The HP Pavilion tm2t is a convertible laptop to Tablet PC notebook that was released at the beginning of 2010. The tm2 is the first HP consumer Tablet PC to feature an Intel processor, in the past the tx series of HP tablets featured AMD processors. In addition to switching processors HP has overhauled the design by using metals instead of plastic in the case, eliminating the built-in optical drive, improving the look, boosting battery life, switching Windows 7 for the OS instead of Vista and a host of other small enhancements. Overall the HP TouchSmart tm2t is a big leap ahead for the HP consumer Tablet series and could make an excellent student laptop, read-on to find out why!
Specs and Configuration of tm2t Review unit
The HP TouchSmart tm2t device under review has the following specifications:
- Screen: 12.1” diagonal WXGA LED-backlit with integrated touch-screen
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 1.30GHz, 800MHz FSB
- OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
- Graphics: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4550
- Memory: 4GB DDR3
- Storage: 500GB 7200RPM SATA hard drive
- Wireless: Intel 802.11 a/b/g/n, integrated Bluetooth
- Battery: 6-cell Lithium Ion rechargeable/replaceable, claimed battery life of up to 9.75 hours
- Optical Drive: None built-in, external USB connected LightScribe Super Multi 8x DVD+/-RW double layer drive
- Ports: 3 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet RJ45, 5-in-1 card reader, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
- Size: 11.9x 8.7 x 1.03/1.55 inches
- Weight: 4.72 pounds
- Other features: Integrated web-cam
I used a coupon code available at the time of purchase and got this all for around $1,000 after shipping and taxes. Considering the features and build quality of the tm2t the price is very reasonable.
HP tm2 Design
The HP tm2 has a fairly striking design and is much improved over the previous generation of HP’s tx series of tablets. The case has a unique swirl design and brushed aluminum finish.
The case is actually made of a aluminum, so the feel is very rugged. This does add to the overall weight of the tm2, it weighs 4lbs 8 ounces according to my scale:
With the power cord it’s over 5lbs, so you start to feel that weight when carrying it in a backpack and it can’t be called an ultraportable, even though the screen is just 12.1” in size.
The one slightly annoying thing about the tm2 design is when you’re in Tablet PC mode the screen slants when laid flat. This is because the battery sticks out the bottom and not the back. In the past the tx Tablets had a battery that bulged out of the back making for a makeshift handle, but the tm2 bulges downwards and creates a slope. When typing in laptop mode this is actually useful as it provides a more ergonomic sloped feel, but in Tablet it’s not as great, you can see the degree of the slope when viewed from the left side here:
The HP tm2 above has a slope from front to back, due to the battery design that bulges down, creating a slightly awkward Tablet PC experience when laid flat
The old HP tx2500z seen above did not have this slope, the battery stuck out of the back
HP tm2t Screen
The screen for the tm2t is a glossy finish widescreen with LED backlit display. Most importantly of course is the fact this screen features both a capacitive touchscreen input along with an active digitizer Wacom pen input. This means you can use either your fingers for display input or the included Wacom pen for more accurate needs such as writing on the screen. The touchscreen input can detect up to two fingers at a time, meaning functions such as pinch to zoom is possible. The included Wacom pen can be placed in a silo on the side of the tm2. The pen does not require batteries or charging, it has 256 levels of pressure sensitivity, flip the pen over and it has an eraser on the end to make for a very natural writing and erasing experience.
Often times with Tablet PC screens you find a lot of graininess due to all of the extra layers needed in the screen technology. This is not the case with the TouchSmart tm2, the screen is very clear and colors are rich. The only real complaint I have about the screen is the fact it is glossy and makes it tough to see if there are a lot of lights in the room – matte style screens are preferable for Tablet PCs. If you had hoped to use the tm2t outside, forget about it, though the screen is bright it is not bright enough to support outdoor viewing and the glossy finish will simply reflect the sun.
Screen rotation to tablet mode can be done either to the left or right, but you have to rotate the screen back in the opposite direction to get back to notebook mode. The hinge on the tm2t feels sturdy, a very important factor for laptop mode, the screen does not wobble when you type.
The one major complaint I have about the tm2 screen and Tablet PC input is that the touchscreen is a little finicky, the touchscreen tends to go to sleep after not being used and when you poke at the screen it does not necessarily wake-up and activate in a timely manner. I have sometimes had to go in and manually enable the touchscreen feature again.
