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Hardware

Examining a Tablet PC 289

Mister Buttons writes "There really haven't been any real technical reviews of the new Tablet PC operating system from Microsoft yet. Those marketing stories published on CNET and the like do little more than whet the appetite. Luckily it looks like someone finally took a close look at the Tablet PC. The folks over at AnandTech have a good tablet PC review up which includes information on both the hardware and software that the tablet PCs use. Maybe it's time to break open that piggy bank..."
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Examining a Tablet PC

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  • Not for me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Quasar1999 ( 520073 )
    I can't see myself playing a first person shooter on this thing... Or a racing game... Heck, this thing just doesn't lend itself to games.... And that means that there is no reason for people like me (who make up most of the 'blow lots of money on new toy' market) to buy these things.
    • Re:Not for me (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Sorry, but I think that the business sector spends *way* more money on "blow lots of money on new toy" than individuals ever will.

      Plus, it would appear to me (via all of the marketing that I've seen so far), that the Tablet PC is definately a business PC--not a home PC.
    • Re:Not for me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BluGuy ( 617572 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @11:59AM (#4871418)
      Well, you're on /., so you must use your PC for something else other than games. Early adopters aren't always game-playing kids with cash to blow. Many of the (including myself) actually see things like Tablet PCs have a productivity advantage over a laptop. Carrying my laptop around all day is a hassle. If I had a tablet PC in my office, I could go from meeting to meeting, and not have to worry about missing an important email, have a presentation available to show to anyone I happen to bump into in the hall way, etc. Laptops are a pain to carry around, they are exactly the most ergonomic things around, and taking notes on them sucks. So there you.
      • Re:Not for me (Score:3, Interesting)

        "Many of the (including myself) actually see things like Tablet PCs have a productivity advantage over a laptop."

        I know a LOT of people out in the art world just *aching* to try Photoshop on one of these.

        • Yeah, I'm one of them. I think I'm going to wait for the next gen of the TabletPCs though. My brother bought one and while he said it's very cool he doesn't think the power and battery life are enough to run something like Photoshop for an extended period of time. Alias|Waverfront's Sketchbook Pro might be a bit better because it was designed to run on the TabletPC and it might consume less power but I think I'll wait all the same.
      • What productivity advantage do you see over a laptop? I'm curious about this also. The ability to use a pen as an input device is no more efficient than a keyboard, and can introduce a lot of error. If it's size, have you tried small laptops (I have a 2.4 lb Fujitsu Lifebook P that is cheap, fast, and the battery lasts forever.)

        The one idea I did think of was mounting one on the front of a segway to act as auto-pilot and so you could use the internet while being driven to work.

    • Re:Not for me (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hermescom ( 624888 )
      OK, so all the reflex-requiring games are obviously out of the question here... But I think I'd enjoy playing a nicely paced RPG or a traditional adventure game on this thing while sitting somwhere in a nice and cosy armchair.

      And it's probably awesome for those long hours of turn-based strategy gaming. A game of CIV3 anyone?

    • Re:Not for me (Score:4, Informative)

      by mr_z_beeblebrox ( 591077 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:31PM (#4871732) Journal
      And that means that there is no reason for people like me (who make up most of the 'blow lots of money on new toy' market) to buy these things.

      Well, I am one person (IT guy) at a small-mid size company. I have a small budget to see if it is useful. If it is, then I will be purchasing 45 of them. We have 4 gamers in the company, if all four of them buy one they will come close to my sample budget. I think the math escapes you or you use cheat codes with your statistics.
      • Re:Not for me (Score:2, Informative)

        by Eight 01 ( 614650 )
        What will your company use them for? I'm curious about real-world use of these, since handwriting would seem to hurt productivity too much for any non-field application. A PDA would seem much better for any roaming application such as environmental monitoring, package tracking, etc.
    • Re:Not for me (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NeuroManson ( 214835 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:36PM (#4871763) Homepage
      Ummm, what? Tablet PCs have USB support (and some even come with keyboards). You just plug in a mouse and keyboard and you're good to go.

      Judging from the specs on one I've examined, the Tablet PC DOES suffer graphics performance wise, but give it time, since we're talking a whole new version of an old concept. How long did it take for mainstream high end 3D to make it to the laptop? If you look around, you'll note it took almost 15 years.
  • Overhyped? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nevermore-Spoon ( 610798 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @11:52AM (#4871335)
    Does anyone else out there have the same feeling I do, that the Tablet PC is over hyped? The only tangible benefit I can really see is totally comfort motivated. The laptop has never been that comfortable to work on sitting on the couch. The tablet PC would make such computing more comfortable. However when it really comes down to using my PC I really prefer a keyboard over a pen & screen combo.

