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Tech Matters: Why you should consider an all-in-one computer

By Leslie Meredith - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Dec 28, 2022

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Leslie Meredith

Ever since I brought my water-damaged Mac laptop into the Apple Store at City Creek to be repaired, I haven’t been able to get those candy-colored iMacs out of my mind. Not only would one be an uplifting focal point in my home office, but the promise of no messy tangle of cords cluttering the desk is irresistible. So, my first tech purchase of 2023 will be an iMac, an all-in-one (AIO) desktop computer.

But I won’t be the first in the family to have a new AIO because my dad gave my mom one for Christmas. For years, I’ve thought AIOs were the often ignored computer choice, overshadowed by laptops. The pandemic should have repopularized AIOs since no one was toting their laptop to the local coffee shop, but that just didn’t happen. In fact, desktop sales, including AIOs, have steadily declined for more than a decade.

Still, there are good reasons to opt for an AIO, and the major computer manufacturers continue to innovate in this sector.

If you do most of your work at home, an AIO is a great option because of the built-in large screen. You’ll find most models offer a 24-inch display, significantly bigger than a typical laptop at 15 inches. Spreadsheets and design work is infinitely more comfortable on a large screen, and even reading email is less tiring on the eyes when read on a big display.

Of course, you can pair a monitor with a laptop but then you run into the cord issue and a problem with the laptop blocking part of the monitor. Further, an AIO can be less expensive than buying a laptop and a monitor, which is great for the budget. While you won’t have the same portability with an AIO as you would with a laptop, they can be moved — keep the box! — and set up easily in a new location. My former assistant packed up his iMac every Friday and took it home for the weekend.

Here is a selection of highly rated AIO computers selected for their varying price points and operating systems.

Several technology outlets have rated the Apple iMac 24-inch model as the best AIO computer overall. It was released in 2021 and starts at $1,300, which is powerful enough for most users. The price includes the Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard. At 11.5 millimeters thin, it measures less than half an inch in depth, making for an extremely sleek profile. It has a 4.5K Retina display, one of the sharpest screens on the market, that is particularly good for photo editing, design work, presentations and streaming movies. The iMac also features a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, which benefits those who do lots of video calls. The built-in cameras on laptops and most monitors are usually not very good. I’ve had to add a 4K external camera to my current monitor to get the high-quality imagery I need for recording interviews. Without having to buy a good webcam, you’ll save around $100. Analysts anticipate a new iMac series in 2023 that may include a 27-inch model for around $2,000, so if you want a bigger screen, it may be worth the wait.

But iOS is not for everyone. If you are a PC fan, HP makes a highly ranked budget model, as well as a high-end unit. The HP Pavilion All-in-One 24 starts at $580 and offers a configuration that will work for those who do typical office work without the demands of resource-intensive video editing programs and the like. The screen measures 23.8 inches and it has a 1920x1080p HD display. It comes with a nice array of ports and slots, along with an HD webcam that pops up when in use, dual speakers and an audio jack.

The HP Envy 34 All-in-One is designed for those who want a much bigger screen, more processing power and at least $1,580 to spend. The screen is not only bigger than most but offers a 5K resolution, which will appeal to designers and gamers. The base model uses an i5 processor that can be upgraded to an i9 for an additional $370. There is a detachable, magnetic 16-megapixel webcam that can be placed anywhere around the display.

A bit of an outlier, HP also has an AIO that runs Google’s Chrome OS and sports an unusual 21.5-inch display that can be flipped from traditional landscape mode to portrait. It has a 5-megapixel privacy camera, a nice array of ports and a pair of digital microphones and speakers. The Chromebase All-inOne 22 starts at $630.

Now is a great time to buy a new computer with holiday inventory on sale.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about technology for more than a decade. As a mom of four, value, usefulness, and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com.


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