The all-in-one computer has been around for years. About 10 years ago, for instance, I had an IBM Thinkvantage computer that was an all-in-one -- combining the processor, speaker and monitor all into one device. I thought it was the coolest thing on the planet.
Fast forward to today, and all-in-one computers are cheaper, better designed and much more powerful. Another big bonus: Many come with touch screens.
A few months ago I tested one from Lenovo, which makes a line of all-in-one computers. More recently I looked at some newer computers from HP, which also has a line of all-in-one computers. Other makers include Dell and Acer.
Here are three reasons why you might want to consider using an all-in-one computer for your business:
1. They save space. Businesses are often tight on space and the best part about these computers is that there's no separate, bulky tower. Owners want to save money by occupying less real estate, and since more of our staff is mobile, we don't even need much space any more. In smaller quarters, you're going to want any space-saving solution you can find. While notebook computers are great, you'll find that when you're at your desk for hours you want a larger monitor with a full-powered computer. An all-in-one computer can be your answer here.
2. Touch screens can improve communication. Not only are the touch screens that most all-in-ones have now functional wonders, they can also improve interactions between you, the computer and your customers, or others you work with. For example, a client or colleague in a product demo or training session is likely to be more engaged in your conversation when they touch the screen than when they use a mouse or keyboard.
Beyond running traditional Windows programs (like watching a video or your accounting program) you can work with a developer to create custom software for your industry. For example, maybe you're a baker and you want to enable walk-in customers to choose a cake and its decorations through the touch screen of your all-in-one computer.
3. They look good. Let's face it, all-in-one computers are thin and sleek. Depending on your industry (such as hotels, banking or hospitals) you might need to have a computer in a public place. Instead of having multiple components, a one-piece, touchscreen computer can help make your lobby, reception desk or other public place look much better.
What's not to like.
If you want to add internal components, such as a dual DVD player or extra hard disk, space is going to be tighter, much tighter, than a traditional tower PC. If you want to standardize one type of monitor and buy a different type of chassis (the CPU part of the computer), then an all-in-one might not be for you.
What's the cost?
Dollar for dollar, an all-in-one computer is going to be more expensive than a traditional desktop computer. You can find them priced from $400 and up.
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But the price difference is shrinking, making it a competitively priced option for a business owner who wants a great-looking computer with a touch screen (or maybe one without). As with a regular computer, make sure you purchase plenty of memory and hard-disk space. You'll also want to consider the size of the monitor you want.
Whether you have a home office with a great view of a lake or a traditional corporate office looking at city streets, an all-in-one computer could be good addition to your office.