by Andrew Baxter
HP tx1000 Convertible Notebook Review
If you have been searching the market for an entertainment notebook with Tablet PC features, your search may be over. Thanks to HP's tx1000 convertible notebook that starts at $1,299. Though the tx1000 is targeted toward the average consumer, business professionals are still welcome. This portable notebook packs a 1.3-megapixel webcam, 5-in-1 digital media reader, a mini remote control for movies, music and photos and it comes with Windows Vista installed.
HP Pavilion tx1000 notebook to Tablet PC convertible (view large image)
The HP Pavilion tx1000 specs as reviewed (tested price $1,849)
|CPU||AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile Technology TL-60 / 2.0 GHz processor|
|OS||Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium|
|RAM||2 GB DDR II SDRAM|
|Display||12.1" WXGA High Definition BrightView Widescreen with Touchscreen (1280 x 800)|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150 graphics|
|Audio||Altec Lansing speakers and integrated microphone|
|Hard Drive||160GB (5400 RPM)|
|Optical Drive||LightScribe Super Multi 8x DVD/RW|
Design and Build
The tx1000 has a sharp appearance. Its unique inlaid wave design extends from the glossy black lid onto the silver inside surrounding the keyboard. HP went for a modern, portable design. Weighing in at 4.2 lbs., the tx1000 can go wherever you go. If you want to save even more weight the optical bay is removable and can be replaced by the included weight saver.
Twisting the tx1000 screen (view large image)
The chassis has some flex in parts due to the fact the tx1000 uses a plastic housing, though it can't be called flmsy, it's not the sturdiest notebook on the market either. The advantage of a plastic casing is in keeping weight and price down. When you tap on the left palmrest area the sound is hollow and you'll get some flex there. The keyboard itself has a solid design with minimal flex.
HP tx1000 in tablet mode (view large image)
The screen swivels in a clockwise manner with ease to turn the notebook into a Tablet. The hinge has some flex, but works great. The Tablet or swivel mode is nice for watching movies or giving presentations. There is also a mini remote control that can be stashed in the ExpressCard slot, this comes in handy for those lazy days when you want to stay in bed and control a movie as the tx1000 sits on your nightstand!
The 12.1” screen is the perfect size for a portable notebook used to travel and for working on the go. There are even media QuickPlay buttons on the right side of the screen for your entertainment convenience. The screen is slightly grainy, but you will get this with any Tablet PC due to the extra layer needed for tablet funtionality. The glossy screen is good for presenting bold colors and watching movies, but bad when doing a lot of reading in strongly lit areas as it is quite reflective. One small annoyance is the fact it is difficult to see what level brightness you've got the screen adjusted to because there is no on screen feedback when you toggle brightness -- same goes for volume.
A nice screen, but notice those reflections (view large image)
The fact that the tx1000 has a touchscreen is nice. You can use your fingertip to close applications, move them around or, if your fingers are small enough, to poke around in menus. I actually liked using my finger more than the stylus, you might as well take this approach since the stylus is a passive pen design and offers no real advantage other than being smaller and more accurate when necessary.
Processor and System Performance
HP chose to go with the AMD Turion X2 TL-60 dual core processor and Nvidia Go 6150 graphics for the brains of this system. It’s good that they didn’t choose a low voltage underpowered processor, commonly found in 12.1” screen laptops. Though in our opinion, a low-end Intel Core 2 Duo processor might have been preferred as it would offer slightly better performance. Nevertheless, thanks to 2GB of RAM combined with the Turion X2, performance was more than acceptable for general tasks such as Office, web and multimedia use. It’s a little slower when it comes to such things as image processing within Adobe Photoshop or even Apple iTunes encoding – we found a 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5500 machine to be faster time wise with such tasks. But in general usage you won’t notice any lag with the tx1000.
The tx1000 ships with a base 1GB of RAM as this is required for Windows Vista to run. You should seriously consider going with the 2GB of RAM for better performance though. Windows Aero, the 3D windows display rotation feature, worked flawlessly given the tx1000 specs we had and the 2GB of RAM probably helps there.
The Windows Vista Aero feature runs just fine on the tx1000 (view large image)
As far as gaming, the Nvidia 6150 card that shares system memory isn’t going to cut it for much. Obviously this notebook convertible is not intended for playing Half Life 2 or Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but rather for just say – doing work.
