Touchscreen Computing: Gateway ZX4931 And HP TouchSmart 310

Final Words

There is something inherently attractive about putting every piece of your PC into the same enclosure, especially if you already favor the minimalist approach. But all-in-ones cut two ways. You can have simplicity, sure. But the tradeoff is accessibility. You can still upgrade a couple of components, like hard drives and memory. However, there's really no way to drop in a new CPU or graphics processor. The optical drive is removable, but don't expect an easy upgrade to Blu-ray. All-in-one PCs employ slim optical drives. This makes upgrades more complicated because you need to match the outer bezel.

While these are acceptable tradeoffs for many people, few enthusiasts tolerate poor graphics performance. Simply put, gaming on a cheap all-in-one is almost necessarily bad. There is limited room in a fully-integrated chassis, and that means a tight cap on thermal and mechanical specifications. The most you can hope for, really, is a chipset-based graphics processor. That means that games like Call of Duty, mainstream though they may be, are assuredly too taxing for an all-in-one. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is fine, but that's where we draw the line.

HP TouchSmart 310's touchscreen interfaceHP TouchSmart 310's touchscreen interface

Alright, so you give up gaming. But Gateway's ZX4931 ($599) and HP's TouchSmart 310 ($699) are touchscreen all-in-ones. Touchscreens provide the additional benefit of a dedicated software interface. That's what makes these PCs different. They are intended to be used in the living room, kitchen, or wherever your family congregates. HP fully embraces this experience with a much more robust touchscreen interface.

Touchscreen Browser: GatewayTouchscreen Browser: GatewayTouchscreen Browser: HPTouchscreen Browser: HP

Gateway's touchscreen Web browser has a more intuitive design (tabbing is better) that we'd like to see HP mimic, but HP provides so many more "widgets" that the options seem almost limitless. Unfortunately, HP still fails to provide everything we would like to see. Our ideal all-in-one should be able to double as an HTPC. That means we need HDMI connectivity, too.

You can expect to pay a roughly $100 premium for the addition of touchscreen functionality. That's not too high of a price if you're looking to break from your keyboard and mouse, even if both components are still included with both all-in-one PCs.

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17 comments
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  • compton
    This article was worth what I can only assume was a torturous trip to Best Buy. But curiously, I'm not thinking about all in ones, but rather touch screens. Dell makes an eIPS panel with a touch screen for not a ridiculous sum of money. I've been considering it for a foray into touch screen computing on my desktop where I have the juice to do it right.

    Toms strikes another blow against boring reviews. Good job.
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  • flong
    Interesting subject - could this really be the computer's future? I don't think that the keypad will be replaced until voice control is more mature.
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  • Anonymous
    Voice control is not the future; it's been around forever. Until computers can think, you can't talk to them.

    In reference to the article, while desktop DIY rigs are definitely orientated to serve a central purpose, these all-in-ones are just as purpose built to serve an environment. (eg kitchen, living area)

    Make touchscreens more seamless. By seamless I mean cheap. Where is the touch screen film I can just roll over whatever I want? How about a coffee table that recognizes my devices and my Heineken?
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  • flong
    Voice control has been around forever - duh. Brilliant observation. And while we are making observations, there is at least one computer you can talk to, IBM's Watson, which won jeopardy. Quality voice control is just coming into being.

    What I meant was that until we have better voice control / input, a keypad will be necessary because typing on a vertical touchscreen, which is obviously awkward, would not suffice to do say a high school homework assignment.

    Even with better voice input there may be some physical interface like a mouse. Right now cutting edge voice control for consumers is what we find with Ford's "Sync." But that would not work for a work station.

    Touch screens like the Ipad have their strengths but nobody thinks they will replace computers with keyboards (nettops excepted).

