OhGizmo! Review and Giveaway: The HP Touchsmart 600-1055, Part 1

OhGizmo! Review and Giveaway: The HP Touchsmart 600-1055, Part 1

HP-TouchSmart600-angle-big

By David Ponce

HP was kind enough to send us an HP Touchsmart 600-1055 to review. They asked us to determine whether their offering could become an “Entertainment Hub”. It’s a lofty goal, one that’s shared by pretty much anyone these days. Microsoft and Sony certainly are trying hard with their Xbox and PS3, but HP’s approach is different. These were their exact words:

[We’d like you] to see if the TouchSmart PC is deserving of being called an “Entertainment Hub.” In addition to serving as a touch-enabled desktop PC, the TouchSmart can stand in place of several entertainment devices like a DVD player, TV, Blu-Ray Player, etc. It also has an HD widescreen display, TV Tuner, game console connectivity and several new built-for-touch applications from Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Rhapsody and more.

In order to do this, we’re going to split up this review into three pieces. Today, we look at the Touchsmart 600 being used as a TV/PVR, in Part 2 as a DVD/BluRay player and Part 3 as a CD/Digital Music Player/Stereo player.

Don’t feel like reading or watching my video? No problem, here’s the verdict: as a TV to play Xbox in HD on, without HDMI? Not so much. As a TV and a PVR? Absolutely.

Read on for all the details and to find out how to win your own!

HPTouchSmart600-back

First, a few words about the hardware itself. The Touchsmart 600 is an all-in-one with a FullHD 23 inch capacitive touchscreen. This particular model has an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P7450, 4GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive. Check the links below for a PDF with all the specs.

The build is solid and appealing. In front you have two stainless steel legs and a rear stand with a rubber pivot that makes swiveling the entire device left and right easier. On the right you have the slot-loading BluRay drive as well as a volume rocker and a multimedia card reader. On the left, behind a plastic panel, you have connections. Relevant to the TV/PVR question, you have S-Video, Cable, HDMI and composite inputs… But no component! So as an owner of a non-Elite Xbox, I was unable to play it in high-definition, being left with no component inputs to connect it with. While there are plenty of consoles out there with HDMI, there’s a good chunk without and the omission of component inputs was a bit of a disappointment.

The front facing speakers sound great (more on that in the music review), the included low profile keyboard is adequate and looks appealing, while the mouse is a generic HP-branded optical mouse. Rounding out the important features, you have a center-mounted adjustable webcam on the top bezel, which swivels up or down through a back mounted switch.

touchsmart 600 side

Does it work as a PVR?

So… How does it fare as a TV/PVR? To access this feature, you have to launch the Touchsmart suite of applications. This is the heart of this PC and is what makes it possible to use its touch interface. Without it, you’d have Windows 7. Whatever anyone tells you, like any previous version of Windows, it wasn’t really designed with touch use in mind. Fingers are just too darn big for whatever you might try to do. The Touchsmart suite fixes that. It creates an environment that sits on top of Windows and “touch-enables” its functionality. That said, it has some design flaws that aren’t really important, but indicative of a lack of design consistency. For instance, when setting up the TV tuner card, one is presented with a drop-down list of residence countries. Since you’re in the Touchsmart suite of applications at this moment, you’re fully expecting to be able to do everything with your fingers… Expect it’s impossible to scroll this list without using the mouse. Flicking up or down does nothing except choose a country you don’t actually reside in. Weird, but not that hard to fix in an update (reading this, HP?).

Once setup, the tuner card will scan for available channels. When done, you’re presented with a list of stations, which you can select by simply touching. When selected, a preview of that channel will pop up on the top right. If you want to watch, touch the preview and maximize the image. The rest is standard PVR functionality. Pause live TV, fast forward to Live (pleasantly, there is a scroll button that allows you to choose the exact spot you’d want to forward to) or press the record button and… record. Once recorded, your clip (or full show, or whatever) can be accessed under the Recordings tab. Everything works as you’d expect from a personal video recorder and the interface is intuitive enough that you don’t get lost.

A side note. I don’t have cable. Being online at all times, I see no use for it. So I connected the Touchsmart 600 (and its integrated Tuner card) to an old fashioned wire antenna. Yeah, we still have analog up here. But one downside of this setup is that I was unable to configure the Electronic Program Guide. Had I done so, I’m assuming I’d have been able to schedule a recording in advance. This is something I did not try, but assume it works.

