Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts
How this DIY AIO segment evolves is going to be very interesting in the coming 12 months. We assume that the majority of the focus is going to be placed on the chassis as it's ultimately going to have the most room for difference. This is because working with such a small area via the Thin Mini-ITX standard means that you can only offer so much on the board itself. It's going to be difficult for motherboard companies to really separate themselves from each other. Of course we could be wrong, and as the segment grows, we'll no doubt discover more and more about the motherboard standard. For now, though, it's all relatively new to us.
Pricing and availability at the moment remains a little unknown. The board itself is listed over at Newegg for $124.99. The majority of the cost is going to come from the chassis, though, and at the moment, we don't know what price that's going to hit at. Along with the chassis and motherboard you need your normal components like RAM, CPU, storage and most likely a ROM drive.
While being touch-screen, you'd also be crazy to not have a keyboard and mouse on hand - which ultimately brings us to the overall experience. A touch-screen can't replace the mouse and keyboard. Instead at the moment it can just assist with it. Does it make life easier? Yes. But the problem is it only makes life easier under Windows 8 because it seems to be so keyboard and mouse unfriendly. Under Windows 7 the touch function feels quite pointless. You simply can't work as accurately as you can with a keyboard and mouse.
I actually find myself really wanting one of these systems now. But it would be a complete nerd tool for me. I'd have it wall mounted in my lounge room. I'd probably have the weather showing on it. I'd use some of the touch apps. It would probably work a bit like a large iPad for me - and that means that probably after a month, I'd stop using it.
AIO systems are going to be big business in the coming years. The strength of the DIY market is going to be interesting, though. I can see the modding scene becoming stronger to create some truly awesome looking machines.
One thing I need to quickly cover is the touch-screen itself. As an avid "i" device user, I've always felt that companies have sat behind when it comes to touch-screen usability. Nothing has really ever felt as quick or smooth as my "i" devices. The screen on the MiTAC Maestro 770 is truly a pleasure to use. Under Windows 8 everything looks and feels fantastic. You can kind of type on it thanks to the 10 point finger touch capabilities, but the angle of the screen makes it a little awkward. You're not about to pick it up and put it on your lap either.
From a quality and performance perspective the GIGABYTE H77TN and MiTAC Maestro 770 are both fantastic. I have trouble picking any real flaws. The issues I have are purely from a platform point of view. The AIO PC just isn't for me at the moment - not in a replace what I currently have situation anyway. I can see a serious use for this kind of PC. I could have a heap of fun with it. My kitchen where I don't cook or my lounge room where I don't sit would look extremely cool with it featured in one of those locations.
Would I be willing to spend the kind of money needed to have it, though? Not at the moment. Would I replace one of these with my mom's iMac? Probably not. It took her long enough to get used to OSX, I don't think I would want to have her worry about Windows 8. Plus we lack that certain level of sexiness that's present in the iMac line up. With that said, I think this is one of the areas that will change over the coming year. With a standard set for everything, companies will now be able to play with the overall design.
We've got two fantastic products here that come together to make one fantastic product. The AIO PC is not for everyone, and until the video situation is sorted, which we can't see happening any time soon, it's a platform that gamers are going to avoid. For others though, it could be just what they want.