$2,072 as reviewed**
All-in-one Windows PC for enterprise and consumer use.
It has been a while since I’ve reviewed a computer in this column, as my focus typically has been on notebook or Ultrabook systems. For the last couple of months, however, I’ve been testing out an all-in-one PC from HP, the ProOne 600. This is my first experience with an all-in-one and I must say I am pleasantly surprised. In my latest PC Buyer’s Guide I discussed how all-in-one systems are popular because of their compact design: All of the components are squeezed into the back of the monitor, eliminating the need for a tower and cords. However, they also carry with them some potential drawbacks, mainly a not-so-insignificant price premium.
Immediately upon unpacking the ProOne 600 I can see the appeal of all-in-one systems. After attaching the stand to the monitor, plugging in the wireless adapter for the keyboard and mouse and then plugging in the power cord, I had the system up and running. This was a very different experience than setting up a traditional tower system, which requires separate power cords for the PC tower and monitor as well as cables attaching the monitor (and possibly also the keyboard and mouse) to the tower. With the standard tilt stand, the dimensions of the ProOne 600 I reviewed are 20.5 inches by 7.7 inches by 16.8 inches.
The ProOne 600 offers a 21.5-inch widescreen WLED backlit full HD-capable monitor, into which all of the components are built, with a 1920 by 1080 native resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio. The size of the display is typical for today’s new PCs and it utilizes In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology, in contrast to TN-Film (Twisted Nematic Film) based technology. In short, TN-F is what made LCD technology a commercial reality by making it affordable to the masses. However, TN-F cannot replicate true 24-bit color (16.7 million colors) since it can only handle six bits per color. To get around this, TN-F simulates 16.7 million colors by blending adjacent pixels to make different color shades. The only problem with TN-F displays is that they have a viewing angle in the range of 160 degrees to 170 degrees. In-Plane Switching technology, on the other hand, allows for the true range of 16.7 million colors, essential for design or high-end video work. When you touch an IPS display such as the one that comes with the ProOne 600, there is also no warping of the on-screen colors, unlike when you touch a typical TN-F display. The ProOne’s display also offers excellent off-angle viewing. In addition, the ProOne 600 supports landscape or portrait display orientation, which requires the optional height-adjustable stand ($47). With this stand you can rotate the screen between landscape and portrait orientation and the display will automatically adjust to the switch. The ProOne 600 is not a touch display, so you have the option of “downgrading” the Windows operating system to Windows 7. This is the route I suggest, as Windows 8 is optimized for touch display.
Integrated stereo speakers run along the length of the bottom of the display. By default the ProOne 600 comes with DTS Sound+, with the option of adding DTS Studio Sound. Also on the top-front of the display of my review system was an optional integrated 2.0 MP webcam with a maximum resolution of 1920 by 1080 and dual microphone array.
Since the monitor is, in effect, the “tower” of the system, it is bristling with connector ports and inputs. On the right side of the display is the optional tray-load optical drive as well as the power button. You can configure the ProOne 600 with no optical drive or add either a SuperMulti DVD Writer or DVD-ROM Optical Disc Drive.
On the left side of the display is the optional HP SD card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, a microphone/line-in jack and a headphone/line-out jack. One thing worth mentioning is that one of the USB 3.0 ports is a fast-charging port. This means you can plug in mobile devices to this port and the ProOne 600 will charge it roughly three times faster than a typical USB port. As someone who uses several mobile devices a day, this feature is extremely useful.
On the back of the display you will find PS/2 mouse and keyboard connectors; two USB 2.0 ports; a Gigabit Ethernet port; two USB 3.0 ports; a DisplayPort connector; a stereo audio line out port; a power connector; and an optional serial port.
Also on the back are two access panel latches. Releasing the panel gives you access to all of the components of the ProOne 600, including the hard drive(s) and memory slots.
For wireless connectivity, the ProOne 600 offers optional 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless. Also, with its HP Wireless Hotspot technology, you can turn the ProOne 600 into a WLAN endpoint.
It is also worth pointing out that all of the components used in the ProOne 600 are the same ones used by HP in their tower systems. A knock against some all-in-one systems is that the components used in them are geared more toward laptop systems because of their smaller size. This often means, however, that you are not getting the same level of performance you would get with desktop components. This is not the case with the HP ProOne 600.
Even though the ProOne 600 is geared more toward Enterprise buyers, the system has more than enough power to handle most consumer-oriented tasks as well, including HD videos and gaming. The system I reviewed was equipped with a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor running at 2.90GHz, and you have the option of either upgrading to a Core i7 processor if you are a true “power” user, or downgrading to less power, and less expensive, fourth-generation Core i3 or Pentium processors. The Core i5 offers a good blend of value and performance, providing more than enough power to handle an array of functions today and well into the future.
Furthermore, my review system had the optional discrete AMD Radeon HD 2G MXM graphics, something you don’t often find on Enterprise-oriented systems. Discrete graphics means the computer has memory dedicated specifically to producing the graphics you see on your screen, in contrast to integrated graphics, which rely on the standard memory included in the system. Discrete graphics deliver more processing power and a higher quality visual experience compared to integrated graphics. This is especially useful when viewing HD contents or playing 3D games.
The review system had 8G of DDR3 SDRAM (memory) with the option of adding an additional 8G for a total of 16G.
In addition, the ProOne 600 supports multiple hard drive configurations to suit your needs. The system I reviewed was configured with a single 256G solid state drive (SSD). However, you can also configure the system to have multiple drives, including one SSD and one traditional hard disk drive (HDD). This gives you the option of having a high-speed boot drive (SSD) and then using a more economical HDD to store your data. The ProOne supports SSDs from 120G to 256G, HDDs of 500G or 1T, or hybrid drives of 500G or 1T.
The HP representatives I spoke with highlighted the warranty that comes with the ProOne 600. The ProOne 600 is protected by HP Services, including a standard 3-3-3 warranty (up to 5-5-5). This means that the price of the system includes three years of coverage for parts and labor and gives you three years of onsite service. A warranty of this length normally costs extra from other companies.
As configured, the review system given to me by HP costs over $2,000. A similarly configured tower system, with monitor and extended warranty, currently costs between $1,000 and $1,200, depending on the manufacturer. Therefore, you are paying a definite price premium for the smaller footprint of the all-in-one. At the HP website, pre-configured ProOne 600 systems start at $884. You can also buy the ProOne 600 via online retailers, including Amazon.com and TigerDirect.com, although the configurations are more limited.
Being the first all-in-one system I have ever used, I must say I was impressed and pleasantly surprised with the HP ProOne 600. It was a breeze to set up and the configuration of the review system was such that I believe I would be hard-pressed to find something that it couldn’t do. After using it for several weeks, I have yet to run into any problems. The system worked out of the box and continues to perform flawlessly. And if anything should ever go wrong, the standard three-year on-site warranty for parts and labor is a nice touch.
The big hang-up for me is the price. The HP ProOne is seemingly well-built and comes with all of the features consumers would want, even if it is marketed primarily as an Enterprise system. That being said, you are paying a pretty hefty premium for having all the components housed in the display. This is definitely a system I would have no problem recommending to anyone who faces serious space issues or who isn’t overly tech-savvy. This is a system that you plug in and start using.
For everyone else, I would give the ProOne 600 a qualified recommendation because of the price. It is very easy to find a similarly configured tower system at a fraction of the cost.
$2,072 as reviewed**
**price as of December 12, 2013.