So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Hewlett-Packard Australia Compaq 2710p GP143PA
- Responsive electronic pen, keyboard light, A4 size, cool operating temperature
- Few shortcuts available in tablet mode, poor performance
This unit is clearly not built for performance, but manages to do the basics with some serious style. Its cool operating temperature makes it comfortable to use over extended periods and we liked the responsive tablet controls.
Price$ 3,999.00 (AUD)
Unlike HP's Pavilion tx1001, the new HP Compaq 2710p is not a touch screen notebook, it's a convertible tablet/notebook. Although it's a little bit functionally confused, this A4-sized HP Compaq 2710p is a nice looking, lightweight choice, which drops the touch-screen convenience for a far more responsive tablet-style slate form-factor operation.
This Windows Vista Business-based machine weighs only 1.65kg in its magnesium alloy chassis and, thanks to the ultra low voltage Intel U7600 1.2GHz CPU, it produces very little heat when being held for long periods - even in High Performance mode.
Unlike the touch-screen sensor on the tx1001, the HP Compaq 2710p is a tablet and therefore needs an electronic pen to interact with the screen, rather than just prodding it with a finger. Despite being a tablet, however, it lacks many of the useful shortcuts that are often built into the bezel around the screen, such as those found on the LifeBook T2010, and instead offers some features that are more useful in notebook mode.
For instance, in notebook mode there is a keyboard light and a built-in webcam, which has portrait and landscape settings, while in tablet mode there is only a screen rotate button and a task manager button. There is, for example, no quick access to Windows Mobility Center or any proprietary software of the like, a feature often found on tablets.
The unit does have an info "[i]" button, which can be accessed in tablet mode. On our Vista machine, this provides access to Quick Look, an HP application that gives you easy access to contact details and calendar events, but needs to be enabled in the BIOS and also requires Office 2003 or 2007 to be installed with an Outlook account.
Fortunately for this unit it's already quite easy to access all important areas of Windows Vista within a few clicks of the pen; you just have to learn the way on your own. The pen follows the usual tablet rules; double tapping for a double click and holding it to the screen, or holding the right-click button before tapping to get a right-click pop-up menu. Writing is a breeze, in fact this review was partially written using the stylus and writing software.
There is one particularly interesting feature of this tablet, which we found to be a little irritating at times. The bezel contains a light sensor that detects ambient light levels and adjusts the screen to match. However, it takes this task too far. Reducing the brightness in dim conditions makes sense as there's less ambient light to compete with, however, making the screen virtually black in pitch black darkness isn't going to help anyone, is it?
In our benchmarks, the HP Compaq 2710p did not perform very well, scoring only 41 in WorldBench 6. The encoding tests showed equally slow results; it took 148 seconds to encode 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files in iTunes, a particularly slow time, and using Cdex (a single-threaded application) took 231 seconds. We would not recommend using this machine for any taxing applications like Adobe Photoshop.
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