The cat’s finally out of the bag – The new HP TouchSmart IQ500 has been announced

June 10, 2008 4:18 pm

The big day is here and gone. The new TouchSmart PC has been announced to great fanfare on the web, and I’m sure there’s more to come. The blogs are full of praise and criticism already, of course. Since I was closely involved with the creation, I’m happy about all the praise and hope that we’ll be able to address the criticism over time (especially regarding the software). In other words: there’s never enough time to get any piece of software 100% smack-dab perfect for everyone’s taste.

I’d like to write a little about things that may not be well known yet. Yes, there is actually limited “dual-touch” in the new software. You can resize the upper row of “tiles” using two fingers. You can scroll using two fingers once you’ve gone into the “Browser”. Due to how the touch screen works you need to make sure your fingers are a certain distance apart to get it to work right. It’s “limited” dual-touch because of the natural laws of time and resource constraints on the development team: we ran out of time to do more.

Oh, and nowhere in the HP TouchSmart software do you need to “double tap”/”double click”. If a single tap doesn’t do it, the touch screen saw too much movement of your finger during the tap and turned it into a move action instead. That’s the challenge with using optical technology that sweeps just above the glass. It sees your finger a little before you actually touch the screen. (Think Vincent Cassell in “Ocean’s Twelve” or Catherine Zeta-Jones in “Entrapment”)

We’ve had feedback from users in the past, asking for tutorials around the software. I’m personally really happy that we managed to put two tutorials on the system for this new incarnation of HP TouchSmart. And they are available right from the lower row of “tiles”. Here’s a small taste of how the tutorials were created:

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As you may be able to see, there’s a lot of work that goes into even such a small thing as creating tutorial videos. I certainly had no idea how involved the process is before I had the chance to help out with the production in a (very) small way. I feel lucky to have worked with and met so many great people. You can find the tutorials here, starting with the basic one in English.

For those of you who read this blog because of the WPF topics I’ve touched on in the past: yes, central parts of the software were created using WPF. I don’t mean to be a fanboy, but I’ve said it in the past, WPF is powerful stuff. The ability to have separate people working on styling the software while other people work on “business logic” is incredibly valuable. At the end you get full visual fidelity of the design for virtually no added work.

Before I close (and this gets much longer), let me put a question out there for software developers. If it were possible to write software that could end up as “tiles” in the TouchSmart software, would that be interesting to you? If not, why not? Don’t take this question as any indication or promise of what the future may hold. I’m just curious about your opinion. Comment away, please.

And for those of you who just stumbled upon this by chance (or dug through the sea of noise out there) and are curious about certain aspects of the new HP TouchSmart PC or the software, I’ll try to answer questions within certain limits in the comments as well.

The rest of this post is mostly a collection of links I gathered on the day of the announcement, with a little added commentary for myself. What a splash!

HP TouchSmart PC gets slick upgrade (Slashgear, Promo pics)

HP TouchSmart- bringing touch to the iMac form (jkOnTheRun, Promo pics)

HP TouchSmart PC gets refreshed, unboxed (Gearlive, unboxing [])

HP’s TouchSmart 2 in the wild (Engadget, Promo pics link)

HP Touchsmart IQ506 Brings New Interface, Bigger Screen (Gizmodo, tutorial video embedded, press blurb)

Preview- HP TouchSmart IQ500 Series PC (Hardwarezone Australia, prototype pics, specs)

HP updates TouchSmart with TouchSmart IQ504 and IQ506 PC (Krunker, promo pics, iMac comparison quote)

HP Touchsmart IQ506 and 504 Touch PC (Techfresh, promo pic)

HP launches TouchSmart all-in-one PCs (TechChee, promo pic)

HP Touchsmart IQ506 and 504 Touch PC (HawtGadgets, promo pic)

HP TouchSmart IQ500 hands on PC (Five.TV, promo pic)

HP Launches new touch-screen PC (, Stage pic, embedded tutorial video, showing the precise touch action needed to avoid accidental “moves”)

HP TouchSmart update tackles iMac, Gateway (electronista, Promo pics) (Promo pic) (HP press release) (MSDN, Promo pics, link to PC Mag article) (HP video site, fingerprints video)

