HP TouchSmart tm2t Review

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!

HP tm2

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. 

HP tm2t design

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:

HP tm2 weight

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:

P1020569 HP tm2 slope

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

HP tx2500z

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.

P1020560 P1020577

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.

P1020561 P1020562

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:

HP tm2 switchable graphics

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)
PCMark Vantage 2,765 4,792 3,243 2,437 3,520
3DMark 06 3,154 3,636 783 751 2,081
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.

pcmark 3dMark06

wei


PCWizard

 

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.

HP tm2 keyboard

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:

HP tm2 left side

Left side: HDMI port, screen rotation button, 1 USB port, headphone/mic port, pen silo

HP tm2 right side

Right side: Power button, wireless on/off switch, media card reader, 2 USB ports, power jack

HP tm2 front side

Front side: no ports

HP tm2 back view

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.

P1020570-4

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.

Here are links to the latest HP Laptop Deals!



Filed Under: Feature Articles, Student Laptop Reviews, Tablet Reviews

About AJ

I'm a big believer in the importance of technology usage in education, but not just having blind faith in technology gadgets and using them in a school setting for the sake of it. I review and write about technology devices such as laptops and tablets that have a clear purpose and provide a learning advantage for students.

19 Responses to HP TouchSmart tm2t Review

  1. Ken NG March 24, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    nice ! thank you man…very impressive info there ! A+++

  2. Harlee April 3, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    nice review man, I was already going to get one this month but this made it a solid choice

  3. Mike April 7, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    Thanks for the review… I was really wanting to get this for college next year, but still not sure about some other options. This review makes me feel much more confident about this tablet.

  4. Lam April 9, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    Did you test this PC for playing HD movie with external monitor connection?

  5. Michael April 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    Great review. Covered all the bases. While I don’t care for the jutting battery, but you’ve helped me make up my mind whether to go for a netbook or get something with the tablet functionality that I want.

  6. Dave April 12, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    So It’s like an Ipad… except that it’s actually useful

  7. RIcardo May 5, 2010 at 12:46 am #

    This was incredibly helpful!!! thanks again for the review. I wanted to buy this laptop but I want to wait a little longer to see if these tm2t will come out with more powerful and faster processor. I havent heard anything anything about it anywhere, but I will wait a few more months to see of HP makes any cahnges to the processor. If anyone knows anything about this fact, please let me know.

  8. Matt May 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    Ricardo: There was a press release stating that in two weeks the tablet will come out with i3 and i5 processors, so I’d wait until then one to pick one up. Hard to say if the price will increase with the boost in processor though.

  9. Garrett May 11, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    i3 and i5 will have much worse battery life. It’s a bad tradeoff. The SU7300 can handle all normal applications without slowdowns.

    The biggest concern I have is the touchpad. The ASUS UL30A had the same problem and it was intolerably obnoxious – I returned it. Has this been fixed? I also would miss the PGUP/PGDN buttons on this laptop.

  10. martti s May 15, 2010 at 1:42 am #

    This HP TM 2 is a cute little machine but unfortunately the system (with Win 7) is not stable. On the TouchSmart Forums there are fixes but I haven’t tested them yet.
    I am NOT running anything pirated from the net. Everything is factory stuff, registered and stamped.

    The TM 2 freezes several times a day requiring reboot, sometimes it wants to search for system errors. I am pretty disappointed with the machine. For everyday use I ordered now a refurbished MacBook Pro. Apples work, unless you subject them to heat or violence. (Done both, paid dearly)
    I got the touch screen for a special purpose. We’ll see if I ever get it running…

  11. Furquan June 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    I read this review and checked out HP’s Academic purchase program for a good price for students. I got a deal for $800, but now its down to $700 (even for non-students) thanks to the coupon code: NBLB44897

    http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/load_configuration.do?destination=review&config_id=4870441&aoid=35252

  12. AJ June 2, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    There are some really great coupons and deals on the tm2t right now, here’s links to a couple of current coupon codes: http://www.studentbuyingguide.com/2010/06/new-hp-touchsmart-tm2t-coupon-code-400-off-instantly/ and http://www.studentbuyingguide.com/2010/06/hp-tm2t-and-dm4t-200-off-coupon-code/

  13. Shah June 5, 2010 at 4:05 am #

    I love your review! It just strengthens my mind into getting this laptop. I’ve been looking for a good tablet +notebook for a long time, so thank you for the review! I’m a student too and I prefer writing because my lectures are fast-paced and I can save paper 😛 Anyway, I just have one concern. I know that there are no Bluetooth on Tm2. But are there that come together with it? I need bluetooth to transfer my files. Thanks 🙂

  14. Jeff June 11, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    Shah, the TM2 can come with blue-tooth, it’s an add-on for $25.00.

    I have one of these on order, without the BT, there are some really small dongles to be had for little cost. I don’t need BT everyday.

