If the explosion of smartphones and tablets has revealed any universal truth about technology, it’s that touch screens are far more pleasant to work with for most activities compared to mashing buttons. So, how can a touchscreen change the role of the desktop in your home? That’s a question we set out to investigate by spending some time with HP’s latest TouchSmart line of all-in-one PCs. In part one of this series, we hone in on the bedroom to showcase how this versatile media machine puts the average small room entertainment center to shame.
Sponsored by HP. Your Entertainment. The way it should be.
The TouchSmart 520t 23-inch 1080p screen doesn’t set records for size. When you consider how it combines the functionality of six separate home theater components into one sleek package, though, its potential as an entertainment hub for smaller rooms is undeniable. Thanks to a built-in TV tuner, 1TB HD and the pre-installed LiveTV app, the computer has all of the trappings of a full-fledged HD TV and DVR, allowing users to watch, pause, and record shows like they would on a standard cable box. It even comes with a remote for surfing through channels and controlling the system from across the room, so forget about bringing a keyboard to bed. Thanks to an optional Blu-ray drive, your favorite high-def movies aren’t marooned in the living room either. If you prefer an on-demand approach to video, touch optimized apps for Netflix, Hulu, and HP’s MovieStore will keep most users swimming in content.
The crate-digging days of browsing your music collection may be over, but thanks to the HP Music Application, flipping through album artwork displayed on the screen with the swipe of a finger provides its own form of digital reminiscence in some ways. More importantly, it also syncs with iTunes, putting your meticulously curated playlists and meta info. quickly at your disposal. While no set of integrated all-in-one speakers can replace a 5.1 setup, the inclusion of Beats Audio does add extra oomph that’s more than passable for casual listening. Subwoofer and audio out ports can be found in the rear though if you do want to connect the TouchSmart up to external speakers.
For gaming, we especially liked that our model featured an HDMI port, which allowed us to hook up the Xbox 360 just like any standard TV. Casual gamers, however, will probably be more thrilled with using the large touch screen with titles like Angry Birds through Google Chrome. It’s all the fun of your phone — only bigger. Of course, with our option’s Intel i5 2.50GHz processor and 6 GB of ram, running more serious game titles would also be do-able if that’s more your thing.
The kicker is that the setup for all of this only involved connecting the power cord, TV co-ax, and an HDMI cable for the Xbox. In the world of home theater, it doesn’t get any simpler than that folks. Look out for the second article in the series soon, where we analyze how the same computer can change the way you and the family stays organized in the kitchen.