Asus is making a play in the 27 inch all-in-one category, serving customers with a tantalising mix of processing grunt, touch screen technology and the promise of Windows 8. But, has their ambition paid off?It has taken Windows PC makers 18 months to respond to Apple’s 27 inch all-in-one iMac, but they’re finally realising that the category is worth investing in. Asus’ entrant pushes the barrier by delivering a 27″ all-in-one PC that features a touch-screen and an early version of Windows 8, but unfortunately it introduces perks that are more gimmick than necessity.
Our review unit–which was a pre-development model–used the consumer preview build of Windows 8. The software featured the orthogonal tile interface (metro) which this computer is specifically designed for, opening up a dialogue where hardware and software could fluently engage in touch gestures.
The 10 point touch screen was receptive to touch, accurately identifying our inputs with few errors in tow. Asus have included some applications that do get some good use out of it, particularly ‘Asus paint’ and ‘fingertapps instruments’, while internet surfing does inherit some of the web-browsing texture found on a tablet. Zooming in and out of pages feels a little weird at first, but the unfamiliar sensation is one welcomed.
Once you learn some of the touch lingo, such as swiping to close programs/switch between open programs, Windows 8 begins to make some more sense, which in turn gives the touch screen some real purpose. However, the materials used for the screen invite too much friction, holding your skin back as your fingers reluctantly traverse the screen. This deters you from using some of the bigger gestures, such as flipping through photos, as the experience is uncomfortable.
The touch screen doesn’t do the display any other favours. Although donning Full HD resolution, colours lack vibrancy and dark colours conform to a uniform rendition of black. Without the novelty of touch, I’m afraid the Asus ET2700 settles for a screen that is at best ordinary.
That says a lot considering we wouldn’t bother nominating the touchscreen at all as it’s a $500 extra.
Although its display fares poorly compared to its rivals, Asus has endowed this all-in-one with reputable hardware. Its processor is an Intel Core i7 clocked at 3.4GHz, joined by 8GB of RAM and 2TBs of storage. It features a NVIDIA GT540M 2GB card which runs games such as Modern Warfare 3 and World Of Warcraft with little trouble, but unfortunately the test version of Windows 8 failed to rate the graphic components according to the Windows Experience Index. It did score its processor and RAM at 7.6 and 7.5 respectively, which are high marks considering the scale ranges from 1.0 to 7.9.
The ET2700 would scarcely strain under everyday use, sifting through websites, playing back multimedia and creating content effortlessly. Beneath the gloss of its enclosure and the novelty of its touchscreen lies a capable computer, built from powerful components.
However, the 27 inch all-in-one category is cut-throat competitive and being capable isn’t enough. Compared to the thoroughbred design of Apple’s iMac, the understated charm of HP’s Omni and the sex appeal harboured by Samsung’s all-in-one, Asus’ all-in-one fails to captivate users. Great all-in-one comps inspire you to do work, but this one simply reminds you of the chore at hand.
They took a chance with such bold styling and I have no doubts there are some who will find it striking, but not a single person in our office found the Asus good looking while it sat next to its 27″ competitors. The bezel clearly frames the screen with it protruding from a contrasting speaker grill. The steel grill is a fingerprint magnate, along with the screen, leaving this comp looking tacky compared to its foes. And finally, the layered illusion Asus has gone for makes the comp look cluttered and thick.
Unlike HP who makes you pay over $100 for the matching sub-woofer, Asus throw it in for free. Yet despite their best intentions, the sub-woofer severely misunderstands bass. Its rendition is so poor that initially we thought it was faulty, but an Asus representative assured us it was performing to specification.
The on board speakers are barely capable, producing sound that is flat and generally lacklustre across the range.
Although Asus has invested effort into the design of the computer’s screen and woofer, their keyboard and mouse look ordinary and underdressed in comparison. The keyboard takes some time to get used to with its flat profile and uniform design making it a little more challenging to discern the location of keys without looking. The mouse, although looking a little ordinary, functions really well, effortlessly gliding across the expansive screen and always taking note of clicks.
Asus is pricing the top of the range ET2700 as a premium all-in-one at $3,000. That’s a pricey proposition that sits alongside Samsung’s Series 9 and Apple’s iMac, but we’d recommend the non-touch variant which is a whole $500 cheaper, at $2,499. A stock model can be picked up for $1,999, keeping it in line with Apple’s, Samsung’s and HP’s all-in-ones.
The ET2700 is far from a bad machine; it just fails to inspire us the same way Samsung’s Series 9, Apple’s iMac and HP’s Omni 27 do. A 27 inch computer is meant to excel in the basics, reaching the technological limits of performance, design and display. Yet using the ET2700, it’s obvious Asus spent too much time focussing on the next gen Windows 8 and its touchscreen tablet sensibilities, that it neglected the areas that matter most. Unfortunately for Asus, its rivals are sure to benefit from this oversight.