- Multitouch interface
- Sleek design
- Innovative Netflix, RecipeBox apps
- Fantastic keyboard
- Custom UI hard to navigate
- Can't disable auto-loading dock
- Hard to carry system around
The HP TouchSmart 600 is the premium version of HP’s third generation touch-enabled all-in-one computers. From a hardware standpoint, it refines and improves upon its forebears. A lot of consumer feedback went into the design of this new model; some of the features, such as the video that lets you use the TouchSmart’s 23-inch display as a monitor for your game console, are a direct result of that feedback. Of course, most of the overall look and feel have remained identical to the last generation. Read on for our full review, with video.
- Processor: Intel Core Core 2 Duo P7450 @ 2.13GHz
- Memory: 4GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Hard drive: 750GB SATA @ 7200RPM
- Display: 23-inch two-finger multitouch @ 1920×1080
- Optical drive: Blu-ray readable / DVD+/-RW
- Sound: Integrated 7.1 audio
- Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GT230M (MXM)
- Networking: Gigabit Ethernet
- Wireless networking: 802.11b/g/n
- Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
- Dimensions: 23.0 x 17.76 x 2.83 inches (WxHxD)
- Warranty: 1 year limited warranty
This configuration of the TouchSmart 600 has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1599.99 (but is currently available for $1479.99).
Build and Design
HP markets the TouchSmart computers as something of a premium product, and, by and large, that’s what they feel like. It’s true that the TS 600 is composed largely of plastic, but with the exception of the trim along the front of the machine, it’s high quality, scratch-resistant stuff, not cheap at all. The whole device is weighty without being overly massive.
The case for the TouchSmart is almost entirely black, with some silver trim along the front and also the back stand. The legs are composed of a dense transparent plastic. In terms of changes from the last revision, it’s hard to see – in fact, at first glance, you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart at all. There are a number of changes; however small, they add up. One of the issues we noticed with the build of the last design was how difficult it was to move around. With the rear stand extended and gripping the desk, users essentially had to pick the machine up and physically turn it. Now, a small wheel sits at the bottom of the stand and makes turning the machine from side to side pretty easy.
The front of the TouchSmart 600 is taken up by the bright 23-inch display. Capable of two-finger multitouch, the screen offers up a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, making it suitable for watching 1080p HD content, whether downloaded or via the slot-loading Blu-ray optical drive. The bottom of the front is a speakerbar which, surprisingly, is capable of pretty good sound quality. Given the media-centric intentions of the TouchSmart, it’s a welcome if unexpected addition. Right above the speakers is a strip of LED lights that users can configure within Windows to be any color of the rainbow. If you move your finger along the color selection screen fast enough, it can even be the lighting for a rave.
The only other feature on the front is a TouchSmart button that activates the custom touch-oriented user interface. In the last generation this was a capacitive touch button, but this time around it’s a physical button you can actually press. It may not look quite as snazzy, but it’s a much better option in terms of performance. All the rest of the ports and inputs for the machine are relegated to sides, providing a nice, clean interface. On the right side of the machine are the power button, brightness switch, card reader and FireWire port. There’s also the slot-loading optical drive, which is set further back and into the side of the machine. It works well enough, but it can sometimes leave you flailing wildly with a disc as you sit in front of the computer.
The left side features a switch that controls the brightness of the LED strip along the bottom, two USB2.0 ports and a headphone and microphone jack. Pulling off the black plastic shield unhides a number of additional connection options. There are line-in and line-out jacks, digital audio out, coaxial in for the TV tuner, S-video out, Gigabit Ethernet and three more USB ports. It would have been nice if HP had included more USB ports on the side of the machine instead of hiding them beneath this panel. At the top are the video inputs for using the machine as an auxiliary display; there is HDMI and composite (no component, sorry) as well as a switch for moving between the two inputs and the internal computer. You can also change inputs via the included remote control. Besides the smaller screen, this video-in capability is one of the things that sets the TouchSmart 600 apart from the TouchSmart 300.
There’s little in the rear of the machine except for the stand and requisite power cable. There is a USB port, but it’s designed to fit the wireless dongle for the keyboard and mouse; the whole thing slots up into the machine. The stand is removable by first taking off the plastic shield, then unscrewing the screws beneath. Taking the cover off reveals the storage and memory, both user accessible without voiding the warranty from HP. There are two slots for RAM, currently taken up by 2x2GB SODIMMs; a maximum of 2x4GB SODIMMs for a total of 8GB of memory is possible. The hard drive is fortunately taken up by a full-on desktop hard drive instead of a 2.5-inch unit. That means that you can add in a big, fast hard drive with lots of storage, or a small blazingly fast solid state drive that doesn’t fit quite as much content. That’s about all that’s easily accessible on the inside of the computer; even if you take out just about every screw you can find, you won’t have an easy time taking it apart.
As stated above, the display is 23 inches diagonally, featuring a full 1080p resolution. It offers HP’s “BrightView Technology”, which is largely a fancy way of saying, hey, it’s glossy. Still, the screen was sharp and vibrant, and viewing angles while not outstanding were more than acceptable.