HP TouchSmart IQ506 review: HP TouchSmart IQ506

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP TouchSmart PC IQ506

CineBench (in seconds)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs
Rendering Single CPU
Gateway FX5674
Apple iMac (20-inch)
Averatec All-in-One
HP TouchSmart PC IQ506
Gateway One

We'll credit HP with providing 64-bit Windows Vista to go along with the 4GB of RAM in this system, which likely helps its Photoshop scores, but the 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo falters on our other tests compared with the Apple and Averatec systems that use faster 2.4GHz chips. Perhaps you can forgive the HP its relative lack of speed because of its touch capability, but if we were shopping for an all-in-one for traditional deskbound computing, we would pass this system by.

Even if its price-performance falters, HP has added some features to its trim new all-in-one that we'd like to see elsewhere. A keyboard-illuminating, bottom-edge light is unique, and it makes so much sense we're surprised LCD makers haven't designed something similar yet. You can turn it on with a button on the side and it shines a soft white glow directly underneath it, making it easy to type in the dark. You get hard volume controls on the side of the system as well, although we'd also like to see an independent display control or power button like the Averatec All-in-One.

The rest of the system comes with a useful, if more or less common array of features. We've come to expect all Windows-based all-in-ones to include a TV tuner, 802.11n wireless networking, and Bluetooth capability, and the TouchSmart doesn't disappoint. The Bluetooth mouse and keyboard are also easy enough to pair with the system, each requiring simply that you hold down a connect button for about five seconds. The new, slim keyboard design takes at least one page from the new Apple keyboard. HP's keyboard is less spare, but it's similarly attractive. You also get a remote control, but no Blu-ray optical drive. We have a feeling this time next year, at least, most systems in this price range with have Blu-ray capability.

Like Apple and Dell, but unlike Gateway, Sony, and Averatec, HP offers no immediately obvious internal upgrade access with its all-in-one. That's probably OK with the TouchSmart. You won't be doing any serious gaming or digital media editing on it, so the 4GB of RAM is plenty. If the hard drive fails you'll need to have it serviced, which can be frustrating if you'd rather just swap in a new drive yourself. Chances are that by the time you experience a typical drive reliability failure, the TouchSmart will have already begun to feel dated.

As with its other PCs, HP backs the TouchSmart PC IQ506 with one year of parts-and-labor coverage, and 24-7 toll-free phone support. The HP Web site provides support links for the TouchSmart IQ506 already, although some of the information is geared toward traditional tower desktops, so it's not exactly system specific. Most of it is still relevant.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Apple iMac (20-inch)
Apple OS X; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7700; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive.

Averatec All-in-One
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4600; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 8400M GS graphics chip; 320GB, 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive.

Gateway GT5674
Windows Home Premium SP1; 2.2GHz AMD Phenom 9500; 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6150SE graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive.

Gateway One GZ7220
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7250; 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive.

HP TouchSmart PC IQ506
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5850; 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive.

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