    • Re:Overhyped? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett@gma i l . c om> on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:02PM (#4871439)
      However when it really comes down to using my PC I really prefer a keyboard over a pen & screen combo
      That maybe true, if you have the luxury of using your PC sitting down/reclined. There is a huge market (in my opinion) for PC users who have to be on the go, walking from place to place, etc that PDA's just havent satisified - mostly because of thier limited app. availability and power.

      If I had a Tablet PC that was comparably fast to my currenct PC, priced less than 2x (something like 1.5x is what I'd expect), and ran most software I wanted, I'd go for it. As a person in the vacinity of the IT industry, I can see tons of people who could benefit.
    • Re:Overhyped? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Meddel ( 152734 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:08PM (#4871500)
      >> However when it really comes down to using my PC I really prefer a keyboard over a pen & screen combo.

      Why on earth would you have to choose pen and screen if you're doing something where a keyboard is better? Sounds like a convertible Tablet is right up your alley: completely normal laptop keyboard, high-end laptop specs, and you can rotate the screen into Tablet mode if you like.

      The fun of my Tablet is that I can take notes (I'm a CS student, being able to make diagrams in my notes is key), but that if I want to type an email, I rotate the keyboard into view and *type it*.

    • Re:Overhyped? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JordoCrouse ( 178999 )
      The only tangible benefit I can really see is totally comfort motivated. The laptop has never been that comfortable to work on sitting on the couch.

      As usual, Microsoft is taking a nitch and trying to cram it down Joe Sixpack's throat.

      I see thousands of uses for a tablet PC - virtual clipboards for loading dock workers, easy access to databases for doctors, ordering tablets for fast food workers, survey workers at the mall, the list goes on...

      But I don't think that this is some sort of thing that your average Circuit City consumer will immediately go out and buy, unless of course, they are geeky and want as many computerish toys as possible. Like you said, its not convienent, but most importantly, it doesn't scratch an itch, so to speak. The biggest question Microsoft (and anyone else who wants to sell one of these tings) is: What can a tablet PC for me do that a regular PC cannot?

      In short, I don't think the Tablet PC is over hyped, its just being sold to the wrong people.

      • Powdered tablet (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TopShelf ( 92521 )
        On a loading dock??? They'd have to do a LOT of work to ensure that it could survive the abuse that your typical dock worker would put these babies through. Current handheld scanners or truck-mounted displays do a fine job of meeting those needs already.

        While there are some niche applications that could prove useful, I think this is a case of Microsoft trying desperately to find the Next Big Thing. The desktop/laptop industry is maturing, and with that comes a potential threat to the continued insane levels of profit coming from the Windows & Office products.

        • There's already a full ruggedized version. The iX104-TPC from Xplore Technologies (iX104 Page) [xploretech.com] which is built to Military Environmental Test Standards [MIL-STD 810F] so I think it could handle a dock worker. Especially since Xplore already builds for that market and understands what's needed.
      • Re:Overhyped? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Quikah ( 14419 )
        I see thousands of uses for a tablet PC - virtual clipboards for loading dock workers, easy access to databases for doctors, ordering tablets for fast food workers, survey workers at the mall, the list goes on...

        All of these uses would be better served with a cheaper more specialized device. It is insane to buy a full blown PC for doing a single task.
      • Re:Overhyped? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bay43270 ( 267213 )

        What can a tablet PC for me do that a regular PC cannot?



        A better question - what can a notebook do that a tablet PC cannot? The writable screen only adds $200 to the price of a laptop. Why not replace all but the low end laptops with tablet PCs? So what if Joe 6 pack doesn't see the need yet? They'll understand it when they start using it. No one wanted the minivan either!
    • Re:Overhyped? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Saint Fnordius ( 456567 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:23PM (#4871638) Homepage Journal
      I think you're right. Microsoft is doing its damndest to convince us that we need this, without really explaining why. (The reason why is simple. Microsoft needs a new source of cash, but don't tell them I told you!) The best-written review of a Microsoft TabletPC can be found here [theregister.co.uk]. It's based on real-life impressions with one of these things.

      Then again, if Apple came out with one I'm sure reviewers would be falling all over themselves to praise it, because (a) it would be more polished, (b) Apple doesn't telegraph its punches, so you don't get disappointed when it DOES arrive, and (c) Apple still enjoys an image of coolness and scrappy underdogness*.

