Introducing the Toshiba DX735 All-in-One

So far we've tested HP's TouchSmart 610 all-in-one and Dell's Inspiron One all-in-one, and in both cases we've found things to like along with aspects that left us wanting. Today we have on hand Toshiba's DX735 in its least expensive configuration. Starting at under a grand, the DX735 at least superficially suggests a design that's more focused, more streamlined, and less schizophrenic than the competition. Did Toshiba do right where the others stumbled, or is the DX735 just another case of too many compromises?

A Toshiba computer meant to be used solely on the desktop seems like a rare thing, but once you take a look at the specifications you'll see they went in a completely different direction from HP and Dell. While HP and Dell paired desktop processors with underpowered discrete notebook graphics, Toshiba cut a lot of the fat and just went for pure notebook hardware (excepting the hard drive). Here's what we received for review.

Toshiba DX735-D3201 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-2430M
(2x2.4GHz + HTT, 3GHz Turbo, 32nm, 3MB L3, 35W)
Chipset Intel HM65
Memory 2x2GB Samsung DDR3-1333 SODIMM (Max 2x4GB)
Graphics Intel HD 3000
(12 EUs, turbo up to 1.2GHz)
Display 23" LED Glossy 16:9 1080p Touchscreen
Hard Drive(s) Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB 7200-RPM SATA 6Gbps HDD
Optical Drive DVD+/-RW writer (HL-DT-ST GT30N)
Networking Atheros AR8151 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Atheros AR9002WB-1NG 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Headphone and mic jacks
Front Side Webcam
Speaker grilles
Power button
Right Side Optical drive
Left Side Input button
Brightness control
Volume control
SD/MMC/XD/MS Pro card reader
Headphone and mic jacks
2x USB 3.0
Back Side Kensington lock
HDMI input
5x USB 2.0 (one taken by wireless mouse and keyboard receiver)
AC adaptor
Ethernet jack
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 25.6" x 7.5" x 17.3" (WxDxH)
Weight 17.6 lbs
Extras Webcam
Wireless keyboard and mouse
Flash reader (MMC, SD/Mini SD, MS/Duo/Pro/Pro Duo)
USB 3.0
Warranty 1-year basic support
Pricing $849 online (11/21/2011)

This is going to sound strange after my having taken Dell's Inspiron One to task for using a mediocre, halfway point of a processor, but I actually like the Intel Core i5-2430M that Toshiba employs in the base DX735 model which we have on hand. Where the other manufacturers are experimenting with mixed results, from the get-go you can tell Toshiba has basically grafted a notebook on to the back of a 23" touchscreen, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The dual-core i5-2430M has two cores with Hyper-Threading clocked at 2.4GHz, able to jump to 2.7GHz on both or 3GHz on one. That's not overwhelmingly fast and it's certainly no quad-core replacement, but the decent dual-core processor coupled with a lack of dedicated graphics hardware (or even a dedicated graphics option) makes the DX735's target market clear: this is an internet appliance. Users who want a little more oomph can spend up $100 to get a model that sports a quad-core i7-2670QM that should be more or less comparable in performance to the i5-2400S in Dell's all-in-one, but at a substantially lower wattage.

The Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics are standard across the line and are adequate for the purposes of this all-in-one, while the default 4GB RAM is a perfectly reasonable starting point. I do quibble a bit with Toshiba only offering up to 6GB on their "top end" model; RAM is cheap enough that 8GB should be easily doable.

Where Toshiba wisely diverges from notebook hardware in the DX735 is the use of a full-size hard drive. While it may add heat and weight to the system, Toshiba was frugal enough with their thermal budget that they're able to employ the 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12. The drive is reasonably fast (for a hard drive) while being a good citizen, and it runs 10C cooler than Dell's drive does.

Finally, where Toshiba kills the competition is in offering USB 3.0 connectivity. While overall connectivity is pretty basic, having two USB 3.0 ports for high speed data transfer is a godsend. It's still downright perplexing why the other, more expensive models from the other vendors don't offer USB 3.0, but at least it's here.

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  • ac2 - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    Apart from the inconsistency of liking the CPU here and trying to justify it over the previous all-in-one review (as you have yourself mentioned), I find your comments on graphics equally perplexing...

    In your last review you pulled down the Dell all-in-one for having insufficient graphics horsepower. Then when one of the commentors pointed our that maybe full-on 1080p gaming was not the purpose of the all-in-one you responded by saying that everyone does gaming.

