HP TouchSmart 520 review
HP was an early champion of the touchscreen all-in-one, with its first TouchSmart model appearing in PC Pro back in 2007. These days, though, the all-in-one market is largely dominated by the Apple iMac, and HP, Sony and the rest will be hoping Windows 8’s touch-focused revamp will provide a boost to popularity when it arrives later in the year.
Until then, HP is concentrating on doing up its own touch software. The TouchSmart 520 features a new tablet-influenced front-end, dubbed Magic Canvas, which relocates the familiar carousel of icons from the middle to the bottom of the 23in screen, with the bulk taken up by Android-style horizontally scrolling homescreens.
Those screens are decorated with the usual touchscreen all-in-one notes, doodles and graphics, and all of your standard desktop files and shortcuts are also reproduced ready for tapping on the Magic Canvas. The Carousel hosts a range of familiar music and video playback tools and a photo organiser, along with links to touch-optimised Facebook and Twitter clients.
The Magic Canvas and its apps are all perfectly competent, and it rarely stutters or slows down in use, but there’s little here that we haven’t seen on a slew of touchscreen systems in the past. There’s also no sign of the kind of apps that we’d like to see on these do-it-all PCs, such as Netflix or other streaming media services – although that’s hardly a criticism we’d level solely at HP. Generally, we still prefer Sony’s touch software, which is smoother and comes with both touch media controls and webcam-based gesture control.
The HP’s glossy 23in, 1,920 x 1,080 panel is as responsive and accurate as any touchscreen we’ve used, and it’s also clean and sharp to look at. An average Delta E figure of 5.1 means colours are pretty accurate, but neither the measured contrast ratio of 825:1 nor the 225.7cd/m2 brightness really jumps out. Images therefore lack the punch and vibrancy of the best we’ve seen from Sony or Apple.
Inside, the Core i3-2120 is low on Intel’s CPU roster, but its pair of Hyper-Threaded 3.3GHz cores ensures it’s got the power to cope with everyday applications. It scored a reasonable 0.7 in our Real World Benchmarks, not at all bad for an all-in-one.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Total hard disk capacity||1,000GB|
|CPU family||Intel Core i3|
|CPU nominal frequency||3.30GHz|
|Processor socket||LGA 1155|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Memory sockets free||0|
|Memory sockets total||2|
|Graphics card||Intel HD 2000|
|Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?||no|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD 2000|
|Number of graphics cards||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||931GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Speaker type||HP Beats Audio|
|Peripherals||Wireless keyboard & mouse, remote control|
|Dimensions||580 x 217 x 457mm (WDH)|
|USB ports (downstream)||4|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|Front panel USB ports||2|
|Front panel memory card reader||yes|
Mouse & Keyboard
|Mouse and keyboard||HP wireless keyboard and mouse|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Software supplied||HP Magic Canvas|
Noise and power
|Idle power consumption||49W|
|Peak power consumption||82W|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||24fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.70|