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First, let's get something out of the way. Most of what's really new in Windows 8 relates to the Metro touch interface, which is Microsoft's biggest bet on this OS generation -- a bet that's risky but necessary given the company's lack of presence in the growing tablet market. This is also how the folks at Redmond have figured could give a needed boost to its smartphone business (“Windows everywhere”), which is well behind market leaders, iOS and Android.
This review is based on my experience with Windows 8 using a desktop, so I've been treating Windows 8 like most computer enthusiasts will: as a direct upgrade from Windows 7 on my custom-built machine, just like I did with Vista, XP, 2k, and other previous Windows releases.
I've been running the Windows 8 Consumer Preview for a few months and although I'm okay with Metro replacing the Start Menu, I hate seeing the new interface by default every time I reboot. When Windows 7 starts, you hit a login screen (assuming it's enabled) and then you're brought straight to the desktop.
When Windows 8 starts, it displays a lock screen that you have to move out of the way before entering your credentials, and then you have to dismiss the Metro interface before accessing the desktop. Like I said, I'm cool with Metro, but I have no desire to see a full-screen Start Menu when I log into my PC.
TigerDirect offers the Asus CM6870-US-3AB Desktop PC (no monitor) for $849.99. Coupon code "LZE65200" slashes it to $799.99. With $12.95 for shipping, that's the lowest total price we could find by $83 and the least expensive desktop we've seen with an Ivy Bridge CPU and a 2TB HDD...
When Apple updated its notebook lineup earlier this month we were eager to find out how well the new MacBook Air stacked up next to a couple of Ultrabook alternatives. Turned out the so-called “Apple Tax” wasn’t as much of an issue as Apple detractors often claim.
Now we’re taking a look at another area of the PC market that’s experiencing healthy growth in recent times, comparing Apple’s 27-inch iMac to all-in-one alternatives from the likes of Dell, HP and newcomer Vizio. As we’ve said before, we don’t expect this comparison to be representative of the entire Apple Tax argument, but it will help paint a better picture as we contrast it with our previous findings.
With Ivy Bridge, Southern Islands and Kepler on the loose, it's a great time to upgrade. Recognizing that fact, Asus has unveiled new enthusiast-grade desktops, the CM6870, CG8270 and CG8580. The first machine is lower specced than the latter two, though it should still hold its own...
HP offers its Pavilion Elite HPE h8xt (no monitor) for $799.99. Coupon code "DTE8467" cuts it to $759.99. With free shipping, that's $190 off list and the lowest total price we could find for this configuration. It features an Intel Core i7-3770 Ivy Bridge CPU, AMD Radeon HD 7570...
HP supplied us with their TouchSmart model 520-1070 which they described as the star of their current all-in-one lineup that features a lighter, thinner design and an upgraded version of HP’s Magic Canvas software.
The 23-inch multi-touch AIO is powered by a 2nd generation Intel Core i7-2600S processor clocked at 2.8GHz, 8GB of DDR3 system memory, a 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green hard drive, Radeon HD 6450A graphics and Beats Audio. Additional perks include a built-in TV tuner and HDMI-in, essentially transforming the 520 into a venerable entertainment / gaming station.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre K330 is a budget gaming desktop PC that has ample power for general-purpose work, and should be well suited for video and other multimedia work as well as PC gaming.
Our review unit's $1,099 configuration features a 3.4 GHz Intel i7-2600, 12GB of DDR3 RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics card, a Hitachi 2TB 7200 RPM hard drive, a Blu-ray / DVD combo drive and a 16-in-1 card reader, all running on Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.
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