October 10, 2011
- USB 3.0 & HDMI input
- Blu-ray player & TV tuner
- HP's TouchSmart software works well
- Lots of customization offered
- Too much bloatware/trialware
- Similar PCs offer more performance for the money
The HP TouchSmart 520xt is a 23-inch all-in-one touch PC that offers lots of multimedia features, including an HDMI input and USB 3.0 connectivity. It comes in many configurations to fit your budget, but our review unit had an Intel Core i7 CPU and 8GB of RAM that provided a decent experience, although not the fastest on the market.
The 520xt has HP's newest design for their TouchSmart line of desktop PCs, which includes a thin metallic-silver base with a matte black tiltable screen that is suspended on top of the base. The design isn't our favorite, mostly because we thought that the base doesn't quite go with the screen part of the PC, but to each their own. The backside of the display has a flat, matte black color that looks good (if you are putting the PC where the back can be seen). In total it measures 8.5 x 22.9 x 18.0-inches (wdh), so it can definitely fit into almost any desk space.
This model comes with the latest HP TouchSmart software, version 5.0, which is a layer of touch-enabled applications that overlays on top of the standard Windows 7 interface that we all know and love. It works so effectively that it's almost like having a whole separate operating system aside from Windows 7. There are things like media applications, games, reference utilities and more that are all design to be interfaced with via touch-only input. We did notice the lack of a Netflix Instant Streaming applications, which has existed on prior TouchSmart models.
The 23-inch display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080-pixels, so it's full 1080p high-definition. We found the quality of the display's image to be quite good and provided a very good experience when watching DVDs of streaming HD video. The touch sensitivity is also good, but we found it to lag slightly when making long-distance movements across the screen.
The HP TouchSmart 520xt includes many connectivity options that include an HDMI input, two USB 3.0 ports, 5 USB 2.0 ports, a TV tuner, digital audio in, gigabit Ethernet, a 6-in-1 memory card reader and a slot-loading Blu-ray/SuperMulti DVD burner combo drive. There is also 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity included too. The HDMI input can be used for things like a DVR box or video game console to display them right on the 520xt's 1080p HD display. The built-in TV tuner allows you to watch and record TV right on your PC and it comes with a remote control too (the IR receiver takes up one USB port).
HP allows for lots of customization of the internal specifications of the TouchSmart 520xt and as a result, you can get a PC that fits your budget. Our review unit can with an Intel Core i7-2600S quad-core CPU (2.5GHz), but you can get three variations of a quad-core Intel i5 CPUs as well. We also had the upgraded 8GB of RAM (4GB/6GB available) and a 1TB 7200RPM hard drive (1TB to 2TB options) too. The graphics card is a discrete AMD Radeon HD 6450A card with 1GB of RAM, but a 2GB variety is also available. These large hard drive options (and speedy 7200RPM too) lends itself to a multimedia style PC because all that media requires lots of hard drive space.
Performance with the HP TouchSmart 520xt is good, but not the best on the market. With the above specifications in our PC, we obtained average to slightly above average performance ratings in comparison with other similar all-in-one PCs, including some of HP's other TouchSmart models, most notably the 600 series. Because the highest configuration of this PC can be rather expensive, the performance for your dollar is fairly low, so keep in mind that you're paying for things beyond just performance with this PC.
With all other HP computers, it comes absolutely loaded with bloatware and trialware. Most obvious is a 15-month trial to Norton Internet Security 2012 and programs like Corel Paint Shop Pro, Cyberlink DVD, Encyclopedia Britannica, Quicken WillMaker and Adobe Photoshop Elements. You'll definitely want to spend some time cleaning out this computer by uninstalling unwanted programs and deleting unwanted desktop shortcuts.