Inside the U200, we have an Intel Core 2 Duo T4400 running at 2.2GHz. Again, this is inferior to the T6600’s used in both the Asus EeeTop ET2203 and MSI Wind Top AE2220 Hi-Fi, which feature double the cache. It’s a minor point though, as the T4400 should still be more than adequate for the daily multi-tasking diet the average user would feed it and the Samsung is cheaper than either.
As usual this is backed by 4GB of DDR3 RAM, though Samsung doesn’t buck its irritating habit of installing a 32-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium that can only address 3.5GB of the memory. A 500GB 5,400rpm drive provides ample storage, though.
On the wireless side we have Wireless-N Wi-Fi and though Bluetooth is absent, that’s common for all-in-one PCs. What isn’t quite as common is the Nvidia GeForce 310M 512MB graphics card. While hardly enough to qualify this as a gaming machine, it does at least mean that the U200 can handle older and less demanding 3D titles at its screen’s relatively low native resolution. In TrackMania Nations Forever, for example, it managed a playable 34fps at medium detail on 1,600 x 900 and with 4x AA and AF. Call of Duty 4, on the other hand, didn’t really pass muster with just 20fps.
Possibly of greater import than the U200’s performance is how its touchscreen handles. It uses the same optical sensor system as the MSI Wind Top AE2220 Hi-Fi to provide a sensitive multi-touch system that works not just with your fingers, but with any object or material. The screen’s surface feels a bit smoother than some, though it doesn’t compare to glass-fronted machines such as the IQ810 and its kin.
What sets the U200 apart, though, is Samsung’s specialised Touch Play multi-touch software, which – though far more limited in scope than HP’s TouchSmart equivalent – can on occasion almost match that excellent interface for ease of use and pure fun.
Though really only useful for file-browsing, it’s easy to use, quite attractive and fully customisable. Icons can be manipulated to be any size or orientation, and while watching slideshows or windowed videos you can turn, tilt and twist them any way you wish; you can even watch a video upside down if the fancy takes you. It’s never going to make the touchscreen an essential feature of this PC like it might be on a tablet laptop like the Packard Bell Butterfly Touch, but for occasional walk-up use can come in handy.
Unfortunately it’s not enough for the U200 not to be dwarfed by the MSI Wind Top AE2220 Hi-Fi. Though it’s £85 more expensive at time of writing, it more than justifies this small premium by being faster, better-looking and a having raft of features (e.g. a Full HD display, video input, Blu-ray drive, wireless peripherals and TV Tuner) that make the U200 look inadequate in comparison.
Only the smaller form-factor and the fact the U200 is cooler and quieter than most (virtually silent even under load, in fact) redeem it by comparison. However, unless that’s very important to you, it’s not enough to save Samsung’s first effort at a budget all-in-one from playing a squeaky second fiddle to some of the established players.
Despite its impressive touch-screen interface, the Samsung U200 all-in-one PC makes far too many compromises to justify its price – especially when the competition offers so much more for only a slight premium. It needs to come down in price significantly before it becomes a serious contender.