Recently we had the chance to test drive a number of 23"all-in-one touchscreen desktops at Best Buy and we were shocked to learn that their performance as Active Ink Platforms varied widely. Previously, we had reviewed the HP 310 and 610 Touchmsmart machines and we found their responsiveness to both finger touch and stylus touch to be superb. The HP machines still offer the best response to handwritten input using both the finger and a stylus, but we can no longer give a blanket "thumbs up" to any large screen all-in-one desktop or any device using the NextWindow optical touch system. Some of the machines we tested were quite poor at recognizing handwritten input and will be placed in our "Not Recommended" category.
Hp has replaced the 310/610 generation of machines with new models and in the meantime a host of other manufacturers have released similarly sized and powered all-in-ones. Among the new all-in-ones we tested were 23" models from Toshiba, Dell, Gateway, Samsung and HP's new 520 model. Most were outfitted with NextWindow's optical touchscreen system that we found to be quite precise when mated to the HP 310 & 610. This system still performs well on the HP machines we tested, however we had significantly less pleasant experiences on the Dell, Gateway and Toshiba machines. Our input error rate was very high on them, with stray marks, skipped spaces and unnatural-looking scripts abounding.
As you might imagine, these errors caused our handwriting recognition on the Dell, Gateway and Toshiba machines to be rather poor and we would rate them only as "marginally acceptable" platforms for Active Ink. The Samsung machine, which uses a traditional capacitive touchscreen like many smaller tablets passed none of our handwriting tests, proving that capacitive touchscreens' imprecision is not due to screen or font size. Their imprecision of input makes them inadequate platforms for electronic handwriting no matter how big their screens are. As a result, the Samsung 23" all-in-one is "Not Recommended" as an active ink platform.
We are at a loss to explain why HP offers a significantly better inking experience than its competition in the 23" all-in-one arena, but they are the clear winner in our minds. After their recent failures with the Touchpad and Slate 500, it's good to see them come out on top again.