In the computing space, all focus is on mobility, but many people are realising that their tablets and ultrabooks don’t ever leave the house.

When portability isn’t necessary, a desktop computer offers excellent performance and value. We’re not talking about the traditional desktop tower PC, though. Sure, tower PCs are priced cheaply enough, but then so are VCRs. Both are relics of a technology past, however, and the new frontier in desktop computing is the all-in-one PC.

With large screens, grunty internals, designer looks, compact footprints and Windows 8 finger-friendliness, there’s a lot to like in this new breed, with enough variation between offerings to suit the myriad criteria of different buyers. Here’s a round-up of our favourite one-sies.

 

BEST LOOKING
Acer Aspire U

 

The Acer Aspire U series is uniquely and stylishly designed. Built with a transparent base and edge-to-edge glass fascia, it will fit perfectly into any image-conscious home or office, and its clever hinge allows the screen to tilt from 80 to a nearly-flat 30 degrees. This means you can use it like a regular PC with the keyboard and wireless mouse, or tilt it right back to make the most of the ten-point high-definition touchscreen.

The Aspire U can double as a second display for watching TV via its digital TV tuner, and can even be connected to a games console.

RRP: $1399 (model 5600U with 23 inch display); $2299 (model 7600U with 27 inch display)

EDITORS FAVE
Sony VAIO Tap 20

The Sony VAIO Tap 20 gives you the flexibility of two devices in one. First, it’s a capable Windows 8 PC, equipped with a 20 inch LED-backlit display, built-in speakers, subwoofer, HD webcam, wireless keyboard and mouse, as well as the latest Intel Core i5 processor.

But when you want a more tablet-like experience, lock-in the Tap 20’s stand and it can lie completely flat, which is great for flicking through photos with friends. Enhancing such shared experiences is the Tap’s bright and beautiful Bravia Engine 2-equipped display, which is designed to be viewed from any angle. And with its battery pack, it can even go hand-held.

RRP: $1499 (model SVJ20215CGB)

BEST VALUE
HP ENVY TouchSmart All-in-One Desktop PC

HP has been making the TouchSmart All-in-One desktop for years, and in it offers a solid combination of features and space-conscious design. The Envy 23, aptly named for its 23 inch touch-sensitive display, integrates a HD webcam, microphone, slim-slot DVD burner and digital TV tuner, along with a 500GB hard drive, 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core i3 processor. The net result is a well-priced, flexible and capable machine that you can operate like a normal desktop PC, or use to make the most of Windows 8’s touch-based interface.

RRP: $1299 (model 23-D006A)

MONEY NO OBJECT
Dell XPS One 27 All-in-One Desktop

Dell’s XPS One 27 is a no-compromise Windows 8-powered all-in-one PC with 27 inch touch display. With its ultra sharp ‘Quad HD’ 2560 x 1440 pixel screen and broad choice of powerful hardware options, this model is perfect for the power user or content creator. While it’s definitely more PC than tablet, the screen tilts and lowers to a comfortable angle for touch interaction too. There’s also the option of a Blu-ray drive, huge 2GB of hard drive space and top-of-the-range Intel Core i7 processor.

RRP: $2099–$2599

COOLEST
Apple iMac

Apple’s innovative iMac put the all-in-one format in motion, and it’s been continuing to raise the bar ever since. The new 27 and 21.5 inch iMacs are no exception, with their incredibly slim design – measuring just 5mm at their thinnest point. Oozing quality, style and cutting edge technology, you really can’t go wrong with one of the 2013 models.

Unlike the new Windows 8-based units, however, the iMac does not feature a touchscreen, but you can choose a touch pad, rather than a standard mouse, to control the action with swipes, pinches and gestures.

RRP: 21 inch iMac from $1429; 27 inch iMac from $1999