HP TouchSmart 520

The TouchSmart 520 doesn't achieve anything that TouchSmarts before it haven't already. Still, unimpressive touch capability aside, it makes a decent all-in-one touch product worth checking out if the size and price fit your needs.


7.5
CNET Rating

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About The Author

CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


The TouchSmart series, in our view, has been a laggard for a few generations now; it's an opportunity that continues to be missed. Still, it holds interest for a specialised group of people, and HP continues to beaver away at its all-in-one touch product.

The 23-inch, 1920x1080 TouchSmart 520 does away with the ability to lean almost entirely flat in table mode, and instead instigates a base with a huge footprint. The first thought is that it's entirely too huge, but then you notice that you'd take up the same space by adjusting the monitor tilt anyway, proving that a smaller stand would just be an illusion.

The included keyboard isn't great and the mouse is only passable, but this is de rigueur for bundled kits, it seems. HP's Magic Canvas software, which replaces the Windows Desktop with a touchable, swipe-able home screen, now appears as a continuous desktop rather than distinct screens to swipe between. We've criticised HP in the past for having a laggy interface, something that's simply not acceptable in a post-iPhone world, and the same is true here again.

What's different, though, is that we've discovered that the lag is entirely touch-induced, and not related to hardware acceleration as previously thought. Navigate Magic Canvas by mouse, and it's as smooth as churned milk. Start using your finger, and things begin stuttering and lagging all about the place. We're unsure if this is a problem with HP's software, or if it's the infrared technology used to detect touch that's causing the skittishness.

Speaking of said technology, its multi-touch is, as always, not very responsive, and slightly unpredictable — such is the price you pay for a cheap touchscreen.

Connectivity is good, with an SD card reader, 2x USB 3.0 ports, 4x USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks and a gigabit Ethernet port. Unlike the trend in laptops, the TouchSmart very much still has an optical drive, opting for a DVD+-RW this time around. A small point of interest: the 420 includes a subwoofer-out in addition to its 3.5mm-out jack, allowing you to hook into more bass if required.

As with many of its products, HP has managed to cram in Beats Audio technology, making Dr Dre's bank account that little bit fatter. Here it does make a difference, though, rather than simply pumping up the bass at the cost of fidelity. Trebles became clearer, and mid range and bass are decently defined. In our test track, Karnivool's Umbra, some complex drumming disappeared, but by and large this is good audio for an all in one. Well done, HP.

Performance

As this is the first all-in-one touch product that we've tested using our new benchmarking system, it will take a little while to add comparative results. Over time, these will flesh out.

Generally, the HP performed in line with a laptop of similar specs and price — unsurprising, given the laptop parts inside. In this case, our review TouchSmart contained an Intel Core i5 2400S @ 2.5GHz, 4GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon HD 6450 and a 1TB hard drive.

Handbrake encoding (in seconds)

  • 264
    HP TouchSmart 520 (Core i5, 2.5GHz, 1TB HDD)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)


iTunes encoding (in seconds)

  • 39
    HP TouchSmart 520 (Core i5, 2.5GHz, 1TB HDD)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)


Photoshop CS5 benchmark (in seconds)

  • 269
    HP TouchSmart 520 (Core i5, 2.5GHz, 1TB HDD)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)


Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)

  • 317
    HP TouchSmart 520 (Core i5, 2.5GHz, 1TB HDD)

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)


Metro 2033 (in FPS)

  • Max FPS
  • Average FPS
  • Min FPS
  • 17151
    HP TouchSmart 520 (Core i5, 2.5GHz, 1TB HDD)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


Batman: Arkham Asylum (in FPS)

  • Max FPS
  • Average FPS
  • Min FPS
  • 372716
    HP TouchSmart 520 (Core i5, 2.5GHz, 1TB HDD)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


Conclusion

The TouchSmart 520 doesn't achieve anything that TouchSmarts before it haven't already. Still, unimpressive touch capability aside, it makes a decent all-in-one touch product worth checking out if the size and price fit your needs.



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