HP knows that we don’t just want to use our Windows 7 touch notebooks for spinning a virtual globe or creating ripples in fake water. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) That’s why the company is bringing the full TouchSmart experience from its big-screen all-in-one PCs to its 12.1-inch multitouch convertible in time for the Windows 7 launch. Not only is the touch interface on the refreshed tx2 much better than anything else we’ve used on a notebook, HP is adding cool new apps like Twitter and Hulu, with more to come. Check out our hands-on video to see this tablet in action.
Starting at $799, the tx2 looks identical to the version we tested back in December of last year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a stylish design (complete with Reaction pattern) but at 5 pounds with the extended battery and 1.5 inches thick this convertible it’s not exactly svelte. What makes the “new” tx2 stand out is what it does with touch.
Unlike the very limited MediaSmart software HP bundled previously, this machine has HP’s full TouchSmart treatment, which means it has the same slick tile interface and nearly all the same applications. These include photos, music, weather, notes, games, a touch-friendly Web browser, and more. Just like on the desktop, you can move smaller menu items to the main menu by dragging the tiles up, or vice versa. So how good are Hulu and Twitter?
During our brief hands-on time with the tx2 we found the Hulu app to be more compelling. It’s basically identical to the Hulu desktop program but optimized for touch input. We found it easy to find popular shows, playback was mostly smooth, and it’s easy to pause playback and tap on the Menu button at any time to find something else to watch. Plus, unlike the desktop app, you can see HP’s TouchSmart skin above the playback window, which includes a Home button (to exit), sliding volume controls, and a battery meter.
The Twitter app was also pretty touch friendly, though we’re not sure why it asked us to sign in each time. Switching between updates from all your friends and mentions and direct messages was seamless with a finger. And, if you’re in tablet mode, you can type updates with your fingers using the decent-sized Windows 7 on-screen keyboard (which pops up with a tap of your finger). What’s missing is some sort of URL shortening tool, and the ability to tweet photos.
Other touch-friendly apps include Netflix (for watching movies and managing your queue), HP Music (which includes Rhapsody and Pandora), and TouchSmart Canvas (for organizing photo libraries). Sorry, chefs in training, the Recipe Box app is for desktops only.
So what’s under the hood of this system? Based on the spec sheet for the tx2-1377nr, you’re looking at 2.2-GHz AMD Turion X2 RM-75 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and a DVD burner. Overall, the tx2 we played seemed snappier than the older tx2z, but we think it has more to do with software updates than the components. However, we found that the latest HP all-in-ones, like the TouchSmart 300 and 600, were more responsive. With the tx2, in some cases we were staring at that little ring of fire graphic while waiting for touch apps to load longer than we’d prefer.
Overall, the tx2 offers a much improved touch experience compared to its predecessor–and the price is still reasonable. However, we wish that this slick new interface were paired with a thinner and lighter design. Stay tuned for a full review.