HP Pavillion tx2500 Tablet Review

I’ve been wanting to pick up a tablet PC for a long while now. Half-geek, half-artist – how could I not want one? I’ve had both a PC & a tablet for well over a decade now, so why not merge them and simplify things?

I’ve been dyin’ for an Apple tablet PC – even signed the online petition hoping that’d help, but they’re still not making one (I add hopefully, “at the time of this post”). Granted, there is always the Axiotron Modbook, but that’s just not the same. First, it’s a modified MacBook – so you have to pay not only full price for the laptop, but then for the modification. That’s a bit out of my price range. And besides, I would much rather have a modified MacBook Pro. Then there’s the fact that it is strictly a tablet PC – no keyboard. And even though there’s an on-screen keyboard and handwriting recognition, that doesn’t help my efficiency in applications like Photoshop.

I did a lot of research on the various models out there, their specs, their prices. The Modbook, Lenovo, HP, Dell, Gateway. The Modbook was too expensive, but ran my OS of choice. The Dell’s processor was far too slow (about 1/2 the others) and supported the least amount of RAM – while surprisingly it was barely less expensive than the Modbook! So the Dell was right out. The Gateway was too heavy and didn’t have much in the way of redeeming features or specs – at least nothing better than the others. It all came down between the Lenovo & the HP.

I really wanted to give the tablets a try before I made a decision. I just couldn’t find any semi-local stores that had them in stock for me to look at. I called around – nothing. Apparently the tablets were either marketed as either business computers, or “multimedia” computers, and weren’t really popular enough to be kept in stock in stores?

Then one Friday after work on a whim I stopped by my local Best Buy and found the HP out on display! In addition to the display model, they had one left in stock – and it was on sale! I could hardly contain myself. It was a nice little machine, even a little style – and very affordable. So I bought it.

This was just the base model – nothing upgraded. The HP Pavillion tx2500 with a 2.0GHz processor – a little slower than I wanted. 5400rpm hard drive (instead of the 7200rom drive in the Lenovo) – but it did come with 3GB of RAM (upgradeable to 4GB) and Windows Vista x64 SP1. It’s not a bad little machine.

The resolution’s very nice – perfect for the size. The screen rotates/swivels 180 degrees so you can use the keyboard – or not. You can also rotate the display to better orient the way that you’re holding it (vertical/landscape). Very cool. There are ports out the wazoo, a tetherable stylus with its own storage slot in the front for easy access, and a multimedia remote with its own storage as well (I like not having to worry about losing things).

My complaints:
This is definitely marketed as more of a multimedia device than an artistic tool. The media drive is removable to lighten the weight if you don’t need it, but the laptop is a lot thicker/beefier than it needs to be because it has to accommodate it. It’s not really heavy, but borders on it for this size laptop.

It’s too bulky – it’s just really thick. It’s all about proportions. Why do I want to carry around something that’s the thickness of a larger laptop? It just feels wrong. I didn’t think I was going to say this, but I’d rather forgo the DVD drive for a thinner, lighter tablet PC. I just don’t use it to watch movies – I use it to sketch and work on my websites.

Another issue is that it seems to get warm quickly and the fans spin up a lot – and the fan is quite loud. This can get pretty annoying. The vents can kick out some serious hot air too. Sometimes I hibernate or shut it down just to make it stop if I’ve been working for a bit.

My biggest frustration however, is something that not everyone will run into. If you use this tablet PC in a coffee shop, at the office, etc., you’ll be fine. But if you use this say, in your living room to chill out while you work – then there’s a potential problem. It seems as though my Xbox360 remote can control my laptop to some extent. Initially I didn’t make the connection – I thought the laptop was just acting very strangely. One moment everything’s fine, and the next I hear the laptop’s fans spin up and I’m left confused, swearing that I had shutdown the laptop just an hour ago… I’d have to open the display and shut it back down again.

Apparently – if you suspend/hibernate/shutdown the laptop in the vicinity of your Xbox, then decide to play a movie… Simply pressing “play” will power up or resume the laptop! On top of that, Windows Vista won’t simply allow you to disable the IR port – and I’m not about to disable it in the BIOS. Or am I? Sticking a Post-It to the front of the laptop does look a little stupid and can lead to strange papercuts…