- Review Date: 05/27/11
- Bottom line:
The HP 100 B All-in-One PC is one of the least expensive ways to get a PC on your workers' desks. It's a true business PC with AMD Fusion guts, which makes it both simple and economical.
Compact. Inexpensive. Limited bloatware. FireFox Virtual Browser and Virtual PC-XP Mode.
Slow on multimedia creation tasks. Not true 1080p HD. External power brick.
HP is becoming the master of all-in-one desktop PCs. In addition to its more innovative (and expensive) TouchSmart models, the HP 100B All-in-One PC ($499.99 list) shows that HP can produce a business desktop that is both full-featured and economical. With its AMD Fusion APU (Accelerated Processing Unit), the 100B has enough power for day-to-day tasks, (very) light multimedia creation work, and even some video. It's less expensive (and more utilitarian) than the consumer-grade HP Omni 100 ($559.99 list, 4.5 stars), which is our current entry-level all-in-one Editors' Choice. That said, the 100B is one of the easiest (and cheapest) way to get new PCs on your clerical-type worker's desks.
Design and Features
While the 100B isn't as design-forward as its consumer-oriented cousin, the HP Omni 100, the 100B has a serviceable exterior. Like the similarly business-minded Acer Veriton Z290G-UD525W ($599 list, 3 stars), the 100B is a standard-looking all-in-one desktop with the components built into the screen. Two stubby support legs keep the front of the panel off the desk, and a hinged leg/kickstand in back lets you tilt the screen a bit (though there's no height adjustment). With a whole lot of effort, you can remove the back panel in order to get into the desktop for component replacement. It's capable of holding a larger hard drive and up to 8GB of memory (it ships with 2GB), though you'd have to remove the existing components to replace them with larger chips or hard drive. The tray-loading DVD burner and 250GB 7,200rpm SATA hard drives are installed in such a way that they are replaceable by IT technicians if there's ever a problem. The 100B isn't easy to get into; you could use a flathead screwdriver to open up the back panel in a pinch, but using a Torx T15 driver is more efficient.
The desktop's 250GB hard drive is plenty for most business use. More space would be needed for video work, but in that case you'd be looking at a much faster tower or all-in-one PC anyway. That hard drive comes pre-loaded with your choice of operating system (chosen from various flavors of 32-bit Windows 7, FreeDOS, or RedFlag Linux), and some HP utilities. There's very little in the way of bloatware, and that's a good thing. There's a 60-day trial subscription to Norton Internet Security included, but that's about it. Very basic versions of Word and Excel are packed in as Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, with a link to upgrade to more robust retail versions. Office Starter will at least let you start, open, and save Word/Excel documents, but you won't find advanced features like high-end editing tools or macro support. HP included its HP Power Assistant software, which can help tune your system to balance power savings and performance. Perhaps most useful are two virtual environments: Microsoft Virtual PC with XP mode and HP FireFox Virtual Browser. Both allow you to run older programs and test websites, respectively. Virtual PC lets you run older programs in XP mode (in case the programs don't play nice with Windows 7), and FireFox gives you a protected environment for surfing/testing websites that may otherwise affect the settings on your system through Internet Explorer.
Outside of the unit, there are six USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks, and an Ethernet port. The system really doesn't have lots of connectors for add-on equipment: No USB 3.0, no eSATA, no HDMI, and no DisplayPort. At this price point you wouldn't expect them anyway.Benchmark performance isn't much of an issue at this price point, as there isn't a lot of oomph in these sub-$600 systems. YouTube's 720p HD videos will play smoothly on the HP 100B, but 1080p HD videos are jerky (not that you would ever do that anyway, as the system's screen tops out at 1,600 by 900 resolution). Our Handbrake video encode test took 9 minutes 9 seconds to complete and Photoshop CS5 took 18:17. That's at least faster than the Acer Z290G-U525W, which took a lot longer (14:41 on Handbrake; 23:03 on CS5). The slower performance is due to the Acer Z290G-U525W's Intel Atom D525 processor, which is less efficient at these computer-intensive tasks than the AMD E-350 APU in the 100B. More robust processors like the AMD Athlon II X2 250u—seen in the HP Omni 100 and Dell Inspiron One 2305 (IO2305-3114MSL) ($849.99 list, 2.5 stars)—are capable for completing Handbrake in about 5:30 and Photoshop CS5 in just under 11 minutes. The 100B scored o2,027 points on PCMark Vantage, which means that it is at least fast enough for day-to-day clerical-type work, and that it won't drive your staff to go insane due to long wait times. The system won't be your got-to 3D gaming machine, but that's not what you pay your staff to do during work hours anyway (their iPhones will serve as better 3D gaming systems anyway).
Compared with the other business all-in-one here, the Acer Veriton Z290G-UD525W, the HP 100B is certainly a better overall desktop. The Acer Z290G-UD525W's touch screen is a little limiting (it's only single touch), and the Acer is a much slower machine. The Acer Z290G-UD525W is also $100 more expensive, at $599 (mostly due to added expense of its touch interface). Though the HP Omni 100 is faster, it's really a consumer PC, and your IT guy won't appreciate having to clean up each system of bloatware before desployment. The HP 100B has enough power to let your users know that they are at least getting new, faster PCs, and a clerical worker likely won't need anything faster. If you need to save a lot of money and space for each of your business users, take a look at the HP 100B; it's economical, nicely equipped, and compact.