To set the stage, I was given the incredible privilege to audition this product for free. I was very excited to have the opportunity and looked forward to getting it. That said, I'm now wondering if I'm going to keep it hooked up. It has some really nice aspects, but there are some negative issues that I'm not sure that I can overlook. For free, I find myself on the fence. Had I spent $700+ on it, though, I'd be very disappointed. Given the quality issues (see below and other reviews), combined with the fact that this model is no longer being made (Dell has a newer version), I don't recommend this unless you can get it for ~$400 and are willing to take the risk on quality.
I'm going to guess that if you are in the market for an all-in-one desktop, you aren't looking for top-end performance or the ability to upgrade the hardware later on because you aren't going to get either. These are made to be easy to use, and they are neither thoroughbreds or for the casual upgrader who wants to put in a new graphics card and such (btw, swapping out the hard drive would be pretty easy, and adding memory looks doable for most people).
Okay, you give up performance and upgradeability and pay for the ease of use, so - is it easy to use? Well...if everything worked correctly, then yes. The design is intended to be very easy to set up, and there aren't cables running everywhere. It could be very easy, and that's the intent. However, read the reviews here, and you'll quickly see that you're taking a risk with this model in regards to quality issues and things not working. For example, right out of the box, my stand wouldn't adjust - so I couldn't set it up. I spent over an hour taking it apart and troubleshooting it, with my brand new screen sitting on the wrapper face down on the floor, which isn't what you want from a brand new product. I'm fairly comfortable taking electronics apart, but I can't begin to imagine what my parents would have been thinking if they'd gotten this (okay, I can...it would have been shipped back the next day).
After getting it fixed and set up, though, things have gone pretty smoothly. My two main gripes are (a) it's kind of loud, from the fan to the disk drive to even the screen buzzing, and I expect new computers to be quiet because they get louder with time as things wear out, and (b) the display quality is only so-so, with a very reflective screen, poor off-axis visibility, and not-so-great integrated graphics. For me, those are two major issues. After all, I can't use this thing without looking at the screen, and I'm using it close enough to hear it.
But, hey, it's not all bad. :) That's why I'm torn on it, because it does have some good features.
- Pretty decent CPU performance. The second generation Core i3 in this is near the bottom of Intel's offerings, but it's no slouch for a lot of things. If you haven't bought a new computer in a while, you might be amazed at what the "low end" processors are like these days.
- Nice screen size. 23" is a good amount of real estate.
- The speakers are surprisingly good, IMO. I'm using it on my desk, so I don't need to crank them, but the quality is very good. I have external speakers for games and music, but the built-in speakers work very well for casual listening when watching videos and such.
- Good quality webcam. I was surprised by how well I liked it. Also, it has the added bonus that it has a privacy screen that easily slides in front of the camera. So, if you're worried about someone remotely turning on the camera or simply leaving it on by accident, that screen has you covered.
- Wireless keyboard and mouse, and wireless N wifi. The only cord that you really need is for power, and that's cool.
- You can use it as a monitor for other computers or video devices. To me, this is huge. For example, I have my laptop connected to the HDMI input and my desktop to the VGA connection. While I wish that it had a DVI input, just being able to use it as a display is great. It took Apple years to get that feature into their iMacs.
- Good connectivity in general. Video and audio inputs/outputs are good, and it has six USB ports and a card reader.
- The touch screen is kinda cool. Probably not very useful for most people, but still kinda cool. :) It shows finger prints/swipe marks easily, but so does every other touch screen that I own, so I can't dock it for that.
- Hardly any Dell bloatware comes on it. It comes with Dell utilities, but I find them handy.
- Quality control. Just read the reviews here, and you'll get a sense of it. I haven't had mine long enough to notice anything breaking down, but when I first unpacked it, the stand wouldn't adjust more than about half an inch (which isn't far enough for it to stand upright). Long story short, it was because the spring tension was too high on the internal mechanism. Had I not been mechanically inclined, and willing to spend over an hour disassembling and troubleshooting a new computer, it would have gone back in the box. Very surprising to me that issue got past inspection. But, the stand I could fix, unlike the small piece of debris that is underneath the glass of the display. It's small, but noticeable enough to annoy me.
- Noise. The fan in this thing isn't necessarily loud (yet), but it has a buzz to it that's a bit annoying. Because I took the back off to fix the stand, I could see the fan easily - and it sure looks like they could have put a larger and quieter one in this. My concern is that fans tend to get louder with time, and to have it be loud from day one isn't a good sign. Also, the screen buzzes sometimes, and the hard drive noise is louder than I'd expect.
- The screen is highly reflective, which is a problem in my office with a window off to the side. I mention the screen because all of the pictures on Amazon, at least to me, make the screen look like it has a mat finish. It definitely does not.
- Very poor off-axis visibility. Straight on, it looks great, but from an angle, the visibility drops off significantly.
- It vibrates and causes my desk to hum. The vibration is barely noticeable when touching the case, so it seems like the issue wouldn't exist had they put a little isolation on the base of the stand and feet. The new design uses a more conventional monitor stand, which might get rid of this issue.
- The stand and feet aren't horrible, but they don't allow for much adjustment on the display. You definitely can't adjust the height of it. You can buy stands that will attach to the VESA mount, but you'll need to take the stand off to use them. Again, the new design looks better for this.
So, I obviously don't recommend it at the current price of over $700. It has some really nice features, and it could have been a home run for Dell - but the fairly poor screen, noise level, and quality control issues make me say pass on this. If you can get one for $400 or less, it might be worth it.
UPDATE July 7, 2012: I'm now running this as a regular desktop with a monitor connected to the VGA output and the main display turned off. I also have it sitting on the floor and not on my desk. Two things that I want to note: (1) the graphics are very good over VGA, and my monitor doesn't have the screen issues that the built in display has and (2) there's zero hum from the case now that it's on the carpet. As a computer, it does very well (still not a powerhouse gaming machine due to the integrated graphics, but very good for daily tasks). So, I still won't recommend this in the $700+ range because you're paying for the display, but if you have one already or can get one fairly inexpensively, it makes for a good "desktop" once you connect it to an external monitor.