HP Connecting Your World Keynote – Live (Gizmonews, LiveBlog from the Berlin event, lots of stage pics) (Promo pic) (Vanessa Tan, lots of Berlin stage pics, one YouTube video) (Mostly a press release rehash) (Crave, Promo pics) (One promo pic) (Promo pic) (One promo pic) (One promo pic, link to gallery of all HP products launched) (Promo pics) (Small promo pic) (Promo pic, link to ubergizmo gallery of promo pics) (Mostly press release) (Promo pics, seems there’s no original content here) (Promo pics) (no pics, very short),2817,2319417,00.asp (One small promo pic) (One pic) (Picture) (Picture) (Richard Walker demo) (Joan Jett ad) (I could defend the problems you see in this video with operating the touch screen, but I think that would be futile, so I’ll just leave it. Trust me when I say it takes a little getting used to, but it works pretty well after that. We did lots of usability studies on this puppy.) (In Danish) (One promo pic) (Promo pics, good quality video of Richard Walker demoing) (Voodoo, event pics) (Seems to be down temporarily) (Promo pics) (No pics) (No pics, but look at the headline. Wow.) (One promo pic, discussion of software for laptops)

18 Responses to “The cat’s finally out of the bag – The new HP TouchSmart IQ500 has been announced”

Peter Dampier wrote a comment on June 11, 2008

Congrats – Its great to see more of your great work out there!! I can’t wait to take a look at one of these systems.

Will you be releasing the software as an update for the original TouchSmart?

GeekTieGuy wrote a comment on June 11, 2008

Hey Peter,

It’s been too long. Glad to see you like what we’ve done.

There are no plans for updating the existing TouchSmart software at this point, unfortunately. We’ve taken things out of MediaCenter (now a standalone WPF app), and it would be somewhat difficult to migrate settings.

Thanks for your kind words!

Richard Morton wrote a comment on June 16, 2008

Congrats on this – I’ve been watching the videos on the HP website and the software looks amazing!
I’ll definately going to be pre-ordering an IQ500 (I have been a happy user of the older Touchsmart PC for over a year).

Now my question:
Watching the videos it shows a limited amount of two fingered ‘multitouch’ action and this is confirmed in your post above.
I know you mentioned that there’s only a limited amount of ‘dual-touch’ because of time constraints. As a WPF developer myself with a passion for touchscreen apps, is there any supported/unsupported ways to get access to the dual-touch stuff on this PC?

Basically, I’m writing a touchscreen app myself with WPF and there are certain areas where having dual/multitouch could enhance my app, so I’m wondering in the IQ500 might be a good testing/debugging machine for basic multitouch, instead of hacking together a projector based setup.
I’d love to know any official (or even unofficial) API’s/hacks/tips etc that might be accessable to developers on the IQ500. (Feel free to email me if you like!)

Either way, I’m definately going to be purchasing one of these and see what I can do with it.
Great job on the software (and the blog – I hadn’t come across this one before and I do keep up with most WPF blogs), it looks fantastic!

John wrote a comment on June 24, 2008


It was interesting reading your write-ups. I am thinking of getting an IQ775 or IQ506, but would really want to install Vista Ultimate on it. Is it possible on either the new or the old toucsmart to upgrade to vista ulimate and then install the touch part of the software from the revovery/application disks that might be supplied with the PC. I own a copy of Vista Ultimate and really need some of the features, so if one of these machines is more likely to be better suited for me, I’d go for that. I understand that the final outcome would probably be known only when I actually try it, but I’d like to make a decision based on your input.

Would really appreciate your comment on this, Thanks!

GeekTieGuy wrote a comment on June 24, 2008

It shouldn’t be a problem to upgrade to Ultimate and preserve the touch software parts. I’m not sure how the recovery would work if you wanted to restore the entire system after such and upgrade, though (I’m not very familiar with the recovery software.)

If you plan on wiping the HP software image on the hard drive out completely, replace it with a clean Vista Ultimate, and then want to recover individual applications, that might not work properly, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

You should be able to “upgrade” the HP preload of Vista. After that, you’d probably want to plan out when and how to use Ultimate’s complete PC backup feature. Not sure if such an upgrade would be supported by HP. Technically, once you buy a Vista upgrade off the shelf, you’re a Microsoft customer, not an HP customer anymore.

The IQ700 series will be discontinued shortly after the IQ506/IQ504 are in the stores, so if you want the IQ775, better do it quickly. You wouldn’t get the same software experience, though. Also, the IQ506/IQ504 has a much different form factor. Another difference is that the 700 series is AMD based, whereas the 500 series is Intel based.

Let me know if you need other information to make your decision.

John wrote a comment on June 24, 2008

Thanks for your quick response about the vista ultimate issue! It is good to know that an upgrade to vista ultimate would probably be fine except for the tech support part.
But in case of a clean install, would the newer IQ506 be a better choice since (as you mentioned) it uses a standalone WPF application vs the integration with Media Center in the IQ775? Does that architectural change make any difference at all in terms of application installation when doing a clean install of vista ultimate?

