HP believes the future of the home PC is by making it touchscreen, and putting it in the kitchen, but is it right? We get touching to find out.

Launched at CES earlier this year, the HP TouchSmart is a 19-inch screened desktop computer with a customised interface that sits on top of Windows Vista.

Looking more like something you would find behind a till in your local John Lewis or one of those do-it-yourself photo booths than a desktop computer, the idea is that for day-to-day use, you use your finger rather than having to result to the mouse and keyboard.

That's not to say you can't, this is after all a fully fledged computer capable of running Word, Excel, games and anything else you care to install, it's just that HP would prefer you to use the touchscreen element.

Hidden behind the screen is a space for a compact printer on the back and the TouchSmart PC also features consumer friendly technology like Lightscribe for burning images on to CDs or DVDs and a memory card reader at the front.

Although it runs the Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system, HP told us the traditional vision of the desktop computer isn't the focus here.

Instead it's an interface, which HP are calling SmartCenter and it is very much like Apple's Dashboard for OSX application that centres around a homepage which features a heavily customisable user interface.

The screen can be set to display applications and information like diary dates, a digital notice board so you can leave written, picture or video messages, for the rest of the house and options widgets like weather details or stock prices, which, as long as you are connected to the Internet, will display information in real time. In practice this works very well and will save you from having a cluttered notice board, although there is something incredibly easy about a notice board and some magnets that the TouchSmart won't replace.

Users will also be able to view photographs in a more interactive environment than just viewing them in Paint or a standard photo package - and then print them directly to a printer that docks on the back of the device via a newly designed cable to reduce the mess of cables at the back. Conveniently the prints pop out the front like it really is one of those photo booths we mentioned earlier.

Beyond the HP SmartCenter, the computer will come with a Vista remote control and personal video recorder offering with HD and SD TV programming so you'll be able to watch TV and video on it as well.

Verdict

Having lived with the PC in the home environment for over a week we have to say that while good, it's not without its problems and that problem for UK homeowners being the size.

For this PC, you will have to place it in an area of your home that gets plenty of traffic like the kitchen. While in America the kitchens and hallways of most homes are massive, finding space in your kitchen for a full sized desktop computer might be a struggle for most.

Unfortunately HP won't be making a smaller 17- or even 15-inch screen version.

If you can stump up the space next to your toaster however, the software is very intuitive and at first glance, looks to offer something that you might actually want to use on a daily basis.