Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement | How we test computers
Editors' note: This review is part of our 2010 Retail Laptop and Desktop Back-to-School roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.
HP's TouchSmart 300-1120 presents a difficult value challenge. We admit that we're fans of HP's touch software, but we're not convinced that's enough to justify this $899 PC's small screen and underwhelming components. If you're passionate about the idea of having a touch PC somewhere like the kitchen, this system is your best bet from a technical standpoint. In terms of value, you can get a much more capable all-in-one system for a few more dollars. You can also spend less money for a similar experience from a laptop, an iPad, or some other Web-connected device.
HP's TouchSmart 300-1120 is essentially an update to the company's 300-1020 model we saw in January. Its hardware inside and out is nearly identical, with only a larger hard drive to distinguish the new model from the old. We like the looks of the TouchSmart well enough, its rounded, black-and-gray chassis looks a bit more polished than other Windows all-in-ones do. It's not as pretty as an iMac, but it's also not an eyesore.
This system's biggest strength by far is its touch software. HP has invested more thought--and presumably more money--than any other PC vendor has in its touch software, which results with a sleek, easy-to-use suite of touch-friendly apps. Of the variety of touch programs, our favorite is the Recipe Box, a cooking app that can scrape recipes from various foodie Web sites into a handy, indexed format that boasts not only touch support, but also voice control.
|HP TouchSmart 300-1120||Gateway One ZX6900-01e|
|20-inches, 1,600x900||23-inch, 1,920x1,080|
|2.7GHz AMD Athlon X2 235e||2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530|
|4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM||4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM|
|256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200||64MB (shared) Intel GMA 4500 integrated graphics chip|
|750GB, 7,200rpm||640GB, 7,200rpm|
|dual-layer DVD burner||Blu-ray/DVD-burner combo|
|Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless||Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless|
|Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
Even if we like HP's touch software, it's not enough to make up for the TouchSmart 300-1120's deficient hardware. Consider the $899, 20-inch HP in contrast with the $999 23-inch Gateway One ZX6900-01e. The Gateway system not only features touch input, but it also has a larger screen with a higher resolution, a faster processor, and a Blu-ray drive. The HP's hard drive capacity is a bit larger, and both its touch input and touch software are superior, but given its general hardware shortcomings, the TouchSmart 300-1120 is overpriced.
|Rendering multiple CPUs||Rendering single CPU|
The HP's application performance provides further proof of its underwhelming value. It's not surprising that the TouchSmart might fall behind a more expensive all-in-one like the Gateway ZX6900-01e, it's difficult to forgive its performance compared with that of HP's own $779 non-touch All-In-One 200-5020. Compared with that lower-end system, HP is essentially asking for a $100 premium for its touch software, with an overall performance loss thrown in for good measure. We like HP's touch apps, but they're not worth such a sacrifice.
We also take issue with HP for this TouchSmart's subpar connectivity options. You get four USB 2.0 jacks on the back, two more on the right side, an analog audio out, a digital audio out, and Ethernet. There's also no HDMI connection, which means you can't connect it to a cable box or a game console. HP offers an HDMI-in port on its pricier 21.5-inch TouchSmart line, but its absence here seems miserly, not to mention frustrating for those hoping to loop their home entertainment devices into an all-in-one system.
|HP TouchSmart 300-1120||Average watts per hour|
|Raw (annual kWh)||177.00894|
|Energy Star compliant||Yes|
|Annual power consumption costs||$20.09|
As much as we're sour on the HP's features and performance for its price, we similarly can't say much for its power consumption. We don't want to be too dramatic, since we're only talking about a few dollars difference a year, but we can't fathom how this HP performs more slowly than the Gateway, and comes with a smaller screen, but still somehow manages to draw more power. The difference comes down to $3.20 per year, so again, its power efficiency isn't the worst thing about this system. It just underscores its general lackluster showing.
HP's service and support matches that of the industry-standard one-year warranty coverage with 24-7 toll-free phone support. HP's Web site also has a bunch of useful features, from FAQs, driver, and manual downloads, as well as support chat. The system itself also comes with a few diagnostic tools, although you'll have to sort them out from the various trial offers and bloatware icons in the dock at the top of the Windows desktop.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
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
Gateway One ZX6900-01e
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP All-in-One 200-5020
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
HP TouchSmart 300-1120
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz AMD Athlon X2 235e; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3270 integrated graphics chip; 750GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive