So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
HP TouchSmart tx2-1000 Notebook PC
This HP notebook has a great touch screen, although we weren't impressed by its battery life
- Excellent tablet functionality, excellent handwriting recognition, reasonable price, 12.1in size, built-in optical drive
- Poor battery life, no HDMI, poor vertical viewing angles, no Bluetooth
The HP TouchSmart tx2-1000 Notebook PC is a good buy if you're a home user after a tablet PC. Its handwriting recognition is almost perfect, and it's comfortable to hold in the tablet position. We just wish it had a better mobile CPU and longer battery life.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
HP’s TouchSmart tx2-1000 Notebook PC is one of the rare laptops that use an AMD Turion X2 CPU. It is also the first touch-screen laptop we have seen to be priced under $2000 and aimed at the home user rather than the business user. That’s a good thing. What isn’t good is that the TouchSmart tx2-1000 Notebook PC is basically a re-jig of the HP Pavilion tx2600, but with a slightly different design pattern, a different name and almost identical performance!
It’s a 12.1in touch-screen laptop with a built-in DVD burner, a 320GB hard drive; ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200 graphics, 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM, a 2.2GHz AMD Turion X2 RM-74 dual-core CPU and 802.11n wireless networking. Modern features that are missing include Bluetooth, HDMI and external SATA, but it does have three USB 2.0 ports, an ExpressCard/34 slot, Gigabit Ethernet and a 56Kbps modem.
That’s not a bad configuration overall, but the real selling points for the TouchSmart tx2-1000 Notebook PC are the touch screen, its sub-2kg weight (it weighs 1.98kg) and its size. The notebook's touch screen can be used either with a pen or with your fingers. It won’t recognise your fingers straight away — you have to tap the screen multiple times before it will register their input — but you can use two fingers simultaneously.
However, using your fingers is only useful if you want to use gestures, as it is not very responsive when using them for navigation or writing. In fact, you are better off using the pen all the time because it has almost impeccable accuracy. We wrote paragraphs of text and, at most, only had to correct one or two words per paragraph. The only words it couldn’t decipher were ones written in an overly cursive style. As far as touch-screen responsiveness and accuracy is concerned, this notebook is one of the best — it’s up there with Fujitsu’s LifeBook T2010 (although that is a more refined tablet PC overall).
The HP TouchSmart tx2-1000 Notebook PC runs Windows Vista Home Premium and uses Vista’s built-in tablet PC functionality. It was only slightly faster than the HP Pavilion tx2600 in our CPU and graphics tests. It recorded a time of 1min 46sec in the iTunes MP3 encoding test, 1min 42sec in the Blender 3D rendering test and 1478 in 3DMark06. The HP Pavilion tx2000 recorded 1min 48sec, 1min 53sec and 1458 in those tests, respectively. The TouchSmart tx2-1000's hard drive spins at 5400rpm and recorded a transfer rate of 21.2 megabytes per second in our tests, which is 1MBps faster than we were expecting.
What all these figures mean is that you will be able to run pretty much any office application easily; you’ll also be able to undertake photo editing and even some basic video editing. Multitasking won’t be a problem, nor will you have any problems watching movies, but you won’t be able to play any graphics-intensive games on it.
What you can’t do with the HP TouchSmart tx2-1000 is use it for long periods of time while away from a power outlet. It has a 4-cell, 37Wh (Watt hour) battery that lasted only one hour in our DVD rundown test (a test that we run with maximum screen brightness and the wireless adapter enabled). The battery is small because the hinge for the screen takes up space in the middle of the battery compartment. As such, the battery actually has a gap in its centre so that it can fit into its slot around the hinge. There is no option for a bigger battery.
The screen only turns one way on its hinge (clockwise), and it has decent horizontal viewing angles but poor vertical viewing angles. This is a problem if you want to use the laptop in tablet mode with a portrait orientation. The screen will look washed out and be hard to read and write on due to its poor viewing angles.
If you get sick of writing with the pen, you can always use the HP TouchSmart tx2-1000’s keyboard, which has full-sized keys (apart from the tilde, function and arrow keys) and good travel. It feels a little soft to type on, but it is comfortable overall.
What might be uncomfortable is the amount of noise the laptop makes when it is running. It has a fan that rotates at full speed in order to keep the CPU cool, and it has vents on the right side of the chassis where the warm air escapes. Vents are also present on the access panels at the bottom of the unit for the RAM and the hard drive. You’ll notice some heat when you use it on your lap, but not enough to make things unpleasant.
The build quality of the laptop is adequate for the most part, but it's not strong enough on the side where the optical drive resides. If you pick up the unit with one hand from the side the optical drive is on, you will hear the plastic case click as it makes contact with the DVD burner's drive tray.
Nevertheless, this laptop is a good buy if you’re after a touch screen, but it could use more RAM and a better CPU. Its handwriting recognition was excellent and it felt good to use while holding it in the tablet position. Its specifications are powerful enough for most office and Web applications, and its keyboard is comfortable to type on.
The biggest let-down with the HP’s TouchSmart tx2-1000 Notebook PC is its small battery, which robs it of precious time away from an outlet. This appears to be something that HP can fix only by totally redesigning the chassis and hinge mechanism to give the battery compartment room for more cells.
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