While Microsoft may have done work on ensuring its Windows RT and Windows 8 Modern UI would play well with large-screen devices, starting with its work with Samsung on the original Microsoft Surface
right the way through to internal testing of large-format touch-screen wall-mounted displays - but nobody was likely to predict the launch of a commercially-available 55in all-in-one (AIO) PC.
Nevertheless, that's exactly what has happened over in the US: InFocus has announced the BigTouch, a 55in touch-sensitive display packing a PC running Windows 8 with its divisive tile-based Modern UI. With a somewhat disappointing 1,920x1,080 resolution - proof, if proof were needed, that the display portion is a repurposed HDTV panel with added touch-sensitivity - the large-format system also includes a bundled wireless keyboard and mouse fo those who prefer interacting with the system in a more traditional manner.
'Imagine interacting with virtually any content you want on a beautiful 55-inch high definition touch display,
' crowed Robert Detwiler, InFocus product manager, at the launch.'The BigTouch is the ideal product for many customers including educators who are using education software, software companies that want to demonstrate their applications on a large scale, or even digital signage companies looking for a display with an integrated PC. Ultimately, the BigTouch is for anyone who wants the Windows 8 touch experience on a large PC display.
Anyone, that is, who doesn't need the latest and greatest hardware. While some aspects of the BigTouch, including its two gigabit Ethernet ports, are pretty high-end, its use of a Sandy Bridge-era Core i5 processor is slightly disappointing - although the company claims to be planning to update the product to support Ivy Bridge chips in the future, hopefully before Intel releases the fourth-generation Haswell architecture. Full specifications have not been released, but the system appears to be based in large on the company's existing Windows 7 MondoPad
'Giant Touch Tablet' product, which features a Core i5-2520M processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory, and 2.4GHz 802.11a/g/b/n Wi-Fi.
The BigTouch also includes six USB ports, a 120GB solid-state drive, and a casing that demonstrates InFocus's slight abuse of the 'all-in-one' concept: the computer hardware itself is mounted on the rear of the display in a separate case, which connects to the touch-screen through a proprietary connection. While this, in theory, makes it easier to upgrade and maintain, it also takes away one of the biggest selling points of an all-in-one: the fact that it's all-in-one. If customers are happy with the hardware being functionality separate to the display, there's little to stop them just buying a 55in Full HD multi-touch display
and mounting something like the Intel NUC
on a VESA bracket at the rear.
Thus far, InFocus has not confirmed plans to release the device outside the US, where it is to retail for an impressive $4,999 (£3,306 excluding taxes) - a price that will keep it firmly out of most people's living room.