HP Pavilion tx1110us Review

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by Louie Tran

The HP Pavilion tx1110us is a non-touchscreen version of the popular HP tx1000z notebook recently released. The screen still rotates like the tablet version of this device, but you cannot use the Tablet PC features that the touchscreen versions of this device offers. While having a rotating screen is still useful for presentations or watching a movie, you’ll probably find yourself wanting more.

Here are the specs of the HP tx1110us as reviewed:

  • Processor: AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual Core Mobile Technology 1.6Ghz
  • Memory: 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Screen: 12.1" WXGA High-Definition HP BrightView Widescreen Convertible Display (1280×800) – Panel rotates 180 degrees and folds flat
  • 120GB (5400 RPM) SATA Hard Drive
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce Go 6150
  • Optical Drive: LightScribe SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Dual Layer
  • Wireless Communications: 802.11/b/g
  • Weight: 4.18lb

(note to readers – the author included pictures featuring his HP tx1110us on his washer and dryer on purpose, it’s kind of "his thing". Feel free to laugh or just wonder what type of weird person this reviewer is)


HP Pavilion tx1110us out of the box (view large image)

No TouchScreen?!

Quite a number of people asked why I did not initially get the touchscreen version with the Tablet PC features and the answer is quite simple: I just needed an ultraportable notebook with “close as you can get” desktop performance. The HP TX1000 series notebook is a good candidate especially for the price range within its class. After a week with this TX1110us on the road, it’s really hard to disregard the fact that something is definitely missing with this non-touchscreen version.

Design


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It’s been awhile since I’ve worked excessively on a Windows Based notebook that wasn’t from a Japanese company (Sony, Fujitsu, Toshiba) and it was mainly because I detested the aesthetics and design of Western notebooks. I’m sorry, but I just hate the way Dell laptops look even to this day. HP these days has been on right track in designing their notebooks not just for looks, but for ergonomics and functionality as well.


Top view of HP tx1000z notebook (view large image)

The black and silver casing looks very classy and the glossy black lid looks very sleek. You do have to be careful in handling it because it is prone to leaving fingerprint marks which is why HP was nice enough to include a cloth. The glowing blue multimedia buttons are a very nice touch and come in handy when you need quick access for playing your multimedia files. My favorite button is the Windows Mobility Center button which brings up a menu that allows you to adjust the brightness, volume, wireless, battery, and display settings just to name a few all on one screen! Also, on the right side of the screen, there are buttons to play/pause, stop, and skip tracks on your CD/DVDs which is a really nice touch!


HP tx1000z next to Fujitsu P Series 10.6" screen notebook (view large image)

The keyboard layout is spacious enough to use for extended periods of time and is as close to a full-size layout as you can get on a notebook this small. One of the unique aspects of the TX1000 is the touchpad mouse which seems like it’s assimilated into the casing with a field of depressed dots. I actually like it a lot because the resistance created by these dots makes the mouse movement very accurate, but some people may find it difficult getting used to. The scroll portion of the touchpad is cleverly spaced off with its own rectangular field of depressed dots right next to the mouse. I can say this is one of the best built in keyboard/mouse combinations I’ve used on an ultraportable notebook.

The TX1000 comes with a nice set of ports and slots for your on-the-road convenience. On the left side, there is a built in card reader that takes SD, MS, MMC, and XD cards so you can pop in your flash media from your digital camera when it becomes full and then take some more pictures (something that I always do on my long trips). Just under the card reader is an Express slot that also holds the included Media Center remote (remember to push in to eject, not pull out!). On the right side, there are S-Video and VGA video outputs, and Expansion Port, networking port, and a single USB port. There are more USB ports on the back of the notebook. On the front, we have a sliding power switch, an infrared port for the remote, two headphone ports, a port for a mic, and a switch for the Wi-FI.


Front view of HP tx1110us (view large image)


Left view of HP tx1110us (view large image)


Right side view of HP tx1110us (view large image)

One of the things that I didn’t like about the design was the eject button on the DVD-RW drive, it’s a pain to push. If you have no fingernails then you can forget about it and just fall back on using soft eject via windows. It takes at least two or three jabs with my finger to open the drive with my mi-sized hands. Those who have big hands will be frustrated in trying to push the eject button on the drive. HPs reasoning for this might have been to prevent people from accidentally opening the drive while in tablet mode.

The Screen


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The bright and glossy 12.1-inch widescreen has its own array of features aside from the notebook. The screen itself displays at 1280×800 pixels and it’s nice and bright, sometimes a little too bright, but quite viewable in all angles. The words and images are sharp and movies are nice and clear.


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One of the most notable features is that it swivels 180 degrees clockwise. Even though this is the non-touchscreen version, it comes in handy when watching a movie in bed or reading an article. It’s a shame that there’s no button that allows you to scroll the screen up and down while in tablet mode. This is where I wish I had the touch screen and every time I have the screen rotated and closed! You can definitely feel that something is missing and it’s hard to overlook the fact that this is not a Tablet PC, but just simply an ultraportable laptop.

