Whether it’s business or pleasure, the 91z covers all the bases of sleek design with impressive performance at a competitive price point of $1,000 and up. With the right blend of optional extras, there’s a hidden value to be unlocked in this powerful All-In-One PC.
The ThinkCentre Edge 91z represents a blend of good-value, mid-range performance and intelligent functionality, complimented by handy extras like multi-finger, touch-screen control. It’s built into a somewhat monolithic but elegantly simple design that shapes up to the PC version of a smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S2. The edges of the screen bleed over to the bezel and taper over the edges in a flat, black but glossy face that doesn’t draw too much attention to itself but is still a bit of an eyecatcher for style.
The 21.5 inch 1920×1080 resolution display lies seamlessly on the glossy glass fascia, with the Full HD build and in-built graphics brunt to enjoy Blu-ray quality movies in all their lustre. Colour isn’t the most pronounced we’ve seen, tipped to the light side of the colour spectrum so dark spots aren’t as prominent. It’s otherwise fairly bright, though the glossy screen can get very reflective if you’ve got lights behind you.
The model we looked at housed an Intel Core i5 processor running at 2.5 GHz, sitting next to an AMD Radeon HD 6650A graphics card running at 1GHz. The i5 makes the machine run fast and efficient across the board, while the AMD picks up the slack on graphics-intensive applications. It’s a mid-range card, but stands out in an all-in-one PC, with many other models looking to integrated Intel graphics instead.
The additional graphics card really tips the value on this all-in-one, so you’ll want a model with this optional extra in. Anything graphics-reliant like gaming or multimedia will get a very big boost from this mid-range card, with new DirectX-11 games running at fair frame rates as opposed to flickering like a stop-motion flic. It also lends Blu-ray support to the unit for enjoying high quality video, but you’ll need the optional Blu-ray drive over the DVD re-writable drive for that.
The optional touch-screen is a star feature on the 91z, but it’s not without its faults. Unlike many HP TouchSmarts that use two cameras to track your fingers and mimic a touch screen, the 91z employs capacitive touch for full touch support. Though on a couple of occasions after putting the PC to sleep and then powering back up, the touch functionality would disappear until the PC was restarted – an irritating glitch that strikes a few points off the value.
The touch screen is otherwise integrated cleverly with a bit of proprietary ‘simple touch’ software that doesn’t bog down the computer but instead runs smoothly within the Windows 7 ecosystem. Touching a little red tab on the desktop or swiping two fingers across the screen brings up a tiled interface with hotkeys to applications and web pages, similar to a typical smartphone. Multiple ‘home pages’ like on an Android device can be customised with personalised tiles that link to web pages or installed programs.
The touch control is also integrated into the general workings of the computer, allowing quick swipes to navigate back and forth through web pages and quick scrolling up and down pages and documents. You’ll need a pretty specific and quick double-finger swipe to make it work, but you get the hang of it once you’ve done it a few times.
On the peripheral side, there’s plenty on offer including six USB ports, a 6-in-1 card reader, fair quality hidden speakers in the underside of the screen, and a two megapixel webcam with an integrated stereo microphone. There’s also HDMI out support and VGA-in for connecting other monitors. The screen has average reach back and forth to get the right viewing angle, but to tip downward at all you’ll need to pick up the extra stand for around $66. There’s even a rubber handle around the back to make it a little more portable than most.
The 91z pushes up to an Intel i7 processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, an 80GB SSD or 1TB hard drive, Blu-ray drive and a spill-resistant wireless keyboard on the top models. The model we tested met these specs half way, and performed great at its price range at that. The 4GB RAM was sufficient, like the 500GB hard drive provided enough space for an average user. Whether for the office or the home, the 91z will cover most bases well at good value while saving on space and offering some restrained class.