    And now you say that the HD3000 is "adequate for the purposes of this all-in-one". Why is this model exempt from your "everyone does gaming" thought-process?
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    The problem is the Dell adds a GT 525M for an added cost of around $200-$250. If you're going to add a dGPU, it needs to be useful and reasonably priced. We mentioned this in the Dell review, and the Toshiba ends up offering a better display and a more reasonable configuration, but the price is still questionable. As we also noted, the Dell already runs hot and appears to have some cooling design issues.
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    agree with AC2, while your comment in the dell review is more then correct, the GT525M is just not a graphics card to select, this design is 10fold worse.
    It has proven many times that even in SB the GPU is just able to cope with the bare minimal of display and video.
    Shuffle in a Liano A6-A8 mobile in this design would have the same cost and a much better overall experience.

    Even your comment about the existing CPU is totally out of the sky....

    The dual-core i5-2430M has two cores with Hyper-Threading clocked at 2.4GHz, able to jump to 2.7GHz on both or 3GHz on one. That's not overwhelmingly fast and it's certainly no quad-core replacement, but the decent dual-core processor coupled with a lack of dedicated graphics hardware (or even a dedicated graphics option) makes the DX735's target market clear: this is an internet appliance.

    not fast enough for dual core SB? why the hell would you need a quad core SB for an all-in-one touchscreen PC, the SB cores handle all this more then well hence even an i3 would be more then sufficient for such a design, this is just wasted money to cpu power which is not used. build an internet appliance, take a brazos.
  • brybir - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    The GT525M does not cost around $200-$250 as you stated. You stated that in the comments to the previous article, but I think we all came away understanding that the Dell was an overpriced piece of crap all around...not that the graphics card was to blame, but that it had a lot of flaws and relative to the HP reviewed, was not a good system or a good value. The fact that people are missing that point because the author (and you) were focusing on the GPU says something about how your articles are being interpreted by your readers. To say that the GT525M cost that much is just sensationalism.

    As to this article, I started thinking I agreed, but then it got all preachy again, just like the last few AIO reviews here. I mean, the author agrees that the CPU and HD3000 are "balanced" solutions for the $849 price point, but then makes the comment that he was surprised that they "only" offered 6GB of ram with because going to 8GB would be cheap. Really, 8GB with an average performance CPU and integrated graphics? Ram may be cheap now, but what if the price goes up in the future. Companies do have to plan for the future you know, and when operating on thin profit margins, why would they add that extra variable of risk when almost none of their intended market will benefit from the move to 8GB?

    My second point is that maybe it is just the authors writing style, but I am not the only one that gets the feeling that he is being arbitrary in his overall assessments and conclusions. All of his AIO reviews have concluded with "you don't get enough for your money" for one reason or another, whether subpar graphics, lackluster CPU, or lack of enough ram. I get the impression the only way the auther would be happy would be either paying $400 for a barebones AIO with a crap AMD processor, 2GB ram, and a 5400 rpm mobile hard drive, because at least that would be "balanced" and "consistent" with its price. Or perhaps he would be happy with a $2000 machine that has a 6 core-SB with a GT570 inside as well? Both of those are "balanced" as it were.

    Anyways, I am just rambling again, but all I can do is try to reinforce my original point that in your articles your conclusions need to be relative to other pieces of kit within the category.

    I mean, just try rewriting the conclusion with a short information blurb of the other reviews. " We tested the HP touch screen with a i7, 4GB, GT525M at $1200,and we tested the Dell touch screen with a i7, 6GB, GT525M at $1400. We had some reservations about these units because we felt like they were overpriced relative to offerings from other vendors such as [Insert what is better, with specifics and links]. Today we reviewed the Toshiba with an i5, HD3000, and 4GB or ram at $849. While this unit is slower than the HP and Dell we reviewed, it is also significantly cheaper and strikes a better hardware balance for the price point it is marketed to. However, there are still better options [insert better options with link] that provide relatively similar performance at a lower price point. Our overall impression is that relative to the [cheaper, equivalent performing units], the Toshiba, Dell, and HP are significantly overpriced, as you pay significantly more while gaining only a little bit of additional performance.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    The $200-$250 for the dGPU is accurate based on the pricing from Dell, but you can argue whether there was R&D costs for that to absorb. Anyway, here's what I'd say is important for an all-in-one:

    1) Give us a good display; not necessarily the best display ever, but avoid the low-end garbage TN panels with low contrast ratios (e.g. the display in the Dell). I really am tired of TN panels in general; they're a "race to the bottom" product, and despite claims of better response times in practice they don't do any better than the IPS and *VA panels I've tested. So, in this category, so far only HP got it right. (eIPS would be a nice compromise for quality and price I think.)

