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HP Pavilion tx2050ea
You've got to hand it to HP. While the consensus seems to be that Tablet PCs are the ultimate niche within a niche, it has spent a fair amount of time and money trying to sell the idea to the mass market. Its first attempt was the tx1000, which was a tidy effort that showed promise but needed some refinement, and HP has gone away and come up with a hopefully improved version, the Pavilion tx2000.
We've actually got our hands on an engineering sample of the machine, which features an AMD Turion X2 TL-66 running at 2.3GHz and a 5400rpm 160GB SATA HDD. However, the only model currently on the market is the Pavilion tx2050ea, which is identical to our sample apart from the fact that you get a slower AMD Turion X2 TL-60 that runs at 2.0GHz with 1MB L2 Cache and a 250GB HDD. Otherwise the systems are identical, with each packing in an impressive array of features for a small 12.1in notebook such as this.
As is typical you get 2GB of 667MHz DRR2 RAM, which is no more or less than you need when running 32-bit Vista Home Premium, as this system does. An nVidia GeForce Go 6150 means this is no graphics powerhouse, but this is a portable notebook and we wouldn't expect much more. You do get a LightScribe capable DVD+/-RW optical drive, though, so you can watch DVDs, burn DVDs and burn labels onto them as well.
Network connectivity is also a strong point, with Draft-N wireless, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 2.0+ EDR all included. This means you should have no problem streaming high definition video to or from the machine, which given the ample storage provided is definitely a possibility. Indeed, there's little the tx2050ea lacks. You also get a 0.3 Megapixel WebCam with integrated stereo microphones, a fingerprint reader, a mini remote and both six-cell and eight-cell batteries in the box.
At around £640 this little HP represents astounding value for money and, given this price, one could just as easily consider it a standard 12.1in notebook that just happens to have a convertible and touch sensitive screen, since you aren't actually paying much of a premium for it.
Much of this value is generated by using the mobile AMD platform, which is noticeably cheaper but is weaker in terms of both raw performance and battery life compared to Intel's current offerings. Issues concerning battery life are offset somewhat by the inclusion of both the standard and extended battery, but this does mean that with an extended eight-cell battery the machine weighs a hefty 2.33kg, not inconsiderable for a notebook this size. Things improve with the six-cell, though, with the overall weight slipping below 2kg to 1.92kg.