Product review: HP TouchSmart PC

21 Aug 2007

It seems like so many things that we saw on Star Trek and thought futuristic are now available in the home: automatic doors, instant access to vast knowledge databases, mobile communication, and now touch screen PCs in the form of the HP TouchSmart from PC World. I guess the scientists are still working on a food replicator.

Before I even turned on the PC I had to stand back and admire it. It truly is a beautiful piece of technology. With its all-in-one sleek black exterior, 19″ touch sensitive widescreen and built-in speakers it has the potential to turn your friends green with envy.

The HP TouchSmart PC is marketed for home use, and for all your media needs. It was designed around Windows Vista and the touch screen technology works well with the media centre and as well as the HP multimedia and productivity suite, SmartCentre, developed especially for this PC.

Although there is a UBS keyboard and mouse as well as a media remote control, it is possible to use this PC almost entirely by touch screen alone using your finger or the included stylus.

When you get used to dragging your finger around the screen and tapping twice for a double click, the mouse starts to seem like Aztec-era technology, although admittedly I haven’t discovered what the right click is finger-wise.

HP touts this PC as an ideal family-centric multimedia device, and this makes sense. After all you can channel surf (it has FM and TV in), watch DVDs, play music, surf the net and edit photographs all by hand.

I enjoyed playing Solitaire by hand but the best bit has got to be the SmartCalendar application. It is a shared calendar and message centre for the whole family and acts a bit like a virtual fridge board where you can stick your handwritten shopping list, add events and reminders, and even leave voice messages.

Somehow I doubt this should be left in the kitchen near the fridge. I can see many possibilities involving sticky little fingers and spilled glasses of chocolate milk.

Another cute feature is the ability to edit photos on the fly using the touch screen with PhotoSmart. Its easy to skim through photographs and carry out minor changes like cropping, resizing and removing redeye, all with the touch of a finger.

In fact, the TouchSmart all-in-one PC was designed in a strange z-shaped angle so that any HP photo printers can be slotted in behind the screen and photos will print out directly below.

As is standard now, the TouchSmart is wireless and Bluetooth enabled but it also has a built-in 1.3 megapixel web cam and microphone for video chats or conference calls.

All in all, this is a great home PC and one you would be proud to show off.

Pros: It lets your finger do the walking.
Cons: No HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface).

By Marie Boran