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HP TouchSmart tm2-1010ea - Design, Build Quality and Usability
HP does somewhat make up for the tm2's lack of connectivity with presentation and design. The laptop comes with a high-quality, zippered sleeve and a brushed metal-topped external DVD rewriter, both useful and classy accessories. The machine itself might be bulky and inelegant, but it's beautifully finished. Even more so than with the award-winning HP Pavilion dm4, its lid is simply a work of art, with organic curls that dance in subtly-etched lines across the aluminium. It's attractive, doesn't pick up fingerprints, and offers better resistance against wear and tear than most rivals.
Opening the laptop up, the screen's glossy black bezel, matte black keyboard and large, one-piece touchpad contrast nicely with the metal wrist-rest and keyboard surround. Other nice touches include chromed power and wireless switches accessible in 'tablet mode', a rubberized cover hiding the Gigabit Ethernet port, and the spring-loaded stylus compartment, which pops the pen out at a press.
Build quality is good, with minimal sign of flex or creak. The screen's smoothly rotating hinge is very sure and solid, feeling like it would withstand considerable abuse and keeping the screen at the exact angle you want it at. When it's closed, the lid is held securely in place by two small plastic protrusions to either side of the keyboard with matching slots in the lid and screen's bezel, so that the onus of keeping it positioned properly is never on the hinge alone.
Usability is unfortunately a bit of a mixed bag. The tm2's isolation-style keyboard features a good layout, with a soft-touch coating on the well-spaced keys that gives them a lovely tactile feel. Key feedback is shallow but crisp, and most of the time it provides a pleasant typing experience. However, the large touchpad does tend to get in the way, with your right palm often inadvertently moving the pointer. Though (like with the HP ProBook 4720s) a double-tap to the pad's top left corner will deactivate it, this should be a feature rather than a necessity.
Despite offering a great tactile feel and being very sensitive, the multi-touch touchpad itself isn't without its problems either. It's the same all-in-one affair as found on the 4720s and more recently adopted by Samsung with its SF310, meaning the buttons are integrated into the pad's surface. HP has dubbed this ClickPad. However, sometimes it will register a press on one of its 'buttons' as a touch and move the cursor. The 'buttons' themselves, meanwhile, are quite simply the stiffest we have ever come across, making them a nightmare to use.