I finally bit the bullet and bought a newest tablet PC. The HP TX2-1010, as it is far better value at £799 inc VAT, than of its Dell rival.
The only downside of buying HP laptops is that they put a 32bit Home Edition of Vista as the warranted factory standard, and then bloat the software with such nasties as AOL and the likes.. One of the main reasons I think this is not right is that this is no doubt a laptop more oriented towards the business and student market, and Home Premium doesn't cut it with missing features like offline folders etc. In effect if you were to use the laptop as they give it to you, you don't have access to all the system memory, and most of the icons lead you on to paying for something or another. It's a terrible affair.. but there is a simple solution to this. You can just rebuild it yourself using a better version of Vista, such as Vista 64 Ultimate, and then get the 64bit drivers from the HP site. At least you think you can...
This is what the resolution should be like, but HP don't want to make it that easy. Neigh, if you were to talk to a HP support staff member, they'll let you know that using any other OS would void the warranty, i.e.if you need to send it away, you have to put the crappy factory install back on, or need assistance with the support team.. which ties the average user down to a over bloated software monolith. What doesn't make sense is that HP provide "support" for 64bit operating system on their websites by providing the drivers ready to download. But I found out this is just a tease... I checked that the drivers were available before I bought the laptop, as I knew I needed the upgraded OS, but it isn't until you actually reinstall do you realise that they haven't put all the drivers, and none of the software on their website.
An entire weekend, and I did find a solution. Most people I see around the web give up and revert back to the factory build, trying to uninstall all the crap that comes with that, but the recovery drive is the key.
Using 7-zip file manager, you are able to get hold of all of the software and drivers under "D:\Proload\Base.WIM\1\swsetup". This means that even after you have reinstalled, the software is still there ready for you to reinstall manually. And you can pick what you really want/need versus bloating the laptop out. You will find that some of the drivers are 32bit only, however a lot do have both 32bit and 64bit available. Those that are missing can be obtained from the HP website, and I did find the 64bit drivers for the ATI graphics card from the ATI site (you need to get the ATI HD 3400 drivers which work) to be better.
This only leaves one really essential part. N-Trig.. N-Trig is the manufacturer of the duo sense screen.. this screen is pretty remarkable engineering.. It is a pen, touch and multi-touch combined device that sits over the normal LCD screen. It gives a slightly grainy look, but the quality and accuracy is second to none. It even has the forward thinking to stop the hand touch technology whilst the pen is in use, allowing you to write whilst you are still got your hand resting on the screen. Those that haven't use a touch screen before may not appreciate the magnitude of something as "simple" as this, but it really does make the tablet mode effortless and natural. Ok, so I did mention a problem, and the problem is simply that the drivers that are on the recovery disk are 32bit only, and HP do not provide any drivers for the device on their website (remember this is the touch screen part of the tablet PC! essential stuff!). I was lucky enough to figure out that Dell (whom are much better at hosting software and drivers) do have a 64bit edition under their opposing Dell Lattitude XT section. These do work with the HP, however the HP version of N-Trig has the pinch to zoom and rotate gesture support which makes the device act a little like a giant iPhone. This version however I am still hammering at N-Trig to get hold off. Unfortunately I get the feeling it will be in vein based on their general responses I've seen around the web regarding support of their product.
But no worries in the longer term.. The entire device support Windows 7!! Which has all the gesture and multi-touch built into the OS, and N-Trig have already released the 32bit Windows 7 drivers. I'm sure, by time Windows 7 is out (i'm guessing towards the end of this year, possibly even before with the generally good feedback it is receiving), they will have the 64 bit drivers which will put the new multi-touch laptop I now use into usability overdrive.
UPDATE (7 May 2009): n-trig have now released the Windows 7 RC drivers which includes 64bit! I have not yet tried them as I'm still having difficulties getting hold of them from the n-trig website. Click here for more information about the HP TX2 tablet PC on Windows 7.