Can’t wait for Windows 7? HP’s new flagship iMac-like desktop features a 22in touchscreen display.
With the touchscreen wave currently sweeping through everything from mobile phones to the Windows OS
, HP is set to show that finger-friendly displays have a place in the average home and the average budget. Kicking off its annual Connecting Your World media event, this year held in Berlin, the company has unveiled a slim-line touchscreen system that looks more like an LCD TV (or an iMac, for that matter) than your traditional bulky desktop behemoth. Badged the TouchSmart IQ500 series, it’ll land here next month with a starting price of $1,999.
The IQ5000 is a serious update to the original TouchSmart PC which debuted in the middle of last year – long before Microsoft got all touchy-feely about the Windows UI – and it shows that HP doesn’t consider a touch interface to be just a flash in the techno-trickery pan.
For starters, the system unit is now integrated into the 22in panel display rather than parked on the desk, yet the screen remains impossibly thin. Some of the credit goes to HP’s decision to swap out the first-gen AMD X2 chips for Intel’s more energy-efficient Intel Core 2 Duo processors; other design choices include a slot-loading optical drive rather than a conventional tray drive.
The scratch-resistant screen supports a range of two-fingered gestures (okay, stop your giggling!) for working with pictures along with one-finger tap, scrolling, drag and drop actions. At this stage your digits can drive only the HP TouchSmart UI layer which sits atop Windows Vista, not the core OS itself. But the TouchSmart home screen is a pretty nifty environment with its Web 2.0-like look and customisable panels for accessing Net-based info, viewing photos, playing music and video (using a fanned Cover Flow-like layout).
Considering that these are still the earliest of days for touchscreen computing, and that this is done on a super-sized 22in panel, it’s a good sign that a touchscreen system can be delivered for just one bill under $2,000.
One feature which we’re especially fond of is the lighting strip that runs along at the bottom of the display to illuminate the wireless keyboard – an ambient light sensor adjusts the brightness so you can dim the lights to watch a video yet still know where the keys are to pause, skip ahead or back (that's assuming you don't just want to kick back and use the supplied remote controller).
The base spec starts at a 2GHz Core 2 Duo with integrated graphics, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive. Digging a little deeper into your wallet scores you a peppier processor backed by a GeForce 9300M GS video card, a 500GB hard disk and a digital TV tuner or turning the TouchSmart into a natty PVR. Being able to automatically block out every appearance of Kyle Sandilands during Big Brother is something HP’s boffins are still working on, although his absence during the past two weeks indicates they may be beta-testing a workable solution.