HP TouchSmart - a 5 minute review...

Discussion in 'Bleazle' started by Bleazle, May 12, 2010.

  1. Bleazle
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    Bleazle Well-Known Member

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    Hi All

    After much anticipation (on my part) the HP TouchSmart 600-1170a has finally been released in New Zealand - 2 days later I had one unwrapped & on my desk ready to be loaded up with MediaPortal :D plus a few other apps that will come in handy (more on that shortly).

    The TouchSmart 600-1170a is the New Zealand version of the TouchSmart 600-1055 which is available in Canada and the United States - here's a review on the 1055: HP TouchSmart 600-1055 PC - Full Review - Reviews by PC Magazine

    Specs for the 1055: HP TouchSmart 600-1055 Desktop PC Product Specifications HP TouchSmart 600-1055 Desktop PC - HP Customer Care (United States - English)

    Specs for the 1170a: HP TouchSmart 600-1170a Desktop PC Product Specifications HP TouchSmart 600-1170a Desktop PC - HP Customer Care (United States - English)

    The US & NZ models vary in that we don't get some of the apps included in the 1055 model (but we can't access sites like Hulu from here anyway..) , nor do we get Bluetooth :)wtf: WTF? I've already plugged in a mini bluetooth dongle so that is sorted but why not include it??) but we do get a 1TB HDD (the US model has a 750gb HDD) and a Core-i5-430M (A) 2.26 GHz (35W) CPU - the US model is listed as having a Core 2 Duo-P7450 (P) 2.13 GHz (25W) CPU

    Why buy a touchscreen (won't it get covered in finger prints?)? Well, it isn't so much about the touch screen as it is about the "all in one computer" for me - basically this unit is about the same size as an average 23" TV screen so it can be hung on the wall and because it is wireless (I use "n" at home) the only cable I need to run to it is power and I can watch TV etc from my main HTPC - nice :)

    The initial software setup went reasonably smoothly - Windows 7 Home Premiun is installed - with MediaCentre included - I had a quick look at that and what I saw didn't excite me, it just looks like another portal for M$ to try to make money with the "Buy Music" links etc :rolleyes: Hooking the PC up to the existing wireless network was a real breeze (my Vista laptop still has problems doing that!) and I really like what I've seen of Windows 7 so far. The only issue I had was with mapping Network drives and setting them up so that I didn't have to log in to them every time I restarted the computer because even when you click "remember" login details for networked drives it doesn't remember them :rolleyes: Luckily (and thanks to Google) I found out that you can save this sort of info via the Control Panel (I can't remember what it's called at the moment - that's the problem when you write a review while drinking beer..) and once that's done you don't have to keep re-entering the info.

    How to map a network drive in windows 7: How-To Map a Network Drive using Windows 7, Vista or Windows Server 2008

    Use "Credential Manager" to remember Network Drive passwords: Username and password will not get stored for my network drive in Windows 7 Pro.

    The TouchSmart is going in our kitchen/dining room area (on the wall over the bench that separates the two areas - I would post a picture of it but unfortunately the bracket I want isn't available until early June so it's just sitting on the bench for now :( ). It will be mounted on a swivelling/tilting bracket to allow viewing from either the table or the kitchen. I'll finally be able to watch the news or some hot "sex sells" music videos while I'm cooking :)

    Speaking of cooking, one of the "cool apps" that comes with the 1055 (US version) is "Recipe Box" - This app can be used to surf online recipe sites and "grab" any recipes you want to keep locally - it will even read the recipes out loud to you and can be "driven" by voice commands (so no flour gets stuck to the screen :)..) UNFORTUNATELY for us New Zealanders someone at HP decided we're such great cooks that the Recipe Box app is not included in the 1170a :mad: but FORTUNATELY for me the internet is an amazing tool and thanks to a few more Google searches which lead to some registry hacks and a couple of other tweaks I now have the Recipe Box app working :cool: As well as being able to grab recipes from the internet you can add your own recipes to the programme which I think is pretty cool. Unfortunately I haven't worked out how to get the voice activation/text to speech thing going yet but it's easy to scroll through the menu - you can even use your elbow on the screen if your hands are covered in food :D