Other features on the screen aside from the built in multimedia buttons mentioned earlier are the built in mic and webcam. When video chatting with friends, they can hear and see me clearly in normal noise conditions. Also, when using Skype to landline phones, a handful of people commented that they can hear me much more clearly than calling from a cell phone. On the left side of the screen there is a built in fingerprint reader for security purposes to log into Windows or to use as a substitute for inputting passwords.

The first few hours…

After unpacking everything out of the box and then plugging the power into the notebook, Windows Vista finalizes the installation at the first bootup process. It takes a good 20 minutes until you can finally get into Windows. Even after everything was completed, I noticed a great deal of hard drive activity even while the system was idle. Before getting anything done, I went through the Programs Manager and uninstalled a lot of bloatware that’s just eating up hard drive space and possibly slowing down the system performance. Afterwards, I installed all the programs that I use on a day to day basis which are Microsoft Office 2003, Adobe PhotoShop CS2, iTunes, Adobe Acrobat Professional, AIM 6.0, MSN Messenger Live, Skype, Xvid, VLC, and PDANet.

I didn’t like the HP Wireless Assistant that it came preloaded with so that was deactivated as well and I used the default Windows Wireless Manager and it found and connected to my router just fine. Next was to install all the necessary Windows Updates and then defragment the hard drive before actually using it.

Just to see how well the TX series can perform, I ran both 3DMark 2003 and 2005 and it scored 1006 and 494 respectively. Quite disappointing for something that has hardware as powerful as this notebook. The Apple MacBook I reviewed last year scored 1328 and the Sony Vaio S460 in 2005 scored 2358. It’s quite possible that the low scores are caused by the Windows Vista operating system and it does run a little bit sluggish compared to the other notebooks I’ve used running XP. You can see the 3DMark Scores here: http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k3=5313966 and http://service.futuremark.com/compare?3dm05=2917992

I popped in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers to test out the screen and it looks absolutely amazing. I was also surprised on how well the built in Altec Lansing speakers sounded. The included Windows Media remote came in very handy and was very responsive. I first thought it was pointless to have a remote for such a small notebook, but I’ve been addicted to it since. I also watched some anime with the screen rotated and lid closed while I was lying down and it brought my relaxed laziness to a whole new level. This is a true entertainment notebook! What I am also pleased with is that the TX runs very cool after running intensive processes, DVD, and video files. The notebook felt slightly warm and nowhere near temperatures from what the Vaio S460, Apple MacBook, and even my small Fujitsu P7120 produces.

On the road!

I’ve been in my home office for at least 3 hours already setting up the laptop and running the first few tests so it’s time to get some fresh air and see some sunlight! I’m getting tired of Star Bucks so I think I’ll head over to the Coffee Bean. The TX1000 is light enough to carry around in a backpack while walking a couple of blocks. Unfortunately I’ve been too spoiled by the weight of the Fujitsu P7120 so it actually felt a little bit heavy even though it is a 12.1 inch notebook.

After arriving, I just remembered that the Coffee Bean in my city does not have WiFi so I have to connect my Motorola Q and use PDAnet to get online. I opened up multiple tabs of Internet Explorer, iTunes, Microsoft Word, Outlook, AIM 6.0, Windows Messenger Live, and PhotoShop CS2. Everything ran so smooth and there were no slowdowns at all while I was multitasking including writing this review. I didn’t even bother to plug the power into the notebook and I had more than enough time to make a backup copy of a DVD. All three of the USB ports were used at the same time with an external mouse, iPod, and my Motorola Q plugged into it.

When I was at the Toyota Grand Prix, I had utilized the S-video output and connected it to one of our NEC Plasma TVs at our booth and the display looked great. It looked even better when it was connected via the VGA output and switching in between displays was very easy to do. Again, the included remote was very useful in this situation especially when I needed to control the volume and switching chapters on a DVD.

While I was carrying this around, I wished I had the touchscreen version because it would definitely increase the notebook’s usefulness in these types of situations such as quickly jotting down notes or writing down information while standing without having to set it down on a table.

It’s a great notebook… but I need the touchscreen!

After working with this for well over a week, I’ve enjoyed using the TX1100 thanks to all the bells and whistles that it comes standard with. The excellent screen quality, keyboard/mouse layout, and multimedia capabilities were more than enough to get me sold on this notebook. Then you add in the built in webcam, fingerprint reader, and decent hardware and the TX becomes a winner with great value.

If the TX series was just a regular notebook with no rotating screen and a Tablet PC version, I would have been satisfied for just the way it was because I like small portable and powerful notebooks. However, since there is a Tablet version out there, I think I will swap this one out for the other one for the extra $100 because there is a lot more I can do with the touch screen TX.

Overall Rating: 9/10



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