As far as web browsing is concerned the good news is that you can at last now move web pages up and down with your finger from anywhere, without having to use side scroll bars. Hurrah. Twitter also gets its own dedicated finger friendly Touch App.
Overall, we like the Touchsmart interface, and feel it does enough to raise itself above the gimmick level. This is clearly a good thing as, after all, without a decent touch interface there would be little point in a touch-screen PC.
It’s not totally without flaws – far from it. It isn’t quite as responsive as an iPhone or Android device so one does have to be a touch more deliberate. There’s an icon for Skype and when we first pressed it, it launched the Skype set-up routine. However, once installed, the same icon remains, and launches the same set-up routine. We normally find we only have to install Skype once, and as there’s no integration between Skype and the TouchSmart interface, it’s rather pointless it being there in the first place. Also, the less said about the silly aimed-at-kids ‘Magic Desktop’ the better.
The music app is decent, and continues to play when you switch to other app – but where was the full screen album art and why can’t you use your finger to scrub within the track? Touch seems such an obvious way to do it.
As a conventional computer though, the presence of the Core i5 and that generous 4GB of RAM means that this machine is always a pleasure to use and the PC Mark Vantage score of 5,622 shows its power. With an Nvidia GeForce GT 230 in place it was never going to be a gaming powerhouse, but we could play TrackMania without any problems, achieving 34.6fps at the screen's native resolution, so casual games will be fine.
Finally, the thin, wireless keyboard is comfortable to type on and the mouse, while not the last word in style, is responsive and comfortable.
As ever, we like the TouchSmart 600, and with its strong specification it compromises very little. We like the improvements to the TouchSmart interface, though you’ll certainly need to drop back into Windows 7 on a regular basis.
If you’re looking for a cheaper variant, you can save £100 with a Core i3 and even slower graphics, while a TouchSmart 300, with a 20in display and an Athlon II X3 processor, will cost £899. If you can afford it, the 600 is the one to go for if you want all its features. Just keep in mind that for £1,350 there are a lot of alternatives, some of which are superior in certain areas.
The most interesting of these is doubtless Apple's Core i3 refresh of its iMac 27in for just £50 more. It might lack the Blu-ray drive, analogue video input and touch interaction, but does get you a superior, metal-clad chassis which looks simply stunning, and a bigger, better, higher-resolution IPS-based screen. Frankly, we know which we would choose.
The TouchSmart 600 is a good refresh of a convincing touch PC line. It’s smart, neatly designed and the Touchmart interface is good enough to actually bother with. As you can now plug in devices such as consoles via Component or HDMI, it's certainly a versatile contender and worth considering.