HP TouchSmart IQ500 review
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.
|Warranty||1 year(s) return to base|
|Total hard disk capacity||500|
|CPU family||Intel Core 2 Duo|
|CPU nominal frequency||2.16GHz|
|CPU overclocked frequency||N/A|
|Processor socket||Socket P|
|Conventional PCI slots free||0|
|Conventional PCI slots total||0|
|PCI-E x16 slots free||0|
|PCI-E x16 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x8 slots free||0|
|PCI-E x8 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x4 slots free||0|
|PCI-E x4 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x1 slots free||0|
|PCI-E x1 slots total||0|
|3D performance setting||High|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce 9600M GS|
|Graphics card RAM||256MB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Hard disk usable capacity||500GB|
|Hard disk 2 make and model||N/A|
|Hard disk 2 nominal capacity||N/A|
|Hard disk 2 formatted capacity||N/A|
|Hard disk 2 spindle speed||N/A|
|Hard disk 2 cache size||N/A|
|Hard disk 3 make and model||N/A|
|Hard disk 3 nominal capacity||N/A|
|Hard disk 4 make and model||N/A|
|Hard disk 4 nominal capacity||N/A|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Optical disk 2 make and model||N/A|
|Optical disk 3 make and model||N/A|
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,680|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,050|
|Resolution||1680 x 1050|
|Dimensions||535 x 84 x 442mm (WDH)|
Free drive bays
|Free front panel 5.25in bays||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||5|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|Front panel USB ports||5|
|Front panel FireWire ports||1|
|Front panel memory card reader||yes|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Windows Vista|
Noise and power
|Idle power consumption||69W|
|Peak power consumption||101W|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.06|
|Office application benchmark score||1.00|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||1.19|
|Encoding application benchmark score||1.03|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||1.02|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||0fps|
|3D performance setting||High|