The TouchSmart is not short of inputs either. An S-Video in with accompanying line-in and both Component and HDMI inputs are present. The latter two are particularity welcome, making this of immediate appeal for anyone that wants to hook up a games console. The absence of these was sorely missed on the TouchSmart IQ810 we reviewed back in January.
One thing that that was notable for its absence is the Firewire port, so anyone hanging onto a DV camcorder will not be able to plug in and edit on the TouchSmart 600.
On the back right of the machine you’ll find a Blu-ray drive with DVD writing capability and since we last looked at a TouchSmart, you can now play directly from the TouchSmart interface.
On initial launch it features a row of touch optimised applications running across the bottom in a ribbon. Pressing the relevant icon opens the application and once done, it remains open until you drag your finger from the top bar of the app straight down back onto the ribbon. You can have all the touch apps open at once, but the responsiveness will inevitably be hardware dependant. With the Core i5 in place and the 4GB of RAM, the TouchSmart 600 barely broke a sweat even with several open at once. Once multiple applications are open you can swipe between them with your finger either with a quite dismissive swipe, or slowly and deliberately.
As a machine that could well find itself being mounted on the wall of a (clearly well appointed) kitchen, it makes sense that there’s a selection of recipes to look through. We also particularly like the calendar, and it was a simple task to sync it with a Google Apps account and populate it with diary entries.
In case you’re wondering, text entry via touch is straightforward, with a large on-screen keyboard.
Another touch app that caught the eye is Canvas, that lets you, or any younger fingers in the household, draw, paint, swish and blob colours onto the screen. For a family PC this could have great appeal – in fact kids will love it. Using it is involving and even therapeutic, which isn’t something we normally say about desktop PCs.
As far as image quality goes, we found the screen to be bright and punchy, and text was pleasingly sharp. The picture was eminently watchable but contrast levels were not the very best, with evidence of crushed blacks. Dark areas of the image looked, well, dark, with a lack of dark detail that can make some action hard to follow. Overall though, we’d be happy with it for casual viewing.
The speakers also impressed for volume and have clearly been designed not to distort when pushed up to maximum. The sound does get slightly muddy but it enjoys decent volume and clarity.