To get an inside look at the all-in-one PC production process, we spoke with Sam CT Chen, Acer's Design Manager, who gave us the lowdown on designing this unique form factor.
Acer is one of the most prolific makers of all-in-one PCs, so who better to chat to about the challenges involved in manufacturing these standalone machines? We spoke to Sam CT Chen, Design Manager at Acer, about building these unique computers, as well as future trends for the segment.APC:
Can you describe the basic steps involved in designing an all-in-one PC?Sam CT Chen:
From the initial design concept there is a need for an all-in-one to blend in with your life, either at home or in the office. We design the product to be an important visual focus in the home, without being an eyesore. The design should be clean, simple and can be part of its environment. To make larger-sized all-in-one PCs without them looking heavy, we use transparent material in the bottom so that it looks as if it’s floating on a table or desk. Our aim is to give our consumers an all-in-one that is light, thin and a design concept that will suit most home styling. APC:
How do you determine the aesthetics/look of the all-in-one PC?SC:
The primary purpose for us when determining the look of the all-in-one PC is to create a design that the user can potentially use in many scenarios. We want the environment to embrace and match the product and vice versa.
The frameless screen design in our products makes the edges look cleaner as well as enable users to achieve a stunning contrast effect while it’s being turned on. All-in-ones are predominantly larger in size, but we can use the transparent components of the product to make the product look smaller. We also need to consider that the all-in-one could potentially be seen from a 360° degree angle in any environment.
Because of this, we also put great emphasis on the design of the back of the unit by reducing the profile thickness. Moreover, we place all ports in a centralised location so that users can place the machine in any way without the fear of seeing the peripheral ports. Most importantly, in our eyes the all-in-one needs to be designed to look light, so that it doesn’t burden the desk. APC:
How do you think all-in-one PC will evolve in the future?SC:
An all-in-one is not just a combination of a PC and screen. The future of these PCs will be multifunction and multi-angle touch devices. We want users to easily operate it at any angle, whether it’s lying down or standing up. The big screen will provide a convenient platform for family and friends to share their content. Inevitably, it will promote a new way for people to interact with their PC. We believe a major trend is moving towards larger screens, which will enable users to enjoy bigger visuals. Our focus is therefore on both 23in and 27in form factors. APC:
What should a person look for when buying an all-in-one PC?SC:
As mentioned above, we have positioned the all-in-one differently than the traditional PC. It’s not just a computer, but rather part of family life, a decoration and a platform for family members to share. The look must be classic so it can easily blend into the living environment. The operation needs to be reliable and rely on a user’s intuition.
Given these factors, a consumer needs to firstly choose the right size for their needs, as the all-in-one can be quite large and its dimensions are different to a conventional desktop. We predict these types of PC may not always sit on a study desk -- it may actually appear in other corners of a home. Secondly, the consumer needs to realise that bigger is not always better. In order for consumers to decide, they should first understand their environment and their usage requirements, and only then can they choose the right size.