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Monday May 24, 2010 3:14 pm

HP TouchSmart 600 review

HP TouchSmart 600 review

The TouchSmart 600-1055 is an attempt at bringing together computing and entertainment in a way that hasn’t really been done before. Incorporating the 64-bit flavor of Windows 7 Home Premium with a 1080p high definition display, HDTV playback, and integrated Blu-ray player, you begin to see the potential and possibilities that you have at your fingertips with the TouchSmart 600. Oh, right, and it also has a multi-touch capable LCD touch display, and a bunch of apps optimized for touch interaction. So, does it live up to the challenge of meeting your every need as your entertainment hub? Join us after the break as we find out. Oh, and we are giving one of these bad boys away as well. Here are the details on how you can win the HP TouchSmart 600!

First, the specs. The HP TouchSmart 600-1055 rocks the following configuration:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 processor
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 23-inch teach-enabled 1080p LCD display with BrightView technology
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 750GB hard drive
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Blu-ray player and SuperMulti DVD burner
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT230M 1GB graphics card

So, as you can see, this is a fairly decent and powerful machine. The touch display lets you use multitouch gestures to navigate around the custom HP TouchSmart interface. You’ve also got a 6-in-1 digital media reader, which is nice for transferring content without having to find a cable to do so. The TouchSmart 600-1055 also has an integrated webcam that lets you record yourself, take pictures, or even do live video chats.

Now this is actually the third generation of the HP TouchSmart line, and we’ve gotta say, we like how things are finally starting to mesh for the platform. We were asked to test this as an entertainment computer first and foremost, rather than as a workstation. So we looked into things like screen quality, Blu-ray playback, HDTV tuning, gaming, etc. Can the HP TouchSmart act as your single entertainment hub?

Well, they’ve put a lot of thought into things like inputs and tuning, which you’d need to really start taking advantage of the TouchSmart 600 as your primary display device. For example, the TouchSmart 600 has itself an HDMI input, six USB inputs, S-Video, coax, optical audio, and composite. It can even tune high definition channels (although, there is no CableCARD support built-in.) It also has a tilting webcam so you don’t have to be right in front of the display when doing a video chat, and there are custom TouchSmart applications for things like Hulu, Netflix, and much more.

Screen quality isn’t anything fantastic, and we aren’t really fans of the fact that PC makers are now dumbind down their displays to 1280x1080 when resolutions for PCs are typically much higher. The screen is about as good as what you’d find on a VIZIO or Westinghouse LCD. Nothing to write home about. As far as touchscreen capabilities, the TouchSmart suite is fun, but if you have too much going on at once, you’ll start to realize that the touch isn’t as accurate as you would expect it to be—especially if you are used to capacitive touch devices like the iPhone or . Still, it isn’t that big a deal, and the touch does definitely add a level of fun and interactivity to the device.

HP TouchSmart 600 apps

Let’s actually talk about touch for a moment. Yes, you can just touch your way around Windows 7, but that isn’t what the TouchSmart is all about. Instead, you wanna launch the apps in the TouchSmart suite, and you will start to see what sets this set apart from others. Wanna see something awesome? Pull up Netflix and just touch your way through the library, through your queue, and tap a movie to have it start streaming instantly. Very, very cool. How about Twitter? They’ve got an app for that too, but let’s not divert too far away from entertainment.

There is a Live TV app that also acts as a DVR. You can flick through the programming guide, pull up television, set things to record, all with your fingertips. This functionality is actually a skin for Windows Media Center, for all intents and purposes.

You’ve also got the Hulu app that we mentioned. Find the shows you wanna watch, and tap them to get them playing. Couldn’t be easier.

Entertainment isn’t just about television and movies though, and the music player is another area where you can consume media. It’ll hand the music you have stored locally, and will also play tracks from Pandora and Rhapsody as well. Album covers are spread out and you can just flick through them in a Cover Flow-esque fashion.

HP TouchSmart 600 review blu-ray

Then of course there is Blu-ray playback, which acts exactly as you’d expect it to. Throw in a Blu-ray title and it will fire itself right up and playback in full 1080p. Not really anything more you can ask for, although the discs could have loaded a bit quicker, that is just me being nitpicky.

So, would we be able to use the HP TouchSmart 600-1055 as our primary entertainment device? Well, the answer isn’t that black and white. For us, we’ve got a 60-inch Pioneer Elite plasma, 11.2 surround sound, etc. So for us, the TouchSmart - as an entertainment hub - would be a downgrade. However, we are an edge case. If you’re a student in a dorm room, if you have an apartment, if you are on a budget and wanna kill two birds (television and PC) with one stone, or even if you just want an extra television for the bedroom, this is one to seriously consider. We can’t really think of any other all-in-one of this caliber out there. When you look at the iMac, you don’t get Blu-ray playback, for example. HP has a good product here, and if it sounds like something that’s up your alley, we recommend you give it a shot.

In fact, as we stated earlier, we are giving an HP TouchSmart 600 away to one of you readers!

You can pick up the HP TouchSmart 600-1055 on Amazon now.

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