HP TouchSmart IQ770 PC review
In fact, for the most part, HP sees people using the TouchSmart as a “screen” rather than a PC – the high-quality wireless mouse and keyboard can be neatly tucked away, and the screen can be angled to be comfortably accessible from a standing position. For watching TV or a DVD, the screen will move straight on, and you can retire to a more comfortable spot with the Media Center remote. For playing music or listening to the radio, there’s a keyboard button combination for turning off the screen, although we’d like to see a hardware switch on the unit itself. There are plenty of other buttons on the chassis, including volume and transport controls. The speakers are good too – expect the same quality as with a TV.
The inside story
As is often the case with integrated PCs, the insides are a mix of what would normally be considered desktop and notebook components. The Turion 64 X2 TL-52 is the prime sacrifice to the gods of cool and quiet running, but it isn’t so much of a compromise when you look at its performance. It’s a dual-core CPU running at a healthy 1.6GHz, and HP has sensibly opted for 2GB of RAM, leaving everything very responsive. An overall benchmark score of 0.94 won’t make any headlines, but it’s frankly enough to not have to think about it. The Nvidia GeForce Go 7600 graphics chip is similarly modest, but will handle most recent games at basic settings, averaging 36fps in our easiest Far Cry test, for example.
Everything else is as it should be: built-in 802.11a/b/g, Bluetooth, RF and infrared leave no cables trailing; the slot-loading all-format DVD writer (which also comes with LightScribe) is similarly tidy, albeit not high definition or easily upgraded. There’s Gigabit Ethernet, a healthy six USB ports, both mini- and full-size FireWire, and even a 1.3-megapixel webcam and a microphone integrated into the bezel. On the right-hand side, there’s a slot for one of HP’s Personal Media drives – essentially a hot-swappable hard disk that can boost or complement the already sizeable 320GB internal disk.
The attention to detail is incredibly satisfying. From the (patronisingly named) Connection Center on the front to the position of the infrared detector, there’s great design throughout. Another nice detail is the area behind the screen that can be utilised for a compact photo printer – there’s a proprietary DC power connector for one of HP’s Photosmart printers built into the back, so you still need only one AC cable to turn the IQ770 into a fully functioning photo booth.
Build quality is also exceptional. HP envisages this PC being put in people’s kitchens, and the sealed base (which can still be opened to upgrade the hard disk or RAM) provides reassuring protection against dust and spillages. The base is also artificially heavy; at 21kg, it’s all but impossible to knock this PC over.
We do have a few complaints. The single TV tuner means you’ll sometimes run into technical limitations when you want to handle more than one broadcast, although it isn’t a huge issue unless you’re using this as your main TV; more disappointing is the omission of an FM radio from the UK model. We’d also like to see fold-down feet for the otherwise excellent keyboard, and for such a non-user-serviceable unit we’d definitely like more than the uninspiring one-year, collect-and-return warranty.
Our gripes are rather churlish at this price, though: you can add another TV tuner over USB for less than £50 and extend the warranty if you wish – a two-year extension costs around £70. Considering the superb design, flexibility and desirability of this PC, we can see many people being tempted. If its currently unique capabilities will fit happily into your lifestyle, go for it – just beware the relative lack of upgradability and modest computing power.