A look at the HP TouchSmart TX2

I’ve been lucky enough to be playing with an HP TouchSmart TX2 Tablet PC for the last couple of weeks. HPIM1894

I will not be doing a full review of the unit as it ships for the simple reason that one of the first things I did was rebuild it with the Windows 7 Release Candidate so I could look check out the new Windows Touch experience on a multi-touch capable machine.

That is not to say that I am not going to review it here — just that I won’t be reviewing the software that ships on the device.   I am going to break the review into two parts.   In Part 1 — this post — I’ll give you a tour of the TouchSmart TX2 hardware.   Part two will drill down into the Windows Touch experience you will find with Windows 7 on a Multi-touch capable machine.

The HP TouchSmart TX2 — or TX2 for short — is a Tablet PC that is firmly aimed at the consumer market.   It has been built with media and ease of use in mind.   It begs to be touched.   It also has a stylish finish that will look more at home in the living room than the board room.   Check out the graphic on the lid.HPIM1903

On the front bezel you will find the power switch, IR Receiver, and the usual jacks and a hardware switch for the wireless.


But hang on — on closer inspection the three jacks are not that usual after all.   Left-to-right the first 3.5mm jack can be used either as an optical output to hook into your home theatre system or for HPIM1890 your headphones.   The middle one can be used for a second pair or headphones which is a nice touch on a media notebook.   the third jack is a microphone line in.

The keyboard is fairly standard, as is the touchpad in front of it.   One nice touch is the hardware button directly above the touchpad, which can be used to disable or enable it.   I like the placement.   I frequently disable and enable the touchpad when I am typing on my mobile devices because I have a bad habit of tapping the touchpad with my thumbs and this can move the cursor. The placement on the TX2 is excellent and the little picture of the touchpad next to the button glows white when the touchpad is enabled and red when it is disabled.


Above the keyboard on the left side are three hardware buttons for volume down, mute and volume up.

HPIM1896On the right side of the screen there is a fingerprint reader and three hardware buttons.   I did not install the button driver in Windows 7 as I don’t know if it is going to be the same as the Vista one or not and I didn’t want to set false expectations.HPIM1898

On the top edge of the screen there is a webcam, flanked on either side by two microphones in an array.   Microphone arrays are   by far superior to single microphones for voice applications so this should make the TX2 excellent for use with Skype, Live Messenger or other voice applications.

At the base of the screen there are two Altec Lansing speakers and the sound quality is really pretty good for a notebook.

On the right side there is the stylus, one USB port, the network port, a proprietary expansion port, a VGA connector and a vent.


On the back there is a modem jack, two more USBs and the lock port.

HPIM1901On the left side there is the power in, a card reader (SD, Memory Stick and MS Pro, MMC & XD) and a PC Express slot.   There is also a CD/DVD burner.HPIM1905

Tucked away in the PC Express slot is one of my favourite features.   A little remote for Media Center.   Isn’t it cute?

HPIM1910 The hinge is very sturdy and the TX2 does not suffer much from the wobbly head that plagues most convertibles. On either side of the keyboard there is a little raised peg.   Once the screen is rotated around the magnetic latch clicks into place the two pegs fit into recesses on the lid which gives the device a nice secure feel in slate mode.

There is a lot to like about the TX2.   Below are some of the highlights for me.

  • Great styling
  • Functional design
  • Multi-touch — that’s a big one.
  • Nice active digitiser as well
  • Great screen and sound for a notebook of this size.
  • That funky little remote!

On the down side:

  • There is a fair bit of fan noise.
  • The battery life is not great.   I suspect that this is a side effect of the fairly high-end video processor and CPU.   I would give a bit away here to be able to watch a whole movie on battery.
  • No eraser on the stylus
  • Volume control buttons are covered when converted to slate mode.   When you are in slate mode, that is when you need your hardware buttons!

Over all a good home machine that will handle all the browsing and media that you throw at it with ease and will also not balk at a bit of gaming.   The multi-touch experience is great in Windows 7 — but that will be the topic of my next post.