      *is that a word? Well, it is now...
      • Re:Overhyped? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bobartig ( 61456 )
        Then again, if Apple came out with one I'm sure reviewers would be falling all over themselves to praise it

        But even if they have a good product with good reviews, when market adoption is slow, the doomsayers will all point to it and say "look, they just spent x $100 million on this thing, and it's not doing well, I predict they go out of business in 18 months.. yadda yadda"

        Personally, I'd love an apple tablet, since slouching in the couch with my tibook is just a bit awkward. But another computer, just for *slouching*?
      • "Then again, if Apple came out with one I'm sure reviewers would be falling all over themselves to praise it..."

        Perhaps, but that doesn't mean people would scramble to buy one. To tell you the truth, I think it'd be a big flop for Apple. People tend to buy stuff like PCs based on their potential, not based on what they can do today. Lots of PC users see Apple as cool, but they'd be missing a lot. Imagine trading in your camera for a B&W camera with twice the pixels. You'd sit there wondering if the loss in color would bite you later even though the extra pixels do exactly what you need it to.

        Something like this *must* run Windows.
      • Re:Overhyped? (Score:2, Redundant)

        by zsmooth ( 12005 )
        It doesn't matter how good something is that MS puts out - the register will always hate it. It's in the water they drink over there or something. The Reg dropped all pretense of objectivity long ago.
    • Re:Overhyped? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by overunderunderdone ( 521462 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:25PM (#4871661)
      Maybe then again it IS a new form factor for the PC - A stylus is NOT that good of an input device for most applications*, so it's basically a computer for applications that are mostly about output - accessing existing information. Surfing the web, watching DVD's, listening to music, using as an oversized PDA. But more and more PC's are being used as a way to simply access data rather than to input or manipulate data so perhaps such a machine will find a market.

      * One exception, tablets are great for artists, actually drawing on the screen would be cool. Wacom has a pressure sensitive tablet w/LCD screen [wacom.com] (as well as a TabletPC [wacom.com]). The problem I noticed playing around with it was that there was a delay between what you did and what happened on the screen. So the "paint" was following along a bit behind what you are doing - you don't notice this when the tablet and the screen are seperate but it is very noticable and distracting when you are drawing right on the screen. I played around with one a while ago so maybe advances in technology have advanced to where this is no longer such a big problem.
      • Re:Overhyped? (Score:3, Informative)

        by stubear ( 130454 )
        Wacom doesn't have a TabletPC, they developed the Pen input for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition (hardware and software).
    • Re:Overhyped? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by digerata ( 516939 )
      I believe the technology from laptops and tablets is going to merge. When you look at a tablet, there is nothing fancy about it other than its thin form factor and the fact that you can write on the screen.

      There will be a nice median where these are successful. The tablet that has the keyboard that folds around to the back just like a notebook will be king. You have the best of both worlds at that point. A standard laptop, and the form factor of a tablet pc when you need it.

      The most revolutionary item is the fact that you can write on the screen. Too bad tablets weren't the originator of that idea. So the whole thing is really an evolution of the laptop from way back when it was just a 50 pound PC with a handle.

    • I recall reading on some site (/.)? about a year+ ago that MS was working on the tablet PC, and that we would get a first hand example of how the marketing engine at Microsoft works. A product in search of a market. Slow ramp up of hype, a few prototypes leaked at shows, and then the big explosion of advertising.

      I have yet to see what the Tablet PC does that hasn't already been addressed by another product, in many cases better. (ie. the Newton's handwriting recognition. Beos' BeIA wireless Webpad prototype.

      I think that tech for the sake of tech is by definition - overrated. Some things are cool indeed, others are just depending on Madison Avenue to get you to want them.

      I have yet to see much tech that would be useful beyond 'status' to most people.

      • Re:Overhyped? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Helter ( 593482 )
        A LOT Of tech is completely useless to most people. It's that silent minority for whom it IS useful that they design for.

        By your rationale microwave communications dishes are tech for the sake of tech too.
    • Re:Overhyped? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by quintessent ( 197518 )
      I really prefer a keyboard over a pen & screen combo.

      So do I, unless I'm doing something like taking notes in class, where I'd like to be able to easily draw diagrams and make other marks that a keyboard isn't good for. This is where I'd really like to have one.
    • The only tangible benefit I can really see is totally comfort motivated.

