HP TouchSmart 520-1080uk review
Touchscreen all-in-one PCs work well as home computers, as they're quieter, smaller and more attractive than the traditional whirring black box PC. HP's TouchSmart 520-1080uk is typically compact and almost silent, but it's definitely not one of the more attractive AiOs we've ever seen. Its chunky black bezel and silver-grey plastic base make it look like an early flatscreen TV. To its credit, the 520 is more versatile than most other all-in-ones, with a screen that can hinge back and forth by 30 degrees; however, most of the angles it can reach are either too far back or too far forward for comfortable viewing and you can only tilt it from side to side by physically moving the entire PC.
The only significant advantage to the 520's ability to tilt back a long way is that it makes typing on the on-screen touchscreen keyboard marginally easier. However, although it's occasionally handy when using your PC as a media player, we've found few real uses for touchscreen desktops, and this is no exception. However, we were pleased to find that the glossy 1,920x1,080 23in widescreen display is easily visible from a wide variety of angles and doesn't have the gritty appearance than affects some touchscreens. Colour reproduction is very slightly muted and a tad greyish on pale tones, but this didn't significantly affect how much we enjoyed using the PC.
Like many all-in-one systems, the 520 is built with entertainment in mind. It has a single DVB-T tuner, so you can connect an aerial to watch or record standard definition digital TV, as well as using the DVD-RW drive to watch films. The PC is also equipped with an AMD Radeon HD 6450A graphics chipset. It's not built for 3D gaming - our 720p resolution test using Dirt 3 produced a frame rate of 22fps - but you'll be able to run less demanding titles well enough, and casual games like Plants vs. Zombies won't present any problems at all. The TouchSmart has no graphics inputs or outputs, so you can't use it as a monitor for your games console or as a video source for a projector. There are four USB2 and two USB3 ports for external devices, though.
The integrated speakers are a shade better than most, and certainly put out more volume than many other all-in-ones PCs' speakers. Beats-branded audio processing - in the form of dynamic range compression and bass enhancement - is applied automatically to the sound. It doesn't turn the built-in speakers into reference audio monitors, but it works reasonably well to reduce the impression of tinniness that usually goes with integrated speakers.
The 520-1080uk has a 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-2390T processor. This energy-efficient Core i5 doesn't break any performance records, with an unusually low overall score of 54 in our benchmark tests. It's this, in combination with a price of £880, that is the PC's greatest failing. For the same money, you can get the excellent Asus ET2410INTS all-in-one, which has a more powerful processor, a slightly larger display, a Blu-ray drive, 6GB rather than 4GB of RAM and a wider variety of ports.
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