The HP Pavilion MS214 is very well built. Its screen (encased in black plastic) is ably supported by a nice and sturdy Apple iMac-like stand, which lets the screen tilt back and forth, and it's definitely one of the best we've seen.
The back panel is compartmentalised and allows for easy access to the system RAM and hard drive, should you feel the need, and HP does a good job of spelling it out in its help documents. There are connectivity ports on the left edge and back panel of the screen, while a DVD writer is placed on the right edge.
The HP Pavilion MS214's 18.5-inch widescreen display is non-glossy in nature. It sports a 16:9 aspect ratio and a maximum screen resolution of 1366x768, well-equipped for watching high-definition content. The screen is nice and bright, and evenly lit, offering very good viewing angles, contrast levels and colour saturation. Watching movies and reading text went very well on the Pavilion MS214's screen. However, unlike the MSI Wind Top AE1900 and Asus Eee Top ET1602, the HP Pavilion MS214's screen doesn't support a gimmicky touch input feature.
Similar to the Benq nScreen i91, and unlike most entry-level all-in-one PCs that are based on Intel's Atom processor, the HP Pavilion MS214 is based on an AMD processor. It has a 1.5-GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core chip, which is considerably faster than Intel's rival Atom processor. Like the Lenovo IdeaCentre C300, the Pavilion MS214 also comes with 2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive, where we've seen most budget all-in-one PCs standardise on a measly 1GB RAM and a 160GB hard drive.
The HP Pavilion MS214 doesn't come with faster connectivity standards like Gigabit Ethernet or Wi-Fi 802.11n, instead having to make do with slower 100Mbit LAN and 802.11 b/g standards. However, it does come with an ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics - not for gaming but good enough to handle HD content. All the other standard input-output ports are well looked after - USB, card reader, audio jacks, etc - but it doesn't come with an HDMI, eSATA or FireWire port. We can't really fault the Pavilion MS214 for that as it's a budget all-in-one desktop PC, and we haven't seen these features in any other competing contender.
The HP Pavilion MS214 also comes with Windows 7 Home Basic, not seen on any other all-in-one PC yet. The PC also comes with a slew of preinstalled HP software, and it isn't just mindless bloatware - it's actually useful. For example, the software dashboard (on the desktop) is great for inexperienced users to get a basic idea on what's happening in their PC in terms of storage, security features, and other important analysis. For viewing movies and photos there are a number of MediaSmart programs. Spend time exploring these apps and you're bound to find them useful.
In terms of performance, the HP Pavilion MS214 is one of the fastest budget all-in-one PCs we've reviewed thus far. It stacked up a WorldBench score of over 50, posting healthy numbers in PC Mark 05 and 3D Mark 06 tests. It's very similar to the IdeaCentre C300, in fact. If anything, the Pavilion MS214's graphics slacks in front of the IdeaCentre C300's superior ATI Radeon HD 4530 graphics. But it still plays 720p HD videos without a hitch. You can multitask with ease. The bundled wired keyboard and mouse with the Pavilion MS214 are as good as we've seen in entry level PCs, no complaints here. The onboard audio is also pretty good, whether you're watching movies or listening to music. All in all, the Pavilion MS214 is a well-balanced desktop PC.
The HP Pavilion MS214 offers Windows 7, host of useful software, great screen quality, and good overall performance. If you're looking for a nice balance between budget and speed, the HP Pavilion MS214 is the all-in-one PC for you.