So, to conclude, the Touchsmart 600-1055 works just fine as a TV or a Personal Video Recorder. If you’re lucky enough to own a console with HDMI output, you can play games no problem. Own an Xbox without it? Get used to SDtv…

And it will pause and record live TV just fine.

Pros (Part 1):
+ Will record and pause live TV.
+ Integrated HDTV Tuner card.
+ Touch interface works great for this purpose

Cons (Part 1):
– Does not come with component inputs
– Minor software design inconsistencies

How do you win your own?
Alright, so HP’s giving one of these away to our readers. It’s the same one we’ve been reviewing: The HP Touchsmart 600-1055, valued at $1,500 (full specs in PDF below). To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, or any of the follow up articles. It’s open to Canada and the US. And it will end 48 hours after we post Part 3 of this review. So keep your eyes peeled, and comment away.

Oh and if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer. And yes, this counts as entering.

[ Touchsmart 600 Specs (Warning, PDF) ]

200 thoughts on “OhGizmo! Review and Giveaway: The HP Touchsmart 600-1055, Part 1”

  1. Insofar as it is a TV, is watching internet tv an easy process? It seems that it would given the keyboard, but that would seem to defeat the point of the touch screen. Which is also to ask, if you have a mouse and a keyboard, why would one bother reaching one's hand up to touch the screen?
    As a request for the next part of the review, I hope you can address weather it is possible to record/rip movies (that one presumably owns) onto the hard drive. Thanks.

  2. As a TV, I wondering how well it works for watching internet TV. It seems like one would need the keyboard and mouse to do so effectively, but that begs the question, why have the touch screen if one is going to have a mouse. To me, it seems that at no point other than possibly the music player I would want to touch my screen over using a remote mouse or keyboard. Furthermore, if one's using the device as an all in one screen, why would one want to be continuously smudging it? Which is to say, other than novelty, why the touch screen?
    On a different note, it would be appreciated that if the next part of the review covers how well if at all it is able to record/rip movies (that one presumably owns) onto the hard drive. Thanks.

  3. The thing doesn't look too interesting for my taste, probably just becuase I don't watch TV on a TV.

    Perhaps it'll stop my sister from whining about getting a new computer though >.>

  4. nice and ambitious thats for sure. I've always liked having a media-pc hooked up to my TV. Traditional channel surfing is just so…limited.

    Downside: My wife HATES it when I touch a monitor to point at things. Having a touchscreen would be interesting to get used to (for her, I'd probably love it).

  5. This is defiantly a forward thinking product since the lines between TV and PC are starting to blur and some people like me are canceling their cable and going all streaming content. The merge between PC, HDTV and Touch Screen is an awesome combination. The specs you listed are fairly decent and your cons, in my eyes, easily overlooked. I am already using my PS3 and PC together as a media server it would be nice to have a product like this the take out the middle man.

  6. I've got the previous 22″ version without HDMI in and Blu Ray. I really love it. Most of Windows 7 is pretty touchable, and Windows Media Center definitely works well with touch. I really wish my version had the VESA wall mount that the new version has. The off angle (vertical) viewing was not so good, so if I try to lie down and watch it's difficult since you can't angle the screen down.

  7. Awesome review. We have satellite w/ DVR that works awesomely. But the fact that this is touchscreen is very cool. I would love to have this for my daughter as she's all kinds of hands on.

    I agree that not have component input is a flaw but I guess those are being pushed out of the way. 🙁

  8. I would love one, but I never win things. Except when I was in middle school and I won a boombox from Diamond Jim's arcade. That was such an awesome summer.

  9. How does the screen fare against fingerprints? I have no experience w/touchscreen monitors, but I would think the constant touching would leave smudges interfering with viewing.

  10. Wow, would be great addition to my entertainment area. What an awesome giveaway. Count me in. Does it support HDMI out by any chance? Would bre great if I could output blueray movies and other video to my 47 inch tv. If not it sounds like it would be great for streaming media to my 360 or other devices anyways.