      Look to see one mounted on an upright forklift, they are perfect.
    • Overhyped? No way. This new form factor is totally going to replace The Cube [apple.com].
    • The Tablet PC isn't what Microsoft is offering for being comfortable working on the couch. The couch PC is the Windows Powered Smart Display [microsoft.com] which is designed to let you use your existing PC on the couch by undocking the display and using the existing system remotely with a stylus. The Tablet PC is targeted at people who don't work at a desk and don't have a place to sit down and type.
    • "Does anyone else out there have the same feeling I do, that the Tablet PC is over hyped? The only tangible benefit I can really see is totally comfort motivated."

      Hey now, Geordi LaForge maintained the starship Enterprise with these things. Overhyped indeed!
    • Re:Overhyped? (Score:2, Informative)

      by dr_canak ( 593415 )
      Here at the hospital i work at, we've been using remote p.c. appliances for some time. The great advantage here is that (on our spinal cord unit), nursing and physician staff can walk into a patient's room, check the patient's chart, vitals, lab results, medications, imaging, etc... right there in the patient's room. We can also write orders, fill prescriptions (with the help of a bar coder reader attached to the unit) with a much lower error rate. Given the volume of information to which you want and need access, PDA's just don't cut it. And yes, you can put a laptop on a cart and wheel the cart around, but tablets make things much more efficient. I know this is a niche industry, but in medicine, units like this really help productivity and quality of care.
    • I used to work at a computing cluster & cybercafe [uchicago.edu], which operated under the paradigm of collaborative computing. We had all the fun toys there, like tablet PCs, palmtops, high end 3D graphic stations, and everything in between. The lesson I learned about computers while working there is this: Due to the personal computer revolution, people typically conceptualize and use computers as one of two things: glorified typewriters or interactive televisions, depending upon their funtional goals. Both of these functional goals are rather sedintary in their usage.

      Tablet PCs are a major stepping stone in regards to mobile computing and collaborative computing. I don't mean to tell you what you do or do not like, but I suspect that you "really prefer your keyboard over a pen and screen combo" because you are doing a lot of typing, and not necessarily much else. If you were doing photo archiving, collaborative computing, pharmaceutical design, diagnostic imaging (MRI), or forensics work, a PC Tablet would be orders of magnitudes more efficient, ergonomic, and usefull than a keyboard.

      In environments where you have to be walking around a lot, such as in a hospital, a clinic, a research laboratory, or a research center, Tablet PCs are becoming the rage for good reason. The Hype is because they can be really, really usefull. One has to view tablets as 'compute and run' devices for them to be conceptually usefull.
  • Server /.ed (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Luckily, I was able to capture the page with Microsoft Internet Explorer(TM) to post here:

    Action canceled

    Internet Explorer was unable to link to the Web page you requested. The page might be temporarily unavailable.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @11:56AM (#4871388) Homepage Journal
    Aside from the OS infesting it, Mike Krahulik/Gabe at Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] tried one out for doing his strip, here's a couple links:

    Scroll down to: Drawing on a Tablet PC [penny-arcade.com]

    Scroll down to Alias Sketchbook comment [penny-arcade.com]

    • Long story short. The Tablet PC completely replaced his sketchbook and pencil, but he still preferred to do the finish work on his normal PC (with a bigger monitor). Gabe liked the Tablet PC better than a laptop and a Wacom tablet. Here's a quote:

      The tablet PC takes the place of the sketchbook, not the canvas. Is it an expensive sketchbook? Yeah. But it's the only sketchbook I've seen that lets me check my mail and surf the web.

      Something tells me that most artists aren't going to be interested in a $2000 replacement for a sketchpad, pencils, and a scanner. Perhaps when these things become somewhat reasonably priced things will be different.

  • Sorry to say. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @11:59AM (#4871416)
    But, it looks really cool to me. I'd have to admit that MS has raised the bar with this OS. I wonder if the KDE team will show any interest in such things as the hand writing interface?
    • Re:Sorry to say. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by g4dget ( 579145 )
      I'd have to admit that MS has raised the bar with this OS.

      I don't. It's just Windows XP with a few pen hacks added and a reasonable, but not overwhelmingly good connected handwriting recognition engine.

      Can Linux compete? Sure. It's had pen input for many years. You'll probably see good connected handwriting recognition for Linux before long as well.

