HP TouchSmart 520 review: HP TouchSmart 520

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

4 stars 2 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Decent size and performance for the price. Beats Audio does enhance the sound experience.

The Bad No Bluetooth. Failure to innovate in the touch space. Infrared technology means multi-touch is skittish. Magic Canvas interface is laggy when using touch.

The Bottom Line The TouchSmart 520 doesn't achieve anything that TouchSmarts before it haven't already. Still, unimpressive touch capability aside, it makes a decent all-in-one touch product worth checking out if the size and price fit your needs.

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The TouchSmart series, in our view, has been a laggard for a few generations now; it's an opportunity that continues to be missed. Still, it holds interest for a specialised group of people, and HP continues to beaver away at its all-in-one touch product.

The 23-inch, 1920x1080 TouchSmart 520 does away with the ability to lean almost entirely flat in table mode, and instead instigates a base with a huge footprint. The first thought is that it's entirely too huge, but then you notice that you'd take up the same space by adjusting the monitor tilt anyway, proving that a smaller stand would just be an illusion.

The included keyboard isn't great and the mouse is only passable, but this is de rigueur for bundled kits, it seems. HP's Magic Canvas software, which replaces the Windows Desktop with a touchable, swipe-able home screen, now appears as a continuous desktop rather than distinct screens to swipe between. We've criticised HP in the past for having a laggy interface, something that's simply not acceptable in a post-iPhone world, and the same is true here again.

What's different, though, is that we've discovered that the lag is entirely touch-induced, and not related to hardware acceleration as previously thought. Navigate Magic Canvas by mouse, and it's as smooth as churned milk. Start using your finger, and things begin stuttering and lagging all about the place. We're unsure if this is a problem with HP's software, or if it's the infrared technology used to detect touch that's causing the skittishness.

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Where to Buy

HP TouchSmart 520

Part Number: CNETHP TouchSmart 520

Typical Price: $1,599.00

See manufacturer website for availability.