Now let’s examine the vaunted touchscreen interface, which is really what the TouchSmart range is all about. Similarly to the iPhone, the touchscreen on the IQ810 requires only the lightest of touches. One disadvantage is that the panel outputs a lot of heat, meaning it gets warm to the touch and sitting right in front of it can feel a bit like having your face close to a heater.
The other thing that really works against the TouchSmart is that fingerprints and grease-trails from swiping fingers across the screen are easily visible, especially from certain angles. So if you want this machine to be the centerpiece of your entertainment experience and impress all your friends, you’re going to have to clean the screen after almost every use. This creates yet more work for using a system that already requires extra effort for most tasks compared to using a good old mouse and keyboard.
With these niggles out of the way, let’s take a look at HP’s TouchSmart interface, a custom application that allows you to perform a range of activities using only your fingers. The TouchSmart software is turned on by default when you start up the machine, though at most a few taps will bring you back to the standard Windows desktop. From here, you can always call it back using either the software shortcut, or the aforementioned button on the IQ810’s front.
It must be said that TouchSmart looks very slick. Visually, the software is easily a match for the iPhone’s beautiful interface. The Home’ section is divided into two strips of icons called tiles, a large one along the top for the most commonly used apps, and a smaller one at the bottom where you can see more tiles at once. Of course you can freely drag tiles between these two strips. Dragging the strip to the side scrolls steadily, while fast movements will flick through the icons with realistic inertia.
The mainstays of TouchSmart are its photo and web browsers, and music and video players. There’s also a calendar and weather ‘channel’. The photo browser and music player are very competent and really show off touch interfacing at its best.