Some time ago we had the pleasure of reviewing the HP TouchSmart IQ770 Desktop PC which was a perfect example of HP's new hands-on approach to computing. Now we've managed to get a look at the new HP Pavilion tx1001, a touch-screen notebook; that's right, it's not a Tablet PC, it's a touch-screen notebook. It isn't the most powerful machine around, but the extra layer of interactivity may be a selling point for some.
- Touch-screen functionality and convertible to a slate form factor, Altec Lansing speakers, LightScribe DVD re-writer, Remote control
- Pressure sensitive touch-screen technology may not feel good to some people, Shallow viewing angle of the screen, Oddly placed biometric fingerprint scanner, Heat emissions
HP's Pavilion tx1001 is not a powerful performer, but for a small premium you get the benefit of touch-screen functionality with your notebook. It still offers all the perks of the Pavilion range, but brings a new physical element to computing.
Price$ 2,299.00 (AUD)
There is a certain degree of semantics involved in whether something is a touch-screen enabled notebook or a Tablet PC, and it may be a frivolous point of separating the two. Perhaps the difference is more in marketing than actual functionality, but our time playing with the HP TouchSmart IQ770 Desktop PC taught us that being more physical with computing adds a whole new dimension to it, and can even make it a little more fun. Tablet PCs have quite a specific target market, but that doesn't mean the rest of us wouldn't mind a little of that functionality does it?
Forget the touch-screen for a second and you have a fairly normal notebook that has much of the standard functionality of HP's Pavilion range. The tx1001 uses a 12.1in screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800 and runs Microsoft Windows Vista home Premium edition. It's installed with an AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 2.0GHz CPU, 1GB of DDR2 RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150 graphics chip, which didn't help it benchmark as well as many other notebooks we test, but the aim here seems to be form and function, rather than raw power.
In WorldBench 6 it scored only 56, a fairly low result, which indicates this system's not geared for high performance situations, such as photo editing and video rendering. However, in day to day tasks such as Web browsing and running simple office applications it shouldn't show any overly noticeable problems.
The NVIDIA 6150 is not a gaming graphics chip, so the low score of 3472 in 3DMark 2001 SE is no surprise. Meaninwhile, in our MP3 encoding test, where we convert 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files took 140 seconds, a good result if the tx1001 is to be used as a mobile media centre.
Our DVD rundown battery test returned familiar results. In our worst-case scenario battery drain, where we run the battery down by looping a DVD, the tx1001 lasted 70 minutes. This test utilises the speakers, the optical drive and the core components, including the display for maximum power consumption. The result of 70 minutes is not great by comparison to notebooks like the Toshiba Satellite A200 (PSAFCA-01K009J), but is fairly indicative of HP Pavilion notebooks, which often score around this level. We forgive the Pavilion range a little and allow it some leeway, as the Altec Lansing speakers provide a better sound than most notebooks, but may also chew more power.
Like a Tablet PC the HP Pavilion tx1001 has a stylus and the screen can be rotated and locked into a slate-style position, but there is one key difference. Unlike the standard Tablet PC, which uses a digitised pen to interact with the screen, the HP Pavilion tx1001 uses a different technology that allows any object, including your finger, to be used to navigate. Put simply, a gas layer between two solid layers detects pressure on the screen, meaning a pen, a fingernail or any object will work.
Unlike the optical sensors on the HP TouchSmart IQ770 Desktop PC or the digitised pen of a Tablet PC we found the pressure-orientated touch-screen of the tx1001 to be a little less fluid. For the screen to react a significant amount of pressure must be applied, which is a little disconcerting when you're used to avoiding contact of any kind with a notebook screen.
It also makes it more difficult to navigate quickly and smoothly. It's almost necessary to press into the screen, rather than simply tap it, like with a digitised pen. Instead of lightly pressing we found a sharp, but short tap did the trick, though there's something intrinsically unnatural about doing this to an LCD panel, protected or not.
The reliance on pressure also means you can't hover the stylus above the screen and pull the cursor with it, like metal to a magnet, which makes pinpoint accuracy difficult in some situations. When in the notebook form-factor mode, pressing on the screen becomes more difficult as the screen's hinges give to the pressure before the touch-screen can register it, and the rather distressing sharp tapping action must be used again. Without the sharp tap we found it necessary to hold the screen with one hand while tapping it with another while in notebook-mode.
Admittedly we did adjust to this process and soon it was a lot easier and more natural. Even the hand-writing recognition software became quite comfortable to use after some practice. Right clicking is achieved by holding pressure in one point for a second, then releasing.
In slate mode the HP Pavilion tx1001 offers some useful buttons like screen-rotate and a shortcut to the Windows Mobility Center, which offers a number of different system tweaks. Another shortcut button takes you to HP's QuickPlay software, which gives you access to a number of different media functions such as an image viewer, media and DVD player and a live-TV player (though no TV tuner is installed in this model). A DVD button next to the QuickPlay button also brings up the QuickPlay software, but jumps directly to the DVD player within.
The aforementioned Altec Lansing speakers have been mounted below the screen on the rotatable section of the notebook, meaning they don't get hidden away when the notebook switches to slate-mode. Also mounted on the rotatable section are a selection of media controls such as play/pause, stop, forward and back buttons. Unfortunately the volume and mute buttons aren't accessible in the slate-mode, even though this is a good way to watch movies in a cramped space.
In the notebook mode the layout is much the same as any other notebook, except the keyboard is a little cramped. The keys themselves have a good action, but some keys have been shrunk, including the right shift key, the escape key and all the function keys, which may irritate some people. The touchpad is textured like the outside of a golf-ball and feels responsive.
The new Pavilion range, including this model, will all have biometric fingerprint readers for added security, and the scanner has been placed for optimum use in slate mode here. This is great in theory, but the positioning of the scanner is precisely where your hand falls when trying to steady the unit. This caused endless warnings that a scan had failed as a finger accidentally passed over it while holding the unit.
The HP Pavilion tx1001 offers a number of nice media functions. For starters it has a 1.3 megapixel camera and a microphone built in for video conversations. A 5-in-1 media card reader supporting SD, MS, MS-Pro, MMC and xD cards is also present, the DVD re-writer has LightScribe capabilities, meaning you can print labels onto special discs, and it comes with a nice little remote control which slots into the Express Card slot if it's not being used. This remote is the best bet for volume control when in slate-mode. One small, but useful feature of this machine is the inclusion of a second headphone port (two total), so you can share music or a movies with a friend. A 120GB hard drive is installed for applications and data storage.
While the speakers output a nice sound, the screen, disappointingly, has a limited viewing angle. This is a fairly standard flaw in notebooks, but irritating in slate-mode specifically, when viewing the screen is often done from obscure angles. Otherwise it delivers a bright, clear image with good contrast.
The notebook's fan can get quite loud and the unit also gets quite hot near the external vent. We found that it was worse in the high-performance battery mode and not so noticeable in the balanced battery mode (relevant regardless of whether the power is plugged in). Be aware though, especially if there are aspirations of running high-performances tasks on this unit in the lap, as opposed to on a desk.
The tx1001 offers up the usual selection of ports including three USB 2.0 ports but no FireWire, a VGA and S-Video port, the Express Card slot and media card reader mentioned above, as well as a gigabit Ethernet port and an expansion slot for a port replicator. A 56k modem is also installed. For wireless connectivity it has Wi-fi 802.11 a/b/g and also has Bluetooth 2.0.
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