HP Compaq 2710p tablet PC

Tablet PC has never been anything more than a niche product but as mobile technology develops so battery life improves and devices start to get lighter, we're starting to see Tablet PC make sense.

Take the HP Compaq 2710p for instance: it has a brushed magnesium-alloy chassis, which helps keep the weight down to a more than portable 1.8kg, as well as making it feel good to the touch. It's a standard clamshell design, which means it comes with a keyboard as well as a digitised screen, so you can use it either in standard notebook mode, or twist the screen around 180 degrees and write directly on the screen with the digitised pen.

The screen is easily one of the best tablet screens available, proving bright and clear with little sign of the haze associated with such panels. There is an ambient sensor that pitches the screen brightness in accordance with the light around it, which worked exceedingly well.

It's the little extras that HP has included that make this an impressive tablet. For instance, along with the ambient light sensor, there is also a pop-out light that can be used when trying to view the screen in dark conditions.

With support for 3G mobile broadband, there is an external antenna that can be hidden away when not in use. You'll also find the standard array of connections, including two USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11g wireless LAN.

When it comes to performance, you won't find this the most powerful notebook on the market but you'll be impressed to see dual-core technology being used in such a lightweight machine. Powered by the Intel Core 2 Duo U7600, this low-voltage chip is sufficient for every day tasks. With only 1024MB of memory we found the Windows Vista Business Edition OS took a long time to boot and run. We'd suggest a memory upgrade to get the most from this machine.

However, the use of a low-voltage processor does mean you won't have to sacrifice battery life for the sake of pure performance. We managed to get close to 4 hours from a full charge from this machine. While this isn't all-day computing, it's a full morning then charge at lunch. The battery has a quick charge function, so it'll be recharged before you are.

When using it in notebook mode you'll find there is a great keyboard. The keys are large and fill the width of the case and as they have a dip in the centre of each key, you won't find your fingers slipping as you type. With twin mouse buttons and a pointing stick, you won't need to add an external mouse. Overall, we were highly impressed with the usability of this machine.

Verdict

The HP Compaq 2710p is a highly capable and usable tablet. We were impressed with it both as a notebook and in slate mode.

True, it isn't the most powerful machine on the market but if you're looking for something to use for note taking, checking emails and generally carrying around all day, this is a highly recommended machine.