HP TouchSmart TM2-101ea review

David Ludlow
10 Mar 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Touch applications that don't work in portrait mode, poor display viewing angles and an annoying touchpad all add up to make this a frustrating computer to use.



12.1 in 1,280x800 display, 2.2kg, 1.3GHz Intel Pentium U4100, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Tablet laptops have never really caught on in the PC world for general use, as the operating system support for touchscreens has been so poor and the computers relatively expensive. HP's hoping this will change with its TouchSmart TM2-101ea laptop, which is the first we've seen to run Windows 7 with its native multi-touch support.

The TouchSmart TM2 is a convertible tablet: it looks like a conventional laptop, but the screen can we swivelled 180 degrees and folded back across the keyboard, so that it can be used handheld in portrait mode. It's multitouch (two points of contact), so works with Windows 7's touch features, including pinch-to-zoom.

TouchSmart in slate mode

Sadly, the computer has no accelerometer, so you have to press the rotate button fixed into the side of the screen if you want to switch from landscape to portrait modes. In portrait mode the computer's easier to hold in your arms, although at 2.2kg it can start to feel a bit heavy after a while.

Portrait mode also has a couple of other problems. First, the vertical viewing angles (horizontal viewing angles in portrait mode) on the 12.1in, 1,280x800 screen aren't very good. When you're holding the tablet, moving your head slightly to either side quickly makes the image disappear. The problem is exacerbated by the glossy coating on the screen, which picks up reflections easily. In landscape mode, it's not such a problem, as you can tilt the screen easily; in portrait mode it's more annoying, as the natural way to hold the tablet tends to mean the screen's pointing at overhead lighting, such as office lights. It's a shame, as the quality of the screen is actually very good. In our tests we found that contrast was excellent, colours are vibrant and whites were nice and bright.

HP TouchSmart not in portrait mode

Secondly, HP bundles its TouchSmart software, which has a range of applications that you can use with touch alone, such as an image editor and organiser. Unfortunately, HP hasn't written this suite to work in Portrait mode and it crashes out with a warning message if you try. The only application that really takes advantage of the TouchSmart in portrait mode is Windows Journal (a staple of tablet PCs since Windows XP Tablet PC Edition), which takes handwritten notes and drawings using the supplied pen, which slots into the base of the laptop.

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