The PC industry loves to repeat history. Today's cloud computing trends are nothing more than a rehash of the mainframe architecture of the 1960s 70s right? The use of GPUs as compute accelerators pays homage to a time when general purpose microprocessors were accompanied by additional, off-chip hardware depending on the applications you wanted to run. The issue with both of these statements is that unlike simply repeating history, the PC industry tends to like to improve upon good ideas in history.

At many points during the evolution of the PC we've had what's called the all-in-one, basically a PC with an integrated monitor. Now don't get the all-in-one confused with a notebook, because unlike a notebook the all-in-one is desktop sized and with no battery, it's not intended to be portable.

The point of the all-in-one is to save space, to integrate the monitor into the computer chassis to make it either look better, take up less space, or some combination of the two. Every desktop PC needs a monitor right? So why not integrate the monitor into the PC and sell it as a nice bundle that you simply have to plug in; no messy cables, the OEM gets additional revenue from selling both a display and a PC, and somewhere along the line this benefits the end user.

With each generation of the PC's evolution we went through an all-in-one phase. In the late 80s we had things like the IBM PS/2 that was available in an all-in-one configuration:


The IBM PS/2 Model 25 - courtesy Wikipedia

Apple got hooked on the all-in-one designs and just never seemed to give them up, even when they were dying on the PC side. Remember the awful looking first generation iMac?


The iMac G3 - courtesy Wikipedia

It was different as it was a splash of color in a sea of beige boxes, but Apple couldn't hide the basic limitations of all-in-one PC designs. They are terribly limited from an upgrade standpoint and the biggest issue is that you're stuck with whatever mediocre monitor is integrated into the chassis.

This all started to somewhat change with the later iMacs, mainly thanks to the adoption of decent LCD displays. While the older iMacs and other all-in-ones used CRTs, the move to LCD technology made these things far more attractive. Remembering back to the early days of PC LCDs, there's no way you wanted to be stuck with one of those for any period of time. With LED backlights and far improved black levels, viewing angles and response times, today's LCDs are decent enough where staying married to one for a handful of years isn't too scary a thought.

The other parts of the computer have also gotten smaller, cooler and faster. With the performance delta between desktop and notebook performance shrunk down to simply GPU and I/O differences, it's now possible to build an all-in-one that's just as fast as a modern day desktop. Combine that with a good quality LCD panel and you've got a recipe for an all-in-one that I might actually want to own.

Granted the limitations still exist, these things aren't super upgradeable; while you can add more memory or replace the hard drive, upgrading your video card is usually out of the question as the GPU and its memory are generally soldered onto the motherboard. You can forget about dual-display options, not to mention that if anything ever happens to the display you've got to send the entire machine in for repair. There are many reasons not to consider an all-in-one, but these days having more than one PC in your home isn't unheard of, and PCs are finally stylish and compact enough for them to make an appearance in more unusual locations, places where aesthetics do matter and this is where the modern all-in-one has a purpose.

Dell recently contributed to the all-in-one PC market with its XPS One introduced at the end of 2007. As Dell's attempt to capture some of the iMac market the original XPS One featured a built in 20" widescreen LCD and boasted only needing a single cord for full operation - power. The keyboard, mouse and internet connectivity were all wireless, making it perfect for a very modern setup.

Since the XPS One's release, Apple has updated its iMac line to make it more competitive in terms of pricing and hardware, the top of the line iMac now ships with a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo processor while last year it shipped with a 2.4GHz part. The XPS One was also at a disadvantage as Dell only offered one panel size at 20" while Apple offered a 20" and a 24". One obvious downside to the all-in-one is that you're stuck with the monitor you bought with the machine, so if you outgrow your 20" you're out of luck. The 24" panel size however seems to be the sweetspot these days, it gives you enough desktop resolution for pretty much everything including full 1080p video playback which is becoming more and more important.

Naturally you know where all of this is headed - Dell is updating the XPS One. It's still called the XPS One but now it's got a 24" panel with a 1920 x 1200 display, some faster hardware and a new (PRODUCT) RED version.


Yeah, it's pretty stylish

I'll dive into specs in a moment but first I figured I'd introduce you two.


Oooh, a plethora of ports

The New XPS One 24

Dell had such clean naming with the XPS One, but tack the number 24 onto the end of it and all of the sudden we're back in silly land again. The 24 obviously denotes the size of the LCD panel used in the XPS One, but don't be fooled, this isn't the same 24" panel that's used in the 2408WFP.

