While recently rummaging through the top-secret technobunkers here at HP's Cupertino offices, I came across one of the original HP TouchSmart computers, the IQ770. Back then, it bristled with flash media card readers, separate DVD player controls that looked like they belonged in your home theater -- and yeah, it had a 19-inch touchscreen. Back in 2007, it was quirky and ran off then-modest laptop guts according to PC World. It was also a promising look at the future. Now, a couple generations later with the TouchSmart 610, we're looking at the great-great grandson that can handle just about everything I tried throwing at it. So, now that the NDA has lifted and the cat is out of the proverbial bag, I wanted to give you a quick tour and show you what a difference four years can make.
Where the IQ770 got dinged for its guts, I can honestly say that the TouchSmart 610 that I grabbed for testing is definitely up to the multimedia task. Here's the two second rundown on my test machine:
Intel Core i7 CPU 880 at 3.07Ghz 8GB RAM ATI Radeon 5570 GPU 2TB Hard Drive Windows 7 Ultimate
The CPU and RAM are beefy enough. I was curious about the GPU on-board the system. After all, the 5570 was a great card when it came out last year -- DX11-capable on a shoe-string budget. The 5570 even got the nod from Tom's Hardware. That's all well-and-good for spec heads, but how would it hold up to scrutiny? To test it, of course I'm going to try playing games. But more than just making sure the games would work, I also tried installing some games that I'd hope would play and feel different when you introduce the 23-inch multitouch screen into the equation.
If you’ve got a couple minutes to spare, I’ve got video proof of how this machine runs…
For those playing along at home, this machine scores a 5.9 on the Windows Experience Index. But, to give it a little context, the 5.9 is the score assigned to the lowest running spec. Here’s a peek at the rest just in case you think I’m making stuff up.
One thing I should point out is that this configuration, while available by building-to-order, isn’t standard. From what I’ve been told there is an online-only model that starts at $899. And the baseline in-store version that sells for $999 comes equipped with an Intel Core i3, 4GB of RAM, a 750GB HDD – and Intel integrated graphics. (I didn’t have that version available to kick around, but integrated graphics will obviously not deliver the high-end capabilities of the machine I’m testing here.)
Well, we’ve dissected what’s inside, how about a look around the outside?
One of the more notable changes here: A drop-down back panel to access a majority of the outputs. You’ll see here an ATSC tuner for HDTV signals, power, Ethernet jack and a small gang of USB ports. It’s a neat way to organize and control a computer’s cable clutter. Something to keep in mind, if you have any fat-plugged USB devices (for example, I have a couple USB HD receiver cards) that usually hibernate behind the PC, you might need to grab a couple USB expansion cords as it can get a little crowded in that back compartment. But I’ll be the first to admit, I’m more of a niche power user.
Of course, you’ll still have a couple side-mounted USB slots so you don’t have to go fishing around back. but there are a couple HDMI ports (an optional add-on) sitting on the other side (not pictured). Cool part for me: when my wife doesn’t want me hogging up the living room playing games, I can bring the PS3 into my nerdquarters (home office) and use the computer’s screen as its 1080p monitor. Honestly, a pretty smart addition for an All-in-One PC. BUT, just to make things a little uncomfortable, I had to also put together a little wish list of things I’d love to see for the 610 – and ask about some of the decisions made here.
Make more apps! I see tons of potential with the newest tweaks on the 610, but considering the tilted angle display and emphasis on Beats audio, how about you make a DJ app. I can totally see Girl Talk using this for virtual turntables at a show!
Right click, everywhere! As you can see from the above video, there are a number of apps that you can use with a multitouch screen, but rather than waiting for specific apps that take advantage of it, I’d love to see universal multitouch right-click support throughout Windows. Like, for example, putting down two fingers together serves as right click. It’d make playing StarCraft II a LOT more satisfying. As it was explained to me, though, in order for that to happen, it’d have to go into a specific Windows stack. Guess I better start making calls to folks at Microsoft.
HDMI out. Please? I love that it has two optional HDMI inputs but would love to see an output on this as well. What can I say? I blame Pete Ellis for making me want to get more monitors. Of course, this becomes a little trickier because, as I understand it, it’s an economy of scale. They’d need to accommodate a different motherboard for that to happen and fundamentally change the design (possibly making it bigger than need be). Maybe a good workaround for not having HDMI outs could be using Wireless Display technology in the future. Though, I have to confess, what I’ve seen in the past was kind of laggy (with the notable exception of Wireless TV Connect. No joke, that actually impressed me).
Why isn’t the world flat? I heard some people asking why the TS610 doesn’t drop down to be completely flat. One reason I heard given was that it maintains the same desktop footprint. The 610 folds down onto itself so that you don’t need to move things around on your desk when you shift it. Beyond that footprint jazz, they wanted to design it so someone could use it either standing or sitting. If this thing dropped flat on the table, it’s gonna be a pain to use. You’d have to stand over it, no other way about it.
OK, enough of a ramble from me, let’s hear it from you guys. What do you think? What would you like to see on a TouchSmart computer? And, hey, if you have any questions about the 610, let me have em!