The tx1000 performed quite respectably in benchmarking scores, in PCMark05 (which required a patch to work with Vista) it was able to keep pace with Intel Core Duo based machines with integrated graphics. PCMark05 measures the systems performance as a whole:
|HP tx1000 (AMD Turion X2 2.0GHz, Nvidia Go 6150)||3,052 PCMarks|
|Asus A8JP (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz, ATI x1700 256MB)||4,378 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Tecra A8 (1.83 GHz Intel T2400, Intel GMA 950)||3,038 PCMarks|
|Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400)||3,646 PCMarks|
|Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400)||3,487 PCMarks|
|Dell Latitude ATG D620 (Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz, Intel GMA 950)||2,991 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Tecra M6 (1.66GHz Intel T2300E, Intel GMA 950)||2,732 PCMarks|
Within Vista there’s a tool that provides a score called the “Windows Experience Score”, we gathered some rankings from laptops running Vista and compared their scores to how the tx1000 was assessed. The “Base Score” is the lowest score of the 5 different components Vista benchmarks. The Memory and Hard disk performed especially well for the tx1000 relative to other notebooks, but graphics were rated predictably poor by Vista:
|Notebook||Processor||Memory||Graphics||Gaming graphics||Hard Disk||Base Score|
|HP tx1000 |
(2.0GHz Turion X2, Nvidia Go 6150, 2GB RAM)
(1.6GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950, 1GB RAM)
(1.6GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950, 1GB RAM)
(1.83GHz Core Duo, Nvidia 7400, 2GB RAM)
(2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X1600, 2GB RAM)
|Compaq Presario v3000z|
(1.6GHz Turion X2, Nvidia 6150, 1GB RAM)
|Dell XPS M1210|
(1.83GHz Core 2 Duo, Nvidia 7400, 2GB RAM)
|Sony VAIO SZ370P/C|
(2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, Nvidia 7400, 2GB RAM)
|HP Pavilion zd8000|
(2.8 GHz Pentium 4, ATI X600, 1GB RAM)
|Dell Latitude D420|
(1.2GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950, 1GB RAM)
|Lenovo ThinkPad Z61m|
(2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400, 2GB RAM)
Unfortunately HDTune, the benchmark we use for testing hard drive performance, does not work within Vista.
The keyboard has a solid feel and is of standard size. The only key that is shortened is the right side Shift key. The function keys along the top are pretty small as well, so if you have bigger fingers and are trying to use the F3 key to access the Internet you may have some problems.
HP tx1000 keyboard view (view large image)
The touchpad has a unique design. It is flush with the keyboard and just has a perforated pattern showing where it is. Your finger rolls smoothly over it for easy navigation. There is no sticking or delays. The buttons work fairly well, except we found there is sometimes delay with the right-click button.
Touchpad (view large image)
HP includes a stylus pen that feels solid, has a nice rubber grip, and even comes with a lanyard so you can attach it to the computer. There's not much to write home about the pen (so to speak), it serves its function well and is easy to pop in and out of the spring loaded silo on the bottom corner of the tx1000. The pen is not an active digitizer type of pen, it is nothing more than a shaped piece of plastic, like a larger PDA type of stylus.
Tablet PC Features
The HP tx1000 has a swivel screen and offers a touchscreen option. Note, at the starting price of $1,299 the screen is not touchscreen enabled, it is an upgrade option. The screen input capability is passive digitizer and not active, meaning it does not include the Wacom technology power Tablet PC users are used to having. Rather, it’s like a PDA in that pressure against the screen from a stylus is what registers a pen stroke.
The advantage to a touchscreen is that you can simply use you finger to drag windows around or open menus (just make sure to bring along that screen wipe cloth HP includes to get the greasy finger marks off the screen). The included stylus is not powered in any way, so there are no worries about a battery or charging, plus it’s cheap to replace if you lose it.
The disadvantage to a passive digitizer (touchscreen) is it’s less accurate, slightly harder to calibrate and you have to make sure to keep downward pressure on the stylus to register a stroke. In my usage, when writing in cursive you had to train yourself to keep up the pressure or you’d generate incomplete letters (missing the tail on a “g” for instance). It simply did not feel as natural to write with this type of screen compared to an active screen. You also can’t flip the stylus and erase like with active digitizer pens. Overall, it’s just a second rate tablet experience with this type of screen. I’d say it’s fine for now and again usage, such as jotting some science notes down in class that are hard to type out using a keyboard, but if you’ll be using the tx1000 primarily as a Tablet PC you’d do better to investigate other HP tablets that offer an active digitizer such as the business series HP Compaq tc4400.
Minor gripes aside, I have to say I think it’s just cool that the tx1000 combined with Windows Vista Ultimate OS gives you Tablet PC functionality as just part of the package now, you can either use it or not. HP is not hawking the tx1000 as foremost being a Tablet PC, it can be looked at as an extra feature – there if you should ever need it. I’m sure all of us can find something handy about a screen that rotates and that’s touch sensitive, just fill in the blank on the possibilities it could bring to your lifestyle. The price premium for having this functionality isn’t much these days. Remember when any Tablet PC enabled device was automatically $2,000+ and required a specially hacked Windows XP Tablet Edition OS? Those days are over.
