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HP Pavilion tx2050ea review: HP Pavilion tx2050ea

The Pavilion tx2050ea's swivelling touchscreen display means it can be used in tablet mode, making it a useful companion in cramped conditions. The screen's too reflective for our tastes and overall performance could be better, but the tx2050ea is still good value for money and you have to admire its flexibility

Rory Reid
4 min read

The HP Pavilion tx2050ea is part of the tx2000 series of laptops. That series follows in the intrepid footsteps of the tx1000 series, which combined all the benefits of a standard laptop with those of a tablet PC. The tx2050ea, available for around £600, uses faster components than its predecessor, the tx1020ea, a new form of touchscreen and a slightly tweaked design.


HP Pavilion tx2050ea

The Good

Relatively low price; can be used in tablet PC mode.

The Bad

Mediocre screen quality; heavy.

The Bottom Line

We have to admire the HP Pavilion tx2050ea for its flexibility. With a screen that can be rotated into tablet mode, its ideal for use in cramped spaces or when you have to stand up. We also like the relatively low price, but the tx2050ea's performance is lacklustre and the screen is far too reflective for our tastes

When we say 'slightly tweaked', we mean it. To the untrained eye, the tx2050ea looks almost identical to the tx1020ea. The main differences include a silver, instead of black, keyboard, and a new 'imprint finish' pattern on the lid and wrist rest.

Handling the tx2050ea brought back memories of the things that displeased us about its predecessor. One of the most notable issues is the weight. It isn't a large laptop -- quite the opposite -- it's a 12.1-inch model that's only marginally thicker than most of its peers. At 2.3kg, however, it's heavier than you'd expect for a laptop of its size.

Other problems from the tx1000 series rear their heads on the tx2050ea. In order to make the most of the machine when its running in tablet mode, HP has decided to festoon the screen bezel with as many shortcut buttons as possible -- a sensible idea, since the keyboard isn't usable in this mode. Unfortunately, HP has also adorned the bezel with other things that look like they might be buttons, but aren't. The result is a mishmash of switches and switch look-alikes that may initially confuse you.

The tx2050ea is littered with shortcut buttons at the front and rear of the screen bezel

Having said that, the buttons in question do come in handy. There are switches for activating the media-only DVD mode and rotating the screen orientation, a return button, a config button and shortcut keys for controlling media playback. Other media-friendly touches include a DVD drive and dual front-facing headphone ports that let you connect two pairs of headphones simultaneously. 

The core specification of the tx2050ea is superior to that of its predecessor. Whereas the tx1020ea used a fairly anaemic 1.6GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive, this updated model packs a 2GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 CPU, 2GB of RAM and 250GB of storage. All in all, it's a far more attractive proposition.

The tx2050ea is designed to be an entertainment device, so the quality of its screen is of the utmost importance. As we've said, it's a 12.1-inch panel, which runs at a native resolution of 1,280x800 pixels. The bad news is that the screen uses HP's horrid Glare O Matic BrightView coating, which makes the surface of the screen so reflective that it's virtually impossible to use in direct sunlight. It's even a pain to use indoors and could cause eye strain or headaches as you struggle to see past the reflections.

The tablet mode is handy for use in confined spaces. The screen is far too reflective for our tastes, though

The tx2050ea's display does have an ace up its sleeve, though: touch-sensitivity. Unlike the previous model, the tx2050ea uses infrared detectors hidden around the bezel to track the movement of the stylus. This system feels very responsive and can even detect the stylus as it hovers up to an inch above the screen. This proves useful, as you can see exactly where the laptop thinks your cursor input will fall. Finger input is also an option for those users who have either lost the stylus or can't be bothered getting it out of its compartment.

The tx2050ea has fairly limited graphics capabilities, but it's fine for anything outside of gaming. Its Nvidia GeForce Go 6150 chip plays high-definition movies without dropping frames, and video can be piped through the D-Sub port. There's no digital output, so anyone with a TV that uses DVI or HDMI will need an adaptor.

You won't find an Intel Centrino badge on the tx2050ea, but that's not to say it doesn't have Centrino-esque features. Its wireless adaptor supports 802.11b/g networks, plus the high-speed pre-n standard, which allows for super-quick media streaming and file transfers. You also get a Gigabit Ethernet adaptor for fast wired transfers.

The battery juts out a mile and adds considerably to the tx2050ea's overall weight

We didn't expect great performance from the tx2050ea, and we didn't get it. There's plenty of memory, but its AMD CPU isn't as quick as those you might find in an equivalent Intel-powered laptop. As a consequence, it scored 3,185 in the PCMark05 benchmarking test -- a pretty middle-of-the-road result.

Graphics performance was lacklustre. It achieved 220 in 3DMark06, which isn't good enough for moving polygons around at a decent speed. Don't even think about playing games with this thing unless they've got the word 'Solitaire' somewhere in the title.

We're unable to give you an accurate battery-life figure for the tx2050ea, since the battery on our review model was an engineering sample. For reference, however, the tx1020ea lasted 100 minutes in the intensive Battery Eater Classic test.

We have to admire the HP Pavilion tx2050ea's flexibility. The fact that its screen can be rotated and flipped into tablet mode means its ideal for use in cramped spaces or while standing up. We also love the relatively low price, but the tx2050ea lets itself down due to its bulk, weight and lack of screen quality.

Edited by Charles Kloet