Upside
The new TouchSmart IQ800 features 1080p output on its up-sized 25.5-inch screen, up from 22 inches on the IQ500. As this is the first full high-def TouchSmart, HP is offering a Blu-ray drive as standard.

Aesthetically the new IQ800 looks little different to the recently released IQ500 — greater screen area excepted — with its computer-in-the-monitor design, a la Apple's iMac. The IQ800's ambient lighting can now be adjusted to any colour of the rainbow by the user.

HP has upgraded its touch-driven interface, although it's still not as smooth as we'd like. At EA's Experience Centre in Hong Kong, we managed to nab some hands-on time with the IQ800 running Spore and this proved to be a far more fulfilling experience. Designing our creature, dragging ears here, there and everywhere, as well as expanding appendages was a hoot with the TouchSmart's touchscreen.

Final Australian hardware specs and pricing have yet to be fully nutted out, but the new model should feature a 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of memory, at least 500GB of hard-disk storage and either an Nvidia GeForce 9300M or 9600M graphics chip. There will also be a five-in-one card reader and HP's Pocket Media Drive bay that allows hard-disks to be snapped in and out without switching the computer off.

Downside
With only a single on-board television tuner, IQ800 owners will be unable to record and watch live TV simultaneously out of the box. A wireless keyboard and mouse, remote control and wall mounting kit is included as standard with the IQ800. Although using the latter seems to negate the touchy feely side of the TouchSmart, unless you're living in an uber-narrow studio apartment.

Outlook
Thanks to 1080p output, TV tuner, Blu-ray player and wall mount, the new TouchSmart blurs the distinction between television and computer even further. It will be interesting to see what the price gap between the IQ500 and IQ800 series will be when it launches here in October.