HP TouchSmart 310 (310-1125y)
Unlike Gateway, HP sells all-in-ones with and without touchscreens. All of them share the same basic physical design: a glossy LCD framed against a black piano finish. This is what you get with the TouchSmart 310 ($699).
The display is well-balanced. HP weighs the base down with a plastic-covered steel plate that has the appearance of brushed aluminum. This improves stability by lowering the center of gravity, making this computer suitable for any surface and environment, including high-traffic areas.
As expected, most of the connectivity is located behind the system's screen. But two USB ports on the left side and audio ports on the right side offer easy accessibility. The sound bar is located just below the display. The quality of HP's speakers isn't anything to get excited over, but they provide fairly even sound distribution.
There's a recurring theme that we're noticing with all-in-ones: poor display controls. There are more options on the TouchSmart 310 than you get with Gateway's ZX4931, but you have to adjust the settings through HP's proprietary software. While HP achieves an aesthetic design void of all buttons (with the exception of power), it comes at the cost of utility. Unless you go through the software, there isn't even a way to change brightness.
When it comes to actual use, the TouchSmart 310 is a bit more responsive to zoom commands, but rotating requires more deliberate one-handed gestures. You can see for yourself in the demo video.
The simplicity of Gateway's TouchPortal software is what we love. But unfortunately, fewer applications are optimized for use with Gateway's touchscren. In contrast, HP TouchSmart interface is full of options and includes apps for weather, resource monitoring, eBay, Facebook, Hulu, Netflix, note-taking, and even a recipe program.
HP provides ten videos for anyone unfamiliar with how to use those applications, and we posted all of them to our YouTube account. As a preview, you can watch the first tutorial below.