Just in time for the Sandy Bridge recall, HP held a press conference updating their desktop and notebook lines. In some ways it's just business as usual, but there are definitely some interesting tidbits to digest. HP isn't rattling the pillars of the earth, but they're certainly keeping things moving.

All-in-one touchscreen PCs have been materializing on retail and e-tail shelves at an alarming rate over the past year, and in 2011 HP seeks to take things up a notch with their new TouchSmart 610 and TouchSmart Elite 9300 computers. While there weren't any specifics offered during the conference as to the configurations of these units, there's one very interesting feature that HP added.

 

The stands for the new models now allow them to actually swivel down to a 60-degree angle. If your immediate reaction was "the only thing my touchscreen PC experience was missing was chronic neck pain, thank you HP!" then you aren't alone, but keep two things in mind: the stand works perfectly fine as an actual stand (this is just an option), and for certain uses like store kiosks, this could be a big improvement. Consider the swivel a value-add that opens up the TouchSmart to other markets, allows for different usage scenarios, and reaching forward and manipulating a flat surface in front of you as opposed to at an angle could potentially be more comfortable.

As we said, nitty gritty details weren't readily available during the press call, but the consumer-oriented TouchSmart 610 is now available for purchase on HP's website. The AMD-based model 610z starts at $800 (with the current $200 instant rebate) and comes with an Athlon II 250 (dual-core 3.0GHz), 4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, and a Radeon HD 4270. Upgrades can take the CPU up to the Phenom II X4 910e (quad-core 2.6GHz), you can bump the GPU up to an HD 5570, and you can also add a Blu-ray combo drive. Other features include a 1.3-megapixel webcam, Beats Audio, 802.11n WiFi, wireless keyboard and mouse, and a copy of RUSE (a PC game that's supposed to benefit from the touch interface).

There's also an Intel model, the 610xt, which starts at $1150 (with the current $300 savings). The base model comes with an Arrandale i5-650 CPU (dual-core + Hyper-Threading 3.2GHz), and can be upgraded as far as a quad-core i7-880 (3.06GHz). There's currently a free upgrade to 6GB RAM (from the normal 4GB), as well as a 1TB HDD (instead of 750GB). The stock GPU is a GeForce G210, or you can upgrade to an HD 5570 1GB for $30 (or a 2GB 5570 for $80 - yeah, forget about that card!) Other features and accessories are the same as the AMD model.

The more business-focused Elite 9300 bumps the webcam up to two megapixels and features a 90% efficient power supply, but isn't expected to be available until May.

If there's one thing we do appreciate, it's the gradual simplifying of HP's notebook designs over the past year. There's a much appreciated move away from glossy plastics in the industry, and HP's newer notebooks are becoming more and more minimalistic in their appearances. There aren't any major updates to any of HP's lines other than a greater push towards improving the aesthetics and entertainment experiences except for one: HP has migrated Beats Audio down to its consumer dv6 and dv7 lines. These notebooks both feature quad speaker Beats Audio setups (previously the exclusive domain of the Envy line) and draw more than a few design cues from their more expensive Envy cousins.

Actually, there's one more major change in HP's notebook lineup that's going to be very welcome to a lot of us. This one hasn't been aggressively announced: the triumphant return of dedicated touchpad buttons. The clickable touchpad seemed like a great idea when Apple introduced it, but every iteration that's appeared on a Windows notebook has been difficult at best, dire at worst. Such are the sacrifices that must be made in the name of right-clicking. Welcome back dedicated mouse buttons, we missed you!

The new dedicated-mouse-buttons and Beats-Audio-enabled HP dv6 and dv7 notebooks (along with their refreshed but newly right-clickable G series notebooks) are set to start showing up in retail in mid-to-late March.

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  • Silver47 - Wednesday, February 09, 2011 - link

    Think AMD owe a lot to HP as they seem to be one of the only OEM's that use them in their products.

    Gotta say though, that swivel is awesome!
    Reply
  • The Crying Man - Wednesday, February 09, 2011 - link

    There's also Acer and Toshiba, but yeah... not as much as HP. Lenovo, MSI, and Asus at least bit on Bobcat. Hopefully they get in on Llano too. I don't know about Dell though. Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Yes, a vertical touchscreen is a horrible thing. At a 60 degree angle you can even make use of an onscreen keyboard. Reply
  • sdffds6546 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    Yes, a vertical touchscreen is a horrible thing. At a 60 degree angle you can even make use of an onscreen keyboard. Reply
  • thrawn3 - Wednesday, February 09, 2011 - link

    Am I the only one that loves my clickable touchpad? I have an HP Mini 210 and with the very limited space I think it is a fantastic idea. I haven't even missed the separate buttons personally and I do know that if the touchpad were small enough to make separate buttons below I would be far more bothered by that. Of course that is only for the smallest netbook sized machines and for larger ones I wonder why they would every do it without the dedicated buttons since they are plenty of space to work with. Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, February 09, 2011 - link

    I've never found them more than marginally tolerable; and only then in the multi-touch versions that can usually tell a typing palm from a deliberate click. In a highly cramped netbook chassis the tradeoff is debatably worthwhile; but I wouldn't buy a fullsize laptop crippled by their lack. The think I like best about the Dell Latitude I use at work is that it's one of the very few laptops with 3 physical buttons instead of the more miserly two. Reply
  • thrawn3 - Wednesday, February 09, 2011 - link

    Well yes mine is one of the multi-touch and I can't imagine how maddening it would be for me without that. I also miss the third button in the center on well anything that doesn't offer it as is the case with most laptops. Reply
  • Tonysmooth89 - Friday, February 11, 2011 - link

    Nope I love mine on my HP DV7. I really never use buttons much , i just tap to select so i don't see the frustration. The multitouch gestures have always worked well too. I don't know why all the hate on them. I found the apple trackpad annoying as it was a little to easy to push down and it resulted in me wrongly clicking a lot , which i'm sure most can adjust to just fine , but i prefer the stiff response of the clickpad on my hp.. I can honestly say this is the best trackpad i've used on a laptop , but im still a mouse guy. Reply
  • hvakrg - Wednesday, February 09, 2011 - link

    These guys are talking about 5570 which seems alot more tempting to me.

    http://h20435.www2.hp.com/t5/The-Next-Bench-Blog/T...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, February 09, 2011 - link

    As noted in the text, the HD 5570 is an upgrade on the AMD system. Weak, I know, but there you have it. Reply

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