HP 2710p Tablet PC Review

Christopher Rath

2008-05-30

Background

HP 2710p Photo

HP 2710p

I work as a consultant, and fly somewhere every week. Time spent waiting in queues and sitting in cramped airplanes seats must somehow be made productive if I am to ensure that my time at home is not spent catching up on work I was unable to complete due to those circumstances. As I have discussed elsewhere on this website (see the list of articles at the bottom of this web page), a Tablet PC is a very good way for me to recover the productivity that would otherwise be lost.

After carrying my Toshiba M200 for 2 years, it was time for it to be refreshed (it is beyond the scope of this particular discussion, but suffice it to say that I believe-in and practice a 2 year refresh for so-called road warriors, like myself). Since I was no longer making the weekly trek to Los Angeles from Ottawa, the IT Director of the company I work for asked if I would consider trying going back to a standard Dell laptop. I agreed to give it a try, and my personally-owned M200 was refreshed with a corporate Dell D620.

After using the D620 for a year, I made the decision to return to a Tablet PC: there are simply too many times in a month when I'm trapped in a long queue, or behind a cramped commuter jet seat, when a Tablet PC would make my circumstances productive.

Hardware Selection

Just as I was making my decision to return to a Tablet PC, Dell announced they were going to release a Tablet PC of their own. Since I am a long-time Dell D series customer and own a number of Dell accessories, I decided to wait a few months for Dell's final Tablet PC details to be disclosed. The other vendor I considered was HP. I did not consider Toshiba again because although I was happy with my M200 I found Dell's repair services to be much better: so, I was either going to use Dell again, or try out HP.

Here are the two configurations (Dell & HP) that I ultimately considered (in my desired configurations):

 Vendor  Model Mouse  Weight  CPU HD Screen NBD Service
 Dell   Latitude XT   Stick & Pad   4.2 lbs   U7600 (1.2 GHz)   100 GB   1280 x 800   US & Canada 
 HP   2710p   Stick   3.7 lbs   U7700 (1.3 GHz)   100 GB   1280 x 800   Global 

My corporate laptop, shown for comparison:
 Dell   D620   Stick & Pad   5.0 lbs  T74000 (2.16 GHz)   100 GB   1440 x 900   US & Canada 

The other important factor that I considered was the fact that the Dell XT is not compatible with most of my existing D series peripherals; that is, the XT was not a true D series laptop. Once it was clear to me that my existing Dell docking station wasn't going to work with the XT I made the decision to purchase the HP 2710p. In my opinion, Dell dropped the ball rather badly by not making the XT a full-blooded D series device: I am sure there are other users besides me who have chosen this moment to switch laptop vendors. Full D series compatibility would have caused me to stick with Dell so that I could maximise my existing Dell investment.

ULV Processor Concerns

The two Tablet PCs I was considering both contained ultra-low voltage (ULV) processors. Intel ULV processors offer much lower power consumption (that is, much longer battery life) in exchange for lower system performance. Whether this lower system performance would be a real issue for me needed to be determined, and so I put in some time looking for laptop processor benchmarks. At it turns out, I could not find any independent benchmarks; however, US export regulations require Intel to publish a synthetic processor rating for all of their processors.

The US export processor rating is called the Composite Theoretical Performance (CTP) of a processor. The CTP calculations are stated in Millions of Theoretical Operations Per Second (MTOPS) and are based upon a formula in United States Department of Commerce Export Administration Regulations 15 CFR 774 (Advisory Note 4 for Category 4). All of this means that, in theory, you can use the benchmark to compare various processors against one another; at least in a relative manner.

The ratings for the HP 2710p, the Toshiba Tablet PC, and my current corporate Dell laptop are as follows:

 CPU   Clock   CTP in MTOPS   GFLOPS 
 T7400 (my current laptop — Dell D620)   2.16 GHz   33,840   17.28 
 Pentium M 735 (my previous Tablet PC — Toshiba M200)   1.70 GHz   5,667   2.55 
 U7700 (HP 2710p)   1.33 GHz   20,837   10.64 
(Ratings from Intel Microprocessor Export Compliance Metrics.)

My take-away from the above ratings was as follows: I was happy with the performance of my M200, and given that I am using the same application set for my work as I was at that time then a processor that delivers almost 4 times the processing power should be sufficient—recognising that the 2710p would not perform as well as my corporate Dell D620.

My Evaluation

I'm not going to comment upon my general experience using a Tablet PC; since I did that in earlier articles.  In other words, except as noted below, the Tablet PC experience is the same as other Tablet PCs I have used.

Hardware notes:

Software notes:

Basic performance:

Slate Screen Orientation Issue

For reasons unknown (that is, HP has declined to provide an explanation), HP's 2710p product development team modified Windows XP Tablet Edition and removed two of the screen orientations normally available in slate mode:

  As a left-handed user, this places me at a disadvantage:

I did some searching on the Internet regarding this issue and found that it is under discussion on HP's support forum. The discussion pointed me to a registry hack that allows me to manually configure Secondary Landscape as my default orientation; thus, working around the limitation HP introduced. That same thread points out that the registry hack is not available to Windows Vista users.  For the record, I've documented that registry hack and my implementation of that workaround in another posting on this website.

This screen orientation problem is my sole dissatisfier with the product, and I have opened a support ticket with HP to attempt to obtain a sanctioned fix to the issue.

Related Articles On This Website

The following Tablet PC articles may be of interest:


©Copyright 2008, Jean & Christopher Rath
Telephone: 613-824-4584
Address: 1371 Major Rd., Ottawa, ON, Canada K1E 1H3
Last updated: 2008/05/30 @ 22:02:47 ( )