Asus has been producing all-in-one PCs for a while but the AiO is its first attempt to really take the fight to the dominance of the Apple iMac. Clearly influenced by Apple’s market leader the AiO sports a slim tapered-edge design, a full metal chassis and includes both USB Type-C and Intel’s RealSense technology for gesture and facial recognition support.
Somewhat shamelessly inspired by the iMac, the AiO may be, however it is far from a pale imitation. While it doesn’t thin down to quite such a thin edge and it may lack the beautifully balanced stand, it’s still a very well put together machine.
Those edge are just 6mm thick giving that same impression of overall slimness as the iMac, despite the centrl section rising to be several inches thick. The aluminium clad back is very nicely finished in a brushed effect with all the little details you’d hope for that really make a device like this look the part – the port holes are all machined exactly to size and there are no unsightly extra panels or rogue bits of plastic.
The stand is also a finely crafted thing. Made from solid aluminium its curved top edge disappears mysteriously into the chassis of the PC, hiding the hinge mechanism that sits within.
One area where the Asus arguably trumps the iMac is in the lack of a chunk lower bezel. That said, the Asus does have slightly thicker bezels overall so it’s a pretty even contest overall.
Overall, while the iMac still has that final touch of class that has become Apple’s signature, the Asus comes mighty close.
It’s actually a little surprising to find Asus incorporating Intel RealSense in the AiO as – cool as it is – it’s still a niche feature that’s unlikely to be the sort of thing that will persuade buyers to buy this device over an iMac.
That said, it’s still a very cool feature to have, though sadly the demo models at Asus’s press conference weren’t setup to demonstrate its advantages. Essentially it can be used for gesture control, facial recognition and other Xbox Kinect-like interactions.
More of a key selling point is the presence of USB Type-C. There’s only one socket but it joins four USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 (in some ways we’d have preferred avoiding the potential confusion here by just dropping the USB 2.0 connection). You also get two HDMi inputs allowing you to use the screen as a conventional monitor – a big boon for those looking to combine this machine with a more conventional PC or games console.
There’s also an SD card slot and separate headphone and microphone sockets. It’s a shame the slim design means none of these sockets are more easily accessible but such is the compromise of illusory thin edges.
The screen quality appears to very good, though we’re yet to confirm its exact specifications. Likewise sound quality from the 2-channel 6-driver speaker system is something we can’t yet comment on.
Both a 23.8in and 21in version will be available with specs topping out at an Intel Core i7 processor, 32GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics card.
The Zen AiO is a bold statement from Asus and one that largely lives up to its potential. It’s a beautifully made machine that comes very close to the level of the iMac that it takes inspiration from. With a feature set that seems sensibly balanced and well implemented, it looks set to be a great option for those looking for a compact, elegant desktop PC that doesn’t run Mac OSX.