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Zooming in on TouchSmart PC IQ770
HP’s Touchsmart system (see blog) has such a unique profile that it made us think of the distinctive look of the old AMC Gremlin (or maybe the boxier looking Saabs) and how that stood out in an odd sort of way amongst cars. The system would look just as slick in a lobby or a conference room (as sort of a kiosk device) as it would in a kitchen. Note that the front of the system is not black and silver as it looks in this photo. It is actually all black and that silver part is simply a reflection of light. At 1440×900, the 16:10 aspect ratio display’s resolution is well equipped to support the system’s various multimedia features (described in subsequent images).
Camera and Stereo Microphones
The HP TouchSmart has HP’s 1.3 megapixel Web cam built into it (handy for video conferencing over VoIP connections). The camera is surrounded by a stereo microphone setup.
Connectivity Center Door
On the right side of the front panel of the HP TouchSmart system is a door to its “Connectivity Center.” Behind it are inputs for S-video, left/right audio, two USB ports, and one FireWire (1394) port. This particular FireWire port is a four-pin port which means it’s incapble of providing power to a FireWire device (like the 6-pin 1394 ports). If you need a 6-pin port, there’s one on the back of the IQ770. There’s also another set of S-Video L/R audio inputs on the left side of the IQ770. Also on the back of the system are four more USB ports.
DVD Slot and Controls
Because of its touch sensitive display, you might think the TouchSmart isn’t a multimedia workhorse. But it is. Shown here is the slot for HP’s SuperMulti CD/DVD drive which, for burning, supports pretty much every conceivable CD and DVD burning format. Sadly, neither of the prevailing Hi-Definition formats (HD-DVD or Blu-Ray, the latter of which HP supports in its recently-released home media server) are supported for burning or playback. So, even though the display is HD capable, the only HD source for the IQ770 is the ATSC (HDTV) tuner. This, in our estimation, is an oversight in system design.
Below the slot are hardware based controls so that you can play, stop, fast foward, rewind, or eject the media (something that not every system has). The DVD drive also supports HP’s proprietary LightScribe technology which allows you to flip the media over, and inscribe something meaningful onto it (for example, something about its contents).
The idea behind the TouchSmart is that you should be able to do a lot of what you might normally do with a keyboard through the touchscreen. But for those times when you need the keyboard, it slides out from under the system unit. Both the keyboard and mouse are wireless (Bluetooth-based) which means you can work from a distance (what might happen in a conference room if you let someone else across the conference table “drive”). When you’re done, the keyboard can then be neatly tucked away under the system as show here.
One shortcoming of the keyboard is that it doesn’t have a built-in pointing device. So, if you’re sitting with the keyboard in your lap and you need to move the mouse, you’ll either need to cozy up to a flat surface (where the system’s mouse is hopefully sitting) or you can grab the remote control that comes with the system (We don’t have a photo of it, but the remote is pretty cool… it’s designed to work with Windows).
Audio and Video Outputs (NTSC ATSC)
On the left side of the HP TouchSmart system towards the back are some more multimedia ins and outs. The TouchSmart has a built-in TV Tuner that’s compatible with NTSC and ATSC (Hi-Def) video. Not only can you watch TV on the IQ770, the SmartCenter software that HP bundles with the unit turns the system into a Personal Video Recorder).
Unfortunately, the tuner is not CableCard-compatible. CableCard is a specification that most cable operators are migrating to. Once your local cable provider makes that switch, the IQ770’s tuner will cease to work with your cable connection. rnrnNot shown from this angle (or not as easily visible) are additional S-Video and left/right audio inputs (a set of these is also hidden behind the “Connectivty Center” door on the front of the system). Where as one coax connector is for the NTSC/ATSC connection, the other is an antenna connection for the system’s FM tuner (an option that’s only available in the US).
Quite honestly, we wish these ports were on the back. Who wants a gawky looking fat black cable hanging off the side of a system that, with its tuck-away keyboard and nicely hidden ports (on the front) is clearly designed with somewhat of a Zen philosophy in mind.
CF and SD Slots
The TouchSmart is a jack of all memory types. On the front of the system are two slots that will take a wide variety of removable memory cards. The CF slot on the left supports Compact Flash I & I as well as IBM’s Microdrive technology. The Secure Digital slot on the right supports SD, Multimedia Card (MMC), Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro. The idea here is that no matter what memory card is coming out of that still or video camera, it’ll plug right into the HP TouchSmart.
Printer Paper Slot
At first we thought the open air slot was included so that you could slide a magazine or some mail underneath the monitor (to help declutter the area where-ever the TouchSmart sits). But then, we found out the HP TouchSmart is designed specifically to work with an HP A617 PhotoPrinter that you’d sit on the system unit, behind the display. When the two are used together like that, the photos you print are spit out the front, through this open air slot. HP’s engineers were clearly thinking ahead when they provided a power port on the back of the IQ770 to which the PhotoPrinter can be directly connected.