Laptops with touchscreens are nothing new. Take HP's own TX2, for example, or Toshiba's excellent Portege M750. The TouchSmart dv3 trumps them all, however, by adding an iPhone-like multitouch panel to the latest revision of its 13.3in chassis. So can it triumph where other tablets have failed?

In six years of finger-friendly computing, tablets have struggled to win the masses over. This is mainly because the standard Windows (or OSX or Linux) desktop isn’t designed to be poked and prodded. But the DV3 is different because it runs Windows 7, the first operating system that natively supports multi-touch and gestures.    

No nonsense notebook

The most distinguishing design feature of the dv3 is a William Morris-style print, which is layered into the tough plastic shell. The same motif runs over the mirrored metal mousepad.

Elsewhere, the dv3 is chunky and workmanlike. It's built well enough to use every day and has a decent CPU for desktop work, but it's almost twice the weight of the equally priced superslims like the MSI X600 and Asus UL30A.

It has a DVD drive, but the graphics chip is low end and it's hard to go back to a battery life of just a couple of hours when you've been spoiled by recent releases with a similarly sized screen.

Two finger touch

Multitouch, though, is the future, and the dv3 is there first. Windows 7 has larger icons in an easy to hit dock that makes launching apps less fiddly than going through the Start menu, and there’s a suite of apps and games from Microsoft's Surface tabletop computers to play around with too.

So you can pinch and zoom your way around Surface Earth or play a few of the quirky physics puzzles, but it's a shame that the excellent picture manipulation program has been left out.

What's really missing is a killer app that defines multitouch on the desktop. That will almost certainly come as developers gain experience with Windows 7, but until then most will likely fall back to using the (also multitouch) trackpad rather than stabbing the screen.

And that's the problem with being first. The dv3 is, despite its flaws, exciting and revolutionary. But by the time it's essential, everyone else will have caught up with it.


Stuff says... 

HP Pavilion dv3 review

With a bulky design and no clever multitouch apps, the dv3 isn't quite as revolutionary as the screen technology promises