Windows 8 ditches the classic desktop and Start menu of Windows 7, replacing it instead with big, colourful live tiles. With a host of gestures for navigation, it's crying out to be touched, poked and swiped. Any computer that wants to show off Windows 8 at its best therefore needs to pack a touchscreen.
Thankfully that's exactly what Dell has slapped on the front of the Inspiron One 23. Like the rest of the Inspiron range, the One 23 is designed for family use. Along with its big screen, my review model boasts an Intel Core i5 processor and 6GB of RAM.
At £879, it's not exactly cheap though. The range starts at £679 if you don't need quite as much power, or you can load it with a Core i7 chip and 8GB of RAM for £1,079.
All models are available to buy now from the Dell store.
Should I buy the Dell Inspiron One 23?
With its 23-inch touch-enabled display, the One 23 provides a good way of navigating around Windows 8's big tiles without using the traditional keyboard and mouse combo. With a decent helping of power under the hood, it's potentially a good option for family computing.
Sadly though, it's let down by its screen. It's bright enough, but lacks any kind of colour depth, resulting in seriously unimpressive images and videos. Even the usually vivid Windows 8 interface looks lifeless. The kids might not care that Barney looks less purple than normal, but when you're paying over 800 quid, you'd be right to expect rich colours everyone can enjoy.
It's also far from pretty. There are worse looking machines around but I doubt any family would want to display it in their living room. If you're going to hide it away in a study, it becomes somewhat less useful as a family machine.
With inputs for Blu-ray players or games consoles, it could be a good option for a student bedroom, but a laptop is likely to be of more use to a student and with Dell's own Inspiron 17R Special Edition offering more power and a Blu-ray drive for less money, it's arguably a more sensible option.
Design and build quality
With a huge expanse of glass on the front, black edging and a silver back, the One 23 has a very stark, industrial design. It's completely devoid of pretty patterns and swirling colours, so if you're into that sort of thing then look elsewhere. It's hardly pretty, but at least it's functional.
The One 23 isn't really the sort of thing I'd want to have taking pride of place in my living room. It's more at home in an office space or anywhere you don't plan on showing visitors around. If you want a really sleek-looking all-in-one then Apple's new iMac is slimmer than ever, but it'll cost you quite a lot more cash.
It's 574mm wide and 385mm tall, so you'll need to make some room for it on your desk. At 7.34kg, you should make sure that you find it a permanent home in order that you don't have to lug it between tables all the time.
The stand is a simple, silver affair which sits firmly on the desk. It allows for the screen to be angled enough to help counter overhead reflections, but doesn't allow the screen to move up and down. There's also a fairly standard wireless keyboard and mouse included which perform their respective jobs adequately.
In total you'll find four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, VGA out, an SD card slot and headphone and microphone jacks. You'll also find an S/PDIF output for hooking up a 7.1 channel surround sound system.
Interestingly, you also benefit from HDMI, VGA and composite in, allowing you to hook up Blu-ray players or games consoles and use the One 23 in a similar way to a regular TV. It helps make it a good option for a student's bedroom or any flat where space is limited as the one screen will do the job for the computer and anything else you want to plug into it.
Sadly the screen is less impressive than I'd hoped. It's Full HD, which is a good start but it quickly goes downhill from there. Colours are very poor, leaving the usually extremely vivid Windows 8 tiled homescreen looking rather washed out.
Switching over to the classic desktop mode and the Windows folder icons on the taskbar looked very pale. It's not completely devoid of all colour of course, but it's sad to not see the same richness present on Dell's other screens -- the XPS 14 ultrabook, for example, had a gorgeous display.
It's perfectly usable though, and if you don't have anything side by side to compare it to you could potentially remain blissfully unaware of its shortcomings. It'll do the job for most everyday tasks and will be fine for popping on Shrek to keep the kids entertained. If you're a big movie and high-definition gaming fanatic then its lack of colour depth will not suit you.
It's reasonably bright though and the touchscreen is responsive. I found swiping around the big tiles of the Windows 8 homescreen to be perfectly comfortable and intuitive, as was switching to the keyboard when I needed to type. The mouse comes into play when using regular desktop applications like Adobe Photoshop -- small icons and buttons still need the precision of a cursor.
Power and performance
Stuffed inside my review unit was an Intel Core i5 processor clocked at 2.7GHz along with 6GB of RAM. Those are fair specs for the £879 price tag. If you want some more juice then £1,079 will snag you a Core i7 processor clocked at 3.1GHz with 8GB of RAM.
On the other hand, if you only want a touchscreen display to swipe around the Web and little else, you can go for the base model. It packs an Intel G645 processor and 4GB of RAM and will set you back £679.
My review model managed to score a hearty 10,651 on the Geekbench benchmark test, putting it a little below Dell's own Inspiron 15R Special Edition. The 15R contains burlier components though, so you'd expect better performance. When placed side by side, the 15R offers more power for roughly the same money.
Benchmark results certainly aren't everything though. Happily the One 23 seemed perfectly capable of tackling even the more demanding of tasks. Swiping through the Windows 8 tiles was responsive and instant, and switching between live apps using the multi-tasking bar was free of any annoying lag.
Playing high-definition video was a piece of cake and it also coped admirably with editing high-resolution images in Adobe Photoshop CS6. Tweaking brightness and contrast sliders resulted in the changes being made without delay. Only when I applied processor-heavy filters did it take several seconds to render. If you hope to edit high definition video like a pro then you might be out of luck, but for tweaking your holiday snaps, the One 23 has plenty of power.
You'll also find a 1GB AMD Radeon HD 7650 graphics card too. It's not particularly potent though. On Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD it was only able to achieve 11 frames per second at full resolution, which is far from playable. Even when I knocked the resolution down it only went to 21fps.
Similarly, when I played Borderlands 2, the One 23 only achieved 7fps at full resolution. Gameplay was so stunted and laggy that it was totally useless. At lower settings it achieved 18fps, but it still wasn't enjoyable to play. It coped much better with Dirt 3 though, achieving up to 35fps on medium settings.
If you love tackling the latest glossy shooters with the settings ramped up, then the One 23 really isn't going to suit. It'll turn its hand happily to older, less demanding games though and the graphics grunt it does have helps keep video playback smooth.
The Dell Inspiron One 23 holds a decent amount of power for everyday family computing but it's not attractive enough to take pride of place in a living room. With its games console inputs, it could be a good option for a student's digs, but it's let down by a rather disappointing screen.