There are four basic configurations that Dell is offering of the XPS One 24, all shipping today:

  Dell XPS One 24 - $1699 Dell XPS One 24 (PRODUCT) RED- $1699 Dell XPS One 24 - $1999 Dell XPS One 24 (PRODUCT) RED- $2299
CPU Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200
GPU Intel GMA X4500 (G45) Intel GMA X4500 (G45) NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT 512MB DDR3 NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT 512MB DDR3
Display 24" 1920 x 1200 24" 1920 x 1200 24" 1920 x 1200 24" 1920 x 1200
HDD 320GB 7200RPM 3.5" 320GB 7200RPM 3.5" 750GB 7200RPM 3.5" 750GB 7200RPM 3.5"
Optical Drive Slot load DVD+/-RW with double layer write capability Slot load DVD+/-RW with double layer write capability Slot load DVD+/-RW with double layer write capability Slot load Blu-ray Disc burner (Writes to DVD/CD/BD)
OS Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 Windows Vista Ultimate SP1
Price $1699 $1699 $1999 $2299

 

All four configurations come with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200, which is a 45nm Penryn based quad-core processor running at 2.33GHz with a 4MB L2 cache (2MB L2 per core). The smaller amount of cache should put the performance of the Q8200 at below that of a Q6600, but with four cores things like video encoding should go swiftly.

The base configurations ship with Intel integrated graphics (G45), while the upgraded configurations ($1999 and $2299) have a NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GPU, which ships with 32 SPs and a 128-bit memory bus connected to 512MB of DDR3 memory.

The systems either ship with a 320GB or 750GB 7200RPM drive and either a slot loading DL-DVD+/-RW or a Blu-ray read/write drive. All configurations ship with an integrated analog/ATSC tuner. And in a move that Apple could stand to learn from, every last XPS One 24 ships with 4GB of DDR2 memory standard (although with only Vista 32-bit installed on the machine some of that memory does go to waste).

Dell sent me the most expensive configuration, priced at $2299 with all the trimmings, meaning it's got the NVIDIA GPU and the Blu-ray drive. Spec-wise the XPS One 24 is actually pretty decent, it has the potential to be a very quick machine.

If you buy one of the (PRODUCT) RED versions Dell will donate $50 to the (PRODUCT) RED fund against AIDS, buy one of those products with Windows Vista Ultimate and Microsoft will chip in another $30. Given that the RED versions aren't any more expensive than their counterparts the gesture is very nice on Dell's behalf.

And in case you're wondering, the RED versions aren't actually red, they have a metallic white back instead of the standard black.

Insert: Obligatory Matrix Reference Here
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  • DCstewieG - Sunday, November 02, 2008 - link

    Actually Apple was first on the shortcuts you're talking about. Pressing Apple+Space brings up Spotlight which lets you type the first few characters of the app to find it and Enter to run it.

    As for Anand's Mac bias, it's a very interesting story. Here you have a devoted editor of a PC hardware site who decided to give a Mac a spin for a month to write an article about it. What happens? He becomes a huge fan in the process.

    You see a lot of comments saying that people use Macs because Steve Jobs put them in a trance or because they look nice or something, but here's a guy who came in fresh and decided he liked it a lot by actually using it.

    If you haven't read it: http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=2232">http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=2232 (though it is a bit outdated now)
    Reply
  • nitrous9200 - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    There will be an option to show the text next to the program icons in 7, but obviously it will be turned off by default. Of course it's really quite easy to differentiate between programs by the icon since they're usually so different. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    Yeah, but if you have several instances of the same program open (for example, I have 2 firefox right now, and multiple Explorer windows is common) then icons won't cut it. I couldn't care less how pretty the interface looks, so long as it is effective at conveying what is going on and allowing me to interact with it. Reply
  • sxr7171 - Tuesday, November 04, 2008 - link

    No big deal. You will get a choice which is the downside of Macs. It's either "our way" or the "highway" in the Mac universe which is my big issue with Mac. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    I've long felt Windows' interface is considerably superior to OS X. Honestly I'd take 98's interface over 10.5, let alone XP or Vistas. It's really customizable, and...well I could go on and on about the things I prefer.

    (Two huge ones off the top of my head, you can edit files and folders from a save dialog box, and create new documents where you want them in the file system rather than having to open a program and navigate that way.)

    Certainly I vastly prefer the quick launch bar and start menu to the dock.

