hptx2500z.jpgThere’s a new laptop waiting for me in my mailroom, and this one is a tablet. Even though I’m still quite fond of the Inspiron 700m that I’ve used for the past three years, I’ve decided to make the move to Windows Vista: my desktop PC dual-boots Vista and XP, but I’ve recently made Vista the primary operating system. The 700m isn’t quite up to the task of running Vista. It has a single-core Centrino processor, and its graphics are comparatively weak:
they lag behind even my wife’s old Latitude D610 and won’t play my son’s Lego Star Wars game. I suspect that the machine won’t be up to the video editing that I want to be able to do on a notebook in the coming months.

I’ve had my eye on tablet pcs for the past couple of years, and two of my colleagues have used them: one swears by them, the other threw up her hands in disgust and bought something more conventional after a year. My handwriting is terrible, so I hate taking notes on pads of paper, but I also don’t like clicking on a keyboard when I’m attending meetings or listening to lectures. Plus I’m trying to decrease the amount of paper in my life: I’ve been scanning documents like crazy overt the past few months, and I’m subscribing to an increasing number of digital publications. I’m hoping that the tablet’s portrait orientation will make it more fun to read digital magazines and perhaps also lead me to print out drafts of manuscripts less frequently.

I was disappointed that Dell hasn’t seen fit to release a consumer-oriented tablet yet: at two grand, their Latitude tablet is priced for corporations and is more than I want to spend on a machine that I’ll be dragging around. Then I read a piece on my favorite tech blog, Engadget, about the Hewlett-Packard tx2500z Tablet, which the company bills as an “entertainment notebook.” The tx2500z tablet runs on an AMD dual-core processor with ATI Radeon HD3200 graphics, and it feature both passive and active touchscreen capabilities, meaning that you can use a finger to navigate your way around but also use a pen for notetaking and handwriting recognition. I took a look at preconfigured model being offered by Circuit City. As some online reviews have suggested, the screen appears a little washed-out compared to a standard laptop as a result of the passive digitizer. It’s certainly not as vivid as my current laptop, but it seemed quite usable.

When I discovered an online coupon from HP that offered $500 off a customized tx2500z priced above $1399, I decided to go for it. I placed an order on July 19 for a system with the following specs: AMD Turion X2 Ultra Dual-Core Mobile Processor ZM-80 (2.1 GHz); 12.1″ diagonal WXGA High-Definition HP BrightView Widescreen (1280 x 800) with Integrated Touch-screen; 3GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm); 320 Gb SATA hard drive; ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics; HP “Echo” Imprint Finish; Microphone; Webcam; Fingerprint Reader; Wireless LAN 802.11a/b/g/n; Bluetooth; LightScribe SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-RW with Double Layer Support; 8-Cell Lithium Ion Battery; Vista Home Premium SP1 with System Recovery DVD; and Microsoft(R) Works 9.0.

According to my confirmation e-mail, the order was sent to the factory and was expected to ship by July 31. Then, lo and behold, I received an e-mail on July 25, just as my famiy and I were leaving for a week of vacation, that my order had shipped. When I clicked on Fed Ex’s tracking link, I discovered that it was shipping from “Shanghai, CN.” It was fun tracking its progress. The tablet was in Anchorage, Alaska, the next day and Memphis, Tennessee, at noon on July 27. It arrived in Newark that evening and was in my mailroom before 9:00 a.m. on July 28.

I’m looking forward to testing it out on my return to the city this weekend and will post some first impressions then.

[Image source: tabletpcreview.com]