HP TouchSmart 600: The Messenger Returns

A Show of Fingers

A Show of Fingers

The main draw of HP's TouchSmart series has always been the ability to interact with the machines via your fingers, and to enable this, HP has created a software suite just for this purpose. Dubbed non-surprisingly as the TouchSmart Software Suite, the software provides a finger friendly GUI that accepts up to two multi-touch inputs. Based on our experience from the previous version, we found that there has been an improvement with how your fingers interact with the GUI.

Firstly, it feels slightly more responsive, though now you can't really enlarge or shrink the widget panels like you can do with the previous version. Instead, everything is now a fixed size and width. The reason is simple, of course: you can now interact directly with the content from the panels instead of tapping on the icon and entering the application. For example, previously, to view videos, you would have to tap on the video icon, which would have brought you into the video player. Now, you can just play the video straight from the panel, making it easy to use the software.

The user interface has changed, and you'll find the big interactive panels much more usable.

Video playback too now works directly from the panel, so you can flick through your video collection and play them back right from the panel.

 You can also surf the web from inside the TouchSmart suite, though note that it's using IE8 to render the sites. Still, it works pretty fine with your fingers, though you may want to use the keyboard for typing URLs.

The webcam too comes with HP's standard suite of camera software, but it's actually more fun when you have a huge screen to play with. We call this shot Blockhead.

Feel free to tweak the settings to your liking, adding the apps you want and changing the colors to suit your taste.

While the improvements were great, there was still the annoying lag that we encountered when swiping through the panels. Furthermore, thanks to said lag, you might find yourself accidentally opening a panel while trying to swipe your way through them. While it's not a deal breaker, we feel that there's more improvements to be made for a smoother experience and we're sure HP will come through with an even better interface soon enough.

One last thing before we end this section - unlike the US versions of the TouchSmart 600, local and regional versions are missing the Hulu, Netflix and Twitter panels which would have made the HP a multimedia powerhouse. This is of course, due to the services being only available in the US (well, just Hulu and Netflix) and won't be available outside of the US anyway. Strange about the Twitter panel though - we thought that it would have made it worldwide with no issues.

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