“What’s the first thing you noticed when unboxing the system?” asked an HP representative during a briefing call regarding the TouchSmart 520 all-in-one PC I’d received for evaluation a week or so earlier. I told the rep that the system was extremely heavy which prompted a discussion regarding the weighted aluminum base, freestanding configuration and more.
Bill Gates unveiled the first HP TouchSmart at CES in 2007 and we’ve seen a number of updates throughout the years since. The latest rendition sports some serious hardware and a slightly revised design but had it not been for some corporate restructuring at HP, the unit likely would never have seen the light of day; but I digress.
HP supplied us with their TouchSmart model 520-1070 which they described as the star of their current all-in-one lineup that features a lighter, thinner design and an upgraded version of HP’s Magic Canvas software.
The 23-inch multi-touch AIO is powered by a 2nd generation Intel Core i7-2600S processor clocked at 2.8GHz, 8GB of DDR3 system memory, a 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green hard drive, Radeon HD 6450A graphics and Beats Audio. Additional perks include a built-in TV tuner and HDMI-in, essentially transforming the 520 into a venerable entertainment / gaming station.
Despite the heavy multi-touch focus, HP knows that most users won’t rely strictly on physical interaction with the interface. As such, they’ve also included a wireless keyboard, wireless mouse and media remote control for wire-free control. There’s also a power cord, power adapter with a relatively large ‘brick’, IR blaster cable and some various documentation that round out the bundle. Our price as configured here today is $1,399.
Aesthetically, HP has a great looking system on their hands. The dual-purpose aluminum base keeps the system firmly planted on the ground even when adjusting the angle of the display. It also serves as a keyboard shelf should you need more space on your desktop or when you go into touch-only mode.
Across the bottom of the display is a sound bar powered by Beats Audio. We’ve seen Beats branding on HP notebooks in the past but results are typically best achieved when listening with a pair of headphones. After all, one can only ask so much from a pair of laptop speakers. HP certainly has the room to add a decent set of speakers here; let’s hope they did just that.
The 23-inch backlit LED display features a native resolution of 1920 x 1080, 250 nits brightness, 1000:1 contrast ratio and a 5ms response time. The non-glossy black bezel houses an HD webcam with built-in microphone just above the screen.
On the left side of the computer we find storage and card reader LED indicators, a 6-in-1 card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, a microphone jack and a headphone jack. The rear I/O panel features four USB 2.0 ports, line-out and subwoofer-out jacks, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, power jack, IR blaster jack and the TV tuner coaxial jack.
HP has installed a slot-loading SuperMulti Blu-ray Burner on the right edge of the system just above four buttons used to manipulate on-screen display options. Finally there is an HDMI-in port, allowing you to use the display as a secondary screen for your notebook or even better, a primary display for your gaming console.