HP Pavilion tx2000z Tablet Notebook PC - Review

HP Pavilion tx2000z Tablet Notebook PC - Review

HP Pavilion tx2000z Tablet Notebook PC - ReviewPros: Dual-mode active pen and touch screen make tablet use easier and more accurate than last year's model; includes credit-card remote control; excellent battery life; handy controls built into lid.

Cons: Slightly bigger and heavier than a 12-inch laptop should be; limited configuration options; battery is large and makes for slightly awkward setup; missing a FireWire jack.

Bottomline: HP's Pavilion tx2000 combines a convertible tablet design with an entertainment-focused laptop to create an interesting hybrid, thanks to an improved tablet screen and mini remote control.

Specifications: Processor: AMD Turion 64 X2 mobile technology (2.1 GHz); RAM installed: 2 GB DDR II SDRAM; Weight: 4.4 lbs

Price: $1,299.99

If this 12-inch convertible tablet laptop looks familiar, that's because almost exactly one year ago, we saw HP's first so-called entertainment tablet, the Pavilion tx1000. That system impressed us with media control buttons, dual headphone jacks, and a finger-sensitive touch screen, making for one of the only tablets we've seen to aim beyond the usual corporate or industrial customer base.

The baseline Pavilion tx2000 is mostly the same as last year's model. In addition to a slightly faster processor, it makes one major improvement by adding an active stylus to the touch screen display (the tx1000 used an inactive dummy pen). It makes for better control and accuracy when using the stylus and is a welcome addition, especially since HP kept the base price steady at $1,299. The AMD Turion 64 X2 processor wouldn't be our first choice an entertainment-minded, multimedia machine (and the TL-66 CPU in our review unit has already been replaced by the slightly faster TL-68), and perhaps a system targeted at media fans should offer the option to upgrade to a Blu-ray or an HD DVD drive (this one doesn't), but overall the HP Pavilion tx2000 is a largely successful hybrid.

As a convertible tablet, the tx2000's most notable feature is its rotating screen. A center hinge is used to swivel the screen around, allowing it to fold down over the keyboard. The hinge feels sturdy, and the lid locks down cleanly when in tablet mode. The previous model, the tx1000, used a touch screen with a dummy pen instead of an active stylus. This new version keeps the touch screen but adds an active digitizer as well, which basically means it recognizes, and works with, the included stylus. This gives you more accurate control over the screen, especially with handwriting, and the active pen lets you write with one side, then flip the pen over and "erase" with the other. It's a notable improvement over last year's model, and writing felt more natural.

The touchpad is similar to the one found on the tx1000 and also HP's 20-inch laptop. It's the same color and material as the rest of the keyboard tray, demarcated only by small, indented dots in the shape of a traditional touch pad and scroll bar. It's a stylish look, but we found a little too much drag when moving a finger across it. There's a good reason most other touch pads are made of a different, slicker material. It's still highly responsive and has a handy "mute" switch so you don't accidentally hit the touch pad while using the keyboard (which manages to squeeze in decent, full-size keys).

Like any laptop or tablet built with entertainment in mind, the tx2000 features a row of media control buttons, but the buttons are built into the side of the lid, making them accessible when the laptop is in tablet mode--highly convenient. Also built into the screen's border are a fingerprint reader, buttons for rotating the display orientation, and a Webcam. For control from further away, another appreciated touch is a small, credit-card-style remote that sits in a slot on the left side. HP intends for you to use it with the company's not terribly useful QuickPlay media software, but it'll work fine in other apps, such as Windows Media Center, as well.

The 12.1-inch LCD screen offers a 1,280x800 native resolution, average for a screen this size. The high-gloss screen is fine for watching movies, although a screen coating intended for outdoor use makes the display appear slightly washed out under indoor lighting conditions.

Like the upcoming MacBook Air, the tx2000 ditches the mini FireWire jack found on many laptops but keeps an arguably superfluous S-Video port and old-fashioned modem jack. Both wireless broadband (from Verizon) and Bluetooth are options (Bluetooth actually comes with the older a/b/g Wi-Fi card, but is optional if you go for the newer 802.11n card--go figure), but neither were included in our review unit.

We don't see too many AMD-powered laptops these days; Intel's Core 2 Duo CPUs generally perform better and have become nearly ubiquitous. That being said, the tx2000's AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-66 was certainly acceptable for everyday productivity and multimedia use, comparing favorably to other small midlevel laptops, such as the Dell Inspiron 1420.

Our battery testing, using the DVD battery drain test, gave us 2 hours and 49 minutes of battery life, but at some expense of portability, as the 8-cell battery juts out prominently from the back of the system and makes it slightly awkward to hold in tablet mode (a smaller 6-cell battery is also available, but also sticks out a bit). Still, that's pretty impressive battery life, especially considering that our DVD test is very rigorous.

HP backs the system with the standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty, extending the warranty to three years of service is $269, with accidental damage protection available for an extra $60 for three years The company's toll-free telephone-support lines are open 24-7 and the HP support Web site includes real-time chat with tech support and has a robust FAQ database for troubleshooting problems.