough to watch full-screen HD movies without hiccups and maybe play a couple less graphics-intensive games.

The most basic model comes with a 6GB memory and 1TB of hard drive, but my tester was an upgraded model with a 8GB memory (you can get up to 16GB) and a 2TB hard drive, plus a 32GB solid state drive. It’s enough speed and space to store an impressive movie collection, gobs of music, and then some.

The review model also came with a Blu-ray disc player, a feature that’s limited to the $2,000 Dell XPS One 2710. It’s unfortunate that you have to shell out that much cash just to get a simple Blu-ray player, since there’s no option to upgrade the optical drive on the cheaper models. But if you’re looking for a TV replacement, it’s worth the price. The XPS One 2710 also comes with an internal TV tuner card, so it’s perfect for turning your giant all-in-one computer into an all-in-one entertainment device. There’s even a remote control in the box to enable such behavior. You also get Waves MaxxAudio 4 speakers with surround sound, an HD front-facing camera (with a cute shutter to block it when you want privacy), and HDMI-in and HDMI-out ports. Other ports include a whopping four USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports, audio line out, microphone jack, headphone jack, and an eight-in-one card reader.

It’s a machine made for entertainment — the $2,000 model comes with a TV tuner, a Blu-ray drive and physical remote control. Photo by Peter McCollough/Wired

The included wireless keyboard and mouse aren’t an ergonomic dream, but they are comfortable enough that I didn’t feel the need to replace them. Overall, the Dell XPS One 2710 is a cohesive, slick package with an impressively small footprint. If you’re looking for an all-in-one Windows PC — especially one that excels as an entertainment hub, or can double as a replacement for a smaller TV — this is a fantastic option.

WIRED Best screen available on an all-in-one Windows PC. Beats Apple’s $2,000 27-inch iMac in a specs-for-price battle: here, you get speedier quad-core Ivy Bridge chips, more storage, more RAM, Blu-ray and NVIDIA graphics. Has everything you’d need to turn it into a TV — now, or in a few years when it becomes obsolete as a computer.

TIRED Cheap, plastic casing pretends to be aluminum. No touch screen for future Windows 8 finger-swiping. Blu-ray disc only comes in the most expensive, $2,000 model.


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