    2) Give us a reasonable processor for the price. I don't think it's necessary to go with mobile parts, simply because there's a price premium relative to desktop parts of similar performance. The size of the chassis means that with a good AIO design, you should easily be able to cool a quad-core Sandy Bridge, but you could go with a dual-core SNB on lower-spec models to cut $50-$100 off the price.

    3) If you're going to include a discrete GPU, make sure the price is commensurate with the performance, and given we're dealing with 1080p displays I'd say you need at least 4x the performance of the HD 3000 to warrant the inclusion of a discrete GPU. That would mean at the very minimum, HD 6750M or GT 555M, or if you prefer desktop parts HD 6570 and GT 430. Really, though, I'd prefer to set the minimum for a decent dGPU at the level of HD 6830M and GTX 560M (desktop equivalents of HD 6750/6770 and GTX 550 Ti, respectively). Then we'd be able to legitimately run games at the native 1080p and medium/high details, which is what most people running games would want.

    4) I do not feel touchscreens are necessary, but rather gimmicky. Until we get a user interface that really leverages the technology and works well, I'd say we're better off saving money here and dropping touchscreen support. I'm also the type of user that hates it when someone comes up to my PC and points at something on the screen by touching it, leaving a smudge, and while I can deal with that on smartphones and tablets I really don't want smudges on my large LCD.

    So, take all of those points together and what do we discover? Outside of the price and OS, Apple's iMac is the best option for an all-in-one right now. I'm *not* an Apple fan or user by any stretch, but both their MacBook Air/Pro and iMac offerings really set the bar that the PC makers need to match. What's sad is that all the PC makers seem to think Apple's products succeed for the wrong reasons. Here's what Apple gets right: screen quality, build quality, and aesthetics (in that order IMO). I'm willing to give up some of the "sleek" Apple aesthetic if you can offer me better performance and/or pricing, but when OEMs deliver slower hardware, lower build quality, and worse screen quality and all they have to show for it is a moderately lower price and a touch interface? Sorry, I'm not going to bite on that.
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    you are right about the components and build quality but regarding the touchscreen, any system laptop, netbook, allinone should be bought with a touchscreen or its waste of money.

    While true there is no OS that can handle this right now it will be with win8 and hten all consumers are stuck with teh old desktop design since they forgot to take a touchscreen.

    not saying that everything is better with touch, just certain parts will...
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    I'll believe it when I see it. Again, touch is a big deal on a tablet or smartphone, but on a 23" screen? Have you used those "touchscreen kiosks" where after a couple years they don't work very well and have worn out spots from all the grubby fingers hitting them, or worse, scratch marks? I've tested a couple laptops with touchscreen as well, and it just seemed pointless (though certainly Win8 Metro would have helped in this area).

    The potential for touchscreen interfaces to just go all wrong on the desktop is very big in my opinion, and I can't see much need for it. I sit at a PC and type with my hands on the keyboard, or perhaps one hand on the mouse and the other on the keyboard. I usually don't sit closer than ~2 feet from the display, and if my vision were better I think 3 feet would be good. With touchscreens, you need to be within two feet for sure, and probably one foot away would be realistic.

    If you have a touchscreen device in your kitchen that would make some sense, but then see my comments above about grubby fingers and multiply that by 10. "Oh, honey, I was just watching a show about how to make this recipe, and I didn't quite catch one part of the instructions, so I just swiped back to rewind 30 seconds. Sorry about the giant grease strip on the screen!" I'll go on record now that in 10 years, 95% of users will still be using mouse and keyboard for their desktop PCs and laptops.
  • ananduser - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    Well yes price is important, it is not a meager thing. With a lower price Apple cannot offer you what you praise in their AIOs. Apple's reason for succeeding are also less about the absolute value of the machine(which is great btw) and more about the brand image. And to put it in hard numbers the Imac is not such a stellar success, still a niche. Dell,HP and Toshiba most likely offer AIOs as an option on the side of their traditional tower desktops, targeted as bland, ergonomic web machines and not as the only choice for desktop computing(such as Apple positions their wares).

    I would consider a stretch though, the supreme pedestal on which you place Apple's mobile offerings with total disregard of price paid. I could also say that the 3 grand VaioZ is a better offering than the Air(and I would be right IMO) and not mention the price as it is irrelevant. Price is relevant.
  • mfenn - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    That is all
  • gloinsir - Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - link

    Straddling the fence, not strattling.

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