HP has been offering good utility and simplicity in computing through its TouchSmart line of products in the past. Following this trend is the TouchSmart 300 and the model we tested has a suffix ‘1040-in’. The 300 is quitemuch smaller than its elder brother, the TouchSmart 600. Nonetheless, with a 20-inch screen, great audio output and a plethora of multimedia touch applications, this is a fun and easy to use mid-sized home entertainment PC. Speaking of which, we’d say that the two main highlights of this machine are the pre-installed TouchSmart suite and the multimedia capabilities, which truly complement the touch interface.

Unpacking and startup
While we start with the unpacking of the machine, look for the bundled wireless keyboard and mouse. They ship with pre-installed batteries but won’t function until you remove the white plastic tabs from them. Take the machine out of the box, unwrap it, reach the rear of the unit to open its flip-stand and place it wherever required. The machine is ready to be used. Once you put it on, you’ll be taken through a simple and quick initial configuration process. The four main steps are, registration, opting for updates, protecting the PC and configuring an Internet connection. Since the unit is well calibrated, you won’t need to worry about that.

In addition to the multi-touch interface, it’s also the aesthetics of this machine which make it stand out. The overall glossy black panel has a black speaker mesh attached at the bottom and a pair of satin-chrome pegs that support the unit. The machine stands approximately 40 cm tall and 52 cm wide. Considering that the only additions you need on your desk are the slim keyboard and the mouse, this machine is well suited for a bed room or even an open kitchen. Moving the machine frequently could be cumbersome, mainly due to its heavy weight. You can even consider mounting it on a wall, since the pegs underneath are detachable, but the wall mount needed for this purpose will have to be bought separately.

Coming back to the functionality, the TouchSmart 300 ships pre-loaded with Windows 7 Home Premium and a host of touch applications which fall under the TouchSmart suite. Though the applications are quite interesting and fun to use, some of them seem slightly sluggish especially when multitasking. Otherwise, the overall performance of the machine is good, especially the responsiveness of the touch panel.

The Touch Smart Suite
We’d say that it’s mainly the TouchSmart suite that leverages on the multi-touch interface. Once out of the suite, the general Windows operation doesn’t call for much of the touch interface, unless you want to drag and drop files and folders, or execute them using your fingers. Nonetheless, considering the fact that this suite includes most multimedia widgets, one might not need to step out of it for multimedia applications. The suite includes widgets for Video, Music, Internet browser, Webcam, Photo, Calendar, Notes, Clock, Whether, RSS reader and an option to personalize each one of them. When you double-tab to open the suite, you’ll first come across an elaborate video tutorial which shows you how the suite works. It’s a good idea to watch it before using the machine.

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