    Recipe Box installation instructions: How to install Recipe Box - HP Support Forum

    Carrying on with "cool" things, something I have wanted for ages (and I know from surfing the forum that I'm not alone here) is a plugin for MP which would sync with Google Calendar - well now I've got one - YEAH! :D The TouchSmart application includes a Calendar app which syncs with Google so now I can create/edit or delete an event on my Google Calendar on my TouchSmart screen, my Blackberry, via Thunderbird on my laptop or any internet connected PC for that matter and everything will be in sync - now that's cool :cool:

    Another plus is that I don't have to exit MediaPortal to use the TouchSmart application (which encompasses the Recipes & Calendar apps) - nor do I have to create a button on my MP skin to get to them - I just click a button (as in a real button, not an icon) and the TouchSmart app loads without killing MP. Once I'm finished I can just close the TouchSmart app and MP is still sitting there - nice :)

    The TouchSmart app also includes various applications such as a webbrowser, clock (why?), still and video camera apps and a couple of other things I can't think of just now. When I first got it I played around with spinning pics around, zooming in and out (the TouchSmart is a multi-touch screen) and "flicking" pics acround the screen but the novelty has worn off and I think the only time those apps will get used is when the kids want to show off to their mates. Having said that the touchscreen is handy - I already use a combination of touch, remote, keyboard, and mouse depending on what I'm doing, and it's great.



    EDIT: I've just started playing with the included Music App and it's great! You can flick through albums and artists IPod Touchesque :) Check out the following link and click on "Product Videos". Want to search for a song etc? Just use your finger to write the word on the screen - COOOOL :cool: LINK: Touch Screen Computer and Touch Screen Monitor | HP TouchSmart


    The PC and TouchSmart apps that I'll use go great with my favourite skin (no points for guessing that it's BleazleWide haha) and now that I've added a black theme to Firefox everything ties in nicely. So far the only thing I don't like is the HP remote - it's ugly and very "un-ergonomic" but hey, 9 out of 10 isn't bad right? :)

    Here are a few screenshots of the Google Calendar and Recipe apps. I'll post some pics of the unit once it's mounted.

    Bleazle.
     

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  3. Bradley Dyke

    Bradley Dyke Portal Member

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    Sounds like a great solution for your needs and enjoyed the review. Question: would it be possible to have an entry camera attached somehow? would be great to keep an eye on the front door and seems a logical place to put it. just designing our new house and this has sparked some interest, especially the recipe box. cheers
     
  4. Bleazle
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    Bleazle Well-Known Member

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    Dick Smith Electronics or Aquire (Welcome to Acquire - Your source for all IT and related products) which is where I bought the TouchSmart from (plus a few other things - they're very helpful) will probably have what you're looking for - all you really need is a webcam and some software. Sounds like a good idea too - I would do it here but I can see the front door from my kitchen so I've got no excuse to be able to get that one past the wife :rolleyes: :D

    I've just added a few links to the first post (how to set up Recipe Box/Map Network drives etc)
     
  5. dvbkiwi

    dvbkiwi Portal Pro

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  6. Bleazle
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    Bleazle Well-Known Member

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    Cheers - no, it generates very little heat, far less than my Vista laptop does, and it's very quiet. Reading the back of the manual HP are obviously into the green thing and saving the earth by using less power - they even recommend not using a screen-saver - meanwhile my main HTPC chugs away 24/7 consuming 500W while I'm sleeping - I need to sort that out at some stage, not for the planets sake, for my wallets :D

    I've just added a link to the first post (and a comment) on the Music app that's included in the TouchSmart suite - it's pretty awesome.

    This thing wasn't cheap but based on my experiences so far I've got no hesitation in recommending it to anyone looking for an all in one, (almost) plug and play solution.

    Right, time to cook dinner - guess I'd better go and play with the Recipe Box app :D
     
  7. kiwijunglist
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    kiwijunglist Super Moderator

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    ooo nice toy man! no more running back and forth between the kitchen and the pc when using an online recipee =)
     
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