The Pavilion tx2011AU Entertainment Notebook PC is from HP's new range of 'creative' notebooks, which have funky patterns printed on their lids. More than a notebook, however, the tx2011AU is also a Tablet PC and it rates well in almost every aspect – it's stylish, very functional and costs less than most equivalent Tablet PCs because it uses an AMD CPU.
Indeed, inside the tx2011AU is an AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core TL-64 2.2GHz CPU, an integrated GeForce Go 6150 graphics adapter, 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a 250GB, 5400rpm hard drive. The benefit of the AMD CPU is mainly its price rather than performance; with a retail price of $2199, the tx2011AU won't blow your budget as much as other Tablet PCs might.
In our WorldBench 6 test it scored a decent 66, which means it can handle multitasking office tasks fairly well. In our MP3 encoding test, the AMD CPU was a little sluggish as it took 1min 43sec to convert 53min of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files in iTunes.
Performance aside, a key concern with any Tablet PC is how the screen works when it's touched or tapped. With the tx2011AU, HP has learned from the mistakes of the tx1000 and not only included an integrated digital pen that plugs handily into the unit, but also improved the touch screen's usability and sensitivity. Basic Vista functions were performed using our fingers, and the system recognised our garbled handwriting with a fairly successful hit rate. Just make sure you clean your screen regularly, because it isn't smudge-proof.
The 12.1in screen (1280x800) has a 1.3-megapixel webcam, two microphones, a fingerprint reader, two speakers and a series of hotkeys built into the Tablet PC's rim. One of the hotkeys can be used to rotate the screen so that it can be used either in horizontal or vertical orientation. The fingerprint reader, although increasingly standard on notebooks, is a welcome addition for securing a notebook. The screen looked good when we used the tx2011AU in a typical fluorescent-lit office environment, but it is a reflective screen. When using it outdoors or in other well-lit environments it might be difficult to avoid seeing reflections on the screen.
On the lid of the notebook is a design, albeit a faint one, that HP calls "Echo". This design is a collection of swirls and patterns that make this unit just a little bit different.
In terms of general usability, the tx20011AU also performs well. The keyboard is comfortable to type with, with well-tapered edges on the keys, while the speakers pump out sound at a surprisingly strong level. The palm-rests warm up after the unit has been steadily processing data for an hour. HP has installed a fan at the right-hand corner of the base, which helps extract the warm air generated by the CPU and chipset.
For connectivity, the notebook includes a 5-in-1 card reader (SD, MS, MS-Pro, MMC, xD), three USB 2.0 ports, a dial-up modem, gigabit (10/100/1000) Ethernet port, 802.11a/b/g wireless, infrared receiver, Bluetooth, a VGA port, an S-Video port, an ExpressCard/54 slot, a microphone jack and two headphone jacks, which is a useful for two people wanting to listen to audio in private.
In our battery test, where we loop a DVD until the battery runs out, the tx2011AU only managed to last a short 1hr 2min. With the DVD drive spinning, the CPU processing data, the speakers pumping out sound and the screen always on and at full brightness, this is a worst-case scenario. In cases when you'll just be using word processing or Web browser programs, and with a power scheme set to conserve power, the battery life will be better.