  11. Bring on the other reviews! can't keep waiting! If i don't win it I will keep earning to maybe getting this since it's a little out my budget, I would also like to know against which ones it competes

  12. I have a later version and I absolutely love it. It spends the camping season in our camper and the winters at home. I am looking forward to see if the newest one is just as good.

  13. I've received the previous 22″ version without HDMI in and Blu-ray for my birthday last year. I absolutely love it and is looking forward to seeing if the newer one is just as good.

  14. I'm sold, good review. I think that the inconsistencies in the software, while fixable, would be annoying if you are going back and forth between the mouse and the touch screen. However it doesn't seem like it is a major problem. Thanks OhGizmo

  15. The review was very interesting. Video was easy to watch and follow. Thank you for a great review, I look forward to the other two. How much can you run at the same time before it slows?

  16. One of these would be awesome! The integrated HD tuner card is a nice addition, but I want to see the review on the BluRay player. Can you give us a little heads up on the audio outputs? Is there an output other than headphones for external speakers and/or surround sound systems?

  17. Form meets function, I'd be very happy with one of these.
    Hopefully there's some sort of easy adapter to add a component input…

  18. My boyfriend and I would make so much use out of this beast! It certainly seems as though it is “deserving of being called an “Entertainment Hub.”” This is one impressive HP!

  19. wow. i've seen a few of the touchscreens like this in stores, and they have me actually considering moving away from my beloved macs. hopefully, i'll win one so i won't have to pay to do so. 😉

  20. Form meets function, I've never really considered a touch screen all that useful, but for a media server, it would be great, and fit very nicely in my kitchen also.

  21. Who needs a mouse when touch screen is the new thing? Anyway, my boyfriend and I would get so much use out of this beast! What a seemingly impressive HP.

  22. Having an HP tablet, I know the inconsistencies with the touch interface. All-in-all, I’m very curious about having touch capability on a desktop computer.

  23. Ooooh….I want to win it!!!! I've built my own HTPCs since the first ATI All-In-One video cards in the late 1990s. I've tried everything (from a built your own standpoint) with Windows, Linux, and Mac and none are easy to use.

  24. Looks good. I doubt if the touchscreen is a great addition for the size of the screen. Does it have a remote? I think Lenovo cracked it with an air mouse. That will definitely make it a full-fledged PVR.

  25. Don't trust HP anymore. 🙁 $1500 laptop serviced twice for bad GPU, they won't fix bump in middle of keyboard, two big dead pixels and noisy DVD drive (still has warranty). My HP Slimline HDD died after 13 months and a month later the GPU fan got super loud! No extended warranty.

    This prize is going to batting practice with me!

  26. How is the interface and control between the touchsmart sweet and other applications? Like being able to control what pictures show up from the broader system in the touchsmart, or syncing calendars etc.

  27. How well does the integration and control between the touchsmart suite and windows? As in being able to control what pictures show up, how music is grouped, how the calendar syncs etc.

  28. Great review so far!

    Looks like a solid machine overall. Large touchscreen would be a big plus – good for kids as well as computer shy individuals. Could be more easier to operate – if you can point, you got it made. Good for the beginner as well as the tech savvy.

    Elegant styling meets practical usability. Would love to have one of these around the house.

    I can see it now – after I setup up, will impress the wife.

    Me: Check this out!
    Wife: Oh honey, its so big!
    Me: It gets better baby, go on touch it!
    Wife: Touch it?
    Me: Yup, touch it here and here. See, not so bad.
    Wife: Wow! Its so easy!
    Me: You got it baby! I think I'll let you drive for now.

    OK – get your minds out of the gutter people!

  29. I'm not sure whether the screen is oleophobic, or what the deal is, but the fingerprints don't bother me much. There are some, but not as much as you'd expect.

  30. No HDMI out. And that's something that I'll address in my coming reviews. It's a problem, in my opinion, but kind of understandable given the intended use of this PC.

  31. There is an audio output for other sounds systems, aside from headphones. Not sure if it's SPDIF or what, but I'll address that in one of the other two reviews.

  32. While this wasn't the focus of this review, I have to say the integration is adequate. It takes some getting used to, but everything works as it should. More on that later.

  33. So pretty…. I really want :

    I’m a mac guy, but I’d really be willing to make an exception.

    I also wouldn’t have to use bootcamp to game or test out sites on pc.

