Tuesday December 13, 2011 5:46 pm
HP TouchSmart PC 520-1070 review
The HP TouchSmart 520-1070 ($1,399.99 direct, or $1329 on Amazon) is the high-end entry in HP's current TouchSmart line of touch-enabled all-in-one desktop PCs. Equipped with powerful components, like a quad-core processor and 2TB hard drive, it's also packed to the gills with entertainment options, offering a big 1080p display, Beats Audio, a Blu-ray drive, TV-tuner, and a remote control. An HDMI-in port is just icing on the cake, extending the life of this desktop even further for use as a monitor.
Design and Features
The 520-1070 has a glossy black plastic chassis, but it's more than just a monolithic 23-inch screen. Two vertical arms hold the touch screen aloft from the silvery plastic base, with a single immense hinge to adjust the angle. But while the hinge is housed in the base, the components are housed behind the widescreen display, which provides 1,920-by-1,080 resolution as well as a large multitouch surface. Thankfully, HP took the time to get this hinge right, and you'll find that despite your touching and tapping, the 520-1070 stays firm though it all, without the wobble that mars the experience on competitors, like the Samsung Series 7 (DP700A38-01) or Asus ET2410-06. It also has a decent range of motion, sitting at a vertical 90-degree angle that can be adjusted all the way back to a comfortable 60-degrees.
Just below the screen is a speaker bar, pumping out crisp, clear sound. Thanks to Beats Audio, it's the perfect complement to the HD display, producing clear tones and rich bass. Accompanying the all-in-one is a wireless keyboard and mouse, which share a single USB wireless receiver.
Along the right hand edge of the chassis you'll find a slot-loading Blu-ray/DVD+-RW drive, a less common accoutrement at this price range. Four function buttons provide monitor controls and let you navigate menu options, and HDMI input lets you use the 23-inch screen as a display long after you've purchased a different desktop PC. On the left, there's a memory card reader (SD/HC, MMC, MS/Pro, xD), two USB 3.0 ports, and jacks for headphone and mic. On the back of the chassis, there's a Gigabit Ethernet jack and additional four USB 2.0 ports, for a total of six. There are actually seven USB ports, however, the seventh port is dedicated to the wireless adapter for the keyboard and mouse. Additional inputs open up possibilities for entertainment junkies, as you get an integrated TV tuner, a remote control for on-the-couch viewing, and an array of audio outputs.
The 520-1070 comes equipped with wireless LAN 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth, for pairing headphones or other peripherals. The 2TB, 5,400rpm hard drive is twice the capacity of the standard 1TB drives found in most competitors, like the Sony VAIO VPC-L231FX/W ($999.99 list) and Samsung Series 7.
There's a hefty amount of software on the TouchSmart 520-1070, but don't call it all bloatware. HP includes their TouchSmart Suite and several utilities. Among the preinstalled items, you'll find a 60-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2012, Microsoft Office Starter 2010 (the full suite is preloaded, but requires a product key to activate). You'll also get HP LinkUp, which allows the desktop and any other computer on the network to share files, providing something akin to a home-based cloud.
The 520-1070 is outfitted with a quad-core Intel Core i7-2600s (2.8GHz) processor and 8GB of RAM, similar to the Lenovo IdeaCentre B520 ($1,799 list, 4 stars), and easily topping the likes of the Sony VAIO and HP TouchSmart 520-1047c ($999.99 list, 3.5 stars), equipped with a Core i3 and Core i5, respectively. It tore through our video and photo tests, finishing Handbrake in 1 minute 37 seconds and Photoshop CS5 in 3:40. By comparison, the Sony L231FX/W completed these tests in 2:22 (Handbrake) and 5:34 (Photoshop), but the quad-core equipped Lenovo IdeaCentre B520 topped both (1:13 in Handbrake; 3:02 in Photoshop). The TouchSmart's multiple processor cores also pushed it towards the top in Cinebench R11.5, where it scored 5.64 points, ahead of everything but the Lenovo B520 (6.68).
Using an AMD Radeon HD 6450A graphics processor gave the TouchSmart 520-1070 slightly better graphics performance than competitors that leverage Intel's integrated solution. Where other systems were unable to run 3DMark 11 or Lost Planet 2 (DirectX 11), the TouchSmart ran both tests, though it couldn't eke out playable scores in Lost Planet 2. In Crysis (DX10), on the other hand, it pumped out a passable 28 frames per second on medium quality settings and 1280-by-720 resolution. The end result is not so much gaming-grade graphics capabilities, but a rendering graphics processor that can be utilized for light 3D games and 3D rendering like in CAD. One of the few all-in-one systems fit for gaming, however, is the Lenovo IdeaCentre, which has an Nvidia GPU backed up with a 1GB of dedicated memory.
Ultimately, the HP TouchSmart 520-1070 is a faster and more powerful alternative to the current mainstream all-in-one desktops. The graphics performance is similar, but in every other area the quad-core Core i7 processor beefs up the capabilities of the touchscreen all-in-one. If the $1,400 price tag doesn't scare you off, then the 520-1070 is well worth it and can be ordered at a discount from Amazon, but the Editors' Choice Sony VAIO VPC-L231FX/W offers similar—though slower—capabilities for $400 less, and remains our pick of the litter.
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