A Quick Look at The New HP TouchSmart 520

UPDATE 9/9: I expect to get my hands on a TouchSmart 520 soon, but I want to answer -your- questions about it. So, in the comment box, tell me what you'd like me to test (and no, I will not do a sledge-hammer stress test on this guy). Within reason, I will try to do it.



I showed up at the office recently and was greeted by a small army of brand new all-in-one PCs – all getting announced today (OK, seven if you want to get technical about it). The one that stood out to me from the pack: The TouchSmart 520. Since it’s my “favorite” I’m going to focus more of my blog love on it. And yes, I’ll also give you the inside line on some of the other all-in-one desktops coming out as well. Just bear with me.


Since we launched the TouchSmart 610 earlier in 2011, I’ve played with it a bunch. I love that reclining easel design and the glossy lines. Still, some people might not like to slide the unit down-and-into the table while tilting. By comparison, the new 520 feels a little more mod (and metal). That’s thanks to the silvery-colored base and aluminum support struts that keep everything upright. It may not be able to do that 60-degree recline like the 610, but it kicks back a good 30 degrees so that the 520’s 23-inch touch screen is comfortable to use right up in your grill or if you’re standing near it.


For more on the outside look and feel, check out this slicked-up marketing video tour around the chassis. (It’s loaded with floating words such as, “Unique” and “Easy” – you know, like me!)



What lies under the hood? I’m glad you asked…

CPU:  Intel Core i3-2100
RAM: 4GB Standard (6GB upgrade)
Hard Drive: 750GB (1TB upgrade)
Graphics: Intel UMA Integrated graphics (My advice: Upgrade this to a discrete card!)
Video: 23-inch panel that supports 1920 by 1080-pixel resolution
Audio: Beats with a discrete subwoofer out to work with the new 60-watt HP Pulse subwoofer.


And, I just wanted to throw this out there: I appreciate the fact that there are two USB 3.0 ports riding shotgun along the left side of the PC and an HDMI input.



Among the other highlights, you’ve got some stuff that we’ve gone over before in the wonderful world of TouchSmartiness:


Beats Audio built in. We’ve talked about that before (and I probably will again), but the short version is that it kicks bass. And with the Pulse subwoofer – which I get to in a separate story – adds a little extra “oompf” to your computer’s sound system.


LinkUp Technology. Built-in software makes it pretty easy to control any other Windows (XP, Vista, 7) computer in the house. 


TouchSmart software and apps, ready-to-go. I recently wrote about some cool artsy apps that you can take advantage of on a TouchSmart, but of course you also get the latest build of the TouchSmart software suite.  Rather than have me yammer about it, I actually have a video clip here that goes into more detail about what’s in store with TouchSmart 5.0 software.



You get a pretty good loadout here considering it starts at $899 for this stylish all-in-one and the slightly smaller TouchSmart 420 starts at $699 (both start shipping soon). Meanwhile if you want a TouchSmart experience while saving a few bucks, the 20-inch 320 hits in the beginning of October starting at $599. While I wasn’t able to grab one and throw my testing gauntlet at it (YET!), come on back. Ann promised me a reviewable unit that I’ll be able to mess around with. Don’t worry, I plan to tell you what’s on my mind when a machine does finally get to my desk.


No Touching
Maybe you don’t need to reach out and touch the screen – but you still want a tiny machine that won’t take up too much desktop real estate at home. That’s where the Omni 220 ($799) and Omni 120 ($399) come in. Both offer a lot of the same style points as the TouchSmarts – and some useful features (LinkUp software is standard and Beats audio on the 220).


A Head's Up for All-in-One PC Use!
All right, so I painted you a pretty picture of what you’re getting here. I wanted to take the opportunity here to share with you some of the other things to keep in mind when you’re considering getting this – or, quite frankly, any all-in-one PC. Because of the way these things are designed, you’re hard-pressed to be able to upgrade them after the fact. Basically, when you’re speccing out all-in-one PCs, think of the future. My humble advice – which you can take or leave – is to upgrade the RAM and consider a beefy hard drive from the get-go. The only exception to this rule I can think of right now is the new HP Compaq Elite 8200. This All-in-One PC, geared toward the small biz crowd, actually lets you pop off the back and replace the hard drive, the optical drive bay…and upgrade the RAM. Check out a quick video of how easy this is!



