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HP TouchSmart IQ500 All-In-One PC - HP TouchSmart IQ500
Of course, the IQ500 was always going to live or die on the quality of its touch interface, so it's about time we got onto that. Initial impressions are, as before, very strong. Upon launching the TouchSmart PC interface from the desktop, or via the 'Home' button at the bottom right, you're greeted by a tile based arrangement that's unintimidating and simply invites interaction.
This is split into two, with primary applications dominating the centre of the screen and a strip of lower level ones below. Each can be navigated by dragging or flicking your finger across them, with the screen responding to the speed and ferocity or these movements. You can also customise and re-arrange all the programs, dragging and dropping them into your own desired locations. In addition, the larger tiles will display information relevant to that program so, in the case of the weather application, it shows the weather for that day within its tile.
Fundamentally the TouchSmart interface is focussed on multimedia, with music, video and photos being the mainstay of its functionality. Here the TouchSmart performs very well. Both the Music and Photo applications feature a rather smart album flip style interface, along with more conventional grid based systems - with music displayed using album art.
Playlists can be created by dragging and dropping and you can control the music playback from any screen using media controls in top right corner, or through the provided remote. Like any good media player it'll keep an eye on your music folder, updating as files are added, while you can also opt to use your iTunes music folder if that's what you happen to use.
For anyone who wants to do very minor edits to photos the Photo application is perfectly capable, too. In it you can crop, rotate, auto-enhance and remove red-eye and if you decide the changes aren't that good, you can always revert back to the original. Everything is arranged intuitively, making it easy for any novice to quickly control.
All is much the same in the Video segment, with large, friendly and easy to use controls. It's a shame, though, that while you can playback regular video files, you can't watch DVDs through the TouchSmart interface. This, of course, can be done using Windows Media Center, but it seems like an odd omission.