Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
HP TouchSmart 300-1060a desktop PC
An HP all-in-one PC equipped with a touch screen
- Good touch experience within TouchSmart software, 802.11n Wi-Fi, decent performance
- Poor accuracy in standard Windows 7 interface, display isn't suited to precise touches, bloatware
The TouchSmart 300-1060a is one of HP's most affordable touch-screen PCs, and it's a reasonable choice if you want to use the TouchSmart interface. For normal Windows use, however, the lower resolution and smaller display make it a poor alternative to slightly more expensive models.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
HP's TouchSmart 300-1060a is an all-in-one PC with a 20in touch screen and a triple-core CPU, which makes it powerful enough for entertainment as well as serious work. The touch screen is a big part of the appeal of this desktop PC, though it can be hard to use outside of the HP TouchSmart software.
Design and inputs
As with other models in the HP TouchSmart range, the 300-1060a is quite chunky for an all-in-one PC — it's roughly 7cm at its thickest point. It's still quite attractive, however, with the black-and-silver design easily blending in with modern decor. A stand at the back allows you to adjust the PC between an upright and slightly tilted position, though it can be difficult to move.
The HP TouchSmart 300-1060a features a 20in touch-enabled display, surrounded by a thick bezel on all sides. While it may not sound much smaller than the 22in and 23in screens we've seen on the TouchSmart PC IQ545A or TouchSmart 600-1070a, the difference is immediately noticeable. Its 1600x900-pixel native resolution is sufficient for basic computer use and even for watching high-definition media, but the display resolution and quality pale in comparison to the 1080p display on the TouchSmart 600-1070a.
There are five USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, headphone/microphone jacks and a media card reader that supports the SD, MMC, MemoryStick and xD formats. You also get an S-Video input, RCA audio input jacks, and S/PDIF and 3.5mm audio outputs. The TouchSmart 300-1060a has an integrated DVB-T digital television tuner, and you can connect an antenna at the back. The TouchSmart's media centre interface can be controlled with an infrared remote; unfortunately the receiver isn't built-in so you're stuck with an unwieldy cable.
HP has also integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi into the TouchSmart 300-1060a, as well as a tilting webcam.
HP's TouchSmart software includes a fun webcam application.
As the "TouchSmart" moniker would suggest, this all-in-one PC is all about the touch screen, which lets you use the computer without a keyboard and mouse. This is achieved mainly through HP's own TouchSmart software, which is a tile-based interface for accessing media, browsing the Web, taking notes and even watching digital TV. The interface is quite responsive and easy to navigate. There's even a Mac OS X–like dock which makes it easier to access individual functions quickly. The touch capabilities aren't perfect, however; the TouchSmart 300-1060a often got confused by gestures like zooming and rotating photos. We also feel that HP fails to take advantage of the new capabilities afforded by multitouch technology; besides basic photo manipulation, there is little else you can do when using two or more fingers.
Microsoft has introduced multitouch gestures in Windows 7 and improved its soft keyboard and handwriting recognition, making it easier to ditch the keyboard and mouse for a fully touch-based experience. However, the TouchSmart's native 1600x900 resolution requires very precise movements when clicking on or manipulating small objects. At a lower resolution (we chose 1280x768 pixels), the touch capabilities are much easier to use, though the form factor overall can be tiring.
Configuration and performance
The HP TouchSmart 300-1060a has a triple-core AMD Athlon II X3 400e processor clocked at 2.2GHz and 4GB of DDR3 memory. It is also configured with NVIDIA GeForce G210 graphics, a 500GB, 7200rpm hard drive and a slot-loading CD/DVD burner.
|Model||Price||WorldBench 6||3DMark06||iTunes Encoding
|HP TouchSmart 300-1060a||$1999||86||3634||1m 30s||1m 6s|
|Medion akoya P4010 (MD 8850)||$1299||87||1316||1m 21s||1m 23s|
|Dell Studio One 19||$1888||100||1524||57s||1m|
|HP TouchSmart PC IQ545A||$2299||71||N/A||1m 29s||N/A|
Though the HP TouchSmart 300-1060a is on par with the more expensive TouchSmart PC IQ545A when encoding music, the beefier processor of the TouchSmart 300-1060a results in a better overall WorldBench score, with key strengths in graphics applications and video encoding. Its score in 3DMark06 is also good enough for some older games such as Half-Life 2, though it certainly isn't a match for many tower PCs at the same price point.
Like the HP Pavilion All-In-One MS212a, the majority of the software on the TouchSmart 300-1060a all-in-one desktop PC uselessly mimics features already available in Windows 7. HP's own computer setup wizard, for instance, merely covers the same ground as the standard Windows setup process (bar registration) and, once you boot into Windows, you'll be bugged every five seconds to activate Norton Anti-Virus before you can do anything. Even with touch-screen capabilities, HP Advisor's applications dock and status panels are redundant when you can simply use the revamped Windows taskbar or the Control Panel to perform the same functions.
Thankfully, the preinstalled games from HP are fun, as are the Microsoft games that show off Windows 7's touch capabilities. However, apart from the TouchSmart interface itself, we think the extra software simply clutters the PC.
It is difficult to use only the touch screen to navigate Windows 7 on the TouchSmart 300-1060a (HP includes a wireless keyboard and mouse in the sales package). Nevertheless, as an all-in-one desktop PC with touch capabilities on the side, it is certainly powerful enough for homework, some light gaming and as a small-screen multimedia device. We just wish HP wouldn't load so much extra software on the PC.
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