If you want to learn more about this upgradable guy, head over to 367AddisonAvenue.com where they will have breakdowns on it as well as the 3420 and the business-minded TouchSmart Elite 7320.


If you have questions, comments, observations or things that you’d like to see / learn more about, I’m here for you – so ask away!


 Darren Gladstone (@Gizmogladstone) is a former journalist, now TNB's Blogger-in-Chief. He geeks out over games, gadgets and hot laptops.

by badajosjr
on ‎09-10-2011 12:04 PM

How sturdy is the base that holds the whole body of the pc? Looking at the picture, it looks so scary, one day, the base might not sustain its strength in holding up the whole pc.

by tmaxsmart
on ‎09-11-2011 04:25 AM

Does it play angry birds? http://chrome.angrybirds.com

by Adrbro13
on ‎09-11-2011 09:58 AM

Wow these are sexy machines!

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎09-12-2011 09:05 AM

@badajosjr: I know it might look scary in the picture, but it is really solid. It's keeping the whole thing suspended and even when I set it to a different angle, it isn't going to flop around. The 520 is solid.


@tmaxsmart: I know that Angry Birds is TouchSmart-friendly because we've had people play it at various events where we'd set up the TouchSmart 610....and it worked great.


Thanks for asking!



by DOGC_Kyle
on ‎09-12-2011 03:33 PM

Is the new TouchSmart software available for download so it can be used on older TouchSmart models? It looks really nice!

by AdriaticBlue
on ‎09-12-2011 08:43 PM

Greetings @Gizmogladstone,


How nice of you to offer testing on the new TouchSmarts!  I have two requests, with the first being most important. Hopefully your test machine is the base 520t with 4GB of RAM and integrated graphics on board.


1. Test creating vector artwork in Adobe Illustrator CS5.  A free trial is available for download.  If Illustrator is not an option, please test with CorelDRAW X5 which also has a free trial available. If you have a lot of time on your hands, test both. :-) 


2. Test running one of the most popular R/C Flight Sims available, RealFlight G5.  There is a G5 demo download available for free. Note: This demo may require that you're logged in as Admin and that you set G5 to run in Admin mode.  http://www.realflight.com/free-g5-demo.html


My goal here is to know how well (or not) illustration and flight sim software will run on the 420t & 520t base model TouchSmarts, as they both have Intel 3.1GHz i3-2100 dual-core processors & integrated graphics. The 420t is at a more preferred price point, however.



by GizmoGladstone
on ‎09-13-2011 11:15 AM

@DOGC_Kyle: Unfortunately, you aren't able to download a TouchSmart 5.0 update onto a previous TouchSmart model. If / when I hear more, I'll be sure to let you know.


@AdriaticBlue: You got it! I'll run these tests once I get the machine in-house.



ANYONE ELSE: GIVE ME MORE TESTS for what you want me to do on the 520! Smiley Wink

by AdriaticBlue
on ‎09-13-2011 07:46 PM

Awesome, thanks Darren!

by klifex
on ‎09-13-2011 09:21 PM

I'm looking forward for gesture control to move mouse precursor instead of touch screen feature in future desktop...

Maybe HP can consider in developing the software...and incorporate into software such as fruit ninja etc...u'll definate boost the sales.


by DormDad
on ‎09-13-2011 10:09 PM

THe Fujitsu line Lifebook T-901 can be used to draw on the screen (ie like a tablet) using a stylis this enables the user to do graphic designs. Can this unit do anything like that? I would like to have that ability but with a larger screen than Fujitsu offers. Are there any issues with the screen angle? I have to change the agle of my screen often to avoid images overlapping and becoming cloudy. 

by GizmoGladstone
on ‎09-15-2011 09:07 AM

@klifex: Thanks for that feedback, I'll definitely pass it along!


@DormDad: Why settle for a stylus? ;p Beyond using your hands, I've known people to use brushes on screen. (and in my case, I actually used a toothbrush to prove a point on the blog recently). But as for your question about the screen angle, It stays pretty firm in-position and yet doesn't require a muscle man to move it to a different angle. But that's just my perspective on it. Hope that answers the question....

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