Monday, January 17, 2005

Initial Tablet PC thoughts

About two weeks back, I replaced my old laptop with a Tablet PC from Toshiba. After much research, I settled on the Toshiba Portege M205 for several reasons. I think that any type of personal digital device is a personal choice; this model is best for me, but clearly not for everyone else. Hoping to shed some light on the seemingly mysterious Tablet PC operating system, I'll be sharing my thoughts on how I arrive at this decision and what the tablet provides over a traditional notebook computer.

Click "Read More" for continued thoughts on why I chose a Tablet PC...

Right off the bat, I was looking for a notebook that was relatively lightweight and had better than average battery life. As a result, I kept my research to notebooks that were 5 pounds or less and were capable of 3 or more hours of battery life with a standard battery. My main reasons for these attributes were due to the demise of the previous laptop. I literally ran it into the ground to the point where the battery wouldn't hold a charge more than 30 minutes. Soon after that, the power supply died because I ran the laptop solely on AC power. In addition, the unit weighed about 7.5 pounds, which doesn't allow for great mobility.

A lightweight notebook with lower power consumption means that I had to give up some features. A big, bright LCD screen eats up power quickly, so I wanted to keep the screen size relatively small. I also opted for Intel Centrino powered notebooks, which would give me extended battery life, but in turn means a much slower processor; something in the 1Ghz to 1.8Ghz range.

Since I wanted these qualities as well, I started considering a Tablet PC, since it would meet all of my requirements. In addition, the Tablet OS provides "digital inking" capability, which adds potential productivity gains as well as a more natural interface. The Tablet PC operating systems is actually a superset of Windows XP, so it can run any Windows XP application as well as those that are Tablet supported.

I began looking at tablets that were a pure slate design; by "slate" I mean a very lightweight touchscreen with a hard drive and a few input \ output ports. Typical slates usually sport a separate keyboard, although with the Tablet OS, a keyboard is ultimately optional. Thinking this was too much for me to get used to, I instead focused on convertible tablets. A 'vertible tablet is similar to traditional notebook in that it has a regular screen attached to a keyboard base. However, the screen also has a swivel type mechanism that allows the screen to fold over the keyboard to emulate the newer slate form factor.

In the end, the Toshiba Portege fit the needs I had on paper. It allows usage as a standard notebook, but also provides the capability of a slate. The 12.1" screen is capable of 1400 x 1050 resolution which allows for plenty of screen real estate. In fact, I think I can roughly fit just as much on the 12.1" screen as I can on a 15" monitor without too much eye strain. The CPU is a 1.5Ghz Pentium M and the hard drive provides 60GB of storage. 802.11g is built in for wireless connectivity as well.

With the M205, I can use the keyboard for standard typing or I can use the included digital pen and handwrite whatever I need. There are some great Tablet enabled applications that take full advantage of the digital inking; I'll be covering those as I get a better feel for them in the next few weeks. For now, I'll leave you with this handwritten screen snippet!

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