HotHardware's 2010 Back To School Shopping Guide
Desktop / Nettop Shopping Guide
Other specifications include a Full HD (1920x1080) panel, optional Blu-ray drive, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, integrated webcam, integrated touch support, Windows 7 Home Premium, NVIDIA GeForce graphics, 2GB (or more) of RAM, Intel Core 2010 CPU options, and a reasonable starting price of around $900.
If you the funds, Apple's iMac is about as good as it gets for an all-in-one PC. It's the only all-in-one on the market that can dual-boot OS X and Windows 7 (or any Windows beyond XP, actually), and the new 21.5" model has Intel's newest Core i3 CPUs as well as many other next-gen features (including an SDXC card slot). And of course, you'll get Apple's heralded design.
If you're the multi-media type, having either of the above mentioned all-in-one PCs just won't cut it. For you, there's the HP TouchSmart 600 series. These can be ordered with an optional TV tuner, which will enable you to record the next episode of CSI while you attend that late-night BIO 101 lab. It's a win-win situation; you keep your attendance up, and you get pace with your favorite drama.
This 23" all-in-one PC boasts a full touch-screen, plenty of custom touch software, a variety of Core 2010 CPU options, Windows 7, up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM, up to 2TB of internal drive space, a slot-load DVD burner, 6-in-1 card reader, optional TV tuner, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The starting price is just $999, but you'll need more than that to get your DVR on.
Remember that Athlon Neo CPU we mentioned back in the netbook section? It's back! An unusual candidate has managed to catch our eye this year, with eMachines making the cut. The company's new Mini-e ER1402 is definitely one of the more stylish nettop machines on the market, and if size is a concern, you'll be hard-pressed to find something more compact than this. It can be sat flat or stood upright, and it offers HD playback and ships with a keyboard and mouse; you just provide the monitor, and you're good to go.
If you're like the multi-media freak mentioned above, but you already have your own perfect LCD, Dell's Inspiron Zino HD is a good option. It's a compact SFF PC, but it features an HDMI output as well as an optional Blu-ray player, both of which are features perfect for your compact, dorm room-sized HTPC setup. It's also AMD powered, which usually means that costs are kept down.