Elsewhere there's a moderate assortment of applications, some useful, some less so. We liked the RSS Feed reader and weather applications, while the ability to play chess and solitaire using the touchscreen was nice, though hardly revolutionary. Unfortunately, things like the notes application were less useful. It might look nice but its assortment of sticky notes doesn't cry out as a killer application, whether it's simply for writing or recording messages.
We were also a little disappointed by the browser because, though it does the basics pretty well, it lacks a little refinement. To scroll pages you can't just drag the page around, you have to use the scroll bars either side of the page. You must also rely on Windows' own and rather basic on-screen keyboard for inputting text, where we'd sooner see something bespoke that's more attractive and easier to use.
Indeed, if there were one criticism of the TouchSmart interface it would be that it doesn't quite go far enough. What has been done is excellent; everything works very nicely and is more or less instantly intuitive. Yet, once you've played around with it a bit, you can't help but wish for a little bit more. It would be nice, for instance, to have a custom email client and some kind of basic word processing tool, so that the number of tasks that require the normal OS are greatly reduced. If and when HP achieves this, the TouchSmart will truly be a device that changes the way people use PCs.
Still, just to re-iterate, what is there works very well and though the price is comparatively high, the potential uses are numerous. As a TV come PC for communal areas of the home, particularly a kitchen or play room, the IQ500 has great potential and even if you don't use the touchscreen functionality regularly, this is still a very capable All-In-One PC, a fact helped greatly by the use of wireless accessories. Inevitably this is a machine that will split opinions, one you'll either "get" or not, but if the idea appeals then it's definitely worth investigating further and hopefully HP will continue to refine the interface over the coming years.
An accomplished All-In-One PC with a twist, the HP TouchSmart IQ500 is an innovative piece of kit that delivers a genuinely unique approach to integrated computing. It does have its issues, a modest spec and high price being among them, but if you have the money and fancy something a little bit different then the IQ500 will fit the bill perfectly.