Nice touch, but don't expect much storage
A new range of personal computers with touch-sensitive screens has arrived in time for the Boxing Day sales.
But whether any of them are on sale this weekend remains to be seen.
The new line of ultra-thin and light computers, called ultrabooks, have been launched with touch-sensitive screens to take full advantage of the new features in Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system.
Windows 8, with its new Start screen covered in live tiles showing the latest information from installed applications, came out in October and new computer models designed with it in mind have been appearing on the shelves since then.
Windows 8, which also retains the traditional desktop environment, works best on touch-sensitive hardware such as the HP Envy Touchsmart 4-1121TU and the Samsung Series 5 ULTRA Touch, Many Windows 8 apps are written with touch screens in mind.
The HP Envy Touchsmart 4-1121TU ($1799) is the lower specced of the pair I had to look at this month.
It has a third-generation Intel Core i3-3217U 1.8Ghz Processor paired with 4GB of RAM, a 320GB solid state hard drive and a 14-inch high definition BrightView LED touch screen.
The Samsung Series 5 ULTRA Touch ($1699) has a more powerful Intel Core i5 processor paired with 8GB of RAM, a 500GN solid state hard drive and a 13.3-inch touch screen.
Neither model has an optical disk drive, so the only way to play music or movies on them is to download a file or plug in an external optical drive.
I expect that's what HP had in mind with the Series 5 ULTRA Touch as it comes with a Beats Audio sound system. It's designed for music and movies and plays them well. But don't expect to store too much on the internal hard disk drive. This means the likes of a 2TB Western Digital My Passport hard disk drive is essential if you want to take a lot of music and movies on the road.
Without such accessories both of these machines are best suited for running Microsoft Office apps on the go, such as Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint and Word, and creating the fairly small files that go with them. They are also good for the odd bit of digital photo editing.
As you'd expect, the larger HP Envy Touchsmart 4-1121TU is heavier than the Samsung Series 5 ULTRA Touch. It's 1.8kg while the smaller Samsung weighs in at 1.69kg. However, that surprised me as the Samsung feels heavier. Maybe it's the brushed metal case.
The Samsung model also comes with a quickstart guide which shows you how to use the touchpad, which now supports pinch zooming in the same way that the touchscreen and smartphones do when they are running the right apps.
There's also tips on using a touch screen and the new Windows 8 start screen, previously known as Metro, and the more tractional desktop mode. There's also information on the new Windows 8 apps Samsung has developed in the communication, creation, control and entertainment spaces such as AllShare Play, S Note, and Jamie Oliver's Recipes.
If you want the same sort of help with the HP machine it's best to turn to the internet and search for help.
They'd both make great secondary machines to take on the road, but I prefer the HP because it has a bigger screen and is sleeker.
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