HP TouchSmart IQ500 review

Price when reviewed

Lifestyle PCs tend to follow similar designs: a bright, high-quality screen, decent mobile components and bags of style. That’s the pattern followed by the Sony VAIO VGC-LT2S and the A-Listed Dell XPS One.

But HP’s latest venture adds something distinctive to the mix. As the name suggests, the TouchSmart IQ500 comes with a touchscreen – something we haven’t seen in a desktop PC since the IQ500’s predecessor, the IQ770.

To make the most of this, the IQ500 uses HP’s proprietary TouchSmart software. Double-tap the TouchSmart icon and the Vista desktop is replaced by a front-end not unlike Windows Media Center. Its finger-friendly, super-sized icons are easy to use, and we were soon prodding, dragging and tapping away.

By swiping our fingers left and right across the screen we were able to scroll through a horizontal menu with links to games, movies, our music collection, websites and RSS feeds. This can be customised with any program, website or RSS feed you care to add – for each new item a ’tile’ is added to the menu.

Delve more deeply into the interface and further options are present. Music can be collated into playlists, and pictures touched up with basic editing: one button corrects red-eye while another launches crop and rotate tools.

All is not entirely rosy, however. The touchscreen isn’t as accurate as we’d like, and it’s difficult to select tiny taskbar items or links on web pages. It’s clear the TouchSmart’s oversized icons are large out of necessity: when working in Windows applications, we reverted to using the mouse. Just note the keyboard can’t easily be used on your lap; unlike the keyboard that comes with Dell’s superb XPS One, it has no built-in trackpad or media-specific controls.

The display is superb. The 22in panel produces bright, punchy colours, and the native resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 makes high-detail areas appear clear and sharp. It feels suitably tough, too, and we also applaud the small grip on the bottom of the rear stand, so it won’t slide across the table when you press the screen.

The left side of the IQ500 offers a decent selection of ports and sockets: you get five USB ports and several media-friendly sockets, including audio jacks, an S/PDIF output and S-Video out socket. There’s also a Gigabit Ethernet port, for those who have no use for the built-in 802.11bg, and draft-n wireless networking. On the right-hand side is a slot-loading DVD writer, a 4-in-1 card reader and a mini-FireWire socket, as well as a volume control and mute button. Finally, there’s a small light to illuminate the keyboard and mouse when they’re close to the main unit.


The internal components are mainly mobile parts, helping to ensure quiet operation. Thankfully, the 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo T5850, coupled with 4GB of RAM, is powerful enough to handle 64-bit Vista Home Premium and the sort of tasks expected of it: in our 2D benchmarks, the IQ500 achieved a respectable 1.06. Its GeForce 9300M graphics chip isn’t up to serious 3D gaming, but that’s not what the IQ500 is intended for.

Decent speakers are dotted around the IQ500 – two on the front provide crisp treble, while a subwoofer on the rear provides surprisingly powerful bass, which really helps when watching movies or music. There’s also a hybrid tuner supporting both analogue and Freeview digital TV signals, enabling you to watch programmes and record them onto the generous 500GB hard disk. It’s only a single-tuner card, though; you can’t watch one channel while recording another. The one other thing the IQ500 conspicuously lacks is a Blu-ray drive.


Warranty1 year(s) return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity500
RAM capacity4.00GB
Screen size22.0in


CPU familyIntel Core 2 Duo
CPU nominal frequency2.16GHz
CPU overclocked frequencyN/A
Processor socketSocket P


Conventional PCI slots free0
Conventional PCI slots total0
PCI-E x16 slots free0
PCI-E x16 slots total0
PCI-E x8 slots free0
PCI-E x8 slots total0
PCI-E x4 slots free0
PCI-E x4 slots total0
PCI-E x1 slots free0
PCI-E x1 slots total0


Memory typeDDR2

Graphics card

3D performance settingHigh
Graphics chipsetNvidia GeForce 9600M GS
Graphics card RAM256MB
DVI-I outputs0
HDMI outputs0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Hard disk

Hard disk usable capacity500GB
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Hard disk 2 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacityN/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacityN/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speedN/A
Hard disk 2 cache sizeN/A
Hard disk 3 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacityN/A
Hard disk 4 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacityN/A


Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and modelN/A
Optical disk 3 make and modelN/A


Resolution screen horizontal1,680
Resolution screen vertical1,050
Resolution1680 x 1050
DVI inputs0
HDMI inputs0
VGA inputs0
DisplayPort inputs0

Additional Peripherals

Speaker type5.1


Case formatAll-in-one
Dimensions535 x 84 x 442mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)5
FireWire ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
3.5mm audio jacks2

Front ports

Front panel USB ports5
Front panel FireWire ports1
Front panel memory card readeryes

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows Vista

Noise and power

Idle power consumption69W
Peak power consumption101W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score1.06
Office application benchmark score1.00
2D graphics application benchmark score1.19
Encoding application benchmark score1.03
Multitasking application benchmark score1.02
3D performance (crysis) low settings0fps
3D performance settingHigh

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