With all the hype around Apple's still-mythical tablet, it's easy to forget that HP has been making a 12-inch consumer tablet for several years.
In fact, the product that started life as the HP tx1000, and is now called the TouchSmart tm2, is one of the only convertible tablet laptops aimed at mainstream entertainment consumers; most tablets are intended for medical, educational, or other specialized markets.
While convertible tablet laptops, which have screens that rotate 180 degrees to fold down over their keyboards, have never been a mainstream product, there's a certain appeal to using the multitouch touch-screen features, and carrying them around in your arm like an oversize Kindle.
In our anecdotal hands-on use, the tm2 screen was not as fast and responsive as, say, an iPhone or iPod Touch screen, and the cursor dragged just slightly behind our fingers. That said, the option to use a finger or digital pen is a nice one, and there's a custom touch interface you can launch from a button on the side of the display. That custom interface gives you access to touch-friendly photo galleries, as well as Web-based apps such as Hulu and Twitter.
With a standard Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, optional discrete ATI graphics, and Windows 7, it's also a easy to speculate that the tm2 will be more powerful and easier to adapt to traditional computing tasks than Apple's tablet.
The HP TouchSmart tm2 will be available January 7, starting at $949.