Everyone talks about touch-screen PCs–if only to knock them–but HP, with its TouchSmarts, is one of the few companies to have devoted much thought to making touch work. Its latest TouchSmarts, announced this week, feature a small change which could have a big impact on usability: Their stands can now fold backwards, letting you use the display in traditional upright orientation or push it down to a sixty-degree angle for easier pointing that doesn’t make you stretch your arm as much. (As Cult of Mac’s John Brownlee notes, the design looks a lot like one shown in an Apple patent.) The machine is shown here with the keyboard, but I think that nudging the display down will make most sense for uses that let you move the keyboard out of the way and interact with the PC purely through touch–to browse photos, for instance, or to listen to music.
The TouchSmarts continue to run an ambitious new version of HP’s software that was introduced last fall: With an interface customized for fingers, a desktop, and a bunch of apps, it’s the touch-centric take on Windows 7 which Microsoft probably should have built itself but never has.
The TouchSmart 610 has a 23-inch display, sports Intel Core 5 and 7 processors, and starts at $899.99; HP says it’ll be available on Wednesday. A version aimed at businesses, the TouchSmart 9300 Business PC, will pack second-generation Core processors and will have an SSD option; it’ll be available in May at a price to be announced.
Am I tempted by the TouchSmarts? Nope. For one thing, I don’t think I’ll ever buy a desktop again, even an unconventional one. For another, I’m perfectly happy with a keyboard and touchpad. Still, I’m glad to see HP put effort into the idea rather than simply slapping a touchscreen on an otherwise garden-variety computer running unmodified Windows.