Desktop PC Review: HP Pavilion All-in-One MS214

Plenty of small businesses want and need to set a stylish tone for the public areas in their offices. The good news is they don’t have to spend big bucks to do it. Eric Grevstad at reviews the HP’s Pavilion All-in-One MS214 and finds that it offers a lot more than good looks.

We’ve all done it: walked out of a store having spent more than we planned walking in. HP is hoping that consumers will walk out having spent $600 — that instead of just buying a software upgrade for an aging system, they’ll take the opportunity offered by the arrival of Windows 7 to treat themselves to a spiffy new all-in-one PC.

The Pavilion MS214 not only has Windows 7 Home Premium preinstalled, it has the classy one-piece design of a more costly Apple iMac or HP TouchSmart (though it doesn’t have the latter’s touch screen). Its 18.5-inch LCD is bigger than the old 15- or 17-inch CRT it’ll likely replace. Its setup is as simple as plugging in the mouse, keyboard, and power cord. It comes with HP’s slick MediaSmart software for managing photos, videos, and music, as well as a webcam and WiFi. And while $600 isn’t exactly an impulse buy, it’s only a couple of hundred bucks more than a cheap conventional PC — one that doesn’t offer the “simple, elegant, and tower-free desktop” touted by the advertising sticker on the HP’s front bezel.

On the other hand, HP is gambling that smart shoppers (or shoppers helped by smart salesclerks) won’t mistake the MS214 for a mere nettop like the Asus Eee Top 1602 or eMachines EZ1601. Instead of a nettop’s humble, one-core Intel Atom processor and 1GB of RAM, the Pavilion boasts an AMD Athlon X2 3250e — a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU with two times 512K of Level 2 cache — and 2GB of DDR2 memory, as well as a 320GB hard disk and a DVD±RW burner. And while it’s no fire-breathing gamer, the HP’s ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics easily outshine the ignominious Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics of nettops and netbooks.

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