Ever since the advent of the first Mac, Apple has been arguing that the world wants and needs an all-in-one computer.
As you may recall, the first Mac was equipped with a tiny display that made netbook screens seem big, while the first flat screen iMac, while far bigger, came in at size few of us would put on our desks today.
The primary arguement against all-in-ones? They will become prematurely obsolete as screen sizes expand and resolution improves.
However, once screen sizes hit 25-inches (what used to be standard TV size), we started to think "damn, I could live with this size" and all-in-ones started to gain serious traction.
Over time, all-in-ones competed in the looks department, yet typically lagged when it came to performance. However, the speed gap between tower designs and all-in-ones has slowly dwindled over recent years. The Intel Ivy Bridge (quad-core) i7 based Dell XPS One 27 is a case in point - and I think it is high time we started counting down to the death of the traditional tower.
The Last Windows 7 All-In-One
Windows 8 will require a touch screen to fully function, yet the mainstream market will likely take years to adopt a new interface. Even Apple users seemed to resist the move to OS X when the operating system first rolled out, and it wasn't even like Cupertino was offering much of a choice. As such, Windows 7 will likely remain viable for 3-5 more years, especially if users opt for Kepler-based GeForce GT 640 graphics.
Touch, at least initially, will come at a high premium in this particular size class, which means we are probably a year away from when a 27” with touch will be price competitive with the latest XPS. So I expect we’ll be happy to wait for at least year to pass before making the next jump, which is just fine for those who who remain unconvinced that Windows 8’s dual interface is the one they have been waiting for.
XPS vs. iMac
On spec the Dell is better, simply because it is newer, with the latest iteration expected to launch sometime between now and July (the next release was actually expected some time ago and was likely waiting until Ivy Bridge started shipping in volume).
In any case, the next iMac 27” and this product should be pretty close in terms of specs. Yes, Apple may continue to use AMD graphics with newer GPUs, which could prompt a comparison between AMD and Nvidia's Kepler in an all-in-one context.
Given that Apple's next iMac is somewhat overdue, I’d suggest waiting a few weeks to get the best deal on either the old one (which they will likely discount) or the new system.
Frankly, the iMac design is starting to look really dated to me as it has been around for quite a while. In contrast, the Dell seems more contemporary, largely because it is nearly a decade newer. Plus, the iMac hasn’t exactly managed to keep pace with the iPod Touch, iPhone or the iPad. However, this is likely to change at some point in the near future.
Wrapping Up: Apple was Early and Right
In the end, the Dell XPS 27” showcases that Apple was both right in its stance as an early adopter of the all-in-one, which Cupertino has pioneered for decades. Display technology has finally caught up, making all-in-ones the trending favorite for those buying desktop PCs. Of course, now that everyone and their brother is manufacturing all-in-ones, Apple will again need to step up with a sleek new design. Until then, the Dell XPS 27” appears to be the best example of what the last pre-touch generation of all-in-ones will look like.
So as you take that last look at your old desktop machine, consider puckering up and kissing it goodbye because the current generation of all-in-ones may finally win you over.