When you consider the specification of this PC you need to think feature-set rather than all-out speed. Although the 64-bit, twin-core Turion processor is no slouch, it runs at 1.6GHz, so is no athlete either. It's adequate for the majority of tasks the machine will be set to do, such as running TV, DVD movies and working with the Internet, but factor in the nVidia GeForce Go 7600 graphics chipset and it may struggle with new games.
The choice of processor and graphics chipset also show that the machine is largely built on notebook rather than desktop technology – the processor is fitted with a heat pipe to conduct heat away to where it can be blown out of the back of the machine. A good place to warm your hands on cold days!
Inside there's a healthy 2GB of SO-DIMM memory and an equally healthy 320GB SATA hard drive - plenty for your data as well as storing TV recordings and video made with the 1.3-megapixel webcam set into the top of the screen. Both WiFi and Bluetooth wireless standards are supported so if you have a wireless router you can be linked up in a couple of clicks.
HP supplies a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium with touch-screen extensions for operating Media Center, as well as a full copy of Works 8.5 and various useful utilities for recording DVD. HP’s SmartCenter is also included, offering a simple front-end for accessing TV, the Internet, music and photos, a calendar and even a game of solitaire.
The TouchSmart IQ770 isn't designed as a games vehicle and clocked up just 3,828 in PCMark 05, but apart from the occasional pause which seemed to be more down to hard drive access than processor shortfall, the machine coped with all the day-to-day tasks I threw at it. The touch-screen is definitely a very easy way of interacting with a PC and I doubt this is the last time we’ll see it incorporated into a home PC.
HP has done a very good job of creating a home machine with all the bells and whistles. They're well integrated and in general make the PC easier to use than most Media Center devices I’ve examined. There's a price premium on the TouchSmart IQ770 and even with £100 off when buying from Comet, £1,200 would buy you a much higher spec conventional PC. This is horses for courses, though, as the HP machine is ideally suited to a family environment – or for preventing starship core breaches.