I got an email from HP a couple of weeks ago asking if I would like to review the TouchSmart 600 Entertainment Hub ($1510.99) here on my blog. Sure, I thought, that’s interesting. But then came the payoff: HP wants to give away – to one of you, my fabulous readers – this very same, slim, all-in-one Windows 7 computer, Blu-Ray player, media viewer, and entertainment system.
“Heck yes!” I said. “I’m in.”
So they shipped me one to try. (That’s a video of many of its features above. Check it out to whet your appetite. The touch-enabled applications are best seen in action.) I knew this giveaway would make one of you blog readers happy but I did not expect to suddenly become the most popular person in my own home.
I have a sullen teen and a moody tween so normally the best I can hope for from them is wan smile and a request for money. But being the keeper of this “Entertainment Hub” has improved my popularity ratings considerably.
I installed the TouchSmart 600 in my bedroom (though I think it would be great in a kitchen) because it was the easiest place to put it: There was a small table handy, we already have a home theater downstairs, and there just wasn’t room in my kitchen. The TouchSmart has a 23-inch display and doesn’t take up any more room than an LCD screen that size. It really just has one plug and no extra bits. Not even speakers. But my kitchen is full up. I also thought that the bedroom would be a comfy place to do my review. To my surprise, though, that bit of tech turned what was once just the parents’ bedroom into a hangout — and made me the center of attention.
My daughter and I now enjoy regularly sneaking away from everyone else to watch Bones and Burn Notice via Hulu.com and movies through Netflix.com on it. My son darts in — when I’m not about — to watch YouTube videos. And it has made my mornings more productive by displaying my calendar, email, Twitter stream, and Facebook so I can check in with the world and my upcoming day while I do my hair.
Last night, for example, after my daughter and I played a round of mini-golf in on the TouchSmart via our Wii, we fell giggling into the bed and switched over to Hulu to watch a little 30 Rock. Ava loves to poke the screen and spin through her viewing options using the slick touch-enabled app HP built for Hulu, watching snippets of the shows she’s considering rather than reading summaries in an on-screen menu. She made her selection and climbed happily into bed to watch.
My 13-year old was locked in his room behind a door he recently spray-painted with a black “Keep Out!” message. But I could sense his curiosity about the fun we were having. Eventually, he couldn’t keep up the teen-is-an-island routine anymore and knocked on my door. He stared at us angrily for a minute, glanced at the tossed-aside detritus of our Wii game, the episode of 30 Rock on the screen, and the two of us tucked into the comfy bed. Then he grinned at us. “Move over,” he said and climbed in. And for the first time in weeks, he and I – and more to the point, he and his sister — occupied the same room, the same piece of furniture even – and were happy about it. And people say technology drives families apart.
After I chased the kids off to their own beds, I switched over to Rhapsody to listen to a little music while I read my book. (I’m reading the new John Burdett book, The Godfather of Kathmandu. Anyone else?) HP built a visual music store app to run Rhapsody and Pandora. Poking through albums and artists building playlists with it is fun. (The wireless mouse and keyboard also work from across the room but the touch screen is a blast.)
HP asked me if I thought the Touchsmart lived up to its name “Entertainment Hub.” It certainly does in my setting. And if I had a bigger kitchen – or a less cluttered one – or a smaller TouchSmart, I think it would make a terrific information hub there. I have dreams of using the recipe app to finally gather together recipes from all the Web sites I frequent. But I think playing the Wii in the kitchen would result in a lot of broken dishes.
So how do you get yours? Easy. Tell me what you plan to do with it – if you win – in the comments. I’ll draw a random number from the comments next week. But I’m a greedy blogger and I want lots of comments. So spread the word or I might feel the need to postpone pulling a winner!
This giveaway is closed. I have a winner! jdburch was comment number 60 and she is playing with her TouchSmart now. I will do a post on how she likes it soon.