OS X on the HP TouchSmart tx2z

After only mild success with installing OS X on the TouchSmat IQ507 I’ve set my sights on yet another HP touch screen computer. This time the target is the TouchSmart tx2z tablet PC, which actually uses a true capacitive touch screen, instead of the IR based one in the TouchSmart IQ507.

Minor details aside, the tx2z should be arriving later this afternoon. I’ll post any progress I make.

How to Install OS X on the HP TouchSmart

Disclaimer: This was tested on an HP TouchSmart IQ507, but should work on the entire IQ500 series, though the IQ504 runs on a different video chipset.

To get things started, you’ll need a copy of iDeneb v1.3 10.5.5 which can be found on any number of torrent sites. While you’re waiting for it to download, or for the disc image to burn to a DVD, take a few moments to create a new partition under Windows Vista. Name it OSX, and format it as NTFS for the time being.

Step 1: Enter your BIOS and disable the on board audio, then exit saving changes. Next boot off the DVD, select your preferred language, then click Utilities on the menu bar. Open Disk Utility, on the left-hand side, select the partition you created under Windows, then on the right-hand side, click on the Erase tab. Click the drop down for Volume Format and select Mac OS Extended (Journaled), hit Erase. Confirm your choice to erase the volume. After it completes, close the Disk Utility.

Step 2: Back on the Installers welcome screen, click Continue, then blindly agree to the license terms that will popup.

Step 3: On the next screen, select the partition you just formatted as your install destination. Click Continue.

Step 4: You should now see an Install Summery screen, click Customize. Scroll down and expand the options for Patches 10.5.5 Ready, and select the following patches:

Fix -> ICHx Fix
Fix -> AppleSMBIOS -> AppleSMBIOS 667

Click Done, then Install.

Step 5: After the install completes, reboot and complete the Setup Wizard that loads.

These instructions only cover the basics at this point, since I haven’t had much time to mess around with drivers. I’ll be updating this post as soon as I get greater hardware support figured out.

The biggest annoyance right now is that you have to disable the on board audio every time you boot into OS X or else it won’t recognize the keyboard and mouse. Needless to say, working audio drivers are high on my priorities list.

Update: Here’s how to fix the video resolution.

Edit the com.apple.Boot.plist file located in /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/com.apple.Boot.plist and add the following:

<key>Graphics Mode</key>
<string>1680x1050x32</string>

Open Disk Utility and Repair Permissions. Restart.

Please note, fixing the resolution will not enable QE or fix the calibration issue.

The following items work:

  • Ethernet
  • Memory Card Reader
  • FireWire
  • DVD Burner
  • Webcam (works, but doesn’t function with some apps since the graphics card isn’t supported)
  • Touch Screen (no way to calibrate, so it’s off by an inch or so)

The following items don’t work:

  • Audio
  • Wireless Card
  • Bluetooth
  • Video Card
  • TV Tuner


Closer to OS X on the HP TouchSmart

I’ve managed to get OS X installed on the HP TouchSmart IQ507, however I’m still having serious issues getting it to boot fully. Seems to hang right before it gets to the IOACPI phase of the boot process.

There is good news though! I was able to get the touchscreen working under the OS X installer with very little work at all. Which bodes well for the full install, if I can ever get it to boot that is.

So if anyone has any thoughts on the IOACPI issue, let me know.

HP TouchSmart Review

I got my HP TouchSmart IQ507 Monday afternoon, and after playing around with it for the last couple days, I have to say it’s an awesome machine. Awesome enough to warrant a quick review!

First thing you’ll want to do is open up the HP Touch Screen Controls and disable the Touch Screen Sound option under the Global Settings tab. Doing that will make your experience much more enjoyable.

The 22″ screen looks amazing, it sports a healthy 1680×1050 resolution, great for checking your email, playing games or watching videos. As I see it, the main drawback is that it’s a glossy screen, which is crazy reflective, but a necessary evil in order to properly protect the screen.

The touchscreen functionality isn’t quite ready for everyday Windows use out of the box, seeing as how a lot of things in Windows are a little small for accurately tapping with your finger (and since the screen isn’t actually touch sensitive and is merely using IR sensors to detect your finger creating a break in the IR field, it tends to be just a little off from where you want to click), so it can be quite frustrating. But I was able to make most basic tasks a little more bearable just by tweaking a few settings and adjusting to the screens minor misinterpretation of taps.

Windows Media Center is fantastic on the TouchSmart, even though some of the icons are a bit small and there aren’t a lot of configuration options for such things I was able to navigate with minimum difficulty. The TouchSmart does include a remote for controlling the Media Center as well, so once the novelty of poking your computer screen wears off you can control things from the comfort of your couch.

The included HP SmartCenter is more visually appealing than it is useful. Although it is by far the easiest program to navigate using the touchscreen, so HP did their job well in that respect. The best way I can describe the SmartCenter is to advise you to think of it as RocketDock meets your media library, meets a mediocre coverflow clone, meets Al Gore moonlighting as a professional hobo (this little gem is your reward for sticking it out and reading this article up until this point, yay for you!).
Also, every time I started the SmartCenter it re-enabled that annoying beep that the TouchSmart plays each and every time you touch the screen. Maybe I’m just easily annoyed.

I also took a few minutes to install a copy of Starcraft on the TouchSmart, and while the game doesn’t look at all visual stunning on a 22″ screen, it makes up for it with its very point-and-click oriented interface, making it a perfect candidate for a touchscreen computer. Simply put, playing Starcraft is awesome on the TouchSmart.

While the on-screen keyboard is fun at first, your wrists will likely cramp up after only a few minutes of “typing”, the functionality of it is further limited since the screen isn’t exactly multi-touch and it tends to lose track of your keystrokes after the first few when you try typing faster than one letter at a time.

In the more practical realm of data entry, the included bluetooth keyboard is a very nice slim form factor. It features minimal dedicated media hot keys, just mute and volume up/down controls, so the layout isn’t at all crowded. Don’t fret though, you’ll still be able to control your DVD or music from the couch even without your remote, since all the F keys have secondary functions assigned to them for media playback. My main compliant is that it’s ridiculously loud when typing.

Speakers on the TouchSmart actually surprised me, they’ve got decent range and fantastic volume, sound is crisp even on the higher end of the volume scale. I’ve owned numerous TVs that have had worse speakers than this system.

Anyhow, as I meantioned before I’m going to try and install OS X on it. I’ve partitioned the drive and am going to start out by trying the latest build of iDeneb. I’ll post an update in the next few days.