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Acer Veriton Z410G touts function over form

The Veriton Z410G is well-connected, but lacks some of the bells and whistles of its counterparts

The Acer Veriton Z410G is a budget-friendly ($720 as of December 4) All-in-One desktop geared towards small businesses. It’s a well connected machine, with eight ports, two PS/2 serial ports, and DVI and VGA output ports, but it lacks the feature set (and aesthetic appeal) of its pricier counterparts.

The Z410G’s innards are rather humble. It packs a 3GHz dual-core Pentium E5700 processor, a 320 GB hard drive, and 2GB of RAM. It isn’t the slickest multimedia machine, saddled with an integrated Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) G45 Express chipset, but it does have a 1920-by-1080 pixel native resolution 21.5-inch LCD screen. This business all-in-one also comes with a built-in stereo speaker system and microphone, along with a built-in webcam. It has 802.11b/g/n wireless and is pre-installed with the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.

Port-wise, the Z410G will keep you suitably connected as a business user. The left side of the chassis features three audio line-in ports, a total of six USB 2.0 ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, an eSATA port, a VGA out, a serial port, a COM port, a DVI in, and two PS/2 ports. The right side of the chassis offers two more USB 2.0 ports (that’s eight, total) and microphone and headphone jacks. The Z410G also has a multi-in-one card reader slot and a DVD-burner.

The Z410G is one of the objectively less attractive all-in-one PCs we’ve seen. The 21.5-inch LCD screen is surrounded by a thick, squared-off black bezel, and sits somewhat awkwardly on top of enormous, silver stereo speakers. It certainly isn’t going to win any prizes in the style department, though its matter-of-fact construction does reflect its desire to be taken seriously as a business machine. Still, we wish Acer would’ve spent more effort on the aesthetic appeal–the way the screen looks carelessly propped on top of the speakers is not attractive.

Located just below the screen on the right-hand side are a series of lights–some of these are notification lights (Internet, etc.), while others indicate buttons that you’ll find if you push your finger into the crack between the screen and the speakers. The included buttons control the screen brightness and the volume–not terribly impressive, but useful nonetheless.

The Z410G includes a basic keyboard and mouse (both with PS/2 serial connectors), neither of which is very comfortable. The keyboard is lightweight and matte-black, and has very large, wide keys. The keys are very flat and soft-to-the-touch–there’s very little physical feedback, though the size of the keys makes a lack of tactile response less likely to affect your typing accuracy. The mouse is a simple, three-button affair, and is slightly uncomfortable with its sharply squared-off top corners. While neither the mouse nor the keyboard is a bastion of comfort, both will likely be fine for a casual user.

The Z410G sports a decently roomy 21.5-inch LCD widescreen with a native resolution of 1920-by-1080 pixels. Colour reproduction on the matte screen is pretty good: bright (sometimes too bright), and crisp, with clear details. Contrast tended to be a little on the weak side, though viewing the screen off-axis still gives a pretty good picture. The matte screen is nice, too, as it allows for very little screen glare or annoying reflections, except in very bright light.

In PCWorld’s WorldBench 6 tests, the Z410G received a score of 104– not too impressive, but right in line with our top-ranked PCs in the category. Our top-ranked budget all-in-one, the HP 200-5020, also received a score of 104, as did the top-ranked Big-Screen (over 23-inches) all-in-one, the HP TouchSmart 600 Quad. While the HP 200-5020 has a lower price point ($699) than the Z410G, the HP TouchSmart 600 Quad is more than twice the price ($1800). None of these all-in-ones has managed to top Apple’s Core i7 iMac, which earned an impressive score of 128.The native resolution is perfect for playing back 1080p, full-HD video. HD playback looks pretty good–though nowhere near perfect–considering the Z410G has integrated graphics. Streaming HD video plays with very few issues (the rare stutter), and DVD playback also looks fine: there’s some occasional artifacting, but nothing too serious.

Gaming is another story, however, and this is where the integrated graphics really just can’t cut it: in our Unreal Tournament 3 tests, the Z410G managed an unplayable score of 4.1 frames per second with high settings and a screen resolution of 1680 by 1050 pixels. You’ll be lucky if you make it out of the menu screen on the Z410G, but also note that it’s a business desktop–you shouldn’t be playing games at work, anyway.

Because the Z410G is a business PC, Acer includes a suite of software to get you started. Acer’s own software includes Acer Client Manager, eRecovery Management, and Acer Security Suite. The rest of the software is pretty basic, and mostly useful: Adobe Acrobat Reader, CyberLink PowerDVD, Google Setup/Toolbar, Nero 9 Essentials, Norton Online Backup, Skype, and the Veriton Control Center. There’s also your basic security trialware (McAfee (NYSE: MFE)Internet Security Suite) and Microsoft Office Starter 2010.

The Acer Veriton Z410G is a pretty good PC–it spits out decent performance, as long as you’re not trying to do any high-end gaming or graphics work–with plenty of connectivity at a moderate price point. Unfortunately, you can find the same performance–without the clunky chassis and thoroughly bland keyboard/mouse combo–in all-in-ones for just $100 less.