The HP TouchSmart TM2, HP's fancy swivelling laptop-cum-tablet PC, isn't strictly a business-oriented device, but if your job dictates that you do a large proportion of your computing while on your feet, then a tablet PC can be a convenient and time-saving alternative to keyboard and touchpad input.

At first glance, the HP TouchSmart TM2 appears like any other small, albeit rather thick, laptop. However, grabbing the glossy 12.1in screen and giving it a 180-degree twist allows you to fold it back down on top of the keyboard, converting it into a button-free tablet device you can tap away at with your finger or the more accurate stylus, which slots away into the rather bulky and surprisingly heavy 2kg casing when not in use.

Built into the HP TouchSmart TM2's screen is a fingerprint reader, so you can sign in easily without the need for keys, but when you do need to type in tablet mode you'll have to make use of Windows 7's rather clumsy on-screen keyboard.

Unfortunately the touchscreen user experience delivered by the HP TouchSmart TM2 is rather slow and frustrating. If you're used to the iPad or even Android tablet interfaces, you're going to hate it - there's simply too much angry jabbing of fingers at the screen, waiting for the device to respond in a useful manner.

Much of the unresponsiveness can be put down to the general lack of processing power available. The 1.2GHz Intel Pentium U5400 is really pretty feeble when compared to a fully fledged laptop, as our WorldBench 6 score of 65 points clearly shows. While it's only slightly slower than the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11, the waiting around and lack of immediate response is more frustrating when you're using a touchscreen.

When you touch something with your finger it should respond immediately or the illusion of a direct physical interaction is shattered. Some limited gaming performance is there, thanks to the DirectX 11-capable ATI Mobility Radeon HD5450 chip, which is many times faster than the integrated graphics found elsewhere.

Upon twisting the screen back around and returning to regular keyboard use, the HP TouchSmart TM2 is a rather nice-looking laptop with its swirling etched case design. The scrabble-tile style keys and large multi-touch touchpad have a hint of MacBook about them and you get three USB 2.0 ports, VGA and HDMI as well as gigabit LAN and a card reader.

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

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Laptop Advisor

HP TouchSmart TM2: Specs

  • 1.2GHz Intel Pentium U5400 processor
  • 12.1in (1280x800) gloss reversible touchscreen
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 3GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • 320GB 2.5in 7200 rpm SATA 3Gbps hard drive
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5450 with 512MB
  • VGA
  • HDMI
  • Stereo Altec Lansing speakers with Dolby Advanced audio
  • headphone jack
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth
  • MMC/MS/MS-Pro/SD/xD slot
  • 0.3MP low-light webcam
  • fingerprint reader
  • stylus
  • 62Wh Li-Ion removable battery
  • 326x230x24.3-30mm
  • 2kg
  • 1.2GHz Intel Pentium U5400 processor
  • 12.1in (1280x800) gloss reversible touchscreen
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 3GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • 320GB 2.5in 7200 rpm SATA 3Gbps hard drive
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5450 with 512MB
  • VGA
  • HDMI
  • Stereo Altec Lansing speakers with Dolby Advanced audio
  • headphone jack
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth
  • MMC/MS/MS-Pro/SD/xD slot
  • 0.3MP low-light webcam
  • fingerprint reader
  • stylus
  • 62Wh Li-Ion removable battery
  • 326x230x24.3-30mm
  • 2kg

OUR VERDICT

Unfortunately, at this price the HP TouchSmart TM2 is too slow to be a decent laptop, and way too heavy and clumsy to be desirable as a tablet.

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