Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tablet PC Pen replaced

I broke my Tablet PC pen about five months back and I really ripped Toshiba for it on a podcast. Frankly, I was upset because the pen broke so easily and because of the impact on me. The pen itself still works, you see. I can ink all day long on my Portege M205. What I can't do is keep the blasted pen in the holder, so I'm always afraid I'll lose it and be totally hosed.

I still attribute the issue to a design flaw. The part that broke is the only part that keeps the pen in its spring-loaded holder. See the picture to the right; my broken pen is the one in the middle, while I have two new pens next to it; one on each side. The spring shouldn't be activated by the flimsiest part of the plastic. Let's go back to the design room and change that, can we Toshiba? Anyway, I got two new pens today and while one is exact replacement, the smaller reserve pen should actually win a design award. Find out why after the jump.

The smaller reserve pen is every bit as function as its larger siblings. It still writes in digital ink on the screen, and it even has a button on the side. This button is useful as a right-click on the screen so you can use context menus. About the only function the reserve pen doesn't have is the eraser function on the end opposite the tip. Honestly, I can live without that; if I lose my main pen, I'll want the ability to easily ink. I can always edit or erase with another method.

The real design achievement is how you store the reserve pen. If you remove the main battery from the Tablet, you'll notice something I overlooked previously. There is a small set of plastic holders built in to the side of the battery compartment. Wouldn't you know that the reserve pen fits there like a glove? All you do is snap it in place and it's out of sight, but never out of reach. Replace your battery and you've got a spare Tablet PC pen whenever you need it!

I'm still disappointed over the initial design flaw that the main pen has. It cost me $54.00 for the new pen, the reserve pen and a pen tether; that's $54 I wouldn't have spent if the main pen holder was better designed. Having said that, I'm feeling better that I won't lose my Tablet PC pen; even if I do, the reserve has me covered!

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