The HP Pavilion TouchSmart tm2 is an ultra-portable convertible tablet PC. With an aluminium casing and all-rounder configuration, it has been designed to handle a variety of tasks: photo, video, design, office work. For all that, battery life is a real selling point thanks to a well adapted low energy platform.
Handling, design and build: nice finish, some details need revisiting
Almost entirely in aluminium, this is a nice laptop to look at with an original bronze tint that should have a pretty wide appeal. Aluminium gives it a robust, high-quality feel. We like the fact that you don’t have to clean all the glossy plastic you find on other models. Only the screen frame is in the still fashionable glossy black plastic. It does go well with the already glossy panel but an aluminium frame would have limited fingerprint marks.
The keyboard has well-spaced keys. Keying is fairly quiet and rapid thanks to the fact that the keys are only pushed in a short distance. The keys themselves are of reasonable size (15 x 15 mm) and are well set out. Only the arrow keys have been resized and this doesn’t pose too much of a problem. Overall the keyboard is very comfortable to use. The volume, brightness and other settings are set using the F1 to F12 keys. No need to use the "fn" key – you have direct access. This can be a problem for some shortcuts however.
The multi-touch touchpad is really wide and comfortable to use. It’s very close to the quality of touchpads used on Apple machines. The glide is a little less pleasant to use because the coating isn't quite as smooth and therefore noisier but we’re nevertheless light years away from the horrible glossy touchpads used on certain other HP machines. The touchpad used here is one of the best models currently available.
The touch screen is multi-touch (2 fingers) and capacitive. It also works as a resistive screen with certain applications (you have to press quite hard if you’re using your finger). It is pretty responsive, especially if you use the stylus that allows you to manipulate the machine without even touching the screen. You just have to get within a few millimetres of the surface of the screen to move the cursor and then click the stylus or touch the screen to effect a click. The right click is operated through a button on the stylus or by holding the stylus down on the screen for a couple of seconds. The stylus also supports different pressure levels. You can thus draw as you would with a graphics tablet (with Photoshop CS4 for example).
When you get used to it, you’ll have no trouble drawing or writing using the screen. Handwriting recognition can also be envisaged. We prefer the use of the stylus for this as, if you’re using your finger, you need to press down on the screen. For handwriting, capacitive screens are much nicer to use without the stylus.
The webcam is fine. Fluidity is sufficient in spite of a bit of blurring with fast movement. It can lack sharpness and overexposed areas are subject to burning. In spite of this, colours are good.
Although it has an aluminium shell that dissipates heat well and relatively low energy components, the tm2’s fan is audible. Without really being noisy, you couldn’t call this a quiet machine. Other ultra-portables do a lot better. Our model had the annoying habit of giving off a disagreeable whistling sound that risks troubling some. Apparently this comes from the electronics that handle the screen’s backlighting.
Full connectivity here with 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 HDMI, 1VGA, 1 RJ45, a 5-in1 memory card reader and a mic/headphones combo. A stylus is also supplied and is housed on the left hand side of the machine. HP also supplies an external DVD burner with its machine.
Under the machine, 2 large panels give access to the main machine components.
|VGA, RJ45, fan, HDMI, USB 2.0, mic/headphones, stylus
||External DVD burner
||On/Off switch, Wi-Fi, card reader, 2 USB 2.0 ports
Processing: the ULV processor gives sufficient performance for office doc work
Windows 7 index: 4,1. Details: CPU 4.1 - Memory 4.8 - Graphics 5.0 – Gaming graphics 6.1 – Main hard drive 5.9.
Equipped with a very low energy Intel ULV processor, the HP Pavilion TouchSmart tm2 is nonetheless fairly responsive. It scores 50 on our index, or 50% down on our reference machine (100 on the index), the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi3650 (equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400). This is plenty for general use as long as you’re not planning demanding tasks such as encoding or editing video.
It takes 39 seconds after you turn it on to display the desktop, then 15 to 20 seconds more to finish loading the main software. It switches off in 11 seconds.
The processor can handle HD 1080p (Blu-Ray equivalent) on its own. Playback is fluid and the CPU occupation level goes up to 95%. You’re advised however to use the dedicated ATI graphics card hardware accleration or the integrated Intel graphics processor. With the ATI card, CPU occupation then drops to around 5% for an energy consumption of 20 watts (as against 27.2 watts without hardware acceleration). The Intel graphics solution has an even lower energy score at 16.4 watts (against 22 watts without hardware acceleration) for a CPU occupation of around 10%. You can choose which graphics solution you want to use.
3D gaming: limited graphics for demanding games
The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4550 graphics card allows gaming with some undemanding 3D games. Forget very recent games at native definition, like Crysis or Far Cry 2 for example. In contrast, you can play games such as Race Driver GRID or titles that use Valve’s Source engine, such as Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead for example.
Audio: a good headphones socket and good sound
The small Altec Lansing speakers built in under the laptop screen do an honourable job. The sound is relatively flat and dry and lacks bass but they're ok to listen a bit at low volumes. The headphones out is much more convincing, very clean.
Mobility, battery life: you pay for the extended battery life in terms of weight and thickness
HP were clever in retaining the integrated Intel graphics as well as ATI’s dedicated graphics card. This means the laptop can maintain good graphics performance when it’s plugged in to the mains, then switch to Intel graphics when it’s on battery. Without being totally smooth, this is nevertheless an automated operation (you can also choose which graphics chip to use yourself). With an ultra low energy consumption chip and a 6-cell 5600 mAh battery, it can give up to an excellent 5H32 of video playback (screen at 100 Cd/m², headphones plugged in and Wi-Fi off)! This is equivalent to the Packard Bell EasyNote Butterfly S (5H29) and down on the Asus UL30A (6H38) par exemple.
The main weak point on this nice machine is doubtless its size. Slimline and featherweight are certainly features you could be forgiven for expection on a machine that doubles up as a tablet. However, this isn’t the case. The tm2 is unfortunately over 2.15 Kg and, at over 4 cm, is rather thick where the battery is (under 3 elsewhere). HP has had to choose between battery life and size. We do think they’ve made the right choice though we are a bit disappointed that the machine isn’t slimmer.
Note that the model listed in the UK is the TouchSmart tm2-1010ea and not the 1050ef that we tested. The 1010ea is basically the same machine but with a slightly different configuration: the UK version uses the SU4100 processor instead of the SU7300 and according to our tests of other machines with this processor, this will make it 5% to 10% less rapid. Also the hard drive on the UK machine is 320 GB instead of 500 GB.