Tablet PCs have traditionally been aimed at niche business markets. HP, however, is attempting to persuade home users to embrace the format, with its TouchSmart tx2-1000 series. Given the bad press tablet PCs usually generate, HP is taking pains to describe the TouchSmart tx2-1020ea as a notebook PC, but it sure looks like a tablet to us.
The tx2-1020ea is available for around £1,000.
There's plenty to like about the tx2-1020ea's design. It has an attractive charcoal-grey chassis -- although we're not fans of the rather odd bubble motif -- and feels very robust. Thanks to a sturdy hinge, the screen swivels smoothly and should be able to withstand the occasional knock.
The DVD writer sits on the left-hand side of the chassis, along with a multi-format card reader and 34mm ExpressCard slot. On the right-hand side, you'll find a Gigabit LAN, VGA and USB port. A further two USB ports are located on the rear, next to the battery.
Tablet PC screen sizes are never easy to get right. They need to be big enough to write on, but large screens also mean more weight, which is problematic if you're looking to hold the tablet PC in one hand while jotting notes with the other. The tx2-1020ea has a 12.1-inch screen with a 1,280x800-pixel resolution. With the four-cell battery, the tx2-1020ea weighs 2.1kg, which may be too much for some.
You can interact with the screen in one of two ways: using the stylus -- stored neatly in the right-hand side of the chassis -- or your fingers. A pleasing touch is that the tx2-1020ea will detect when you're scribbling with the stylus and ignore any contact your fingers make with the screen. Move the stylus away from the screen and you can start prodding once again.
The tx2-1020ea's display can recognise multitouch gestures, allowing you to browse through your photo album by dragging two fingers across the screen, for example. While Apple's, however, can detect three- and four-fingered gestures, the tx2-1020ea can only deal with two fingers.
Another caveat is that the majority of gestures will only work within HP's MediaSmart suite of applications, consisting of playback utilities for DVDs, photos, music, video and so on. That said, some gestures do work in other non-HP applications. In Internet Explorer 7, for example, you can zoom in and out of Web sites using a pinching gesture.