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HP TouchSmart IQ810 - HP TouchSmart IQ810
The lack of high-definition video inputs is even more of a pity considering that the IQ810's screen is rather good - for a TN. This is definitely not a display for those who hate reflections though, since the aforementioned glass sheet makes it a very decent mirror. Whether you can condition yourself to ignore those reflections or not is a personal thing, much like the rainbow effect on DLP projectors. Get past this, and there's much to love about the pictures this TouchSmart produces; a good thing considering you can't adjust the display except through software. For one thing, there is no banding at all. Backlight bleed is so minimal as to be unnoticeable, and greyscale differentiation is fairly good, if nothing too special. At the cost of pure whites, you get excellent black detail, which is an ideal compromise for entertainment purposes. Text is also never less than sharp.
On the negatives list, while horizontal viewing angles are quite good overall, as always with TN panels there is some colour and contrast shift. Still, it's nothing that will ruin a little family viewing. There is also noticeable dot crawl, meaning under some rare scenarios the screen will display flicker, and a slight bit of noise is introduced into films. Overall though, it makes for a pretty nice display.
Unfortunately, the speakers don't live up to this visual prowess. While they produce a nice amount of depth and retain clarity even at high volumes, they're let down by a lack of bass, leaving explosions and the like sounding rather tinny. Of course, with the IQ810's large selection of audio outputs it's easy to hook up external speakers, but this does defeat the all-in-one concept somewhat.
Moving onto the PC's innards, this TouchSmart is slightly more powerful overall than the IQ500 Andy looked at before. It still uses notebook components, which means that at under £1,500 it's not going to be a powerhouse. Heading the lineup is an Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 running at 2.1GHz. Because this is the older Santa Rosa platform, it only features a front side bus of 800MHz, and has 3MB of cache. This is backed up by 4GB of DDR2 RAM, all of which can be used by the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Premium.
There's also plenty of storage on hand courtesy of a 640GB Samsung SpinPoint, a normal desktop hard drive running at the standard 7200RPM. The graphics card has been upgraded to a 512MB nVidia GeForce 9600M GS from the rather pitiful 9300 in the IQ500, meaning this machine should actually be able to handle some light gaming. On the wireless end the HP is unusually-well specified for a desktop, with Draft-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 EDR. Overall then, it should be more than able to cope with anything but high-end gaming.
Apart from the obvious size advantage, the other plus to using mostly notebook components is that the IQ810 runs virtually silently! Listening to it, it can be difficult to tell if the machine is even turned on, which makes it ideal in the sitting room or bedroom.