HP has brought touch functionality across from the desktop (its IQ500 series of last year) to the notebook with the Touchsmart TX2, a somewhat hefty 12-inch tablet hybrid.
Touch gestures are limited when compared with the HP desktop models, while the TX2 hardly rivals the Apple Mac or the iPod Touch in this regard. However, if you only want to rotate a photo or zoom in on a webpage, for example, it’s adequate.
Multi-touch is best used in HP’s Mediasmart application, where you can organise and edit photos, play music, videos and DVDs among other options.
These multimedia features are a definite highlight of the TX2.
Of the multi-touch gestures, rotation is done by placing one finger on the screen and moving another finger around it, while zooming is done by pinching two fingers together or shifting them apart, as is standard.
Touch input can also be done using the stylus pen, which slots into the right side of the unit. Cleverly, the TX2 detects the stylus when it gets to within a couple of centimetres of the screen.
One tap of the screen will bring up a mouse icon and cursor so your finger can be used to drag and drop, and to navigate documents.
The LED, 1280 x 800 pixel widescreen can be rotated 180 degrees and folded flat for use in tablet mode. This mode is a good way to use Vista’s text input window, where you can take notes using either the on-screen keypad or handwriting recognition.
There are three shortcut buttons alongside the screen panel to rotate your view, invoke Mediasmart and to open HP’s version of the Windows Mobility Centre.
HP also says you can open Mediasmart by moving two fingers in a wave pattern mimicking the programme’s ‘M’-shaped logo, but it’s difficult to get this to work.
The TX2’s build quality is rock solid and the glossy black finish with silver bubble design accents gives a stylish look.
Being a tablet and a notebook, it’s heavier than most 12-inch models at 1.97kg with the four-cell battery in. The dimensions are 306 x 224 x 387mm at the widest point.
The ports selection is reasonably wide, although HDMI is missing. However, given the lower screen resolution, it’s unlikely this unit will be used for watching high def video anyway.
The keyboard and touchpad are comfortable to use. There are three USB ports, a card reader supporting SD, MS, MMC and XD variants, an ExpressCard slot, VGA and LAN ports and modem, along with a fingerprint reader and Kensington lock. In addition, there is a docking station connector, microphone and AV out connections.
Wi-fi is included, along with a VGA webcam (with integrated microphone) and Altec Lansing speakers.
Built on an AMD 2.2GHz dual core processor, it has a 320GB hard drive and integrated ATI HD 3200 graphics. The review unit had the standard 2GB of RAM, but higher configurations offer 8GB. The TX2 runs Vista Home Premium with service pack one.
The optical drive will let you rewrite CDs and record DVDs.
HP has included a lot of software alongside Mediasmart, including limited time versions of Office and Norton Internet Security, multimedia applications from Cyberlink and Adobe, and its own Advisor and Total Care Setup.
At $2399, the TX2’s value for money lies more in its tablet and multi-media functionality. The looks and build are top notch, but it’s a lot less portable than other notebooks in the 12-inch class, and the touch features are somewhat limited.