- Review Date: 12/01/2011
- Bottom line:
The HP TouchSmart 9300 Elite is HP's business version of its successful TouchSmart 610 system. As such, it has a responsive touch screen, an ergonomically friendly 65-degree tilt mechanism, and a whole lot of computing power. This PC is the one to get if you're serious about developing touch applications for your business clients.
Large, responsive touch-screen display. Blu-ray player. TouchSmart interface is great. Screen tilts and reclines. Wireless keyboard and mouse. HP LinkUp remote control software. True 1080p HD.
No HDMI or DisplayPort input. No USB 3.0. Only 15-day subscription to Norton Internet Security updates. No eSATA. External power brick. Bloatware. No 802.11a/n 5GHz support.
The HP TouchSmart 9300 Elite ($1,564 direct) is the small business version of HP's flagship TouchSmart desktop PC. It has the same chassis, touch screen, and most of the same internal components as the consumer TouchSmart 610 line. It's a great system if you're going to be developing touch apps for your business or business clients.
Design and Features
Aside from the lack of Beats Audio logos, the 9300 Elite is visually identical to the HP TouchSmart 610-1065qd ($1,789.99 list, 5 stars) and HP TouchSmart 610-1150y ($1,199.99 list, 4.5 stars) that preceded the business model. The desktop has the same 23-inch widescreen that displays in 1,920-by-1,080 resolution (true 1080p), with the same two-finger multi-touch screen. All three have the same forward five-degree tilt and tilbackwards 60 degree tilt, which provides a much more ergonomic way to navigate than trying to reach straight out towards a vertical screen on your desk. The speaker bar even functions as an impromptu palm rest. The tilting mechanism and stand work together to give you a solid, bounce-free workspace, unlike the Cybernet iOne-H5 ($1,177 direct, 3 stars), which suffered from a wobbly screen during touch operations. The TouchSmart 9300 Elite also comes with a slim wireless keyboard and mouse.
Like most all-in-one PCs, the TouchSmart 9300 Elite doesn't have much interior expansion room. IT folks should be able to easily open the chassis to service the hard drive and memory slots. There are two free SO-DIMM slots for memory expansion. On the outside, the 9300 Elite has seven USB 2.0 ports (two on the left side, four in the back, and one semi-hidden port for the keyboard/mouse receiver). The system also has the usual audio ports, Ethernet port, media card reader, and a DisplayPort for external monitors. The system lacks faster eSATA and USB 3.0 ports, which would help if you regularly use external hard drives for backups or file transfer from one system to another. Another port that the TouchSmart 9300 Elite lacks is some sort of video input. A DisplayPort-in or HDMI-in port would be a boon for the multi-computer worker, since they could plug their laptop into the 9300 Elite to get a bigger screen. It could also extend your investment, since HDMI and DisplayPort-in lets you reuse the system as an external monitor when the PC internals become obsolete. You'd certainly expect it in a system that costs more than $1,500.
The desktop comes with a slot-loading Blu-ray reader/DVD burner drive, which is fine. For most business situations, I'd go with the cheaper DVD burner option. As configured here, the 9300 Elite works as a good touch development system, a great receptionist/office worker system, or excellent as a kiosk or shared PC. The system has 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, but unfortunately no 5GHz 802.11a/n support, which may or may not be important depending on your company's wireless routers.
The 9300 Elite's 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive comes with quite a bit of extra software, some of it shared with the consumer-grade TouchSmart 610; the big difference is that the selection of pre-installed software has a business angle. There's the usual TouchSmart overlay, Blio ebook reader, and a copy of Office 2010 Starter edition. The 9300 Elite also comes with HP's business software, like HP Power Assistant, HP Virtual Rooms (conferencing), Syncables Desktop SE (file sync), Huddle (collaboration/project management), and Xobni (contact and email management). Like other Windows 7 Professional systems, the 9300 Elite also comes with Virtual PC, so you can continue to run in-house business apps that only work with Windows XP. If you must fully run XP or Vista, HP has driver support for the 9300 Elite, though your IT folk may have to build their own disk image for the systems. The system comes with a paltry 15-day trial subscription to Norton Internet Security. Hopefully, your business has plans to upgrade to the full version post-haste.
The TouchSmart 9300 Elite can accommodate a wide selection of Intel processors, though our review unit came with the top SKU Intel Core i7-2600 processor, 8GB of memory, and a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 425M graphics card. This combo is good for speedy Handbrake video encoding (1 minutes 16 seconds) and fast Photoshop CS5 (3:14) work. These are near the top of the heap in the all-in-one segment, thanks to the i7-2600 processor, which is usually found in high-end tower PCs. The system also leads the class in PCMark 7 scores (2,970 points). It's faster than the Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 91z ($1,386 direct, 3.5 stars) (1,948 points) and Editors' Choice Apple iMac 21.5-inch (Thunderbolt) ($1,199 list, 4.5 stars) (2,581). The TouchSmart 9300 Elite is a system to satisfy that worker that thinks that any PC aside from a huge tower "isn't fast enough."
The configuration we reviewed came with a Nvidia GeForce GT 425M discrete graphics card. The card helped the system run our 3D game tests and 3DMark11 with modest results. Your business users are more likely to use the 3D graphics to view still images and renders like those in CAD/CAM or architectural plans. Suffice to say it's fast enough for these purposes.
The TouchSmart 9300 Elite is a great choice for the business that needs to develop or deploy touch-enabled applications. It has a more powerful processor and sturdier screen than the Cybernet iOne-H5, though the Cybernet is a bit cheaper. It's more business oriented than the consumer-grade TouchSmart 610-1065qd and 610-1150y. That said, I've seen the TouchSmart 610 models installed in hotel business centers, and they work just fine. For the enthusiast or graphics worker who deals in graphics, systems like the Sony VAIO VPC-L231FX/W ($999.99 list, 4.5 stars), iMac 21.5-inch, and Apple iMac 27-inch (Thunderbolt) ($1,999 list, 4 stars) are better choices due to features like audio and video inputs (for the Sony), and better 2D and 3D computing power (for the iMacs).