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on 11 October 2008
I actually have the TX2550ea, but the only difference to this machine is a slightly faster processor and an extra 1GB RAM.

The first thing to say about this machine is that it's very easy on the eyes: the silvered plastic body combined with the shiny black lid with the subtle Echo imprint looks very sleek, and very stylish. The Echo imprint is subtle enough that it doesn't stick out, but it's prominent enough that if you're looking for it it's easy to see.

Unfortunately, all of this plastic means the machine isn't the toughest out there. The build quality is a little cheap and you'll want to avoid giving this thing any knocks or bumps, and the shiny black plastic lid is an absolute fingerprint magnet too. (You do get an included cloth to keep it clean though!)

An important thing to note about the TX2530 is that it's marketed as an Entertainment PC, but it's actually a tablet PC. This means two things: first, the screen is hinged slightly differently. Like the photos in the details show you you can rotate it around, but what they don't show is that you can actually fold the screen flat facing upwards, which more or less leaves you with a screen. This is where the second part comes in: the digitizers. It has two: a "passive" digitizer which is a finger touchscreen, and an "active" one, which is controlled using the included stylus pen. The finger touch is great for navigating around webpages and casual browsing, whilst the pen touch is a more accurate version that is better for handwriting recognition software (which is surprisingly accurate and included in Vista) and art. All this is done directly onto the screen, which makes it very easy and great fun to use.

Unfortunately, this is probably where the machines biggest flaw lies: to keep the costs down HP manufacture this with a fairly cheap finger-touch layer. It works perfectly fine, but having this layer in front of the screen isn't good for the picture quality or the viewing angles. There is a distinctly grainy look to the screen, and the viewing angles are rather narrow before colours start to lose their clarity. It's still very useable, but I'd strongly recommend getting a glimpse of one in a shop display before you order it, just to make sure you're happy with this.

Apart from this the features are generally good: the included remote control is handy, and although by default it only works with Windows Media Centre you can fiddle with the settings a little. I use Foobar2000 to play music and being able to skip and search etc. using the remote is dinky. The touchpad has a dedicated on/off button which is more useful than you think, and the Lightscribe drive can be used to burn pretty pictures on Lightscribe discs (Google this if you want a few examples). The dedicated volume up/down/mute buttons on the chassis are great too, so you don't have to fiddle with menus or function keys. It's just a shame they're covered over when the machine is in tablet mode.

The integrated graphics are about as powerful as tablet graphics come, but don't expect to play Crysis on this thing. The GPU also generates a fair bit of heat when you're stressing it, but kept on the power-saver option it's pretty quiet.

Windows Vista is pre-installed and it has features that compliment tablet PCs excellently like handwriting recognition and a virtual keyboard, but beware: HP are fond on their "bloatware". This is software that they pre-install for you, often on a trial basis, hoping to get you hooked and make money out of you later. There's quite a lot of this and to get the best out of your machine you'll need to format the drive and reinstall Vista to get rid of it. You can use the same serial key, but I know a lot of people won't be too keen on trying this, but the bloatware does eat up resources and slows the machine down.

Overall the machine is pretty decent. It's relatively fast, has plenty of features, comes with a decent number of accessories and it's by far the cheapest tablet PC on the market (other modern tablets are almost always over £1000). Unfortunately, the cheap price is reflected in the quality of the chassis and the screen, and it comes installed with lots of useless programs that'll just slow the machine down.

If like me you're on a tight budget, you particularly want a tablet PC and you're happy enough to reinstall Vista it's a great machine whose only major flaw is the screen quality. If you're not looking for a tablet in particular I'd advise choosing a standard laptop though, and if you do want a tablet but can afford to splash out £1,000/£1,500 then it'll be worth your while looking elsewhere.
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on 23 February 2009
It's a very good laptop with many good features, but the only thing that missing is bluetooth. And for the users who works the bluetooth often no problem. Many cheap bluetooth sticks and very suitable are available. Another tip is that this laptop doesn't offer multi-touch feature and I mean use more than one finger on-screen.
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