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HP TouchSmart 600 review: HP TouchSmart 600

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 (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs
Rendering Single CPU

Unreal Tournament 3
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
(1,280 x 1,024, in frames per second)

HP's performance story isn't pretty compared even with older all-in-ones from Apple and Sony, let alone the quad-core-based Gateway. HP obviously doesn't have traditional productivity or digital media editing in mind for the TouchSmart 600, at least at this price, and we wonder if a faster CPU would help the touch response. You should be fine converting audio files and lower resolution video clips, and light photo editing shouldn't be too painful either. Expect to feel most of the performance pain if you get into editing HD video, or when you have multiple processor-intensive apps open at once.

With most of the TouchSmart's standout features covered already, we're left with a few other tweaks HP made to its TouchSmart design that help it stand out. A dedicated button on the left side of the TouchSmart controls an underside LED to light up the wireless keyboard. You can also change the color of the LED via an included color selection app. The Webcam on the top edge of the system has a tilt-control, the first we've seen in an all-in-one, and a perfect addition to a PC you might use while standing up. And we also appreciate the rolling foot HP put on the support stand. The foot helps reduce the friction just enough to make it easier to rotate the TouchSmart from side to side on a desk or a countertop.

The TouchSmart also has more connectivity options, although none as interesting as the video inputs. Behind a removable cover on the back panel you get three USB 2.0 jacks, a coaxial SPDIF input, an S-Video port, an analog audio in, and an input for an IR Blaster. The panel you take off to remove the support also gives you access to system memory and the hard drive should you need access to them. USB 2.0 ports and microphone and headphone jacks line the left side of the system, and a media card reader, volume controls, and a display settings button go down the right. About the only features missing are FireWire, eSATA, and video-out ports, none of which we particularly miss given everything else the TouchSmart 600 can do. FireWire

Juice box
HP TouchSmart 600
Off (watts) 1.51
Sleep (watts) 3.48
Idle (watts) 48.51
Load (watts) 90.36
Raw (annual kWh) 197.10876
EnergyStar compliant Yes
Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $22.37

Annual power cost
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

We were also pleasantly surprised by the HP's power consumption. To a certain extent that goes in-hand with its slow performance, and especially next to the hyper-efficient, faster iMac, Windows all-in-ones have room to improve. But $22.37 on the year in power cost puts the TouchSmart 600 among efficient company. Next to some of HP's desktops, which have been terrible power hogs, the TouchSmart 600 is a marked improvement.

Finally, HP's service and support for its systems lines up with what we expect from a major PC vendor. You get a year of parts and labor coverage standard, along with 24-7 toll-free phone service. HP's Web site has all manner of support features as well, including support chat and the capability to fix your system remotely. You might also appreciate the numerous video tutorials included with the system to help you navigate the new touch software.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Apple iMac 24-inch (2.66GHz, Winter 2009)
Apple OS X 10.5.6; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 9400m integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

Gateway ZX6810-01
Windows 7 Home Premium; 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD4670; 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

HP TouchSmart 600
Windows 7 Home Premium; 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7450; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 230; 750GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive

Sony Vaio LV250B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7400; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive

Velocity Micro Edge Z30
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.22GHz Intel Core i7-860 (overclocked); 8GB 1,330MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 896MB Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 (216 core); 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

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