The New HP TouchSmart 610: Touching Multimedia

TS_Side-by-side_P.jpgWhile 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:

 

HP touchsmart specs_P.jpgIntel 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?

 

TS_Connectors_P.JPGOne 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!

Comments
by BellevueRandy(anon) on ‎02-07-2011 10:28 AM

I too want HDMI Out.  I have the TM2 Touchsmart Notebook with a plate holder as a stand that I use for sending web content out to my TV.  I was too frustrated with media streaming boxes that had the blessing of content providers one day and lose it the next.  A Windows PC reduces that problem but keyboarding from the chair is a bit of a bother.  The touchscreen is GREAT for most of the media players and many more are adding 10 foot UI's that make it even easier.  At the time a year ago, it was the only Windows 7 touchscreen I could find with HDMI out.  An AIO with HDMI Out would allow me to use the 23 inch screen for quick news checks without having to fire up the big plasma.  The TM2 screen is just too small for that.

by Timmy M(anon) on ‎02-08-2011 01:59 AM

Hi! I was planning on buying an iMac this year but now HP's got me doubting. I'm a designer and the Adobe Creative Suite will run smooth on current iMacs but I also want some impressive gaming specs (it's not all about work, right?), which currently lacks in those systems. Seriously, I am not willing to cough up over €2000 just to get a  somewhat decent GPU in there. I've set my budget to €1500 tops. A case + screen combination is not an option because the computer stands in quite a central location in our living room, that's where the wife kicks in: it must look good and take up as little space as possible. So, I was wondering if the TouchSmart 610 testing system (or anything similar) you showed off will be somewhere in the price range I'm looking for...

by jessica(anon) on ‎02-08-2011 09:03 AM
I toally agree about the HDMI out for dual monitor support. I would love to slide a program from the TS to another screen with a flick of my fingers(bump top dekstop was cool on the TS notebook). Having great music apps would be cool too! Maybe having a cool mixer software to complement the Beats hardware? Its been done on the Beats Envy Notebook, why not make it cooler by adding touch by placing it on the TS desktop with Beats? I'm sure any of the I5(or even a Amd fusion?) Models or higher could run cool dj software. Heck I can visualize using a great 23" TS side by side with a 23" LED with all the hookups in a DJ booth right now :smileyhappy:I do wonder though, when can we see more apps? I like the blue tooth pairing with recipe box :smileyhappy: that's a favorite.
by hvakrg(anon) on ‎02-09-2011 06:26 AM

Does it have HDMI out, or just HDMI in?

by AFinnie on ‎02-09-2011 03:07 PM

Hi All, thanks for the great comments. It's really helpful to get customer feedback so that we can consider features like HDMI-out for future product revisions.

 

Timmy, the HP TouchSmart 610 PC is by far my favorite right now.  I'm biased because I'm the PR manager for HP's consumer desktop PC business.....but still, it's beautifully designed and fun to use, especially for games!  It's great to hear that you're considering it for purchase. You can create a great configuration that can play the latest and most demanding games.  The 610 can max out with an Intel Core i7 processor, an AMD Radeon HD 5570 graphics card (with 2GB of RAM), up to 12GB of memory and 2TB of hard drive space.  For games, a great graphics card, a quad core processor and about 6GB of memory should do the trick for you.

 

All the best,

Ann

by hvakrg(anon) on ‎02-09-2011 03:59 PM

Well for me there are a couple of scenarios where I can picture myself having a  TouchSmart 610.

 

Kitchen PC - But for that it had to be available with a smaller screen. Perhaps as small as 13-15".

 

Sync client - A dedicated computer for use as my houses brain for MP3 players and phones. A computer that downloads music, podcasts, audiobooks and so on and syncs it to various phones, tablets and MP3 players.

 

HTPC - With HDMI-out it would make a nice HTPC, especially with the Athlon 240+Radeon HD 5570 mix. I'd  prefer a Radeon HD 6750 for HDMI 1.4 support though.

 

 

by hvakrg(anon) on ‎02-09-2011 04:03 PM

But if you're taking requests I'd love a Windows 7 tablet running on Llano when that comes out. That with a HDMI dock would make a perfect HTPC. :smileywink: 

 

In combination with Mediaportal and it's TV-server one would be able to pick it up and carry it around the house and watch TV whereever one wants, and then just put it back in the dock to get it back on the big screen.

by GizmoGladstone on ‎02-10-2011 07:25 AM

Jessica: While I don't have any insights right now about new apps, I know that when I mentioned this DJ idea to a couple people, eyes lit up and they said, "You should write about that!" If I hear about any cool, new apps, I'll let you know.

 

HVAKRG: Like I wrote in the story, it's only optional HDMI-in for this go-round. What can I say? I can dream of all the wacky things I'd do with two screens here. (I just want to gesture-push windows off-screen. :smileywink:)

 

As for the rest of your wish list....well, I'll add it onto my wish list as well. BUT, you could also just use the TS610 as a media server in your house that you can stream out to thin-client devices (like Xbox 360s). That's what I do at home. 

by Ian(anon) on ‎05-20-2011 09:37 PM
I would mainly like to know if you can use a stylus on it that has a fine tip so that I could use this computer to work on my art in Photoshop, or would it have to be a fat tipped stylus like you have to on the iPad? Because if I can use a fine tipped stylus then I am sold cause I absolutely hate how I can't see where exactly it is that I am drawing with the fat tipped stylus.
by GizmoGladstone on ‎05-23-2011 10:52 AM

Hey Ian,

 

I checked with Ann Finnie, the PR manager for the 610 and she told me that, "Any pen-like instrument should work just fine.  The HP TouchSmart PC employs an optical touch screen technology utilizing line scanning cameras. These cameras track the movement of any object close to the surface of the screen by detecting the interruption of a light source." But before you drop a single dollar on this, we both suggest that you bring a stylus to a retail store where you can try it out for yourself. Bring up the notes application and test if it works the way you need it to.

