HP Pavilion All-In-One MS214a desktop PC

An attractive all-in-one desktop PC for the modern living room

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HP Pavilion All-In-One MS214a
  • HP Pavilion All-In-One MS214a
  • HP Pavilion All-In-One MS214a
  • HP Pavilion All-In-One MS214a
  • Expert Rating

    3.00 / 5

Pros

  • Attractive enclosure, MediaSmart software is handy, can handle some older games

Cons

  • Lacks Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi, bloatware

Bottom Line

A step up from the Pavilion All-In-One MS212a, this beefier HP PC gives you faster media encoding and the ability play older games. Though better value options are available, this desktop PC should be suitable for families.

Would you buy this?

HP's Pavilion All-In-One MS214a desktop PC isn't a powerhouse by any means, but it is a more capable machine than some other PCs we've seen at the same price point. If you want to avoid ugly technology in the living room, this all-in-one is a decent — albeit low-powered — option.

The HP Pavilion All-In-One MS214a desktop PC has a minimalist, glossy black design that should suit modern-looking living rooms. Its 18.5in BrightView LCD screen is a tad small for an all-in-one PC — the Apple iMac starts at 21.5in, for example — but it will still be able to display 720p content. The display is highly reflective, which can be annoying in well-lit environments.

This all-in-one PC provides six USB 2.0 ports in total, with four on the back panel and two at the side. There's also a multi-card reader supporting MemoryStick, SD, MMC, CF and xD cards, as well as a 10/100 Ethernet port and headphone/microphone jacks. Integrated 802.11b/g Wi-Fi connectivity is sufficient for small homes, but the lack of the faster and farther-reaching 802.11n standard means the desktop PC can't be situated too far from a wireless router.

The HP Pavilion All-In-One MS214a provides stereo sound through speakers underneath the display. The sound quality isn't particularly impressive and the speakers won't fill a large room even at maximum volume. Adjusting the volume using the media keys on the keyboard annoyingly exits any full-screen video playback, and there is no actual mute button.

Given that many current and upcoming all-in-one PCs feature touch screens, we almost expected the Pavilion All-In-One MS214a to be equipped with one. However, its low retail price means a keyboard and mouse are the only input methods. These are wired rather than wireless, detracting from the PC's overall look and there's no Bluetooth either, so any wireless keyboards or mice you buy will require their own wireless dongle.

Like most all-in-one PCs, the HP Pavilion All-In-One MS214a uses notebook components, so it is a little underpowered compared to regular desktop PCs. HP offers a single hardware configuration; a 1.8GHz, dual-core AMD Athlon X2 6850e processor, 4GB of DDR2 memory and NVIDIA G210 integrated graphics. This is beefier than the slightly cheaper Pavilion All-In-One MS212a, but it still won't be able to handle intensive tasks like playing games or editing video.

The PC includes a 7200rpm, 500GB hard drive. HP reserves 12GB of the hard drive for a second partition for system recovery — so you're effectively left with 454GB of usable space.

Performance Benchmarks
Model Price WorldBench 6 3DMark06 iTunes Encoding
(minutes)
Blender 3D
rendering
HP Pavilion All-In-One MS214a $1399 66 3427 2m 23s 2m 3s
HP Pavilion All-In-One MS212a $1199 58 N/A 3m 5s 2m 27s
ASUS Eee Top ET2002 $999 36 N/A 6m 40s 3m 42s
Medion akoya P4010 $1299 87 1316 1m 21s 1m 23s
Apple iMac $1599 N/A N/A 37.1s N/A
Dell Studio One 19 $1888 100 1524 57s 1m

Though the Pavilion All-In-One MS214a's WorldBench score isn't particularly impressive, its quick rendering times and 3DMark06 score show that it is suitable for occasionally encoding media and watching high-definition videos. It can even handle some older games like Half Life 2.

HP Pavilion All-In-One MS214a desktop PC

HP's MediaSmart Software Suite is handy for watching and editing media.

HP is known for rather intrusive software and, unfortunately, the Pavilion MS214a doesn't buck this trend. Instead of going through the standard Windows set-up process, you are faced with HP's own version which guides you through registration and connecting to the Internet or a local network. While handy, it's painfully slow. Once set up, you'll find Windows 7 Home Premium bloated with a 60-day Norton Internet Security trial as well as HP help software and Cyberlink DVD burning and editing software. HP's MediaSmart Software Suite is useful for watching and editing media, though the HP Advisor, a Mac OS X-like dock, is redundant when you can just use Windows 7's revamped taskbar.

For $1399, we think you can get a better performing PC with a larger monitor for viewing high-definition media or detailed photos. However, the slimline enclosure and glossy black styling should mean this all-in-one PC will fit in well in a modern living room.

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