HP TouchSmart 520 review

20 Jan 2012

Uninspiring design and a lack of power, but it’s a reasonable all-rounder for the price

Price when reviewed: 
742(£742 inc VAT)
4

HP was an early champion of the touchscreen all-in-one, with its first TouchSmart model appearing in PC Pro back in 2007. These days, though, the all-in-one market is largely dominated by the Apple iMac, and HP, Sony and the rest will be hoping Windows 8’s touch-focused revamp will provide a boost to popularity when it arrives later in the year.

Until then, HP is concentrating on doing up its own touch software. The TouchSmart 520 features a new tablet-influenced front-end, dubbed Magic Canvas, which relocates the familiar carousel of icons from the middle to the bottom of the 23in screen, with the bulk taken up by Android-style horizontally scrolling homescreens.

Those screens are decorated with the usual touchscreen all-in-one notes, doodles and graphics, and all of your standard desktop files and shortcuts are also reproduced ready for tapping on the Magic Canvas. The Carousel hosts a range of familiar music and video playback tools and a photo organiser, along with links to touch-optimised Facebook and Twitter clients.

HP TouchSmart 520

The Magic Canvas and its apps are all perfectly competent, and it rarely stutters or slows down in use, but there’s little here that we haven’t seen on a slew of touchscreen systems in the past. There’s also no sign of the kind of apps that we’d like to see on these do-it-all PCs, such as Netflix or other streaming media services – although that’s hardly a criticism we’d level solely at HP. Generally, we still prefer Sony’s touch software, which is smoother and comes with both touch media controls and webcam-based gesture control.

The HP’s glossy 23in, 1,920 x 1,080 panel is as responsive and accurate as any touchscreen we’ve used, and it’s also clean and sharp to look at. An average Delta E figure of 5.1 means colours are pretty accurate, but neither the measured contrast ratio of 825:1 nor the 225.7cd/m2 brightness really jumps out. Images therefore lack the punch and vibrancy of the best we’ve seen from Sony or Apple.

Inside, the Core i3-2120 is low on Intel’s CPU roster, but its pair of Hyper-Threaded 3.3GHz cores ensures it’s got the power to cope with everyday applications. It scored a reasonable 0.7 in our Real World Benchmarks, not at all bad for an all-in-one.

Details

Price ex VAT £618
Price inc VAT £742
Overall rating 4
Performance 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 5

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,000GB
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Screen size 23.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i3
CPU nominal frequency 3.30GHz
Processor socket LGA 1155

Motherboard

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 0
Memory sockets total 2

Graphics card

Graphics card Intel HD 2000
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset Intel HD 2000
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Capacity 1.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity 931GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 32MB

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer

Monitor

Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080

Additional Peripherals

Speaker type HP Beats Audio
Peripherals Wireless keyboard & mouse, remote control

Case

Chassis HP proprietary
Case format All-in-one
Dimensions 580 x 217 x 457mm (WDH)

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 4
PS/2 mouse port no
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 2

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel memory card reader yes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard HP wireless keyboard and mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7
Software supplied HP Magic Canvas

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 49W
Peak power consumption 82W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 24fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.70
Responsiveness score 0.89
Media score 0.76
Multitasking score 0.44