Review: 3 Windows 7 touch-screen laptops

New notebooks take advantage of Microsoft's touch-friendly OS

1 2 3 4 Page 3
Page 3 of 4

HP TouchSmart tx2z

HP's TouchSmart tx2z convertible tablet is nothing if not good looking. The system's curved, swooping design creates several nooks for ports and controls along the edge of its black case, which sports an intricate silver pattern.

HP TouchSmart tx2z

HP TouchSmart tx2z

Click to view larger image

Slightly thicker and wider than the LifeBook, the TouchSmart can be transformed from a keyboard-equipped notebook to a pen-centric tablet by rotating the screen and folding it flat. Unlike the LifeBook, the TouchSmart doesn't require a latch to lock the screen in place.

The basic system, which starts at $800, comes with a 2.2GHz AMD Turion X2 dual-core processor (unlike the other two systems reviewed here, which have Intel chips). It also includes 2GB RAM, a 320GB hard drive, a DVD Multi disc burner and a tiny remote control that can be kept in the ExpressCard slot.

Equipped with its standard 6-cell battery, the base TouchSmart system weighs 4.6 pounds, a couple of ounces more than the others. This rises to 5 pounds with the optional 8-cell power pack that came with my test machine. With the larger battery and the AC adapter, the TouchSmart has a 5.8 pound travel weight; it has a three-prong electrical plug that might pose a problem if a three-prong outlet isn't available.

The $995 review unit also came with 4GB of RAM and a 2.4GHz AMD Turion X2 Ultra processor. The Ultra is competitively priced, but uses significantly more power (35 watts) than an Intel Core 2 Duo processor (25 watts).

HP TouchSmart tx2z

TouchSmart

Click to view larger image

Equipped with an N-trig capacitive overlay on top its 12.1-inch display, the tx2z works well with finger motions or with the included pen. The screen has an odd sparkling quality to it, but I found it to be responsive, accurate and able to handle multi-touch gestures. It could streamline tasks like copy (diagonal swipe to the upper right corner) and paste (swipe to the lower right corner).

On the downside, the TouchSmart ran hot, which heated the pen up when it was stowed in its slot, and the pen lacks the handy digital eraser that's on the Fujitsu's stylus.

While the TouchSmart has, along with its Ethernet jack, a modem jack (an increasingly rare feature), it lacks the LifeBook's HDMI and the Lenovo's SATA connections. It has three USB ports, an external monitor port, an ExpressCard slot and a versatile Flash card reader that reads SD, MS and xD cards. In addition to its wired LAN, the TouchSmart offers 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi.

Audio is the TouchSmart's strength, with a Realtek sound chip, two headphone jacks and a SPDIF audio connection for digital external speakers. The built-in speakers can pump a good amount of volume and deliver surprisingly rich sound.

The system comes with HP's TouchSmart software, which gives users a way to access their applications via about a dozen large tiles in a horizontal strip (it only works in landscape mode). Tap on the one you want. It comes with Hulu online TV and Twitter, and you can easily add your own apps.

The TouchSmart's performance was adequate -- it earned a 561.2 on the Performance 7.0 benchmark, which was 40 percent off the pace of the T400s and the slowest of the three. With more than twice the capacity of the T400s, the TouchSmart's 9,800 milli-amp hour battery ran for a disappointing 2 hours and 58 minutes on a charge.

Digital couch potatoes can ignore the TouchSmart's keyboard and take advantage of its high-end audio, remote and precise fingertip control. At $995, the review unit undercuts the price of other touch systems, making it the closest thing to a technological bargain I've seen.

1 2 3 4 Page 3
Page 3 of 4
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon