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HP TouchSmart 300-1020 review: HP TouchSmart 300-1020

HP TouchSmart 300-1020

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home | Windows PCs | Cooking (sometimes) | Woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
6 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our 2009 Retail Laptop and Desktop Holiday Roundup, which covers specific fixed configurations of popular systems found in retail stores.


HP TouchSmart 300-1020

The Good

Strong touch-based recipe software, attractive and capable enough as a small-scale home entertainment device.

The Bad

Other all-in-one PCs in its price range have larger screens; missing a few features we liked about the higher-end TouchSmart 600; outperformed by cheaper midtower desktops.

The Bottom Line

With a small screen for its price, we can't justify the TouchSmart 300 as a home entertainment all-in-one PC. It's also slower than more affordable midtowers, so you can spend less for more productivity. This leaves HP's touch-based software as the TouchSmart 300's primary selling point. We'd recommend this PC in the kitchen, but it's less appealing elsewhere.

HP's TouchSmart 600 was one of our favorite new PCs this fall because of its abundance of useful features. We're more ambivalent about HP's lower-end TouchSmart 300-1020. This $899 touch-screen all-in-one PC offers decent performance, but it has a smaller screen and lacks the impressive features of the higher-end TouchSmart. Its compelling recipe organization software may appeal to those looking for a kitchen PC, but you can do better than the TouchSmart 300-1020's 20-inch screen at this price for home entertainment, and you're far better off with a traditional desktop for general purpose productivity.

The TouchSmart 300-1020 is a fixed configuration model available at retail stores. HP offers a few other preconfigured TouchSmart 300s, as well as a fully customizable version of it on its Web site. Between the various models, you'll find variations in the CPU, memory, hard-drive capacity, and other features; however, all share a 20-inch touch screen, wireless networking, a built-in, adjustable Webcam, and HP's own suite of touch-friendly software.

Though the TouchSmart 300-1020 is attractive enough to display anywhere, it's probably best suited in the kitchen as a recipe organizer or multimedia companion. You can read our review of the HP TouchSmart 600 for our complete impressions of HP's touch input-based Recipe Box software for grabbing recipes off the Web and organizing them to use later. We'll simply say here that the Recipe Box software is perhaps the best feature of the TouchSmart 300-1020, and technology-minded chef's will likely come to rely on it.

We also like the TouchSmart 300 as a kitchen PC for watching video or playing music because of its relatively small size. At 21.5 inches wide by 8 inches deep (with the stand fully extended) by 16 inches high, it will fit on more countertops than the larger, higher-end TouchSmart 600. However, it really only gets that recommendation because of the Recipe Box software. If you don't want a PC to help you cook but are simply in the market for a Windows-based kitchen media player, Gateway's One ZX4800-02 has the same combination of 20-inch screen, DVD drive, and touch screen, for $150 less.

  HP TouchSmart 300-1020 Acer Aspire Z5610
Price $899 $899
Display size/resolution 20-inches, 1,600x900 23-inches, 1,920x1,080
CPU 2.7GHz AMD Athlon II X2 235e 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300
Memory 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 256MB (shared) ATI Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4570
Hard drives 500GB, 7,200rpm 320GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

In any other room, where space might be less of an issue, we can't recommend the TouchSmart 300-1020 as a media PC. The reason is Acer's Aspire Z5610. That system costs $899 as well, and has a 23-inch display. It might not be as attractive as the HP, and its touch-specific software isn't as polished, but for entertainment purposes we'll take a larger screen every time--especially when there's no price difference.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Cinebench test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
HP TouchSmart 300-1020
Acer Aspire Z5610
Gateway One ZX4800-02

That brings us to productivity. The TouchSmart 300-1020 is a reasonable performer among all-in-one PCs, especially for day-to-day multitasking-oriented usage. Although it falls behind the Acer on our iTunes and Photoshop application tests, our multitasking and Cinebench multicore stress tests suggest that the HP is a second only to the $1,199 iMac in handling multiple simultaneous tasks (or one multithreaded application).

The wrinkle, as always for all-in-ones, is the standard desktop tower. Asus' $650 Essentio CG5270-BP004 is just one example, but it shows clearly that you can spend significantly less than the HP for a much faster tower desktop, with enough money left over to match the desktop with a monitor, thereby eliminating the all-in-one's advantage in its built-in display.

In addition to finding it suited to a relatively narrow usage scenario, we're disappointed that HP left off a few of the features we appreciated so much in the TouchSmart 600. We miss the HDMI video-input most of all. That feature lets you connect a cable box, a game console, or any HDMI-based video source and pump it into the TouchSmart 600 (a feature HP borrowed from Sony's all-in-ones), greatly expanding its utility as a home entertainment display. We've even seen an HDMI input on a $600 Asus Nettop, so HP can't exactly claim cost savings as a motive for leaving it off the TouchSmart 300. There's also no Blu-ray drive in the TouchSmart 300. We haven't seen Blu-ray in a sub-$1,000 all-in-one yet, but we don't expect that barrier will hold for too much longer.

This is not to say the TouchSmart 300 has no home entertainment-friendly nods. It retains the TouchSmart 600's wall-mounting capability via a separate adapter and bracket. You also get hard volume and mute buttons on the side of the system. We'd like to see HP add a dedicated screen power button, though. And while we lament the loss of the HDMI input, the digital and analog audio outs on the back, along with the collection of back and side-mounted USB 2.0 ports should cover your more traditional connectivity needs.

Juice box
HP TouchSmart 300-1020 Average watts per hour
Off 0.23
Sleep 2.17
Idle 44.13
Load 106.15
Raw (annual kWh) 183.85488
Energy Star compliant Yes
Annual power consumption cost $20.87

Annual power consumption cost
HP TouchSmart 300-1020

The TouchSmart 300's power consumption comes in right where we expect it to considering its performance. It has no settings or usage states where it uses an inordinate amount of power, and its overall annual cost won't add an overly burdensome amount to your power bill.

Finally, HP's service and support policies are on par with those of its mainstream competition. You get one year of parts and labor coverage, as well as 24-7 toll-free phone support. The system itself and HP's Web site both feature a variety of support tools that you can use to diagnose and deal either with problems, yourself or with the help of one of HP's online support representatives.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Acer Aspire Z5610
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5300; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570; 320GB 5,400rpm Seagate hard drive

Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit; 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 1TB, 7,200rpm hard drive

Apple iMac (21.5-inch, 3.06GHz)
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.1; 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7600; 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9400 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate Digital hard drive

Gateway One ZX4800-02
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core T4300; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA 450M integrated graphics chip; 750GB 5,400rpm Seagate hard drive

HP TouchSmart 300-1020
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz AMD Athlon II X2 235e; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) AMD Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 5,400rpm Seagate hard drive


HP TouchSmart 300-1020

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 6Support 7