    Expose is the only interface element I wouldn't mind ripped off and put in Windows (though even there there's sort of a version of it in Vista).
    Reply
  • slashbinslashbash - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    Hmmm... how long have you been reading AnandTech? I've been here a good 7-8 years now, and I have grown to have an almost personal relationship with Anand's reviews. I know his thought processes, and he has kept a consistent POV over the years. Look back to 2004-2005 when he got his first Macs and somewhat reluctantly concluded (after all, he had built his site's reputation as a PC hardware review site) that he liked OS X better than Windows. Ever since then, the push has been on. Anand has grown to be more and more of a "Mac guy" and AFAIK largely uses Macs to conduct his day-to-day work. It's to the point now that I think of Anand as my go-to guy for Mac reviews and analysis (as he and his site have always been my go-to site for PC hardware reviews), if only because his voice has been so consistent and I know that he will tell me what he really thinks, and more importantly, that I know how he thinks and I know that he usually thinks like I do. Editorial consistency is so important and usually overlooked.

    In any case, being surprised at the "obvious pro-Mac OS X bias" shows you to be a pretty non-observant AnandTech reader, IMO. It is no surprise to me at all, and in fact I felt that Anand gave pretty fair shakes to the Dell, which copied the iMac and OS X to an embarrassing degree (the Dock is such a blatant ripoff! And the "Eject" graphic! Even the input/output ports are totally Mac-like.).

    As for your criticisms of OS X, "knowing what is running" is far less important on OS X than on Windows anyway. To quote from Anand's 4/13/06 review of the original MacBook Pro: "When I started using OS X I initially hated the idea that closing all the windows of an application wouldn't actually close the application itself. However the more I used OS X, the more I realized that I didn't want to close the applications I used a lot; I wanted their windows out of the way but I wanted the ability to switch to them without waiting on the hard drive to load up that program again. Leaving just about every application I use open all the time and not having to worry about my system getting slow over time was a bit of a new experience for me, but it was a welcome one." I am the same way. I pretty much never quit programs completely on my Macs. It just doesn't make any difference in performance. When they are running in the background, the memory is managed well enough by OS X that they do not intrude on what I am doing.

    "Differentiating between the numerous windows I have open" -- nothing does this better than Exposé.

    "a central place to go for all your programs" -- OS X does a much better job of this with the Applications folder and the way that Applications themselves are folders in a sense. You click on them to open the application, but all the files and components that actually make up the application are enclosed in the folder that is the visible manifestation of the application in the Applications folder. To give a concrete example: I have an application called "Firefox" in my Applications folder. To open Firefox, I double-click on it. But if I right-click (I have a MS wireless mouse and keyboard -- I'm not a bigot) and select "View Package Contents", I see that this Firefox application is really just a container with a bunch of files and folders within it; chrome, extensions, dictionaries, etc. All of the confusing files and folders that seem to spread their way across multiple locations on Windows confine themselves nicely to that one pseudo-folder on OS X. No .dll files in strange places! No configuration settings hidden in the Registry! Just one place, and if you want to get rid of the program, there's no need for a complicated "Uninstall" process that scours your hard drive for odd remnants, you just drag the whole thing to the trash and be done with it! Wow, what a concept!

    As for Linux's "central place to go for all your programs" -- don't get me started on the multitudinous locations of various ./bin folders (/usr/bin, /usr/local/bin, ~/bin, /bin, here a /bin, there a /bin, everywhere a /bin /bin.... I've got a $PATH that is several lines long, and different on every machine that I log into).
    Reply
  • sxr7171 - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    Huh. I used to ask Mac users why they did thought Mac was better in some ways and I many would mention the whole process of installing and uninstalling apps as a drag and drop thing. I never understood why they made such a big deal out of that because I thought dragging and dropping was analogous to clicking the install file.

    Not until you explained did I realize why they always bring that point up. Honestly now that I understand it, that is pretty darn amazing. It just makes sense. I hate hunting through local settings, application settings, the registry etc.
    Reply
  • xeutonmojukai - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    Um, I'm writing this on my MacBook right now, and trust me, this thing has a much more in-depth task manager than any Windows computer I've ever seen, and even allows you to restart the Finder program (or Main UI, basically) without restarting the computer.

    I find that my computer can go plowing into the great unknown reaches of the internet and come out clean, without using a firewall or any sort of protection program. It runs as fast as it did four years ago when I bought it.

    I also use 10.4, and I've seen a lot of the new things from Leopard in my install of Ubuntu, and I don't need them, honestly. I'm fine with what Tiger has to offer.
    Reply
  • Wolfpup - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    How is Window's task manager less in depth...

    and you've been able to restart Explorer (ie Finder) separately from the computer in Windows since at LEAST Windows 98, if not earlier.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    Windows taskbar doesn't give you a progress bar update per application?
    Windows taskbar doesn't tell you how many emails, IMs, or activity status in the taskbar?

    All the Windows taskbar does is tell you which apps are open, which apps want your attention, and how many windows each app has open.
    Reply

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