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With the recent surge in the popularity of tablets thanks to the Apple iPad, you would expect the variety of tablet-laptops to have increased as well. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case. Here in the UK at least, the only easily available, sub-£1,000 options for a convertible tablet are the Packard Bell Butterfly Touch and Acer Aspire 1825 – and of course HP's TouchSmart tm2, which we're looking at today.
This 12.1in laptop's key feature is its 1,280 x 800, multi-touch capacitive screen with Wacom-enabled pen input for drawing and writing. Joining it are switchable, discrete AMD Radeon graphics for gaming and graphics acceleration, and a brushed metal lid and palm-rest with beautifully etched patterns. Is it enough to make this the best convertible tablet laptop available?
In the US it's completely configurable, with specifications up to an ultra low voltage (CULV) Core i5-470UM, Mobility Radeon HD5450 graphics, 8GB of RAM, a 640GB hard drive and Windows 7 Professional, not to mention an external Blu-ray drive – that's enough to put many similarly-sized laptops to shame.
Unfortunately, in the UK we're stuck with a number of very similar preset configurations, all of which use outdated CULV Pentium processors. The ones available direct from HP (the 2050ea and 2190ea) both come with a relatively paltry 3GB of RAM and cost around £750. The older tm2-1010ea, which is available for considerably less from third parties and is the model we're looking at, has 4GB of RAM but drops the dedicated graphics down to an HD4550, meaning no DirectX 11 compatibility.
Full specifications for the 1010ea are as follows: a dual-core SU4100 at the helm running at 1.3GHz, Mobility Radeon HD4550 graphics, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a speedy 320GB, 7,200rpm hard drive. The OS of choice is a 64-bit edition of Windows 7 Home Premium, and wireless is well catered for by both Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 2.0.
Connectivity is slightly sub-par, though it does include the basics. For hooking up peripherals or external storage there are only three USB 2.0 ports, with no sign of USB 3.0 or even eSATA. This is exacerbated by the absence of an ExpressCard slot, so you can't add the newer standards at all. There's a standard memory card reader and Gigabit Ethernet port, video is handled by the usual VGA and HDMI combo, while for audio there's a single 3.5mm jack combining both headphone and microphone connectors into one – a potential annoyance as most PC headsets use separate connectors.
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