(junior member)
04/12/10 06:19 AM
Re: Full review: HP TouchSmart TM2 tablet PC with multi-touch and pen input

Loved the review. Bought the machine. Having used it for a couple of weeks now, all I can say is "Shame on you, HP".

They are so close to the "Jesus Tablet" with this one, but it seems like they just didn't care enough to fix many little things that make the overall package fall short. I'm left wondering if they even let people walk around with a prototype for a few days. If they had, anyone paying even a little attention would have been able to point out the following, and prevented these simple design flaws from going into production:

1) The wifi switch on the right of the machine, near the front. I accidentally turn off the wifi at least a couple of times a day. Are you kidding me? Do you really need a hard switch for the wifi in the first place, let alone a spring-loaded sliding one that's ridiculously easy to accidentally trigger? (and identical and right next to the on/off switch to boot. Really?!)

2) The battery is too far back (and protrudes too far downward), creating a center of gravity that makes this laptop unable to sit on your lap without your hands being on the keyboard. Yep, it'll tip over onto the ground, given how lid heavy this thing is. This might be the only laptop that is happy to rest in a "V" on it's hinge. It's certainly happier there than in an "L" if the screen is open even slightly past vertical. Ridiculous.

3) More on the battery: the battery sticks out and just asks to be used as a carrying handle. However, it is curved right where your fingers grasp it, making it quite slippery. I've nearly dropped it a couple of times. Now I just avoid the big thing sticking out that says "I'm a handle! Really". No, you're not.

4) As if this wasn't enough, the single lever battery release is also quite prominent and all too easy to accidentally engage, thus popping the battery right off the machine. Hope you saved your work! This happened to me twice before I really swore off of the battery bulge as handle habit.

5) The touchscreen lags just ever so much from your input. Contrast that to an iPhone where your finger feels an integral part of the device. Clearly, it can be done (by Apple). I'm guessing HP decided to save USD $3 per unit by opting for lower res, slower responding equipment, preventing anyone from having a "wow" experience with the touchscreen, hence discouraging its use entirely.

6) The default setting where the pen causes "touches" without actually hitting the screen is incredibly frustrating. I changed this through options at one point, but ended up doing something else I didn't like and so reset them all back to their defaults. The pen experience is so "meh", that I just don't bother with it anyway.

7) The whole thing is just too heavy and thick (especially the lid - see above). I guarantee that if you had a passionate product manager lug this thing around for a week, not only would the above six issues be addressed, but he or she would have returned the unit to the engineers and said "make it half an inch thinner all around and 1 pound lighter". You can't tell me they wouldn't have been able to do it.

In the end, I think it's just a matter of philosophy: HP cranks out dozens of models several times per year. I don't think theirs is a culture of obsession and perfection. That's just not a part of their business model. At the risk of being called an Apple fanboy (obviously, I'm not since I bought this unit with high hopes), there is simply no way on earth Apple would have put their name on this unit. In fact, I'd wager that merely presenting this thing to an imagined Steve Jobs (more likely a senior, passionate product manager, but maybe Steve does in fact play with every model they produce), would have gotten the presenter a serious tongue lashing and/or demotion, if not fired outright.

HP, by contrast, seem content to amass an impressive sounding list of features & specs, and don't seem too concerned about how they all fit together for the benefit of the actual end user.

The shortcomings of this machine actually offend my sensibilities - the fixes are so obvious you just know someone at HP shrugged their shoulders at some point and said "whatever - we'll do better in a later model. We've got to get this thing shipping already". Yes, I still use it, but the very sight of the thing makes me feel spat-on and used. HP: Do yourselves and all of us a big favor and make products people are proud to own and show off to their friends, not just slabs that show well on spec sheets online and in big box retail stores. The latter is just so cynical, and more and more consumers are starting to see right through it.

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