HP TouchSmart 520-1047c
The HP TouchSmart 520-1047c ($999.99 list, at Costco) is a midrange touch-enabled all-in-one desktop PC with a 23-inch screen. It’s a fast system with a huge hard drive and class-leading touch interface. It’s a larger version of the Editors’ Choice HP TouchSmart 320-1030 ($749.99, 4 stars), but it fails to add necessary components to justify its larger price tag, aside from the larger screen.
Design and Features
The 520-1047c’s touch screen houses the system’s components and floats above the base, with two arms holding the screen vertically. Like other all-in-one PCs, the 520-1047c uses a single hinge to tilt the system (housed in the base), but unlike some other systems, the 520-1047c is rock solid when you tap the touch screen. The Intel Core i5-2400S processor, 6GB of memory, 1.5TB hard drive, and DVD burner are all built into the screen enclosure. This gives the system a solid feel: the screen is thicker than competitors that build the components into the base like the Samsung Series 7 (DP700A38-01) ($999.99 list, 4 stars), and the fact that the screen is thicker helps to minimize screen bounce when it’s tapped. On other systems like the Asus ET2410-06 ($899.99 list, 2 stars), the screen bounces a lot when you tap the screen and continues to bounce a couple of seconds longer. It’s a little thing, but it makes you feel that the 520-1047c has better build quality.
The 520-1047c comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse, as well as 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, which means that the only cable you absolutely need to connect is the power brick. There’s an Ethernet port for people who don’t have a wireless router. The wireless keyboard slots easily under the screen, on top of the base: this way you can reclaim a little bit of your desk space back when you’re not using the system. The 1.5TB hard drive is big enough for most users, except possibly those shooting raw HD videos. The desktop can still accommodate film buffs and video download addicts with two fast USB 3.0 ports, which can be used to service speedy external drives. There are also four USB 2.0 ports on the back, but unfortunately no HDMI-in or -out ports for external set-top boxes. You’re limited to online HD videos on the 520-1047c (unless you buy an external Blu-ray player). Other connections include a media card reader and audio ports for external speakers and a subwoofer.
The desktop comes with TouchSmart Magic Canvas, which lets you use the 520-1047c like a tablet. The 520-1047c doesn’t tilt back as far as the HP TouchSmart 610-1150y ($1,199.99 list, 4.5 stars), but it does the job. You’ll want the HP 610-1150y or one of its successors if you’re really into touch-screen usage, however, since the HP 610 and 620 series systems have better touch screen ergonomics.
The 520-1047c comes with virtually no bloatware. Indeed, HP has improved its software load; the only extra icon on the system’s desktop is an ad for HP WebOS tablets and smartphones. That’s not to say that there aren’t extraneous programs on the system (Blio, HP Games, and HP Movie Store come to mind), but the effect is minimized on the 520-1047c. The system comes with a 180-day subscription to Norton Internet Security, which is a lot better than the 30-60 days you usually find on retail systems. 365 days would be even better, but six months isn’t too bad. The system comes with Costco’s excellent 90-day no questions asked return policy and two-year warranty (administered by HP).
The 520-1047c is able to display HD online videos smoothly on its 23-inch 1,920 by 1,080 (true 1080p) wide screen monitor. It also performed decently on our multimedia tests: 1 minute 52 seconds on the Handbrake video encoder test and 4:23 on the Photoshop CS5 test. It’s faster than the Editor’s Choice Sony VAIO VPC-L231FX/W ($999.99 list, 4.5 stars) (2:22 on Handbrake; 5:34 on CS5), but slower than the Asus ET2401-06 (1:38 on Handbrake; 3:37 on CS5). Like just about every other large sub-$1,000 all-in-one desktop, the 520-1047c uses Intel HD Graphics (2000 in this case), so 3D gaming isn’t a strong point. Most systems in this class received an unplayable score of 12-14 fps on the Crysis test at medium quality settings.
The 520-1047c is a goodif middlingsystem. At this price point, you really ought to expect HDMI-in and -out ports, like on the Asus ET2410-06, Sony VPC-L231FX/W, and Samsung DP700A38-01. That way you can extend the life of the system’s monitor by hooking up a new PC when the system’s Core i5 processor finally becomes too slow. Compared with the current Editor’s Choice Sony VPC-L231FX/W, the 520-1047c has a better touch environment and larger 1.5TB hard drive, but the Sony VPC-L231FX/W has the HDMI connectivity, software for Playstation and Bravia TVs, the seamless touch screen, an easy to use Web mode, Sony multimedia apps, and even composite AV video in. While a decent system, the HP 520-1047c is simply outdone by the Sony VPC-L231FX/W in terms of features.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS
Check out the test scores for the HP TouchSmart 520-1047c