Lag Time A Problem For TouchSmart Pen

There’s a lot going for the HP TouchSmart notebook, but the pen’s lagtime could be problematic

By Branko Miletic

Make: HP
Model: TouchSmart tm2

The HP TouchSmart tm2 is a convertible, touch-enabled notebook PC encased in a sleek aluminum chassis with an artistic engraved illustration. It is designed for students and road warriors alike.

Building on HP TouchSmart software innovation, the thin TouchSmart tm2 is an update of the tx2 – the world’s first convertible notebook PC with multi-touch technology designed specifically for consumers. In other words, you can choose the configuration that is best for you, whether sitting on a couch, beanbag, in an airplane, on the bus or while surfing the web in the dentists surgery.

As a traditional notebook, the tm2 offers a keyboard and touch-enabled display, but when converted to a slate, the tm2 morphs into a sketchpad with digital pen, allowing artists to sketch on the go and students to take notes in class – basically the screen rotates 180 degrees and folds down over the keyboard. On this point is where this wonderfully designed device starts becoming unstuck. Sure the graphics are great and the response time of the machine is super-fast, and the light multi-touch display technology supports gestures such as zoom, scroll and rotate. And of course, the HP’s ability to find a wireless network on a sniff of an oily rag is second to none. But when it comes to writing or drawing with the digital pen in the sketchpad mode, it quickly becomes a case of practice makes perfect.

With the digital pen, it really does become a learning curve. Sure, one would assume that we can all write more or less naturally, but a digital pen does not behave exactly the same way as its ink-filled cousin.

First, the response times of the digital pen were nowhere near the ink model—in fact, no matter how much attenuation one did with the pen’s parameters, the fact remained that there was a noticeable lag time when writing and/or drawing.

Second, if you needed to rub out a mistake, over-rubbing meant that you deleted more than what you wanted to and under-rubbing caused very little to happen at all.

Third, the fact that the tip of the pen is sharp meant that naturally one is cautious not to ‘scratch’ the screen although this is near impossible to do.

Having said all that, the ability of the tm2 to provide users with a choice of writing/reading configurations should be applauded and the fact that this little dynamo from HP comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a 12.1-inch screen, a claimed nine-hour battery life (which is closer to five with real world usage), Windows 7 OS and 2 kg weight means that this machine is what you get when you cross a Netbook with a tablet PC.

The HP TouchSmart tm2 doesn’t come with an in-built optical drive, but you can get a USB connected one for those that need to read CDs.

The tm2 is a smartly designed piece of very cool hardware, perhaps even a little ahead of its time if we look at the recent rise of Tablet PCs. If HP could just tweak that digital pen function, then this would certainly become a must-have item for both student and professional.

Pros: versatile; fast processor; great graphics
Cons: digital pen a bit unresponsive; heavy; no optical drive

3.5 out of 5 shacks