  34. Nice little product… not too sure about dismissing all other media devices, but probably worth “adding to the collection” ; )

  35. Hmm, the touchsmart looks excellent. Can't wait for the other portions of the review.
    I might actually buy a prebuilt for the first time in years if it's as good as it sounds.

  36. This looks like a decent computer for a den or kitchen. With a 23 inch screen it is kind of small for the center of an entertainment center. My kids would love the touch screen

  37. Im not really sold on the touch screen at all. I really do not see the need for it when you have an adequate keyboard and a decent mouse. As for the rest of the set up I like it a lot. I personally eat cheetos and my keyboard is orange from it. Not good with a touch screen. I still want it. It is 10 x better than my current computer. I will be checking back. THanks for an honest review.

  38. I think could fit a very big niche in the market. i llok forward to it and hope I don't have to wait very much longer. Especially if I can win it.

  39. Another example of positive convergence. I'm glad to see HP leading the way. This will be one to watch (and hopefully play with).

  40. Thats one sexy looking AIO, but for $1200 I'd rather buy a 32″ LCD and build an HTPC. It would make a nice kitchen computer as others have said, but only if you had a sealed keyboard……I'd be happy to win one though.

  41. Ya know, everyone and their brother is going on and on and on about the IPad- I am a PC and always have been, I follow HP on Twitter, and they sent me over. This is an awesome machine.
    At almost 50, I have been with HP since their beginning. They are reliable, and also easy to set up and operate.
    I also actually prefer a desktop- thats all I have ever owned!
    Thanks for the chance, will be watching for rest of reviews.

  42. i saw them use this computer on a recent episode of project runway- how well does it work from a design point of view?- aka how sensitive is the screen when you're drawing?

  43. My dad has a version of these touchsmarts that’s about a year old. One thing I have to say is that the display on these is beautiful, almost rivals a mac’s. However, the touch can be a little off on his. He had to send it back once under warranty to get the touch to work at all, and even then at the edges of the screen it’s not perfect. Hopefully HP’s addressed this with the new model…

  44. I would love this desktop! I love HP's products, i have a Hp laptop with Windows 7 Home, and I'm constantly on it. My laptop allows me to organize my pictures, videos, and my beloved music! Team HP!

  45. I would love to own/win one of these, but I find the omission of component inputs VERY disappointing. I know it's where we're headed, but it's not obsolete yet!

  46. This computer is pretty interesting to me. My friend has the first generation computer, and it's a blast to use on Windows7, I played with this one at a Bestbuy and I noticed it ran alot smoother. This is on my list of stuff to buy, but its not top priority.

  47. Would LOVE to have this PC, & you didn't touch on the “Touch Screen” capabilities (no pun) and you didn't mention the best thing..HP Customer Service is the Best in the industry, as far as I am concerned!

  48. How far away can you sit from the screen and still have a clear picture? Also, how is the build in sound?

    Blessings & Peace,
    Hugo

  49. Oh, I would love one of these! I also have no cable, and I have a pretty makeshift setup that connects the tiny tv in my bedroom to my main computer for Hulu-viewing. It leads to an awful lot of walking between rooms, though. Being able to actually just turn it on and watch tv or turn it off and go to sleep without a dozen intervening steps would be wonderful. Hopefully, I get the win on this one!

  50. That sounds cool that it can be all these different devices. I'm kind of interested in how it holds as BOTH a DVD and Blueray player…

  51. Clean and simple pros and cons at the end are nice. I have seen it in stores and have played around with it, it is a very cool machine! The toughest decision you have to make if you get one is – where to put it?

  52. The physical design does look quite sleek, and the keyboard illumination is especially neat.

    However, I do think this TouchSmart tries to cram in too many features. With the design of the screen, how it sits slightly upward tilting and has touch capability, it seems best placed on a desk and to be used sitting a foot or two away. I think it would be great as a PC, but I wouldn't want to watch TV or play games that close up.

  53. The physical design does look quite sleek, and the keyboard illumination is especially neat.

    However, I do think this TouchSmart tries to cram in too many features. With the design of the screen, how it sits slightly upward tilting and has touch capability, it seems best placed on a desk and to be used sitting a foot or two away. I think it would be great as a PC, but I wouldn't want to watch TV or play games that close up.

Comments are closed.