As such, given the price point, form factor and cpu, I am definitely inclined towards the new model- the only thing that I like more in the old model is the vertical adjustability of the LCD – and maybe I’d be able to get a good deal when it is discontinued!

Thanks again!

GeekTieGuy wrote a comment on June 25, 2008

No the difference between the old and new software would not make a difference as far as app install goes.

But, as I tried to say before, the application recovery may not work if the HP image is wiped out and a clean Vista is installed.

You can experiment with it by making sure that you burn the system recovery DVDs right after getting to the Windows Desktop for the first time and then verifying that the DVDs work by using them to recover the system immediately after. That way you can always use the DVDs to get back to “clean slate”, including the touch software.

El Gordo wrote a comment on June 28, 2008

I do massive photo sequencing and editing for family histories. I struggle with paperport, picasa, etc, when it comes to SIMPLY GETTING THE PHOTOS INTO A SEQUENCE WHICH WILL STICK. Windows seems to be the enemy. Can this new box/UI do better? Does it overlay paperPort? How does it work with QuarkXPress, too?

GeoffM wrote a comment on July 5, 2008

I have 2 of the 700 series, (Personally I prefer AMD) I certinally would like to try an Upgrade of the SmartCenter (I’m assuming that SmartCenter is the application on the new 500 series) prehaps I’ll order a 560 recovery CD and try to extract the HP Apps

Caro wrote a comment on July 23, 2008

I might just buy one of the IQ500, Ive seen a lot of videos on youtube and the ads as well, never seen someone using msn messenger or simple microsoft office programs… so thats my question, beside the excellent Media Center, u can use normal stuff u use on ur normal desktop right?

GeekTieGuy wrote a comment on July 23, 2008

Caro, sure, you can use normal stuff on the desktop. The OS is Vista, and it runs all the normal Vista programs. You probably wouldn’t use those with touch, though. If you want the Media Center TV stuff, make sure you look at the IQ506. The IQ504 does not have a TV tuner and it’s not something that’s available as an upgrade to the IQ504.

GeekTieGuy wrote a comment on July 23, 2008

ElGordo, I’m not sure what your comment means exactly, but if you can get QuarkXPress to run on Vista (64 bit), that might do it. I don’t know of any other software that’s included on the IQ500 series that will let you put photos in a sequence that will stick. Most programs that help you organize photos seem to force some kind of metadata-based sort order on photos (like filename, creation date, etc.). Then again that’s just for browsing through the pictures. I think what you’re after is creation of some physical artifact from digital photos. A word processor or presentation software package might do for that. Or some other photo package that lets you create books or albums and submit them online for printing.

Caro wrote a comment on July 24, 2008

well thank you very much for ur answer hehe. Still u mean as TV tuner the remote control and the recording options right, I mean the IQ504 still has the Vids/photos and how u crop them and stuff right? =[ sorry about my noobie questions =x. Ty for you time.

GeekTieGuy wrote a comment on July 24, 2008

Caro, yes the 504 has plain vanilla Media Center for vids/photos and all that, but no remote and no recording options. If you have Netflix, you can get a little add-in app (called My Netflix, for Media Center that lets you consume their WatchNow catalog.

Mioplanet wrote a comment on August 9, 2008

“If it were possible to write software that could end up as “tiles” in the TouchSmart software, would that be interesting to you?”

YES – Interesting – What we would need is to be able to create and refresh an HTML file (a web page) displayed in the “tiles”. or at list a bitmap file as interactivity is not required.

And wouldn’t it be possible to send a key code to Windows when some events with the fingers are catched? I mean we could read the keyboard events (as for the mouse) and catch the event when the finger leave the screen for example.

We have many ideas and are already able to do a lot with your touchSmart software. It is intelligent and seems to be open (at least on the track of being more open).

We are working on:
– LiveTV (1000 channels worldwide)
– YouTube integration
– List / To Do
– Finger Drawing (with visual effects)
– Easier import of multimedia libraries
– Customizable home page for the browser
– Games and stress toys
– Musical instruments
– Weather/real time satellite view
– Learning tools for kids

Of course we don’t create all for the HP TouchSmart (UMPC is another target) but we customize at 100% for a perfect integration.

Any help, contacts etc would be great…

John wrote a comment on October 10, 2008

Is it possible to instal multitouch capabile drivers on the HP Touch Smart? Something from NextWindow?

GeekTieGuy wrote a comment on October 10, 2008

John, I don’t know where or how you would get such drivers, but if you know, you can certainly try. No guarantees it will work, though.

BIll wrote a comment on October 18, 2008

Care to comment?

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