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While a certain slate computer that rhymes with "rad" has been criticized for lacking such standard notebook features as a camera, multitasking, Flash support, USB inputs to attach peripherals, and video outputs like HDMI, the HP TouchSmart tm2 Notebook PC (tm2-1070us) has them all. Call it a laptop and a tablet. Whatever you call it, this convertible has to be one of the more innovative notebooks to come along in some time.
The TouchSmart tm2's full-size keyboard swivels away from the 12.1-inch screen and can be tucked underneath when the computer is being used in full touch mode. The tm2-1070us incorporates a 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor SU7300, 4GB of memory (with an option to double it), and a 320GB (7200rpm) hard drive. The computer is finished in brushed aluminum with a riptide design in "argento blush," a color akin to pinkish table wine.
The LED-backlit widescreen display (1280 x 800 pixels) panel rotates 180 degrees and folds flat. As a TouchSmart display, the screen enables such multi-touch finger gestures as zoom, scroll, and rotate. In slate mode it can become a sketchpad that you use with the included stylus for drawing or handwriting. The tm2 has a tablet form factor that is just an inch thick, and at 8.7 x 11.9 inches it's slightly larger than a sheet of paper. With a weight of just 4.72 pounds, the tm2 can be easily stowed in a shoulder bag or backpack.
The TouchSmart tm2 features a variety of connections for streaming entertainment from the Internet, from media files stored anywhere on your home network, or from an attached peripheral. You can watch a source either wirelessly using the tm2's embedded 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi or by plugging in an Ethernet cable. There are three USB 2.0 ports built in and a 5-in-1 memory card slot. The latter accepts a Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, xD-Picture Card, or MultiMediaCard; so transferring photos or videos from a camera is a snap. Then, you can use your fingers to enlarge an image or drag the time elapse bar to any point in your home video. By directly controlling the screen, the dissociation experienced by computer novices over the relationship between mouse and pointer is dissolved naturally.
If you or a group would rather enjoy the picture on a big HDTV set or an external computer monitor, the tm2 contains HDMI and VGA outputs – no dock connector or proprietary cables required. This is a tablet ready to scale to the size of its audience.
There's a built-in Webcam with integrated microphone for visual dictation or video calls. Skype, the Internet calling application, is included. The computer contains a biometric fingerprint scanner so that an unauthorized person doesn't have access to your computer. There's also a headphone jack and microphone input. The tm2 is equipped with Altec Lansing stereo speakers using Dolby Advanced Audio software.
The computer comes with Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit), an operating system that's no stranger to multitasking. You'll also find Microsoft Works and 60-day trials to Office 2007 Home & Student Edition and Symantec Norton Internet Security 2010. You'll find factory installed desktop shortcuts on your screen, which are termed Life Center tiles by HP. They let you click-start the streaming of TV shows, movies, and music from Hulu, Netflix, and Pandora Internet Radio respectively.
There's another tile in place to tweet for those into Twitter. Preinstalled software includes the Sling Media slingplayer, Corel Paint it! Touch, the HP Music Store powered by Rhapsody, and Cyberlink DVD Suite. (You'll need an optional external USB DVD Drive if you want to use optical discs.) Also included are two Megatouch Games, Tug of Words and Photo Hunt, which each enables a new electronic game category that combines tactile and tactical playing.
The tm2 contains a 6-cell lithium-ion battery that provides up to 9.75 hours of power, according to HP. The extended battery life is aided by the Intel Core 2 Duo Processor SU7300's maximum thermal design power of only 10-watts.
Also, the mercury-free LED panel backlight consumes less power than traditional backlights. The tm2 is Energy Star-qualified. The default settings take advantage of the computer's advanced power management features to reduce energy consumption.
Multi-touch screen technology continues to rate high on the tech coolness meter, but it's a feature that's hard to show off when you're using a device that can be hidden by the backside of your hand like an iPod touch. That's not a problem for the full-size TouchSmart tm2. The 12.1-inch display is also larger than the Apple iPad's 9.7-inch screen, so there's more to catch the eye. True, the tm2 weighs more than an iPad, but that's because the tm2 is considerably more capable. After all, the tm2 lets you touch, draw, or type. And it contains all the inputs and outputs you'll need for fitting into your world from the minute you turn it on. So, whether you're creating your own documents or consuming the universe of digital media (books, magazines, photos, music, and video), the HP TouchSmart tm2 Notebook PC is the one convertible to be seen tooling around in.