    However, if we have a "Watson" interface where we can provide input via voice control: that is the future of computers. With Watson you could virtually ask it to do any function, search any website or dictate a spreadsheet to it. Per your example, you could ask Watson to make your coffee and then put the morning newspaper on the built-in LCD coffee table viewer, turn the AC down to 75 degrees and find out what traffic is for the morning commute and it would be cable of doing all these things with voice input only. Bill Gates's home has many of these functions without an AI interface.
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  • Anonymous
    I hate touch screens, bringing it to the PC just annoys me, I dont want to touch my screen, do not see a use for it...

    The next step forward is voice control that works!
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  • cknobman
    This article is one of the worst I have ever seen on Toms Hardware. It seems rushed, is missing tons of relevant information, and basically skims over the most important features of a touchscreen computer.
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  • Anonymous
    On the HP display ... is it 20" and ??? as on the lead page or is it 23" and 1600x900 as on the Display Spec page ? Because HP says it's 20" and a 1080P display for the 310 series.
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  • molo9000
    Touch screens on desktops are an ergonomical nightmare

    Just point your finger at your display for a while. Your arm will start hurting after about 2 minutes.
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  • acku
    MacTheKnifeOn the HP display ... is it 20" and ??? as on the lead page or is it 23" and 1600x900 as on the Display Spec page ? Because HP says it's 20" and a 1080P display for the 310 series.


    Fixed!
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  • acku
    cknobmanThis article is one of the worst I have ever seen on Toms Hardware. It seems rushed, is missing tons of relevant information, and basically skims over the most important features of a touchscreen computer.


    If you want to see something specifically please let us know. If there is one thing missing, it's more discussion on software/touchscreen demos, but we provided these as videos. And, as this is Tom's Hardware not Tom's software, we wanted to focus on the hardware.
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  • acku
    Anonymous said:
    Interesting subject - could this really be the computer's future? I don't think that the keypad will be replaced until voice control is more mature.


    A cooler setup would be something ala Minority Report. Think of Kinect on steriods...
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  • flong
    Tom's Hardware - don't listen to cknobman, this was a fascinating article and you guys do a great job with your reviews. I am not that interested in touch-screen computers and I enjoyed reading it.
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  • acku
    Anonymous said:
    Tom's Hardware - don't listen to cknobman, this was a fascinating article and you guys do a great job with your reviews. I am not that interested in touch-screen computers and I enjoyed reading it.


    Thanks for the kudos!
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  • Anonymous
    molo9000Touch screens on desktops are an ergonomical nightmareJust point your finger at your display for a while. Your arm will start hurting after about 2 minutes.


    Yup, not to mention that with a 24" monitor I sit 4 foot from the screen and only have 2 foot 6 inch long arms...
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  • virtualban
    ackuA cooler setup would be something ala Minority Report. Think of Kinect on steriods...

    That is right. That is the future. Anything else will not make it to the times when brain-computer-interface will change forever the way we interact in full productive ways with the machines.
    BCI + projected into the retina displays will be the step right before nanomachines will be able to hijack our I/O nervous system.

    Exciting future is ahead. Keep healthy people or you risk not seeing it.
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  • Anonymous
    I would like if I could get it with out the 'touch' screen.
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  • Anonymous
    Why not cite an overall preference with details why?

    My friend just bought a Gateway ZX4931 and is thrilled with it. It seems that the angle of the HP all-in-one is straight up. Wouldn't that be harder to look at over extended periods of time? Another thing is that the Gateway unit has a line of light under the display. I thought this would be an annoyance but it actually adds. There is no mention in your article. BTW, the Gateway display is fabulous. Is the HP equal? The Gateway has five USB slots in the back (as well as the two on the right side). This adds functionality, but it seems a hassle to go to the back of what is the unit's bulkiest part. No mention....

    I never heard of Tom's Hardware, but I share the view that at least this comparison piece was superficial and weak. A real nuts and bolts value comparison between the two would have been "outtasight!" I don't see how your article as it is would aid a shopper interested in models made the ways these two are, especially a shopper who is not technically up on things. I didn't see the HP unit in action, so to speak, but I can say that the Gateway ZX4931 makes what I've been using seem like from another era!
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