Nowadays when you buy a computer you have four kinds to choose from: laptops, desktops, mini-PCs and all-in-ones (where the whole computer is inside the monitor).

Updated: July 18, 2014 11:13 AM
By Fabien Pionneau
Translated by: Hugh Ehreth
Apple started the trend with its all-in-one plastic iMacs, and dominated the field for a while. The move from bulky cathode ray tube screens to flatscreen LCDs saw the iMac undergo a radical change in design, but also opened the door to other manufacturers. Now it's all about making a stylish frame for the screen and computer. All those that have tried their hand at this sector, from Apple and Sony to HP, Dell and Asus, have gone to great lengths to create a polished, crowd-pleasing design.

All-in-ones tend to place more emphasis on looks and lifestyle than they do on raw processing power, so it's not surprising that they're often made with lightweight hardware originally developed for laptops.

Limitations

First, the bad news: an all-in-one computer isn't going to help you get a record-breaking score on the latest 3D video game—they just don't have the power.

The good news is that for more 'traditional' activities, such as web browsing, productivity and your odd smaller-scale video game, they're a perfectly reasonable choice. If you're keen to use them for photos, music or videos, make sure the hard drive's big enough, or else you might want to pick up an external HDD as well.

One question remains, which will no doubt swing it for a lot of people: Windows or Mac? Windows will give you an almost unlimited choice of software, including practically every game out there, but it's also more susceptible to viruses, spyware and freezes. But whether or not these faults are inherent is up for debate (after all, if you're downloading and installing dubious software, then it's reasonable to assume it will affect your system).

Mac, on the other hand, is known for being simple to use—and it is. To install software you just copy/paste and the system for managing photos, videos and music is more practical. Then again, you'll have to skip three quarters or so of the software that's available for Windows, including most games. If you really can't decide, and think paying for two operating systems is a reasonable expenditure, then Apple's Boot Camp allows you to have them both on the same machine—as long as it's a Mac, of course.
 
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