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ViewSonic VPC100 - 19in All-in-One PC
Traditionally ViewSonic has been associated with monitors, but recently the company has been diversifying and one of the most recent results is its VPC100 - a 19in All-In-One PC. Its sleek black chassis houses an 18.5in screen running off the usual netbook/nettop specifications, including a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive and niceties such as a card reader, optical drive and Wi-Fi.
Despite very similar internal specifications to previous Atom-based all-in-one (AIO) PCs we've looked at, such as Shuttle's XVision X50 and Asus' Eee Top, the ViewSonic is a very different machine. For one, both of those machines had touch-sensitive 15.6in screens where the VPC100 sports a non-touch 18.5in display. Its design is also dramatically different, dropping the smaller AIOs' Apple-esque white finish for a piano-black and elevating the PC's base off the desk with a fairly elegant stand.
Starting off with the bundled peripherals, things look pretty grim though. First of all, they're both PS2 instead of USB, which while hardly a great problem is a tad unusual in these modern times. Second, while it might look nice with its combination of matte keys against a glossy background, the ViewSonic-branded keyboard is unequivocally the worst desktop keyboard I have ever used - and I've come across some terrible examples in the past.
Feedback is lousy. Most of the keys are noisy and clacky in a cheap, flimsy way, except for the Enter key which is just mushy. It's the layout that will really drive you mad, though. À la the worst netbook keyboards, the right-shift key is tiny, and with the up-cursor right beside it you'll often move up when you meant to capitalise. Then there's the lack of dedicated End, Page Up/Down, Home, Insert and Delete keys. No spacing on the F-keys and undersized function keys on the left are the sour icing on the mouldy cake.
ViewSonic's optical mouse is a comparative marvel, which is to say that it is adequate. For an ambidextrous model it's comfortable enough. Though a tad on the noisy side its two buttons offer good feedback while the rubberised, notched two-way scroll wheel also does the job. However, compared to any number of cheap mice available on the market, it's nothing especially noteworthy.
Still, peripherals can easily be replaced, so let's hope the PC fares better. Assembly is as easy as can be: merely attach the stand to the ViewSonic's base and tighten a single screw - you don't even need a screwdriver as it has a hinged clip for this very purpose, which means it's as simple to disassemble as put together. The base also has a metal plate for extra strength and feels very solid indeed.
Though the rest of the machine isn't quite as well-built, with some flex around the optical drive area, nonetheless it's well up to standard overall. It's not a bad-looking AIO-PC either, despite the slight dissonance between its rounded top and square-edged lower section. The entire chassis is glossy black, broken only by a tasteful faux-chrome strip near its base and the ViewSonic logo. This strip houses the power button, distinguished by an etched power icon unobtrusively backlit in blue.