Dell Inspiron One 2320: Stuck in the Middle With Youby Dustin Sklavos on November 17, 2011 12:30 AM EST
Conclusion: Start Over From Scratch
Dell's notebook team has been outdoing themselves over and over again lately. Whoever's running the show there has their head on straight, and the all-in-one team could stand to benefit a bit from their wisdom, because the Inspiron One 2320 has some very serious problems.
Amusingly enough, the one place where Dell succeeds over the competition is the software. Just by increasing the font scale and including an inobtrusive set of shortcuts with the Inspiron One, they've substantially improved the usability of the Inspiron One 2320 compared to HP's TouchSmart 610. It's true that you can manually increase the scale on the HP, but Dell thought to increase it from the factory. The MediaStage software is also much more my speed than HP's bloated TouchSmart interface. I don't want to have to swipe my fingertip across a 23-inch touchscreen; the real estate is there, let me just push the button.
I can also see where Dell was going with the variety of inputs on the back of the 2320, and the speakers are good enough that at least initially it seems like the unit could succeed at its intended purpose: being an all-in-one for everyone. There's a lot of flexibility and potential here.
The problem is that the rest of the Inspiron One 2320 is a mess. The screen sucks out loud, and that's an issue that's made worse by the knowledge that Dell's desktop screens are oftentimes excellent values. Dell pushed the prices of eIPS screens south and was one of the first out of the gate with them, so why can't we have one here? A TN panel does not a good television make.
And while there isn't anything fundamentally wrong with the Intel Core i5-2400S's performance, it feels like an odd decision for this machine; it's slow enough that I'd consider just going for an entry level mobile quad-core instead. That would at least free up some thermal headroom to put in a better GPU and balance the system out more. I almost wonder if Dell wouldn't have been better served by a desktop Llano, and that's made especially apparent when you look at how poorly the cooling system seems to be designed. It's noisy and inefficient and worse, it lets the hard drive pretty much bake inside the enclosure. CPU performance isn't the Inspiron One's strong suit, the GPU is too slow for the resolution, and there's no USB 3.0 connectivity. So yes, I'd rather have a Llano.
Ultimately I feel like while the software side is fine, the hardware probably needs to be redesigned from scratch. The cooling system needs to be made more efficient, and the hardware configuration should benefit from it. 50C is way too hot for a hard drive in any kind of desktop system to be running. The panel Dell chose for the Inspiron One 2320 is just dreadful; I've never liked large desktop TN panels and this one has been another example of why. If you're in the market for a touchscreen all-in-one, I'd be looking at HP's TouchSmart 610 line first. The 610 we reviewed may be $150 more than this Inspiron, but it's faster in almost every way but the hard drive, has a vastly superior screen, and is quieter and cooler running to boot.