The lines that seperate tablets, notebooks, and all-in-ones have increasingly blurred over the past few years--and prices have begun following that trend.
Gateway's new 19.5-inch Gateway One ZX4270, is priced at less than $400, although the company sacrificed some niceties to hit that mark.
Thankfully, the $1,000 or so prices that PC vendors used to charge for an all-in-one machine have faded away, thanks to lower prices in the flat-panel market. Now, low-end AIO machines are pushing down below $500, as manufacturers try and drive sales by charging less.
Nevertheless, if you're in the market for an all-in-one PC, it pays to pay attention to what's under the hood.
For example, the 1600-by-900-pixel display at the heart of the Gateway One ZX4270 is not touch-enabled, which may frustrate some who buy Gateway's offering under the mistaken impression that it offered the same specs as, say, a touch-enabled HP TouchSmart AIO. (HP's cheapest touch-enabled TouchSmart is $649, although the Android-powered HP Slate 21 is $399. The HP Pavilion 20-b210z AIO, without touch, is priced at $449.)
Acer also announced its own all-in-one on Friday, which also foregoes a touchscreen; the $600 Acer Aspire ZC-605 includes a 19.5-inch display and a terabyte hard drive, the company said.
Since Gateway's AIO is powered by Windows 8, keep in mind that you'll require the included keyboard and mouse to use it--not that big of a deal, actually, although using the mouse's scroll wheel to scroll horizontally can be a little odd.
The ZX4270 also includes an AMD Vision A4 5000 processor (1.5GHz, 2MB total cache) and 4GB DDR3 dual-channel memory, plus a AMD Radeon HD 8300 graphics card.
Don't expect to use the ZX4270 as a gaming machine, but for web surfing and basic office tasks, it should do just fine.
Speaking of Office, Gateway doesn't include it; that package is typically included on the Microsoft Surface tablets or the new generation of "mini" Windows tablets--which you'd need to plug into a separate monitor to replicate the AIO experience, anyway.
Other specs include hard drives up to 750GB, an optical drive, a 1080p webcam, plus two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and speakers.
Give it a try out
With low-end machines, you might be best served visiting a showroom and trying one out for yourself. There's nothing wrong with a machine like this on the surface; over time, however, as you load up utilities, toolbars, and other bits of digitial detritus, you may find it becoming a bit poky.
For help keeping a PC like this lean, mean, and clean, check out our previous stories on how to clean up your PC, along with a real-world speed test on five popular clean-up utilities.