All-in-one PCs (AIO) has a very niche market, especially in this part of the world. While boasting impressive technology and decent specs, its high price range and limited expandability works as a discouraging factor for those who are looking to pick up a pre-built PC for regular home/office use. This hasn't stopped manufacturers from shipping their latest products, however, with each installment getting 'bigger and better' than the rest of its brethren.
HP is one such company. Despite a seemingly low demand, the company has shown resilient commitment to the multi-touch cause, and has been out and about in the market with its TouchSmart range of PCs for quite some time. Their latest addition, the TouchSmart 610, not only offers refined software interactivity, but also adds superior multimedia capability and design enchantments that makes it even more convenient to use.
Display & Hardware
The TouchSmart 610 is not the most handsomest of the displays you will see, neither is it fit enough to claim such a thing. But it's overall sturdiness, and it's clever use of shine and gloss gives it a very...executive-ish look, if I may say. It looks efficient, is efficient, and is up for a multitude of tasks wherever and however you use it. Plus its non-to-drastic appearance helps it blend well into a modern living room, and not stand out like a attention grabber that these things can get.
It's a 23-inch 1080p display, and thankfully, uses an IPS panel to power the visual goodness. Off the bat, color accuracy, brightness and contrast were pretty much spot on, and I never felt the need to task myself to calibrate it (which you should anyway, if you have the means). The only bit of problem with the display is that it's a tad bit glossy. As much as I enjoy looking at my handsome set of features (I am lying), I do not enjoy it when it's overlapping a dark scene in a movie or a video game. Lights and other bright sources bounces off as well, so one has to make sure it's strategically placed to avoid annoyances.
Coming to the internal side of things, the display is covered with all sorts of utilities you can think of. A little flap behind it's back holds most of the portals...or ports, if you do not choose to be so fantastical about it (bore!). Aside from the necessary
power jack, you will find various USB outlets (including v3 variety), PCIe slots, MiniCard sockets, HDMI jack, and a Ethernet jack. The unit comes with its own TV tuner, so there is a jack for that as well. Additionally, you will find two USB ports, volume rockers, headphone and mic jacks, and a memory card reader on the side of the display as well, including a DVD-ROM to boot (Blu-ray is optional). The TouchSmart also comes equipped with a webcam that can be shifted up or down with a conveniently placed slider.
What sets the design apart from the rest, however, is its stand. On the usual, it holds the display at 90 degrees, but push it firmly from the top and the stand slides the display to a 60 degree angle. It's a lot more convenient to write or draw in this position, or while working standing up.
Another thing that gives the TouchSmart 610 an edge over others is its superb audio system. It's powered by Beats, much thanks to HP and Dr. Dre6's growing friendship which has seen the audio integration throughout the company's various lineups like laptops, netbooks, etc.
As you would expect, the Beats perform remarkably well and are seriously loud. In our numerous days of HD trailer spotting, the sound was rich, with good bass and overall fullness. We played a few tracks on it as well, ranging from Bollywood latkas and jhatkas, to some video game OSTs. Suffice to say, they sounded fantastic.
The AIO comes shipped with HP's fourth generation of TouchSmart software. It features a ton of 'apps', including that of Facebook and Twitter, and other bare essentials such as a browser, calendar, recipe manager, notes, weather, and separate view managers for photos, music and videos. There is also an Apps Center, which by all means is pretty average, and is largely littered with kiddy games and other junk.
Like other TouchSmart Suites, one has to open it like any other software from Windows. It runs on full screen from there on, and allows to alt-tab out of it when pleased. The software, for what is largely an oversized smartphone UI, is quite smartly laid out. There is a snappy carousel at the bottom to host all the apps, with other tid-bits pushed towards the sides to give the current running app ample of space.
The apps are somewhat useful, to be honest, but nothing that I couldn't live without or find a better and more convenient alternative on Windows. The browser, which will arguably be the most used app, leaves a lot to be desired. It's optimized for touch, yes, but it's rather slow and clunky for my everyday needs. And baring the Twitter application, which was actually quite usable, everything else is of the same average quality, as well.
But how is the touch
of the TouchSmart, you ask? Surprisingly responsive. It reacted to every of our touch, tap and zap (or gesture, but the other was rhyming) with enough speed to never be an annoyance. Even on normal Windows, the touchscreen showed the same responsiveness and tact, and in fact is so good, it actually can be used almost exclusively (barring the necessary need of a keyboard). Of course, positioning it correctly is of utmost importance, or else it will
inflict bodily harm.
Now performance wise we weren’t expecting much from the TouchSmart given it’s humble specifications. Still, for the price, we wanted to compare it to HP’s recent entertainment laptop, the DV6. Specs wise the new DV6 is much higher than the TouchSmart, especially given that it’s using the latest Sandy Bridge processor and AMD graphics card.
No surprises there, as the overall results in Passmark prove that the DV6 outperforms the TouchSmart by a huge margin. And just to show how powerful the new CPU and GPU in the DV6 are, the 3DMark 06 and compression benchmarks show nearly double the performance increase.
It’s true that the TouchSmart 610 is no performance monster, but then again it wasn’t aiming to be one either.
At AED 5999, the TouchSmart 610 certainly touches the high-end seam of things. It's not a great gaming system, but that was sort of expected. While it's slightly above average system performance may suffice for regular users, it's power packed multimedia features should more than compensate for that. That, and coupled with a superb touchscreen and a decent software suite, and
a unique design, the TouchSmart 610 more than packs an edge over others.