HP Compaq 2710p review

10 Oct 2007

A versatile and compact tablet PC with stunning battery life, but we do have a few usability complaints.

Price when reviewed 
1,196
4

It was only a few months ago that an HP product manager remarked to PC Pro that the tablet PC was "dead" as far as consumer use went (web ID: 112623). As hard as Microsoft tried, the mass market never took to the idea of pen-driven, touchscreen notebooks, and manufacturers brave enough to devote serious resources to the tablet were forced to look elsewhere. Vertical markets - such as education and healthcare industries - show the most promise. And, weighing just 1.7kg, the 2710p is probably the ideal size for holding in the crook of your arm in a warehouse.

As convertible tablets go, the design is convincing. Apart from the hinge at the back, the 2710p looks like a normal ultraportable and feels well made. The base of the keyboard is solid, and both the back of the screen and wristrest feel equally tough. The keyboard is particularly well made, and typing is both fast and easy. There's even a white LED that pops out of the screen bezel to illuminate the keyboard.

The 12.1in, 1,280 x 800 touchscreen is practical for most applications. The resolution is high enough for office tasks, but the screen isn't very bright and is characterised by a grainy texture that makes even pure whites appear mottled. It will be fine with normal Windows applications, but you wouldn't want to work with it for image editing or other colour-critical applications.

The tablet features of the 2710p work well. The stylus, which can be tethered to the laptop via the included strap, pops out of the top left-hand corner of the chassis. The screen is responsive and smooth to work on, and Vista's much-improved-over-XP tablet features recognise even hastily scrawled notes.

Performance comes from the Intel Core 2 Duo U7600 and 1GB of RAM. The overall benchmark result is underwhelming at 0.54, but the U in the processor nomenclature signifies a low-power processor. The 1.2GHz U7600 has a TDP (thermal design power) of just 10W, which means less cooling, longer battery life and smaller dimensions.

This reduced power consumption produced tangible results in our battery tests. In our light-use test the 2710P lasted a commendable six-and-a-half hours and in the intensive-use test three-and-a-half hours. That's almost long enough to last all day without the need to hunt down a socket.

The 2710p has a spring-loaded Wi-Fi aerial built into the top of the screen, which is released by a button, and in terms of connections there's just one disappointment: the 2710p provides a/b/g wireless and Gigabit Ethernet, but there's no sign of HSDPA. HP sells this useful extra for an additional £200.

Internal storage is reasonable, with a Toshiba hard disk providing 80GB of space. It's divided into three partitions: one 66GB disk for general use, and two for OS tools and recovery. However, a serious drawback to the 2710p's impressive 28mm-high profile is the sacrifice of an optical drive. Industrial users won't mind this, but it's a nail in the coffin for consumers.

Another niggle is that the 2710p gets extremely hot on the lower left of the wristrest. It isn't hot enough to be actively scorching, but will make a warm environment significantly more uncomfortable.

There's also an issue with the two catches on either side of the keyboard. While they're supposed to prevent the screen swivelling when closed, they simply end up becoming an unwelcome space restriction when typing (they dig into the hand rather uncomfortably forcing us to change our typing style). We didn't think much to the location of the fingerprint reader either. This is awkwardly placed on the right- hand side of the screen, making it hard to get a straight print, and irritating to use for left handers.