HP has upgraded its TouchSmart range to include a bigger screen and plenty more features. So is this a desktop PC you should consider investing in? We had a quick play at the launch event in London.

Big is the first word we would use. At 25.5-inches, the screen will dominate your desk or anywhere else you put it. Okay so it's not as big as a 32-inch television, but it's still likely to be larger than most computers you'll have ever put in your home, office or kitchen.

Clearly trying to become the iMac of the PC world, the design is black, glossy, but minimal in its approach with additional buttons and cables tucked neatly out of the way. Like the iMac, the optical disk drive, in this case Blu-ray, is on the side while cables are hidden behind a covering so you don't have to see them.

It might be called a desktop PC, but you can't help think that's the last thing it wants to be. On the multimedia front there is Blu-ray, a 1900 x 1200-resolution screen - HD-ready thanks to the Nvidia GeForce 9600M GS HD graphics card and a single TV tuner. The unit even has an (optional) VESA wall mount feature so you can ditch the desk altogether.

Luckily wall mounting is a realistic proposition because of the headline feature here: touch control. Although input is via a wireless keyboard or mouse, the main focus, thanks to the included TouchSmart software, is using your finger.

The touch technology is based on you breaking a laser beam rather than actually touching the screen (although you find that you do anyway) and in use it was easy to use coping well with our quick presses and scrolls.

Acting as a software hub for the computer, the HP TouchSmart interface allows you to access all your applications on the PC and interact with them, be it your music collection, or a 3-day forecast for the weather.

Music will give you album art, the ability to scroll through your songs as if it was a giant iPod touch and even stream straight out of iTunes for good measure.

Options to access photos and play slideshows will be welcomed by those keen to make this £1499 PC more than just a way of checking spreadsheets and letters to your boss saying you’re resigning.

Apart from the multimedia elements of the IQ800, you can turn it into a glorified notice board complete with electronic Post-it notes to write on and leave messages for the rest of your household. Coming with a built-in webcam and microphone those who can't be bothered to write can record their notes for all to see. Pointless, but at the same time useful, it's the sort of application that will be used only if you put the computer in a high footfall area, i.e., the kitchen. Still it’s there for those looking to embrace the type of computing experience HP want you to get excited about.


With a bigger hard drive (up 140GB to 640GB), a better resolution, Blu-ray drive, better graphics card and the ability to add further storage via a HP hard drive docking station around the back, this is a vast improvement on the first TouchSmart PCs from last year and the 22-inch model that was announced in June.

With smooth lines, good looks and a touch interface that actually seemed to work in our brief play. While we weren't able to take it home, from our play at the launch, this will make a nice, if big, addition to your computing home.