The tx1000 has a nice range of ports. There are three USB ports, one VGA - 15 pin, one TV-Out (S-video), one microphone-in, two headphone-out, two Infrared, one Modem - RJ-11, one RJ-45 LAN, one Express Card and one notebook expansion port 3. There is enough packed in this portable Tablet to keep you busy for hours. The TV-Out is always nice for hooking up to the TV and the two headphone jacks give the ability to share music in a quiet environment -- perfect for watching a movie on the plane with your seat partner. The headphone jacks, microphone jack and an Infrared eyes are located on the front of the tx1000, which is very convenient. In fact, the only ports located on the back are two of the USB ports and the phone jack.
Front side view of tx1000 (view large image)
Left side view of ports and slots (view large image)
Right side view of ports (view large image)
Back view of ports and slots (view large image)
HP tx1000 under side view (view large image)
Conspicuous in its absence is a FireWire port, that might be a dissapointment to some. With most peripherals you can use USB 2.0 if a FireWire connection isn't available anyway.
The 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery extended life battery performance was shockingly good, it lasted for about 4.5 hours in balanced (normal) power mode. In addition to this battery, the model we tested included a 4-cell battery that lasted for about 3 hours. Now if you go for this option of carrying two batteries around you are good to go pretty much all-day. This is great for mobile users and it only took an hour to fully recharge the 6-cell battery, so not much downtime. The battery also offers a power saver mode for light work or a high performance mode for that busy day. The optical bay is swappable with different optical drives, but it is not setup to house a secondary battery.
Heat and Noise
Our review unit had a 2.0GHz Turion X2 TL-60 and it did run on the warm side after some time. When running benchmarks on the system it got warmer than we would like and the fan was pumping out some very warm air from the back right vent. The keyboard area didn’t get especially warm, but in tablet mode when you’re holding the underneath of the tx1000 you’ll feel that warmth, especially on the back right side. Since we had the fastest processor available with this device, you would expect less heat generation from a slower processor option.
The fan did get a bit loud when it kicked into high rev during benchmarking. During normal usage the fan was just barely audible though. Not whisper quiet, but not loud enough to be a distraction even in a fairly quiet room -- unless the room is a really warm one and forces the fan to work hard to cool the system.
For a notebook, the tx1000 has nice speakers. It is fitted with Altec Lansing speakers, which produce good sound quality for listening to music or watching movies. That was HP’s focus; I mean it is called an entertainment notebook. I am comparing these to the hardly noticeable speakers on the Asus R1F I use. If you compare the speakers to your standard notebook, they produce comparitively loud, clear sound, but they don’t compare to the higher-end multimedia notebooks equipped with subwoofers. The built-in microphone picks up noise well and it’s easy to teach the software to recognize your voice if you want to use voice input.
The tx1000 comes with Windows Vista Home Premium edition already installed. It was one of the first notebooks announced to offer Vista pre-installed. Windows Vista gives the tx1000 more powerful search and organizational tools and more security when online. It also comes with Microsoft Works and a 60-day trial offer of Microsoft Office 2003 Student and Teacher edition. You get the ubiquitous Norton Live Update with its 60-day trail period. You also get such things as Vonage, Photosmart Essential and a cornucopia of desktop shortcuts to various websites and ISP services. Most of this stuff can be uninstalled if you don't want it.
The tx1000 has built-in 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless that functions well. Although 802.11n is in draft mode still, it is showing up more and more and you'll definitely want to have it as it offers greater range and faster throughput when combined with an 802.11n wireless router. The tx1000 also has built-in Bluetooth and consumer level Infrared for controlling media functions via the included remote. HP will be offering built-in EV-DO cellular wireless in the future with the system, but it will not be available as a configuration with the initial launch.
HP should be commended for bringing something different to the table in terms of a multimedia notebook convertible. You certainly won't find any cool options like this from Dell. While the Tablet PC functionality of the tx1000 isn't outstanding, it can be useful and it's a nice bonus for a notebook that's strong even if you were to take away the touchscreen feature. Just being able to rotate the screen for presenting and viewing movies has its benefits. The looks of this machine are great and it's easy to carry around. The processor isn't the best out there and a magnesium built warrior this notebook is not, but overall the tx1000 is a winner that's really going to appeal to students and other mainstream users.
Availability for the tx1000 starts February 28th, 2007 at HPShopping.com
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