    • Re:Sorry to say. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ericdano ( 113424 )
      Doesn't Apple [apple.com] have something like this in OS X called Inkwell [apple.com]? Maybe Apple will join the fray in January with a tablet PC.
    • Re:Sorry to say. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mattyohe ( 517995 )
      "Sorry to say But, it looks really cool to me" Thats really unfourtunate that the /. community is turning into a type of religion... making you feel guilty for enjoying a Microsoft product. Some of you say: "linux can compete with the tablet" ofcourse they can... but at this time.. Tablet PC is currently the only major product of its type. Find me a better laptop that swivels and is equipped with a digitizer. You won't be able to.
  • Tablet PC's (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ccgr ( 612619 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:00PM (#4871420) Homepage
    I've played with them at work. They have nifty features like voice dictation and handwriting recognition but they are about 85% accurate. It can even partially understand cursive! Very cute lil things but not quite there yet.
    • I've used them once or twice... the recognition rate improves a lot fairly quickly. I'm not sure whether it's the user adapting to the system or the system adapting to the user.
      • Re:Tablet PC's (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mattyohe ( 517995 )
        No. The software is not "learning" your handwriting. They found that by learning.. it ended up causing even worse recognition. Instead of "learning", Microsoft bought code from to companies that were working on this type of OCR, and combined their own code with them. I personally tried writting on one of these using the prodigal "Hello World" and it converted it to text very quickly. Then I wrote it again, but also adding twitching into the words... It still was able to read it. Very powerful software.
  • by jpmorgan ( 517966 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:06PM (#4871474) Homepage
    I read a lot of comments every time the TabletPC comes up on /. that 'why would anyone want this? can't you type faster than you can write anyway?'. While this may be true for a lot of people who use computers regularly, there are a lot of people, particularly middle aged and older, who can't type very quickly and are far more comfortable writing notes down on paper than they are in front of a keyboard. Often times it's not just a case of not learning how to type - if you've lived 40 years without having to type, it's going to be hard to learn how to type at a reasonable pace.

    Personally, as a student I'd love to get my hands on one of these. It's a PITA trying to copy down mathematical formulae onto a computer... I could use LaTeX, but frankly when I'm scribbling things down to keep up with my professors I don't have time, so I just stick to paper.

    I've played with them a few times too. The handwriting recognition is sweeeet - it blows inkwell, and anything else I've tried, out of the water. You've got to be careful when playing with store demos, though, since the system is adaptive.

    • i have a fujitsu tablet, and i keep my happy hacker keyboard and intellimouse at home. why carry everything? do i type on the road? rarely. it also has a vga connector so that i can attach a 20 inch monitor. my only complaint is the wires, but i did just get the thing, so it will get cleaned up. your mileage may vary, but for me this was a good solution. the pen adds more functionality than is taken away.
  • i don't think the sales of the tablet PCs will be high in this economy. When PocketPC came out, everyone was out to get one. I don't think that will be the case with Tablet PC.
  • by niftyeric ( 467236 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:09PM (#4871507)
    ...new Tablet PC operating system from Microsoft...Maybe it's time to break open that piggy bank...

    You're new to Slashdot, arn't you? If your going to post an article about Microsoft operating systems, you need to finish the article with "I wonder how long it will take someone to get Linux running on it," or "If we could only change that operating system..."

    =)
    • If you're really going to post an article on any topic you need to finish the article with "I wonder how good a beowolf cluster of these would be at pouring grits down Natalie Portman's petrified pants". Anything less is just being a newbie...
  • Missing the point (Score:5, Informative)

    by ParadoxDruid ( 602583 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:11PM (#4871532) Homepage
    Not to spout Microsoft propaghanda, but I bought an Acer C102i... and recognition isn't what it's about.

    Journal is it's "killer app". I take all my notes for my classes (I'm a college student) on it. It saves paper, I can search them easily, and I can easily archive all my notes.

    I couldn't live without it these days.
  • Some articles (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kajakske ( 59577 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:12PM (#4871544) Homepage Journal
    Some recent articles about the same subject:

    About the move from Win CE to Win XP:
    Yahoo opinions [yahoo.com]

    Another review with XP tablet systems
    Testing squad of eWeek [eweek.com]

    The first presentation of the thing was broadcasted by Loudeye
    Press release - coverage [prnewswire.com]

    GateWay into action on tablet market
    Better late than never [yahoo.com]


  • Selective uses (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScannerBoy ( 174488 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:15PM (#4871560) Homepage
    My company is currently using tablet PC's with wireless support for our lab technitions who need the freedom to roam around a lab without being tied to a desk.

    The tech's love them, and productivity has increased.
  • by ddmckay ( 56023 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:16PM (#4871581) Homepage
    I have been using a Tablet PC for 8 days. I have a Fujitsu ST4000.