 

Hope this helps!

 

-Darren

by Ian(anon) on ‎05-25-2011 02:23 AM
Thank you, that helped out a lot, and I am def going to take your advice and go check it out when I get some time but I came across one more question actually. Do you by any chance know if it has any control settings where it can make it only sense your writing tool and not your hand so that you can rest your hand on the screen while you draw? I'm guessing the answer is no seeing as how from your description it sounds like it uses an IR sensor?
by Ian(anon) on ‎05-25-2011 02:30 AM
I also would love to see it be able to rotate when it is laying almost flat for drawing purposes because then the wacom cintiq 21ux would become completely obsolete. It would also be nice for the family or a group of people using it for games or sharing information.
by GizmoGladstone on ‎05-25-2011 11:31 AM

Ian:

 

Correct.  We don’t have “wrist rejection” implemented in the TouchSmart PC, so it’s not possible to set controls to only sense the writing tool. 

 

As for your other question: We do appreciate the feedback on the rotation and will share that with our product design team!

 

-Darren

by Casey(anon) on ‎06-21-2011 07:38 PM
I have just purchased the HP Touch 610 and I really like it. I think the computer itself is great and the touch screen makes it awesome! The reason I choose HP is for the personalization, I love the apps that come with the computer and how we can manipulate a few of the items. I hope to see future updates that add to the collection of apps I have in the carousel of HP apps and add details to the current apps. The ability to manipulate things like the size of the clock, the design of the weather, making the music come on as an alarm in the morning or the color of the calendar are just a few suggestions. The details that make it personal (or artsy in my case) I love making this computer a part of my house, the music that plays all the time, checking the weather before I leave for work, finding recipes for dinner, and still have the ability to easily keep track of my online master's degree. I can't wait to see how far HP will take the touch interface of the 610 and with all the developments of apps and tablets I think it can go far Thank you!
by GizmoGladstone on ‎06-22-2011 07:48 AM

That's awesome, Casey. And thanks for some of those suggestions. I'll make sure to pass them along to the team!

 

-Darren

by James Spence(anon) on ‎06-24-2011 07:46 PM

What type of ram does this use and can I upgrade the ram myself?

I'm buying this as a gift for someone who does plan on photoshopping. Meaning the processor and ram are powerful enough for what they're doing.

But I can max out to 16gb RAM through newegg rather than pay 360 through HP.

I'm used to building desktops so I know RAM is an easy install, but I don't know if opening this item will cause the mobo to shift and then mess it up.

So can I upgrade it safely on my own?

Also, the HP website says this uses SODIMM (laptop) RAM, but every other website I've seen says this uses SD RAM (Desktop).

Which one does it use?

Thanks

by no_ghia(anon) on ‎06-29-2011 07:21 AM

Has anyone tried, or does anyone know if you can swap out the hard drive for a solid state drive?

I intend to use this as a trade show kiosk for running videos.  I want to remove any bottlenecks that might cause pauses in playback.  The hard drive is probably the weakest link in the chain.

 

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

 

 

by GizmoGladstone on ‎06-29-2011 08:05 AM

Hey James, no_ghia, 

 

I'm actually trying to lay hands on a 610 to see if I can get some answers for you, stay tuned!

by GizmoGladstone on ‎07-14-2011 07:01 AM

James,

 

The answers to your questions....

 

What type of ram does this use and can I upgrade the ram myself?

RAM is user upgradeable on the HP Touchsmart 610.  Look for RAM spec’d at  Upgrading and Service manual available from HP Support Online   located at this link:  http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/manualCategory?cc=us&dlc=en&jumpid=reg_R1002_USEN&lc=en&product=5...


I'm buying this as a gift for someone who does plan on photoshopping. Meaning the processor and ram are powerful enough for what they're doing.

But I can max out to 16gb RAM through newegg rather than pay 360 through HP.

You can buy RAM from HP or from Newegg to get up to 16GB on the HP Touchsmart 610.  HP RAM is certified for the platform and is recommended of course, but as long as the RAM meets the specs below, you should be good.

I'm used to building desktops so I know RAM is an easy install, but I don't know if opening this item will cause the mobo to shift and then mess it up.
You should be able to follow the easy steps to upgrade as outlined in the Upgrading and Service manual available from HP Support Online. 

 

So can I upgrade it safely on my own?
Yes, per the manual


Also, the HP website says this uses SODIMM (laptop) RAM, but every other website I've seen says this uses SD RAM (Desktop). 

From the manual:

 

Capture.JPG

by jagss(anon) on ‎08-11-2011 12:51 AM

hi, i`m from Portugal and i am want to buy one, but anyone cam tell me, if we can play well PROEVOLUTION SOCCER 2011  on this computer?

if it runs good?

 

thanks

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