HP Touchsmart 520 review: HP Touchsmart 520

For other inputs, the TouchSmart 520-1050y has the usual assortment of older USB 2.0 and analog audio jacks. The one standout hardware feature other than USB 3.0 on this system is its TV tuner. Not that TV tuners are all that exotic, but it at least gives you one point of interactivity with the non-PC-based media world.

The only other factor of the TouchSmart 520-1050y that might draw you in is HP's TouchSmart 5.0 touch software suite. HP has put more resources into the PC-based touch experience than any other vendor, and it shows in the overall polish and breadth of its software.

The newest version of the TouchSmart Suite is no longer a standalone software environment: it now serves as the background to your main Windows desktop when you launch the TouchSmart Magic Canvas application. The resulting experience can be cluttered if you "pin" a lot of virtual notes to the screen alongside your standard desktop icons, but if you primarily want to use this as a touch-driven entertainment center, you will likely forgive the visual mess thanks to the polished look and feel of the HP touch experience. The 12 touch-specific programs for media viewing, Web browsing, and the like don't hurt, either.

Juice box
HP TouchSmart 520-1050y Average watts/hour
Off (watts) 1.08
Sleep (watts) 1.84
Idle (watts) 24.52
Load (watts) 84.35
Raw (annual kWh) 118.13
Energy Star-compliant Yes
Annual power consumption cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $13.41

Annual power consumption cost
HP TouchSmart 520-1050y (Core i5-2400S, fall 2011)
Dell Inspiron One 2320 (Core i5-2400S, fall 2011)

Along with this PC's solid performance, HP also deserves kudos for its power efficiency. The TouchSmart 520-1050y outperformed the Samsung Series 7 all-in-one on almost every test, and it used less power. We're only talking an annual difference of about $3, or about 25 cents a month. Not much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, but $3 will get you a cup of coffee and a bagel from a New York food truck, for which on some mornings I'd gladly pay twice as much.

HP includes a basic one-year parts and labor warranty with the TouchSmart 520-1050y. You also get 24-7 toll-free phone support and a variety of support resources available on HP's Web site, as well as on the system itself.

I've criticized HP many times in the past for its confusing product lineup, with multiple versions of each core model, and, as we found here, inconsistencies between online and retail pricing and value. The TouchSmart 520-1050y is not a bad computer, and it's even mostly competitive next to similar all-in-ones in its price range. But simple math dictates that I can't recommend this retail-only model when you can find the exact same configuration on HP.com for $50 less.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Apple iMac 21.5-inch (Spring 2011)
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.7; 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2400; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB AMD Radeon HD 6750 graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive

Dell Inspiron One 2320 (fall 2011)
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-2400s; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 525M graphics card; 2TB 7,200rpm hard drive

HP TouchSmart 520-1050y (fall 2011)
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2400; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Intel HD Graphics 1000; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

HP TouchSmart 520xt (fall 2011)
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600s; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6450A graphics card; 2TB 5,400rpm hard drive

Lenovo IdeaCentre B520 (summer 2011)
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 555 graphics card; 2TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Samsung Series 7 All-in-one (fall 2011)
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-2390T; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Intel HD Graphics 1000 embedded graphics; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Toshiba DX735-D3201 (fall 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-2430M; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Embedded Intel HD Graphics 3000; 1TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive

What you'll pay

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    Quick Specifications See All

    • Release date Nov 1, 2011
    • Video Memory 1 GB
    • Graphics Processor AMD Radeon HD 6450A
    • OS Provided Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition
    • Monitor Type LCD
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