A growing number of manufacturers are releasing touchscreen all-in-one PCs, hogging up our desk space with their bigger-than-a-laptop bulk. The beast that is the Samsung U250 (also known as the DP-U250) is priced at around £900. For that amount of moolah, we're expecting something pretty special.
The U250 is a good-looking machine. The main display is pretty slender, at 44mm thick, and the screen is surrounded by a good few inches of smooth black plastic, with a sheen of clear perspex over the top. Beneath the display, a single blue LED glows below the Samsung logo, lending the U250 an understated tone that we're pretty fond of.
Tilting the display requires some effort, as all the PC's internal hardware is squirrelled away behind and around the display. On the sides of the U250, you'll find a grand total of two USB ports (one of which also serves as a SATA input for plugging in a hard drive), 3.5mm sockets for headphones and a microphone, a multi-format card reader and an optical drive. On the back, you'll find an extra four USB ports and an Ethernet jack.
We're disappointed that there's no HMDI input. Other all-in-one PCs, such as the Advent MT22, have one, enabling you to hook up a Blu-ray player or games console, for example, to the display. It's a really useful feature that's sadly lacking here.
The U250 offers a 23-inch, LED-backlit display, with a maximum resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, making it 'Full HD'. Despite looking great on paper, though, this display doesn't look quite as great on your desk, due to the thick glossy coating that Samsung has applied to the screen.
Indeed, the U250's display looks more like a mirror than a proper screen. If you're watching a movie, scenes shot in the dark will be nigh on impossible to view, and you'll definitely end up seeing more of yourself than the actual film. When you look like we do, that's definitely not a plus.
This PC runs the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium, and the touchscreen system uses the typical Windows 7 touch interface -- tap once to click an item, press and drag your finger to highlight something, and hold your finger to the screen for a moment to bring up the right-click menu. It works perfectly well, and we regularly used the touchscreen instead of the provided wireless keyboard and mouse.
The U250 is powered by a dual-core, 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 CPU. At this price, we'd have preferred one of Intel's more powerful chips. As it is, the U250 doesn't exactly pack much processing punch. Backed up by 4GB of RAM, it racked up a score of 4,644 in the PCMark05 benchmark test, which isn't too impressive, especially when you consider that the Medion Akoya P4011 D scored slightly higher, and it's £300 cheaper.
Its Nvidia GeForce 310M graphics card helped the U250 to achieve a score of 3,207 in the 3DMark06 benchmark test. That's also pretty uninspiring, and we suspect this machine won't prove particularly adept at playing current-generation games. The 500GB hard drive, on the other hand, will probably prove spacious enough to handle all your storage needs.
The U250's bundled keyboard and mouse both work over the same wireless USB transceiver, which helps to save space. The keyboard is well laid out and impressively small and light. It's also styled to match the body of the U250 itself. It's comfortable to type on and each key has a pleasant spring to it.
The mouse is similarly small, and built from angular black plastic. Although it's hardly the most beautifully crafted or comfortable mouse we've ever used, it'll get the job done. Pleasingly, the underside features a dpi switch, so you can change the mouse's sensitivity without having to mess around with the PC's settings.
Another feature notably absent from this machine is a TV tuner. Both the Advent MT22 and Medion Akoya P4011 D offer this feature, and allow you to record Freeview TV for playback later, a feature which adds enormous value.
It's not the glaring reflections that prevent us from liking the Samsung U250 -- it's the glaring omissions. Its mediocre performance, and lack of a TV tuner and HDMI port mean there's no reason to recommend this machine over its much cheaper rivals. Check out the Advent MT22 or the Medion Akoya P4011 D before laying down your cash.
Edited Charles Kloet