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CNET First Look
HP TouchSmart 520xtAn off-kilter value equation makes it hard for us to recommend the otherwise serviceable HP TouchSmart 520xt.
-Hi, I'm Rich Brown, senior editor for CNET.com. We're here to take a look at the HP Touchsmart 520. This is an upper mid-range all-in-one. It starts about 899 and you can configure it all the way up to about $1500 or more. This particular model comes with a Core i7 CPU, 8 Gigs of memory and 2 terabyte hard drive and a lower end AMD graphics card. We priced the system for about $1500 in HPs website a week or so ago. Today though, we found it for about $1300. So, depending on the timing and various offers, you may get a better deal on this price than when initially found it. Our biggest problem though is that this system is not that different from HP's Touchsmart 610 line, which is designed to be slightly the higher end, but really comes in about the same price range with the same parts. You can also find other all-in-ones out there that might have the same [unk] in HP products, but they have more banks for your buck in terms of overall performance for the dollar. So, this is a new design for HP and the key of it really is this tray here that goes on top of this whole support bar. It's designed to hold the included mouse and keyboard if you just wanna use touch input. Now, the other new feature with this system that HP has ruled out to its other all-in-ones is an integrated software experience, which is sort of different than we have seen in the past. Normally, you have is sort the basic windows environment and then you press the button and takes you in a totally separate touch space interface. With this model though, when you launch the Touchsmart software, it actually integrates into the windows desktop environment. So, as you can see here, we've got HPs magic canvas, which is sort of like an extended desktop for touch apps. You can see the responses just okay. It's a little bit laggy here and there. For the most part, it works well enough though. Down here though, you can see there is the standard window screen, so if you take our mouse, put the start button with the same start menu like we expect. HP says that this design is response to customer feedback, though as it seemed a little bit cluttered, but overall, it's still a fairly usable interface [unk] there is a wire for this mouse and keyboard. We like the keyboard in particular. It's nice and thin. On the side here, you've got an HDMI input as well as display control. So, we'd like to those in HDMI out, which has actually become a little bit more common unless you say connect the system to another monitor to have a 2 display unit. Up here, you will also find a Blu-ray burner on this model, though you can get a standard Blu-ray DVD combo drive available for less. On the back, the inputs are pretty straight forward. You have 4 USB ports, Ethernet, and TV tuner on this model, audio output, subwoofer output as well as connection for wireless antenna, and less out of the case you have standard analog audio jacks, an SD card slot, and a couple USB 3 slots. That's a nice touch, although USB 3 peripherals are not as common as we wish they were. [unk] is a pretty decent all-in-one. The touchscreen interface works well enough. It's got of interesting multimedia features. The only problem is that its price equation is just a little bit off centered. We wish HP found a way to make this a better value in light of more competitive all-in-ones out there. So, I'm Rich Brown. This is the HP Touchsmart 520.