Most tablet/notebook convertibles are built for business use, so we don't typically see much in the way of multimedia. With the Pavilion tx2000 (available January 9th), HP tries to bring some of the entertainment mojo of its Pavilion line to the convertible platform, and the result is a low-cost system with some trade-offs.
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Pavilion tx2000 Design
With pretty much the same look and feel as HP's previous tablet, the tx1000, the tx2000 offers an Imprint finish on the black glossy lid as well as on the silver deck. A fingerprint reader is located on the left side of the 12.1-inch, 1280 x 800 widescreen display, which makes it fairly easy to activate. The keyboard is spacious, and the keys are full-size; the spacing between them feels much like a standard desktop array. The directional keys are offset in the bottom-right for easy access, and the Delete key is small but conveniently located in the upper-right corner.
HP uses its novel touchpad of inverted nubs, which provided precise cursor control. A separate column of nubs makes scrolling easier and less error-prone than conventional touchpads. The 0.3-megapixel VGA webcam above the display has good resolution for videoconferencing and offered acceptable frame rates and compensated well for low-light conditions on our tests.
As a tablet, the tx2000 is usable. The LCD secures to the keyboard firmly, so there's no irritating screen wiggle in tablet mode. The AMD CPU runs fairly cool, so it doesn't overheat in the crook of your arm. Our preproduction unit came equipped with the longer-life battery option, which adds some weight and a large lip to the unit; it also makes the tablet ergonomics stronger and gives you more than four hours of use.
We rarely see a dual-mode touchscreen/digitizer display on a consumer-level convertible, and the tx2000 offered accurate input performance in both modes. The screen was very responsive to touch, and double-clicking icons and dragging windows with our finger was easy. This can be quite handy when you need to make a simple command and don't want to pop the stylus from its holster.
The tx2000's stylus is long and fat enough for comfortable long-term use and also did a good job navigating the screen. We liked the generous hover zone on the LCD, and calibration was spot-on. For input, this LCD is superb, but its output is less impressive. Despite a lot of hardware tweaking, we couldn't improve the display's overall flat and dull look compared with most laptop LCDs. Viewing angles were mediocre.
Despite the flexible dual-mode display technology, this unit doesn't seem to be made for consistent tablet use. It has a dearth of tablet launch buttons, with one dedicated to switching screen orientation and another that brings up the Vista Mobility Center. Frequent tablet users will miss having some sort of scrolling wheel or stick or even additional buttons that can be used as Enter or task-switching keys.
Pavilion tx2000 Multimedia
With a widescreen display, Altec Lansing speakers, and a DVD burner, the tx2000 would seem built for fun. A dedicated button launches QuickPlay, HP's own multimedia interface for accessing music, photos, DVDs, and other goodies. We like the oversized Media Center touch buttons on the screen while we watched a movie, however. They were plenty big for our fingers, and we had no trouble activating them during playback. We were puzzled by the DVD playback, which was relatively smooth during action sequences but lacked detail and had oversaturated colors. Audio quality was adequate, although we were hoping for deeper definition and a richer soundstage than the workman-like speakers provided.
Although most convertibles now include some kind of enhanced microphone for recording meetings or handling voice recognition, the tx2000 microphone and recording were disappointing. We had trouble getting decent volume from the audio input, and this model lacks any of the common hardware tools for isolating voices to record meetings cleanly.
With 2GB of RAM and a 2.3-GHz AMD Turion, the tx2000 garnered a decent PCMark Vantage score of 2,405, but its MobileMark 2007 score of 51 was disappointing. The built-in Nvidia GPU didn't offer any 3D speed premium over recent embedded Intel graphics chips, with a 3DMark03 score of 1,141. And while the 5,400-rpm, 160GB hard drive is big and fast enough to holdyour media, disk accesses emitted irritating and persistent clicks.
We did appreciate the 4 hours and 25 minutes of battery life on our tested configuration, and wireless performance was very good on this preproduction unit--at least up to 15 feet. The tx2000 managed a rock-solid 25 Mbps at 15 feet from our access point, but at 50 feet test results became invalid. We're confident that HP will work this kink out for its final-production units, though.
Pavilion tx2000 Verdict
The tx2000 is a mixed bag: Its dual-mode touchscreen adds functionality but detracts from the viewing quality, and multimedia execution was weak. If having a built-in optical drive is important, the tx2000 is a pretty good convertible for the price, but if you want an optimized tablet experience, there are better options.
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