HP Touchsmart TX2-1015ea tablet PC

HP’s Touchsmart TX2 is unusual among Tablet PCs in that it’s intended for home use rather than corporate use. You’ll find glossy patterned plastics more in-keeping with the company’s Palivion range than its Compaq machines. The only question is, is there actually a market for touchscreen displays on consumer laptops?

The panel works with both a stylus and fingers, making it easy to navigate the Vista OS. We found it too responsive, however, with the device reacting before we’d even touched the display. As such, it’s impossible to rest a palm on the screen when scribbling away with the stylus, forcing you to adopt a more uncomfortable hovering motion.

Although it’s a bright and sharp screen, image quality is lessened by the touchscreen technology, with a hazy finish that looks almost greasy. It’s at its worst when viewing small text, where we found it uncomfortable to use over longer periods.

Graphics are handled by an ATi Radeon HD 3200 chip, providing a surprising amount of shove for a 12.1-inch laptop. You won’t be able to play anything but older games, but it handles HD video and photo editing tasks with ease. It impacts on battery life, however, with the TX2 struggling to last for 3 hours from a single charge.

The TX2 excels when it comes to regular laptop use. The keyboard offers the excellent usability we’ve come to expect from HP, providing the perfect mix of quality and ergonomics. The tapered edges make it easy to distinguish the keys when touch typing, and the coarse plastics are tactile and robust.

Although the rounded edges help the TX2 to slip easily into bags, our biggest gripe is the sheer bulk of the design. It’s thicker than most similarly sized laptops, and the extra padding that goes into the swivelling screen also sees an increase in depth. Along with a weight the wrong side of 2kg, it makes the TX2 just a little bit too uncomfortable for long-term one-handed use as a tablet.

There’s a dual-core AMD processor within the chassis, and running at 2.2GHz it helps the TX2 to run with a minimal amount of lag. The inclusion of 3072MB of memory further helps with multi-tasking, making this a competent machine in day-to-day use.

In a nod to its consumer pretensions, you’ll find a 320GB hard drive in place – with top of the range models featuring a 400GB drive – the most capacious we’ve seen on a device of this size. The DVD rewriter features LightScribe technology, letting you burn text and images onto the surface of compatible discs. Networking features are equally comprehensive, with the latest Wi-Fi and Ethernet adapters in place, along with the inclusion of Bluetooth.

Verdict

Anybody in the market for a ultra mobile laptop could do a lot worse than the Touchsmart TX2. It’s a comfortable and stylish machine, and it’s crammed with features.

We’re not so sure it’s successful as a Tablet PC, however, where it’s slightly too bulky for comfortable one-handed use, and the screen that responds to finger inputs in addition to a stylus proved too quick to register movements for our liking.