Home Featured A look at the HP TouchSmart TX2

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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9 Comments

  1. GoodThings2Life

    06/14/2009 at 6:43 am

    Really isn’t too much different from the tx2525 that I bought back in January from a hardware perspective… aside from it being all black instead of mostly silver.

    The problem I have is exactly what you listed above with the fan and such, but also with the weight. If I were going to take the tablet with me for inking notes, it would drive me crazy unless I were able to mostly sit at a desk with it.

    Reply

  2. Suzanne Shanks

    06/14/2009 at 7:05 am

    Thanks for the review. I have had this machine for about 6 months and was glad to read someone else’s take on it. I would agree with you on almost all counts. I will add my two cents for your readers:

    I am running Vista 32-bit Service Pack 2 and have not made any significant adjustments to the factory settings. It has 3GB RAM. The wireless works great, as does the Bluetooth. The webcam/speakers/microphone all perform better than other Fujitsu and Dell laptops I’ve had. I haven’t had occasion to use the infrared sensor.

    The TX2Z is a great compromise between a large laptop and a netbook for me. It’s my only machine, so I needed full functionality in a compact package; large enough to use all day but small and light enough to haul everywhere (And I do so). I just drop into whichever totebag, briefcase or backpack I’m using that day and head out the door.

    It does everything I need – office apps, web, videos, music, etc. I am not a gamer so I cannot comment on its power to handle that. I don’t do a lot with photo editing, so I can’t remark on that either. I do a lot of transferring files back and forth to a portable drive, sync my WM phone, and converting audio and video files, which it handles quickly and easily.

    Yes, people always say how good looking it is, with the “bubbles” design on it and because it is small. The remote is also cute, but I find it too hard to use because it is so small and the buttons don’t always respond immediately. I do use it, however, when watching movies and Hulu.

    The battery life is pitiful when using multimedia. Sometimes I can’t get through an entire DVD before it runs out. I’m about ready to buy a spare battery. The battery also sticks out about an inch in the back, which makes an excellent grip/handhold when in tablet mode (you can turn the screen in all four directions). (It also makes it hard to find the right neoprene case but I just bought a 14″ one and made that smaller with my sewing machine.)

    The really loud and nearly constant fan noise is a problem to me, especially because the unit still gets pretty hot on the bottom right back side near the vent despite the powerful fan. The machine makes its presence obvious in quiet situations like coffee shops and meetings, even with all other sounds turned off. I will consider that more carefully on my next machine.

    One strange thing I’ve noticed is that about 20% of the time it crashes or freezes after I have closed the lid and reopened it. Sometimes it restarts itself and sometimes it has to be restarted manually. I assume this is a software problem but I am too busy to deal with it — I can live with it for now.

    I don’t need the slate mode or the touch/gesture capabiities very often but when I do they work well. I am a teacher; I wish I could have a set of these tablets for my classroom!

    Overall I’d give this laptop an 8.5 out of 10. Thanks for your blog — I still read it faithfully though I rarely comment.

    Reply

  3. Albatross

    06/14/2009 at 8:11 pm

    Nice quick review on the hardware. I’ve had it for about 2 months now. I bought it for my part-time study to read course materials in PDF format and note taking. I’m between semesters now so I’ve got the time to tinker it for my needs.

    On the hardware side I do find it a bit on the heavy side as a tablet machine. After holding it in one hand for 30 minutes gives me aching muscles already (maybe I need to work out more, and use the TX2 as my dumbbell!). As Suzanne said it also got quite hot around the vent. Mine came with only a 4-cell battery so the battery life is also a concern. Other than these complaints overall the hardware is quite good. There’re some nice design touches such as the touchpad button and the remote control.

    I’m looking forward to your second part on the Touch experience in Win7. I’ve tried both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the RC and the touch experience had been very good. However the N-trig beta drivers are not stable enough for long time use. The touch screen would not work after using it for a while, particularly when it is in slate mode (when touch is the only interface!). I had to turn it back into laptop mode, hit ctrl-alt-delete and then cancel to make it work again. And that does not work 100% too! I had just restored it back to Vista yesterday. I don’t know if your experience with Win7 would be different and would love to hear it.

    Reply

  4. Rob Halligan

    06/16/2009 at 4:20 pm

    These are said to ship with lots of crapware. I have trouble figuring out which apps I should re-install after cleaning off the hard drive. If anybody could inform as to which HP-installed apps are good, I’d be much appreciative.

    Reply

  5. How I Make $300 a Day Online

    06/17/2009 at 3:30 pm

    Hey, great post, very well written. You should write more about this.

    Reply

  6. Mário Filipe

    06/17/2009 at 9:01 pm

    I’ve had my eye on this convertible since it was first announced, but I still feel that there are some improvements that should/could be made.
    First of all the processor, the Turion 64 X2 Ultra “Griffin” is a power hog and in large part responsible for the fan noise/high temperature and for the low battery life. Maybe an update to the AMD Congo platform with the “Conesus” processor will solve the problem, but still have to see if this new platform delivers (Yukon/Neo is too underpowered).
    Also the screen leaves something to be desired, the move to a LED backlight was welcomed, if for nothing else for battery life.
    Multitouch is nice, but I would like to see better pen support – make it pressure sensitive like the Wacom digitizers and add an eraser.
    And for a multimedia-oriented laptopt having no digital video output is ridiculous – even S-Video was removed from the TX2000/TX2500.
    And make it thinner – take a page from the dv2 (except for the processor), lose the dvd drive and slim it down.

    And if possible tone down the glossy finish.

    Reply

  7. tehhi5

    07/01/2009 at 9:11 pm

    We’re unabashed fans of HP’s Touch-Smart desktop machines, so we were really looking

    forward to getting our digits on the new technology in a convertible touch-screen notebook

    PC. But our eager anticipation only made the reality of the TouchSmart tx2 all that more

    disappointing.

    Reply

  8. Majid

    07/03/2009 at 1:43 am

    I Wish Gottabemobile Put Much Larger Pictures, about 3x/4x.
    When you see a biger picture with more details, you can feel and understand it much more!

    Reply

  9. Rob Bushway

    07/03/2009 at 11:09 am

    majid – have you tried clicking on the pictures?

    Reply

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