HP tm2t Performance
The HP tm2 I purchased came with an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4550 graphics card, which helps with graphics intensive applications. The sweet thing about the tm2t is that you are able to switch between Intel GMA 4500 integrated graphics and the ATI 4550 graphics very easily. Use the integrated Intel graphics to save power when in battery mode and switch to the ATI 4550 graphics to boost performance when you need it. You can simply right click on the desktop to make this change when you want, when you plug or unplug the laptop you’ll also get a prompt asking if you want to switch graphics modes:
Benchmarks for the HP tm2t were done with the ATI 4550 graphics enabled to give a true representation of the kind of top performance you can expect:
|HP tm2 (Intel SU7300 1.30GHz, 4GB RAM, ATI HD 4550)||Sony VAIO CW (Intel Core i3 2.13GHz, 4GB RAM, Nvidia 310m graphics)||Lenovo G450 (Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.1GHz, 3GB, Intel Graphics)||Dell Inspiron 14 (Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.0GHz, 3GB RAM, Intel graphics)||Dell Studio 14z (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.1GHz, 3GB RAM, Nvidia 9400 graphics)|
|PC Wizard Global Performance||15,365||27,952||23,468||–||–|
|Windows Experience Index||4.1||4.9||3.3||3.2||4.8|
The fact that the Intel processor is low voltage means you don’t have as much processing power as a bigger laptop with full power processor, but it will help with battery life. That said, the Intel SU7300 was no slouch, I did not notice any slowdown during normal usage. The ATI 4550 graphics provided for a nice 3DMark score, this means you can do some light gaming and possibly play some of the latest games out on low to medium graphics settings. Bottom line, for school work the tm2 has more than enough power.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard for the HP tm2 is a chiclet style keyboard, it’s actually exactly the same as that seen on the HP Envy 13 and Envy 15 laptops, which consequently are much like the Apple MacBook Pro’s keyboard. The touchpad on the tm2 is also the same as that on the Envy laptops, it is large in size and does not have dedicated mouse buttons but rather buttons integrated onto the lower left and right side of the pad – again, much like the Apple MacBook.
The keyboard is nice and firm and feels great to use. It is full size so there are no issues with adjusting your finger reach if you’re used to a larger style laptop. I like the fact you can easily toggle wireless on/off using a dedicated key at the top that has a light on – it glows white when wireless is enabled and orange when wireless is off. The volume mute button next to the wireless button also has this same orange/white glow indicator.
While I liked the keyboard, the same cannot be said for the touchpad. Although claims have been made that HP has fixed the various known issues with this synaptics touchpad that was also used on the Envy 13 and 15, in my experience it’s still got a mind of its own. The cursor would frequently jump from one place to another on the screen at random and overall the touchpad is just a pain to use. The mouse buttons while providing a tactile click, do not depress very far so it’s not a satisfying input method of clicking. I’d highly recommend getting a wireless mouse to use with the TouchSmart tm2, I’ve been using the Logitech VX Nano. If you’re comfortable with installing 3rd party drivers there are some fixes for the touchpad according to some users.
HP tm2 Port Selection
The TouchSmart tm2 has all the ports you need, no complaints here. It features 3 USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, Monitor out port, 5-in-1 media card reader and headphone/microphone jack. Below are pictures of each side of the tm2 so you can see where the ports are located:
Left side: HDMI port, screen rotation button, 1 USB port, headphone/mic port, pen silo
Right side: Power button, wireless on/off switch, media card reader, 2 USB ports, power jack
Front side: no ports
Back side: Monitor out VGA port
HP tm2t Heat & Noise
One complaint I had about past HP Tablet notebooks was the fact they got incredibly hot and battery life was so-so. The tm2 resolves this, the fan is very quiet and runs at a low setting, it’s completely acceptable and I never found it annoying. The older tx2500z would often have its fan blasting and sound like a vacuum! The tx2500z also ran hot, but the tm2 has no such issues. I think the fact the battery elevates the tm2 and there is clearance beneath it helps to get air flowing underneath therefore helping it to cool. The low voltage Intel processor of course helps things too.
HP tm2 Battery Life
The HP website claims battery life of up to 9.75 hours. That is very optimistic, I put the screen on the 4th level of brightness, used integrated Intel graphics and left wireless on and after 6 hours and 51 minutes the battery ran down to 5% and the tm2 went into hibernate. If you took screen brightness all the way down and turned off wireless I suspect 8 hours is a possibility, but I have no idea how 9.75 hours is achieved unless the screen is actually off for a period of time.
Above you can see the battery area on the bottom of the tm2
All the same, 6 hours and 51 minutes of battery life is excellent and much better than the sub-4 hours with the tx2500z. Under more stressful use, such as dedicated graphics on and full screen brightness, the battery life might drop to around 3 or 4 hours, which is still acceptable. If you take the tm2 to class for taking notes there’s no chance it will run out of juice, even if the class is a 3-hour long lecture.
HP tm2t Review Conclusion
The HP TouchSmart tm2t has a lot to offer and is solidly built. It is a great student laptop in many ways: it offers an easy way to take class notes via the pen input, battery life is very good, the design is attractive and the aluminum construction makes it durable yet not too heavy to be portable. The main drawbacks to the tm2t is that it uses a low voltage processor, so it’s not the fastest PC out there, and some of the software drivers such as the touchpad and touchscreen are buggy and could do with some tweaking out of the box. You may also have to calibrate the pen input to your liking, which for the impatient can be a chore.
Overall though the tm2 has a lot to like, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it if you think the Tablet PC input component will be useful for your needs. If you know you have no interest in the Tablet PC aspect, the HP dm3t laptop would be a better option.