The HP Pavilion tx2050ea is part of the tx2000 series of laptops. That series follows in the intrepid footsteps of the tx1000 series, which combined all the benefits of a standard laptop with those of a tablet PC. The tx2050ea, available for around £600, uses faster components than its predecessor, the tx1020ea, a new form of touchscreen and a slightly tweaked design.
When we say 'slightly tweaked', we mean it. To the untrained eye, the tx2050ea looks almost identical to the tx1020ea. The main differences include a silver, instead of black, keyboard, and a new 'imprint finish' pattern on the lid and wrist rest.
Handling the tx2050ea brought back memories of the things that displeased us about its predecessor. One of the most notable issues is the weight. It isn't a large laptop -- quite the opposite -- it's a 12.1-inch model that's only marginally thicker than most of its peers. At 2.3kg, however, it's heavier than you'd expect for a laptop of its size.
Other problems from the tx1000 series rear their heads on the tx2050ea. In order to make the most of the machine when its running in tablet mode, HP has decided to festoon the screen bezel with as many shortcut buttons as possible -- a sensible idea, since the keyboard isn't usable in this mode. Unfortunately, HP has also adorned the bezel with other things that look like they might be buttons, but aren't. The result is a mishmash of switches and switch look-alikes that may initially confuse you.
Having said that, the buttons in question do come in handy. There are switches for activating the media-only DVD mode and rotating the screen orientation, a return button, a config button and shortcut keys for controlling media playback. Other media-friendly touches include a DVD drive and dual front-facing headphone ports that let you connect two pairs of headphones simultaneously.
The core specification of the tx2050ea is superior to that of its predecessor. Whereas the tx1020ea used a fairly anaemic 1.6GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive, this updated model packs a 2GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 CPU, 2GB of RAM and 250GB of storage. All in all, it's a far more attractive proposition.
The tx2050ea is designed to be an entertainment device, so the quality of its screen is of the utmost importance. As we've said, it's a 12.1-inch panel, which runs at a native resolution of 1,280x800 pixels. The bad news is that the screen uses HP's horrid
Glare O Matic BrightView coating, which makes the surface of the screen so reflective that it's virtually impossible to use in direct sunlight. It's even a pain to use indoors and could cause eye strain or headaches as you struggle to see past the reflections.
The tx2050ea's display does have an ace up its sleeve, though: touch-sensitivity. Unlike the previous model, the tx2050ea uses infrared detectors hidden around the bezel to track the movement of the stylus. This system feels very responsive and can even detect the stylus as it hovers up to an inch above the screen. This proves useful, as you can see exactly where the laptop thinks your cursor input will fall. Finger input is also an option for those users who have either lost the stylus or can't be bothered getting it out of its compartment.