HP touches up Vista

[intro]We've just been nodding our head at a nice bit of innovation from HP at the Vista stand – a Media Centre PC with a touchscreen[/intro] We've

We've just been nodding our head at a nice bit of innovation from HP at the Vista stand – a Media Centre PC with a touchscreen.

The Touchsmart PC (HP – not one for crazy product names) has been designed as a 'family' PC that sits in the kitchen or living room. The idea is that for a lot of uses – playing music, showing photos, checking the weather – the unsightly keyboard can be stashed away, leaving the less techno-literate dwellers of your house free to jab their fingers at the screen and get the info they need.

To help make things even more simple, HP's designed its own front end (called the 'Home' screen) which has big, colourful logos for things like your calendar, music and the internet. Impressively, though, the touchscreen works just as well when you switch to Vista mode, and a virtual keyboard pops up if you need to enter any simple info. We felt like a bit of an invalid poking at a computer in a public place, but maybe it's true usefulness will become apparent when we test it properly.

The Touchsmart will go for $1800 when it starts shipping at the end of January. A spokesperson on the show floor said he 'doesn't see why it shouldn't be shipping to the UK simultaneously' – hmm, we'll confirm this when we get home.