The new MS200 is a new all-in-one PC from HP that promises good value in a slim form-factor. The HP MS200 essentially fills in the gap between high performance all-in-ones like HP’s TouchSmart series, and low cost nettops. Even though it’s a bit more expensive than a nettop, the MS200 is the right PC for someone on a budget, but willing to spend a little more to get extra performance then what you get with the average nettop, particularly when it comes to video game performance. For $599, the MS200 comes with a discrete graphics card that helps make video playback smoother, and also affords users the luxury of playing computer games. Under the hood the MS200 runs on an AMD 1.5GHz Athlon dual-core processor with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, a 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics card, a 320GB hard drive, 6 USB ports, a web cam, a memory card reader, and a DVD burner with LightScribe.
The MS200 sports a pleasing minimalist black All-in-one design with a metal base that isn’t quite as slick as HP’s TouchSmart PCs but it’s good looking enough fit in well in most decors. The right side of the MS200 sports three buttons – a CD eject button, and brightness increase and decrease buttons. The left side houses a memory card reader, two usb ports, and headphone and mic jacks. The remaining ports (USB and lan) reside on the backside. Because of its clean-cut looks, in some ways the MS200′s seems more like a business machine. That said, while it isn’t HP’s most beautiful PC, it is slick enough to fit in just as well in your living room as it would in your office.
Performing day to day tasks, the MS200, running Windows 7 Premium operates snappily. The system garnered a score of 2782 PCmarks in PCMark05 and 1057 3DMarks in 3DMark06. That means that while not the fastest performer on the block, the MS200 is a lot faster than your average nettop and much more capable of playing video games than your average nettop. This isn’t a system for serious gamers but it is appropriate for the casual gamer since the ATI Radeon HD 3200 will let them play those games, while a traditional nettop would not. The system also plays back 1080p files very smoothly and performs well with multimedia tasks. However, the display can’t take advantage of the 1080p resolution.
Speaking of the display, unlike HP’s TouchSmart series, the MS200 does not sport a touch sensitive screen. Also, its 1366×768 resolution is disappointing for a 18.5 inch screen. Furthermore, its matte display was a bit of a shock to us. If you prefer a matte display then you’re actually in luck since it is very difficult to find all-in-one computers with matte displays. However, we prefer the glossy displays that have become the standard nowadays, and HP tends to make great glossy displays with rich colors, so we were a little disappointed by the matte. We would at-least like to have the option of choosing between the two. Fortunately, the display’s colors are pretty rich, viewing angles are acceptable and the brightness levels are good.
You get 6 USB ports on the back and side of the system, along with a lan port for an ethernet cable. And if you decide to use the bundled wired keyboard and mouse, you’ll already be taking up two of those usb ports. Missing is eSata, Firewire, HDMI out, or anything that a power user would look out for.
Keyboard and Mouse:
The bundled keyboard and mouse are unfortunately wired. The mouse isn’t ergonomic, but it is optical and works pretty responsively. The keyboard also sports a notebook-like keypad that is comfortable to type on. Overall the keyboard’s design is minimalist and the only dedicated multimedia keys on it are for mute, and volume up and down.
Out of the box, the system comes with some bloatware, but not too much. It also comes with a trial of Norton Internet Security. Full versions of Cyberlink DVD Suite Deluxe, Microsoft Works, LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling software, HP MediaSmart multimedia software and HP web cam are also included. HP’s web cam software features some great special effects. Especially cool is its Avatars feature which “transforms” you in to another character on the other side of the video chat. So for example, you can look like a talking dog instead of yourself. This is perfect for mornings when you don’t want anyone to see you without your makeup.
The built-in speakers on the MS200 produce a clean sound and they can get adequately loud, but they are no replacement for a dedicated speaker system.
The HP MS200 is a solid machine that offers good performance, multimedia capabilities and overall value for the money. Our biggest gripe with the MS200 is its matte display with its low resolution. However, we think that its $599 price tag is just right and it will make the HP Pavilion MS200 appeal to many families, and even some small businesses. In particular we can see it being a great family computer, as well as a first computer for younger children or anyone who doesn’t demand too much performance but would like to be able to play video games. Although not targeted at the education sector, we also imagine that this would be a great classroom/lab PC.
Much better performance than most nettops, dedicated video card for serious gaming, clean design, good price tag
Matte display seems like old tech, display resolution is low, lacks highspeed ports like eSata or Firewire