The elegant, Microsoft Vista Home Premium-based HP TouchSmart IQ770 PC is Hewlett-Packard's first stab at an all-in-one PC--and the company's first desktop system to incorporate a touch-screen display.
The 19-inch wide-screen display functions as both a viewing screen and a navigation tool. Though you won't want to rely solely on the touch screen when you're sitting at a desk (believe me, your shoulder will eventually protest the reach), it provides a highly responsive alternative to traditional mouse navigation. In my view, the touch screen contributes vitally to the TouchSmart adaptability to a wide range of environments in the home, from living room to home office to kitchen. The touch screen would be particularly useful for quickly queuing up media files for playback via a connected TV, a stereo system, or the unit's built-in display and speakers, or for accessing recipes in the kitchen. Even though Vista supports multipoint touch screens--enabling the software to react to a number of touch points on the screen simultaneously--the TouchSmart's screen recognizes only touches to a single point.
If finger navigation isn't your thing, you can use the well-weighted, thick stylus, which stashes away at the top of the screen. Integrated stereo speakers positioned to the right and left of the adjustable-height screen offered pleasing sound and loudness, albeit without the oomph and fullness you'd expect from a dedicated, external speaker system.
A button on the lower-right of the display's bezel provides a shortcut to HP's SmartCenter software. The handy, customizable HP control panel lets you quickly access photos and photo editing, music playback, calendars, and weather reports.
No matter where you put the TouchSmart PC, its striking style will stand out. The piano-black unit has silver accents and a graceful, Z-angled cabinet. The all-in-one comes with a comfortable, compact, wireless keyboard that tucks away under the unit; a wireless laser mouse; and a remote control.
The unit's many extras include an integrated 1.3-megapixel webcam; a microphone; a dual-slot, multiformat memory-card reader; analog and over-the-air digital TV tuners; Bluetooth, 802.11a/b/g wireless, and gigabit ethernet connectivity; a slot-loading DVD burner with LightScribe label etching and dedicated playback buttons. The front-accessible DVD burner and memory card slots are mounted in the base below the screen. Also up front, beneath a flip-down door, are two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 400 port, a headphone jack, and S-Video and left-right analog audio inputs. Still more ports occupy the side of the unit (for coaxial television and audio/video connections) and the rear--for USB 2.0 (four more), FireWire 400, ethernet, analog audio out, and digital audio out. Oddly, the unit lacks HDMI-out, a surprising omission given the presence of the digital tuner; this limits its usefulness if you intended to output TV recordings to your TV.
An HP photo printer dock is situated behind the display, on the base. Built into the upward angle of the base is a bay for HP's Pocket Media Drive; this extra-cost drive expands the system's capacity and can work as a USB-connected drive, too.
Ultimately, though, the TouchSmart PC is more about overall presentation than performance. Equipped with 2GB of memory, a 1.6-GHz Turion 64 X2 TL-52 mobile CPU, and integrated nVidia GeForce Go 7600 graphics, the system scored a modest 76 on WorldBench 6 (beta), significantly below the marks we've seen from comparably priced value systems running more-powerful desktop processors on our beta benchmark. (Our beta benchmark tests performance of Windows Vista systems; results are not comparable to scores earned by systems on WorldBench 5.) At least the system's graphics performance was reasonably good; it produced acceptable frame rates in our Doom 3 and Far Cry gaming tests.
I enjoyed using the TouchSmart IQ770 PC and applaud its thoughtful, integrated design and touch screen. It could easily fill a void as a supplemental, family- and media-friendly system in the home. However, you'll pay a premium for the all-in-one design.