Construction: Field Testing (cont.)
Keyboard –This isn't the ideal keyboard layout, but it is one of the better ones, as the function and page up/page down/home/end are all located in the upper right-hand corner. We prefer the 2 x 3 button array (including the insert and delete buttons) as opposed to aligning all of the buttons in a single row. However, this is a much better solution than aligning all of them on the right side.
The keyboard doesn't have the same click/tactile feedback as the keyboard on the IBM X41 Tablet. However, it is still better than the majority of consumer level notebooks. We should note that this is technically not a full-sized keyboard as one or two of the alphanumeric keys are smaller than their peers, i.e. the "1" key. Note that most ultraportables do not use full-sized keyboards in the respect that they aren't completely identical in size to a notebook with a 14.1" or 15.0" display.
LEDs –There is one main LED strip placed on the front left side of the system (left to right): wireless status (blue when Bluetooth and/or WiFi is enabled), power status (blinking green for standby and solid green when system is on), battery status (yellow when detecting, blinking green when charging above 90%, and orange when below 90%), and hard drive activity (blinking green when active). There is no secondary strip of LEDs for keyboard key status like caps lock. Instead, caps and num lock have their LEDs situated right next to the keys themselves (green when active). (There is no LED for scroll lock.) The only other things that light up are the power LED next to the power switch (green when system is on) and the mute button (orange when muted).
TouchPad & Buttons –There is a touchpad on this ultraportable/Tablet PC. Unlike the X41, the TC4200 takes a more traditional approach in this sense. This will come as a relief to those who feel that a Pointing Stick (IBM calls theirs a TrackPoint) alone is a frustrating experience.
For scrolling, HP has closed off the right side of the touchpad zone as a scroll zone. Keep in mind that you can still use this part of the touchpad as you would the rest of it to track the cursor. When you want to scroll you just press down in the zone and move your finger up and down.
Speakers & Microphone –The integrated microphone is located to the right of the swivel hinge. The small pin hole and microphone icon designate its location. This is a good place for it considering most people direct their speech forward, toward the screen. This also prevents you from covering the microphone hole while you are typing, should you need both.
There is only a single speaker located on the left-hand side of the TC4200. For an ultraportable, small speakers are what we have come to expect. For its size, the unit's small speaker makes a good impression with its high volume threshold. This is not a multimedia notebook by any stretch of the word, so when we listened to Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know," the audio clarity was shy of what we normally see on consumer level notebooks, i.e. the instrumentals and voice inflections get slightly distorted above 55% volume. Keep in mind that at 55%, the person in the next room can probably still hear what you are listening to, which is a great feat for an ultraportable to accomplish. Of course, if you aren't a multimedia buff or good at picking up the finer points of audio quality, you likely won't notice the difference in audio quality other than volume level. For all intents and purposes, the business user and occasional DVD watcher won't complain.