Wendall from Wisconsin writes:
I will be buying a new computer in the next few months. Interested in the all-in-one desktops, (computer and monitor) other than price is there any down side to them? I have dial-up and basically just read email & bank online. Thank you for any insight!
The All-In-One computers, where there is no separate tower the parts are integrated into the monitor, definitely have some significant advantages. You save a lot of space, cables are easier to manage, you can move the entire computer easily and the overall style of the unit is attractive. So what possible downsides are there?
Upgradeable: Because the units are sealed into the monitor your upgrade options are limited. Most all-in-ones do not have any PCI or PCIe slots for upgrade cards or open drive bays for extra hard drives.
Serviceability: The computers are manufactured to reduce the size of components. They use specialized laptop components instead of regular desktop components. If one goes bad, it can cost more to replace due to increased part cost and increased labor to disassemble the unit.
Reliability: Since the entire computer is contained in one shell with the monitor and power supply, you run into decreased reliability versus a conventional desktop. That isn’t to say these units aren’t reliable and can last a very long time, it’s just that if the monitor fails you can’t replace just the monitor like a traditional desktop.
Price: Style doesn’t come cheap and due to the compact construction and smaller parts needed the price you’ll pay is usually higher then a traditional tower computer.
So should you buy one? That question really comes down to what style you want, what price you’ll pay and what risks your willing to accept. The above listed downsides may seem doom and gloom but if you want a more compact all-in-one unit the trade-offs may be worth it.
If style and portability are major concerns, you may also want to consider a Windows 8 tablet or convertible device. The Microsoft Surface Pro or the Lenovo Thinkpad Twist which functions as both a tablet and a traditional laptop computer and can connect to external monitors when you want to dock it for a larger screen.
P.S. Don’t forget to pay attention to where you buy the computer. Some wholesale clubs like Costco offer a free 2nd year of support on any computer while other companies may charge extra.