The HP TouchSmart IQ810 is the third in HP's series of all-in-one touchscreen PCs. Like its predecessors, its major selling points are its touch-sensitive display, small footprint and strong multimedia capability. The IQ810 stands out, however, thanks to even faster components and a comparatively large 25.5-inch screen. It's available for around £1,470 from Dixons and Currys.
The IQ810 is much bigger and heavier than its predecessors. It comes in a gigantic box, which will probably require at least two burly fellows to carry. As a result, we advise you have it delivered to your home, unless you fancy a really thorough workout. Once it's delivered, you'll probably want a friend to help you get it out of the box.
Once you've extracted it from its mammoth packaging, the IQ810's design should impress you. Like the IQ770 before it, it very much resembles a standard flat-panel television. The only clues to its PC heritage are the inch-long Perspex legs on the base, the HP logo at the bottom-left corner, and the hinge at the rear, which adjusts the angle of tilt.
Overall, the design of the IQ810 is very clean. The front bezel has a single 'TouchSmart' button for launching HP's TouchSmart software, which we'll discuss later. Everything else, including the turquoise backlit power button, the slot-loading DVD drive, and the machine's various ports and card readers, is located on one of the sides, or the rear of the PC.
Whereas the IQ770 and IQ500 sported 19-inch and 22-inch screens respectively, the IQ810 is equipped with a whopping 25.5-inch panel. It could theoretically support an even larger one, however, as there are inch-thick black borders running down either side -- as if HP meant to fit a larger screen, but changed its mind at the last minute.
One thing HP didn't forget was to slather a glossy reflective coat over the display. We've seen a preposterous number of maddeningly reflective displays, but this is arguably the most mirror-like we've encountered. It makes the machine look stunning while it's switched off, but the mirror effect, which is apparent even under office lighting, is very off-putting.
The IQ810 is the most powerful TouchSmart PC yet. It uses a relatively powerful Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 running at 2.1GHz, plus an ample 4GB of RAM. Oh, and before you moan about the fact that 32-bit operating systems can't access a full 4GB of RAM, you should note the IQ810 does ship with Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit edition, so the full 4GB is available.
But installing 64-bit Vista is a little misguided, in our opinion, particularly on a home PC. There's always the chance that older pieces of software and some 32-bit peripherals won't work properly. You'll have to check whether any devices you purchase in the future are compatible, which can become tiresome.
This aside, the IQ810 has great specs. It ships with 640GB of storage, which is plenty of room to stash a considerable library of movies, pictures and even games. The IQ810 ships with an Nvidia GeForce 9700M graphics card, the likes of which are normally found in high-end gaming laptops, so it's perfectly capable of running the latest 3D titles.
We wouldn't recommend using the touchscreen to control games, or much else for that matter. The screen is very responsive, and it's easy to tap and double-tap icons or scroll through documents, but only if the things you're trying to click are fairly large on the screen. Clicking smaller icons, such as those in the system tray, is far too difficult and you'll invariably end up reverting to a mouse and keyboard.
HP has tried to get around this issue by supplying the finger-friendly TouchSmart interface, which we mentioned earlier. This allows you to browse and open multimedia documents and launch applications with relative ease, and it works well for the most part. But having used the TouchSmart for some time and witnessed its clunky operation and relative lack of functionality -- and grown tired of waving our arms in the air -- we've closed it and hardly ever use it any more.
Where the TouchSmart IQ810 excels is as a Media Center. It ships with a TV tuner that receives both analogue and digital channels, although not at the same time. HP's also supplied a wireless infrared remote control so you can control video playback from the comfort of your armchair.
The IQ810 feels quicker than its predecessors, but that's not really saying much. It failed to return scores in our PCMark 2005 or 3DMark 2006 benchmarks, but its T8100 CPU and Nvidia GeForce 9700M graphics card did feel slightly sluggish in everyday use. It's fast enough to handle 1080p video and games, but a speed demon it most definitely is not.
Those of you thinking of using the IQ810 as a second TV won't be too disappointed with the picture or sound. If you don't mind the high reflectivity of the panel, you'll appreciate the image quality -- and the sound is loud enough to fill a room.
We really like all-in-one PCs, but the IQ810 is rather pointless. Touchscreen displays don't really work on screens of this size -- unless they're being used on a ticket dispenser at a train station -- because they make your arm tired from waving all over the place. If you want an all-in-one PC, get a Dell XPS One or an Apple iMac.
Edited by Nick Hide