  15. Brian November 8, 2010 at 6:07 am #

    Hello,

    I have bought two TM2T’s. The first one I bought was off of Ebay and was a base model. It had su4100 processor, 500GB hard drive, no ATI graphics, no Bluetooth, and no Fingerprint Reader. For it being the base model with the lower end processor, it worked flawlessly. I used it every single day since I bought it. I liked it so much that I decided to get a second one with full customized highest end components. Well about two weeks ago I finally went to HP’s site and customized and ordered my second Brand New HP TM2T. I got all the high end goodies on it; the Core I5 processor, ATI switchable graphics, 500GB hard drive, Wi-Fi with Bluetooth, Fingerprint Reader, and when it arrived I immediately upgraded the 4gb memory to the full 8gb.
    First off, the first base model TM2T that I bought had some serious touchpad issues. I read some suggestions on how to fix it online, and with a few tweaks, it worked perfectly. Then I upgraded the OS from Home Premium to Professional. Once I upgraded, the touchpad worked flawless but for some reason, a lot of HP’s included software and applications would not reinstall such as the Touchsmart and webcam software, and the Corel Paint It! and a lot of the other applications that I liked. However, when I got my brand new Core I5 TM2T, there were no flaws whatsoever on anything to work out. Everything worked wonderfully right out of the box. This time, however, I am keeping the Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit OS that came on it. I love a lot of the extra applications that HP has installed on here such as the Digfish Dolphin application, Pandora radio, and Corel Paint It! I’d’ve to upgrade it to Windows 7 pro 64 Bit as well, but I’m afraid of losing the HP software that I like, such as I did with my first TM2T. Anyway, to answer at least one question on here, yes, the second round Core I3 and I5 processor TM2T have solved the dreaded touchpad issue. And to the person here who has had so much bad luck with your TM2T, you definitely got a dud, a flawed one, That can happen with any PC company. You should get a replacement one under warranty and give the TM2T a second chance! Thanks for reading!

  16. Sam December 9, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    The problem mentioned in this article and by Brian with the touch being finicky is almost entirely due to the fact that the touch goes to sleep after 10 seconds. It will make you pull your hair out. To fix it

    Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound
    Device Manager > Human Interface Devices
    Double click on the first USB Input device
    Select the Power Management tab
    Uncheck “Allow the computer to turn off the device to save power”

    At last you will have semi-normal touch experience.

    The one thing anyone should know about this computer is that the screen is lacking in several respects:

    1) The viewing angle is really poor. This means that in tablet mode sitting it in your lap and viewing it in landscape mode is very unsatisfactory. In portrait mode it is poor (compared to say an ipad) but acceptable.

    2) The overall color rendition is not great and this makes the clear-type technology used to smooth fonts poorer than it is on other screens.

    3) The pixel density makes for a somewhat grainy look.

    Don’t get me wrong the screen is usable but simply can’t compare to what you can get in a non-tablet screen for the same money.

    Still if are committed to using handwriting recognition which I have yet to get the hang of, or are looking at a near-ipad surfing experience in addition to having a serious laptop this is a nice machine for the money in spite of it’s flaws. If you have a few more bucks to invest and don’t care about the stylus then you are better off getting a regular laptop and an iPad.

  17. Brian December 29, 2010 at 1:07 am #

    This is an excellent and well-described review of the wonderful HP Touchsmart TM2T tablet laptop. I own two of these babies; I bought the lower end base model TM2T with the SU4100 processor, no Bluetooth, no FP Reader, no Switchable Graphics. I loved it so much that this past November And for one of my Xmas presents my wife decided to buy me a 2nd TM2T. She let me configure it, and man, I got it with the highest end component it could come with. I myself have never owned such a high end, well-built and extraordinary performing laptop such as my brand new TM2T, let alone with it being a tablet laptop. And with the coupon deals and HP’s own instant rebate, I got my new TM2T at a steal of a price. After pre-configuring, my TM2T was going to cost me about $1300 plus tax, but after the big coupon and the HP instant rebate, I got my new TM2T for $779 plus tax, which totalled out to be $821 roughly. Even my wife, who likes to save and pinch pennies, said this was too nice a deal to pass up. And the bottom line is I just love both of my TM2T’s. I will be starting school hopefully in the near future and my TM2T’s will definitely come in handy. Thanks for reading!

  18. daveyjane February 1, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    the touch goes to sleep after 10 seconds.
    To fix it

    Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound
    Device Manager > Human Interface Devices
    Double click on the first USB Input device
    Select the Power Management tab
    Uncheck “Allow the computer to turn off the device to save power”

    At last you will have semi-normal touch experience.

    on the double click of the first usb input device, I get:
    ‘general’, ‘driver’ and ‘details’.

    Where is the power management tab?
    under driver I see 6.1.7600.16385. is that what you have?
    my tablet is otherwise exactly as you describe in your review.

  19. kemilayo July 18, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Many thanks for the review.
    i got the tm2 and have a 2 major issues with it. i cant seem to activate the fingerprint reader. i had the tx series and it was so easy to use the fingerprint reader. i have tried to troubleshoot through device manager to at least find it and i did but still can access the finger reader to use it instead of using passwords.

    secondly, the wireless button is constantly yellow, which signifies its off. i have tried to click it on severally by pressing it and also by pressing alt F12 but it never comes on, never changes to the blue light.

    pls can anyone tell me what to do to solve this issues! i never had this issues with the old tx series!

Leave a Reply