HP has more experience with touchscreen all-in-ones than anyone else, and it shows. Its latest Touchsmart is a tidy package with an innovative hinged design that’s stable and easy to adjust, and the responsive screen picks up gestures quickly and smoothly.
HP Touchsmart 520-1080 – a true gamer?
For general desktop work, the dual-core processor and AMD graphics have all the power you’ll ever need. But despite its discrete graphics card, the Touchsmart isn’t much of a gamer – the Radeon silicon struggles with Skyrim even on lower settings.
While the HP’s screen is well-designed for touch, it doesn’t look as good as some of its rivals. Black levels aren’t terrible, but they’re noticeably weaker than others.
HP Touchsmart 520-1080 – entertainment centre
Where the Touchsmart 520 does score points, though, is as an all-round entertainment machine. There’s a TV tuner, a media centre remote and a Blu-ray drive all included. An external power brick means that it’s thankfully bereft of fan noise, with a barely audible whisper coming from the coolers.
If you see yourself as a regular touchscreen user, then the HP is definitely worth considering. But if touch control is only an occasional luxury, then look elsewhere. Bashing away at arm’s length on an on-screen keyboard won’t be fun for long, but HP’s bundled wireless kit isn’t much better – and you’ll need a USB dongle to connect it.
HP Touchsmart 520-1080 – Beats Audio
The Beats Audio-branded speakers live up to their promise. They’re loud, rich and do justice to music and movies alike. For a family-friendly PC, it’s odd there are no extra HDMI inputs for hooking up a console or sound system – that could be frustrating if you want to use it as more than a PC.
HP’s Magic Canvas overlay is one of the best customised Windows 7 skins. It feels – as it should – more like using a phone or tablet than a PC, with large icons, swipeable desktops and a mix of apps and launchers on the home screen so you can integrate widgets with your program icons.