There was once a time when early computers inhabited an entire room, and a computer that could fit on a desk was considered a feat. The first computers that could fit on a desk – known as desktop computers – only emerged during the 1970s, and over the decades, users have seen the footprint shrink and morph, says Deon Botha, HP PSG business unit manager.
From the desktop computer and personal computer (PC) to the evolution of mobile computing, with the notebook designed for people on the go, users are now witnessing a trend towards a newly evolved desktop species called "all-in-one" (AiO) computers.
Essentially, AiO PCs are desktop computers that combine the monitor with the same casing as the processor, memory and hard drive.
The AiO is a space saver, with everything users need packed into one neat and tidy unit. A desktop computer, with a screen, desktop box, mouse and keyboard with messy cabling intertwined between each of the components is no longer a problem, thanks to the evolutionary design of the AiO.
For corporates, a big trend emerging with the launch of the AiO PC is moving towards more business focused AiO PCs, which may see the entry level desktop PC falling away and being replaced by AiOs.
Owning an AiO these days is certainly about function, but the truth is that users want more than just a functional experience.
The AiO encompasses style and good looks, making an impression which appeals to the high level executive and carries with it a certain aspirational appeal.
The Generation Y set in particular enjoy the sleek design and experience the AiO offers, having grown up with the trend of convergence where multiple functions are collapsed into one device. They are already familiar with features like touch screen technology on their smartphones. The AiO is therefore ideal for this market segment, delivering a portable, stylish computing device that reflects their taste.
So a mouse and keyboard is all that is required? Perhaps not. The most recent series of AiOs come standard with touchscreen technology, effectively launching a new way to conveniently navigate features and accomplish tasks. This means user experience will differ from that of the traditional PC. Fans of the AiO say that touchscreen technology is far easier than using a keyboard.
Although it is not new, touchscreen technology is increasingly gaining popularity. The latest iteration of touchscreen technology is MultiTouch, providing enhanced sensitivity. Older generation touch technology needed a stylus and many devices that included this technology were not specifically designed for "touch".
However, touchscreen technology with AiOs is delivering benefits to certain vertical sectors such as warehouses where the technology can be applied in a useful manner.
In addition, the AiO can be mounted to a wall using VESA brackets, further saving space and enhancing functionality.
With Multitouch and revamped user interfaces one finger creates certain actions while two fingers dragged in a certain way creates another action.
This, combined with specifically designed user interfaces means the touchscreen technology becomes truly immersive, allowing users to get a more "hands on" experience.
Touchscreen technology is also great when using standard applications such as OneNote (office), whereby jotting a quick note using the built in handwriting recognition in Office 2010 actually transcribes it to standard typing.
Different environments, however, would demand different technologies to be able to get the full use out of the products. AiOs generally feature a large LCD or LED screen (about 20" and above) for environments, where input devices such as a mouse and keyboard aren't feasible.
User specific developed applications designed for touchscreen monitors allows the versatility of an AiO to shine.
Today there is an AiO to suit everyone, from corporate, high level executives to entry level home users, from restaurants to call centres, or factories and warehouses. The AiO is set to be the next-generation PC and is revolutionising the industry with its unique form, function and aesthetic appeal.