HP 2710p Slate Mode Screen Orientation Problem

Christopher Rath

2008-05-30 (updated 2009-08-27)

Background

Microsoft designed and ships Windows XP Tablet Edition with the capability of allowing the user to orient the screen to one of 4 positions when a Tablet PC is used in Slate mode (that is, when used without a keyboard): the screen rotated to each of its 4 possible orientations.

Primary Portrait:  The text on the screen rotated 90░ from the text on the keyboard's keys.
Secondary Portrait:  The text on the screen rotated 270░ from the text on the keyboard's keys.
Primary Landscape:  The text on the screen is oriented the same as the text on the keyboard's keys.
Secondary Landscape:  The text on the screen 180░ from the text on the keyboard's keys.

The HP 2710p's Problem

For reasons that HP has so far declined to disclose, the HP 2710p product team altered Windows XP Tablet Edition to limit the screen orientations available to the user.

Battery powered:  Only Primary Portrait and Primary Landscape are available.
AC (mains) powered:  Only Secondary Portrait and Secondary Landscape are available.

I suspect that this limitation was imposed because with the screen in Secondary Landscape the cell data card's antenna would be facing the user; probably in contact with the user's body. My Radar Technician and Ham Radio background tells me that this isn't a healthy situation; however, rather than remove the orientations HP should have presented the user with a warning panel and then allowed the user to either abide by the warning or bypass it.

Personal Impact

As a left-handed user, this removal of the Secondary Landscape orientation places me at a disadvantage:

See the discussion "2710p tablet screen orientation" thread on HP's business forum for some additional discussion on this issue.

If you use Windows Vista on your HP 2710p, then you're out of luck: there is no known workaround available for Windows Vista users.

For Windows XP Tablet Edition users, it is possible to hack the registry to partially overcome the HP introduced limitation.

XP Workaround

Background Information

The autorotate feature uses 8 registry keys to decide how to change the screen orientation. If you flip the screen down into slate mode, the screen goes into primary portrait. This saves a few seconds because you don't have to manually rotate the orientation. The autorotate feature is controlled by the HP Quick launch button program. The path to these keys is:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Hewlett Packard\HP Quick Launch Buttons\Schemes\Default\8526

The key applicable to determining slate mode orientation is (the default value is shown):

Tablet_UnDocked_DisplayOrientation = 3

The options are 0, 1, 2, 3:

0 = Primary Landscape
1 = Secondary Portrait
2 = Secondary Landscape
3 = Primary Portrait

The autorotate capability itself is controlled by another registry key; one that tells the autorotate process whether or not it is supposed to autorotate when the user rotates the display:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Hewlett-Packard\HP Quick Launch Buttons\EnableModeChange

It is a binary key where a value of 0 tells the autorotate process not to change screen orientation when the user rotates the screen.

A Frequent HP 2710p Problem

A problem frequently experienced by HP 2710p owners is spontaneous rotation of the screen.  I have had owners report to me rotation into primary landscape, and my personal experience of the problem is spontaneous rotation into primary portrait orientation.  In my case, the fix involved installing a couple of very old patches from 2007, plus making the BIOS current and installing a recent HP Quicklaunch Buttons patch.  The four patches I had to apply to fix this problem are as follows:

If you experience spontaneous reorientation of the screen while in slate mode, and these patches don't resolve the patches for you, I strongly suggest that you use HP's chat support and avoid HP's call centre.  While working your problem, the agent will go away for long periods of time, and I found it most effective to chat with HP while I was doing other things on the laptop (including answering phone calls) and not tying myself up on the phone with a support technician who didn't have a solution at-hand.

Caveat

Recently, Melanie C. reported to me that while installing the above 4 patches allowed her to use the secondary portrait mode, it also permanently disabled autorotate.  She spent some time in online-chat with an HP technician and the fix turned out to be the installation of an old release of the HP Quick Launch Buttons application: specifically, version 6.40 B (19 Dec 2007).

Workaround Implementation

I initially implemented the workaround by simply editing the registry and setting the Tablet_UnDocked_DisplayOrientation key to 2; to tell the autorotate function to set my display to Secondary Landscape when I put the Tablet PC in Slate mode. My initial experience with this registry hack was that after a few minutes in Secondary Landscape mode the 2710p would spontaneously rotate its screen into Primary Portrait. So, I had to spend time with HP to resolve the autorotate problem before the registry hack became useful (see previous section).

To make Secondary Landscape your default, create the following a .REG file and then load that file into the registry.

Set Slate Orientation 2ndary Landscape.reg
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Hewlett-Packard\HP Quick Launch Buttons\Schemes\Default\8526]
"Tablet_UnDocked_DisplayOrientation"=dword:00000002

If secondary portrait is desired, then in the above .reg example replace "dword:00000002" with "dword:00000001"


ęCopyright 2008, Jean & Christopher Rath
Telephone: 613-824-4584
Address: 1371 Major Rd., Ottawa, ON, Canada K1E 1H3
Last updated: 2009/08/27 @ 14:28:05 ( )