Editors' note: This review is part of our Back-to-school 2009 Retail Laptop Roundup, covering specific new configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.
The HP TouchSmart tx2-1275dx represents a minor update to the company's consumer tablet. Compared with the TouchSmart tx2z we reviewed earlier this year, which carried a baseline price $999 that quickly rose as you upped the specs, the retail-only TouchSmart tx2-1275 is a fixed configuration model priced at a reasonable $849.
At the heart of the TouchSmart tx2-1275dx is its rotating touch-screen display with multitouch support. Using multitouch gestures is unquestionably fun and potentially useful, but this functionality requires a few sacrifices. For starters, the TouchSmart tx2-1275dx can't match the performance of similarly priced laptops with Intel Core 2 Duo processors. Secondly, the battery life is poor. And finally, while the TouchSmart tx2-1275dx boasts an eye-catching design with one of HP's Imprint finishes, it's a bit portly for a 12-inch ultraportable.
|Processor||2.2GHz AMD Turion X2 Dual-Core RM-74|
|Memory||4GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz|
|Hard drive||320GB at 7,200rpm|
|Graphics||ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200 (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WDH)||12.1x8.8x1.5 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||12.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||4.8 / 5.6 pounds|
The TouchSmart tx2-1275dx bears resemblance to HP's Pavilion laptops, with its tapered edges, rounded corners, and Imprint finish. The tablet features a charcoal gray chassis with a silver design that looks like bubbles, clouds, or perhaps amoebas. Call it funky yet subtle.
At 4.8 pounds, the TouchSmart tx2-1275dx is one of the heavier ultraportables you'll come across. We typically see 13- and 14-inch laptops clock in around the 5-pound mark. The Dell Studio S1440-022B is a 14-inch model that weighs an ounce less than the TouchSmart tx2 (though it skips out on an optical drive). You can save weight by replacing the TouchSmart's DVD burner with an included plastic space-holder.
The keyboard is quiet and relatively roomy, for a 12-inch laptop. The page up and down, home, and end keys that normally reside along the right edge of a keyboard have been relocated to right-hand side of the tiny top row of F keys. If you're accustomed to navigating Web pages and Word docs via the page up and page down keys, you might want to instead get acquainted with the pen flicks functionality of the touch screen. Simply flick the included stylus or your fingertip up or down a long document or Web page to scroll. A grid of tiny dimples comprises the touch pad, which is very responsive. A smooth strip runs down along the right side, which acts as a vertical scroll area that's easy to find blindly.
The 12.1-inch wide-screen LCD screen offers a 1,280x800-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size. Of course this being a tablet, the screen is a little more important than a standard laptop LCD. The TouchSmart tx2-1275dx has a dual-mode display, meaning you can use a digital pen for drawing and taking notes as well as your finger for navigating, opening apps, and flipping through photos. Thanks to N-trig's DuoSense technology, the screen features some multitouch functionality. Multitouch wasn't working initially on our review unit, but a quick trip to HP's support site to download a new N-trig DuoSense driver corrected the problem. Multitouch lets you can zoom in and out of photos by moving two fingers closer together or farther apart. You can also rotate a photo by anchoring your thumb and moving your index finger in a circular motion. And you can bring up HP MediaSmart interface by drawing a wavy "m" on the desktop. While these multitouch gestures are fun to play around with, simply clicking or tapping the rotate button in your photo viewer is faster. Likewise, the MediaSmart button that sits right next to the display is faster for starting the app. Windows 7 will offer native multitouch support, which we hope will lead to increased functionality.
The display sits on a single, rotating hinge, and the tiny-but-decent-sounding Altec Lansing speakers are built into the bottom of the display. This gives you three options for screen placement: use it like a traditional laptop, face it away from the keyboard for using just the display (for movie or photo viewing), or flatten it down on top of the keyboard for use as a tablet. The screen will autorotate, but there's a rotate key on the bezel should you need it, along with a fingerprint reader and a Webcam.
|HP TouchSmart tx2-1275dx||Average for category [ultraportable]|
|Video||VGA-out||VGA-out, mini-HDMI or mini-DVI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD card reader|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
Despite the tight dimensions on this 12-inch tablet, it serves up a useful collection of ports. We wish there was an HDMI port, but we were pleased to see Bluetooth included. We were not so pleased to see the virgin hard drive (and desktop) cluttered with bloatware, trial offers for Quicken, Juno, NetZero, and so on. Like it does with its Pavilion laptops, HP includes a tiny Media Center remote control, which can be housed in the ExpressCard/34 slot. Likewise, the tablet's stylus can be tucked away in a slot on the right side.
The HP TouchSmart tx2-1275dx uses a dual-core AMD Turion X2 processor and trailed similarly priced laptops that feature Intel Core 2 Duo chips on CNET Labs' benchmarks. The TouchSmart lagged behind the slowest Core 2 Duo-based laptop on our multitasking test by a healthy 28 percent. It was a whopping 49 percent slower than the closet Core 2 Duo laptop on our Photoshop benchmark. We will say that during anecdotal testing, the TouchSmart tx2-1275dx felt peppy and responsive, under a variety of conditions that included many multitasking scenarios. And we didn't notice any lag when using the multitouch gestures as we did earlier this year.
|Raw (annual kWh)||65.58|
|Energy Star compliant||Yes|
|Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh)||$7.44|
The TouchSmart tx2-1275dx uses a six-cell battery and lasted only 2 hours 21 minutes on CNET Labs' video playback battery drain test. It didn't last much longer under typical Windows use where we weren't constantly playing a video; the battery ran out around the 2.5-hour mark. For a tablet that's obviously intended to spend a lot of time on the go, we expected better.
Included are HP's priority service and support for tx2 customers featuring an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty, toll-free 24-7 phone support, and the promise of 1-hour responses to e-mail. The comprehensive support Web site includes real-time chat with a technical support representative, FAQs, and driver downloads.