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

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MSRP: $899.99

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.

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6.6 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6
  • Support 7

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'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  
Asus Essentio CG5270-BP004
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.

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