MSI’s AE2220 Hi-Fi uses the same optical touch-screen technology (with optical sensors in the bezel that pick up objects near the screen) as many large touch-capable AIOs, but multi-touch is supported so you can use two-fingers to pinch-to-zoom, rotate and flick up/down/forward/back through image galleries and the like. Your touch will be registered without even needing to make contact with the screen’s surface, and you can use anything to interact with the screen: not just your fingers and the included stylus, but pieces of paper, cloth, or anything that takes your fancy.
Thanks to its weight and solidity, the AE2220 Hi-Fi exhibits minimal wobble when interacting with it via touch, and unlike the Asus EeeTop ET2203T, touch input was correctly configured from the get-go. The install of Windows 7 comes with Microsoft’s Surface Touch Pack, which provides interactive touch wallpapers and games. Easy-to-prod shortcuts to most Windows apps are also provided by MSI’s Wind Touch interface, though unlike HP’s TouchSmart range there are no custom finger-friendly apps.
With the emphasis on its audio performance, this AIO PCs 21.5in screen takes a back seat, but it doesn’t really deserve to. Its 1,920 x 1,080 resolution is exactly what you would hope for, as it is ideal for Full HD films and hooking up consoles – though it’s also got aspect ratio controls for those rare situations when 16:9 isn’t desirable. Physical controls call up an onscreen display, giving access to the usual monitor adjustments like brightness, contrast, input selection, etc. Several of the AE2220 Hi-Fi’s side buttons also give direct access to handy things like image presets.
One down-side of the display is its incredibly glossy coating, which picks up more reflections than a Swarovski crystal in a hall of mirrors; watching a dark film in daylight can be impossible. Depending on angle, fingerprints are also obvious, though as already mentioned you can avoid these by using the stylus. Speaking of angle, as with all TN-based displays vertical viewing angles are particularly poor (though horizontal ones are good). It should also come as no surprise that the screen only tilts back: there’s no height adjustment or portrait mode.
Despite these negatives, this is still a generally good quality display. Thanks in part to its fine dot pitch it’s nice and sharp, making even tiny fonts legible, The backlighting is also impressive with nice even coverage and no sign of light bleed. Though we’ve yet to come across a TN-based display with impressive contrast, if you’re willing to lose out on white detail you can also get impressive levels of shadow detailing – provided you can see any of it past the screen’s reflections. Finally there’s so little banding as to be negligible, and the image presets are fairly well configured (with the exception of Movie, which gives you deeper blacks but at the cost of dark detail).
So far so good, but what’s the audio like? Well, in a word, loud! The “full-range 5W hi-fi speakers” featuring “an independent right and left channel speaker acoustic suspension system and a magnesium-aluminium alloy membrane” are quite simply the loudest speakers we’ve ever come across on an AIO PC, and impressively they don’t even distort significantly at their maximum. The Wind Top AE2220 Hi-Fi effortlessly filled the office with strong midtones, clear highs and a respectable level of detail.
However, there are two problems with its billing as a hi-fi replacement: first the level of detail and clarity on offer, while certainly impressive for an integrated sound setup, doesn’t begin to match a half-decent dedicated system. Second and more importantly, its bass performance generally fails to impress. Overall then, picking up an £80 set of stereo speakers will give you better performance by far. That said, the integrated efforts are certainly better than most and good enough that you’ll be happy to use them rather than clutter your home with extra speakers – especially it you plan to have it in the kitchen, say.