A Productivity PC For Windows 8
Dell’s XPS One 27 isn't a workstation, per se. But the flexibility to support high-end processors makes this Core i7-equipped, 16 GB-enhanced, SSD-cache improved all-in-one a performance monster in non-gaming applications. With its huge 27” ten-point touchscreen, it might even be the perfect product for collaborative creation.
But we're not seeing this thing marketed as a serious creativity tool. Instead, I went to Dell’s website and found this pumped-up rig next to the other, less expensive versions of the 27" XPS One, positioned as the world's most powerful personal gadgets.
That angle makes sense when you start with the entry-level $1,400 model, but when we start playing around with $2,600 machines, we're well out of the realm of general-purpose playthings. For that amount of money, you want a serious workstation or a potent gaming box. Because our flagship XPS One is still stuck with an entry-level discrete GPU, work is the only place left for this top-end configuration to excel. And that it does.
As a desktop user, I’m still frankly more productive using previous Windows versions, even after growing accustomed to Windows 8’s idiosyncrasies. Perhaps that's because I'm on a next-gen operating system using the same keyboard and mouse inputs I've been using for decades. Yet, every day, fewer people are staying tethered to their desktops. They're using their fingers to navigate their mobile devices. And Dell is betting that when they get home, they want the same sort of experience.
That means factoring in the cost of a gorgeous 27" QHD screen into what we expect to pay for a capable machine. Even if we set aside $1,000 of the budget for Dell's display, $1,600 for the rest of the system is fairly steep. Take a look at one of more mainstream models, though. Paying $1,600 total for the entry-level touch-enabled model is actually pretty fair for a Core i5-3330S, 6 GB of DDR3-1600, a 1 TB hard drive, wireless networking, and a keyboard and mouse. Yes, you step down to Intel's HD Graphics engine in the process, but if you're willing to sacrifice gaming for a less expensive workhorse, the compromise seems smart.
Dell trades blows with the 27" iMac at its $1,600 price point, selling for $200 less and including a touchscreen display, while Apple gives you GeForce GTX 660M graphics and more memory. Those subtleties are probably less important to most folks than the fact that Dell keeps you in the world of Windows, while Apple shifts you over to OS X.
The Better Half: A Mobile Device User's Perspective
As a desktop enthusiast who spends most of his time in the office, switching between PC hardware on the test bench and my personal workstation, I'm hardly the best person to pass judgement on Windows 8's touch-based experience. Between Tom's Hardware staff, I've argued that the best description of Dell's XPS One 27 would come from someone whose primary link to technology came from mobile devices. I didn't need to look very far to find such a person. Meet my wife.
I’m your average (mobile device) consumer, who wondered what it would be like to own a large touchscreen-enabled PC. Instead of pleading with my husband to buy one, I visited his office to check out the technology he had for review. Lo and behold, there was Dell's XPS One 27. He knew I had been watching CES 2013 coverage, and he already knew I wanted to try out the latest round of Windows 8-equipped all-in-ones. He also knew I was going to have my way on this one.
So, he gave me the opportunity to take the XPS One with me to my office for a few days, as long as I gave him my impressions for today's story.
First of all, because this is an all-in-one, the weight of the system and the display are combined, so it's pretty heavy. Elegant as it is, don't make the mistake of thinking it's mobile. You won't want to lug it around. Second, consider that although Dell bundles a mouse and keyboard, the inclusion of a touchscreen display means you're going to spend more time (some) with your hands on the monitor than before (none). Keep glass cleaner and a cloth handy, because finger prints are unavoidable and distracting.
Aesthetics are important to me, and this computer has many qualities I find attractive. Because I'm using a wireless network connection, the only cable I see is for power. Gone are all of the wires typically associated with a desktop PC. Also, you can reorient the screen to lay down, like a podium. The display itself is incredibly sharp. And because I'm not as jaded as my husband when it comes to high-end hardware, the combination of fast processor, copious memory, and tiered storage means performance, in my opinion, is unlike anything I've ever seen.