    I am a long time "pen computer" user, mostly on Newtons. Until the tablet arrived, I used a MessagePad 2100, but I lived in fear of dropping the thing or having some other failure and not being able to repair or replace it. So when the Tablet PC came along, I read everything I could I on them and decided to go with the Fujitsu because it was a/ a "real" tablet, not a laptop with a magic twist around (and break) screen and b/ Fujitsu has built pen computers for vertical markets for several years and has more experience with these devices.

    So far my tablet has lived up to my expectations both good and bad. Yes, Windows XP Tablet Edition is still Windows. It's still painful to update and install software, it still occasionally hangs for no apparent reason. But by and large it works.

    The tablet form factor is killer. It's very nice to write on and hardly gets noticed (not what happens when you bring a laptop to some meetings). The handwriting recognition is excellent, at least as good as my Newton if not better. However, be warned that I'm one of the two people in the country (or so it seems) for whom hardwriting recognition seems to work well. Your mileage will vary. :-)

    I've used the "digital ink" only journal application that Microsoft supplies in a couple of meetings now and I really like it. The pen editting tools and the ability to add space in the middle of a page are nice. It works well enough to use all the time.

    The major downside is that the device is very expensive compared to a similar laptop and it runs Windows. But if you are really a pen computer person, like me, it's nifty.
  • lspci output (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AlgUSF ( 238240 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:19PM (#4871607) Homepage
    When will someone put this thing under the microscope. I would laugh if Linux recognizes this thing as a Transmeta laptop with Watcom Tablet, and has no problem running on it. Where is the dmesg/lspci output?
  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:22PM (#4871619)
    I am typing this on an old 486/33Mhz table PC running Windows 95 for pens. Please, can some one tell me why these new systems are being treated as a new idea? How are they diferent then an old table PC running Windows 95/98/2k for Pens?
  • and I really wanted to read this one. are there any karma whores who can post the text, or first page, or conclusion, or anything? I was at the MS launch and they look pretty sweet. there's more to them than all the 'why would anyone want that?' posters know. short version: do you have a day job? do you have stacks and stacks of legal tablets filled that you filled up in meetings? have you noticed that, no matter how wired you think you are, entering text on a laptop in a meeting sucks? (noisy, distracting, takes up table space, screen reduces your view) then you need a tablet.
  • It would be cool if there were a highly rugged inexpensive tablet that could replace textbooks. No need to worry about notes in the margins and the like.
    • I did some work testing some Linux-based tablets destined for school-aged kids (grade 3 and up) within the US's largest private school system. The tablets we were configuring and testing had built-in 802.11 and a CompactFlash socket. The plan was to publish school books as PDFs or eBooks each year and distribute a CompactFlash card to each kid each school each year instead of sending an 18-wheeler full of books.

      We actually met with most of the publishers to get them on board. We also met with some Office suite publishers to work on getting some features to automatically activate and deactivate based on whether or not the tablet was in or near the school. I liked it and thought it had a lot of potential. Too bad I couldn't snarf one at the end of the testing period :) I'd still be using it today..
  • by puto ( 533470 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:30PM (#4871709) Homepage
    I suppose these days the majority of the posters are of university age or just the fact they might soley sit and code all day, do network support, or something desktop centric and thinks makes you somewhat of a computer purist.

    This thing will probably go gangbusters in the business world. Do I need to point out again they can use these things in hospitals, docs can carry them around and have instant access to patient data? You can't teach an old doc to type but you can teach him to point and click. Imagine all of the patients records for him to review right there, and also to digitally sign off on medications, release forms, paperwork? I worked in the medical IT in the mid to late 90's and we would have killed for this for our clients. AND our clients were always asking for this portability. You leave your office to do rounds of your hospital patients, you can have all of their records at your fingertips. Your staff can dump the records necessary and hand it to you. Plus keep your drug interaction software, E an M coding stuff. Scheduling, xrays. The screen is bigger than a pda, Doctors are gonna eat this alive.

    What inventory sytems. You are doing inventory and rely on a stock numner, you can carry one of this around with wand and it will show you the item as well as give you all the details.

    Companies can give these to employees so they can have access, to employee manuals, data, you name it. Much more portable than a lap top.

    Sales Departments can configure payments, interest options, the whole shebang, and then slide this sucker across the desk.

    Games? This aint for games. This aint for coding. This is for strict ease of use in certain apps. And I am sure if you sit down and put some thought into it you would come up withmany uses.

    I tested one and it recognized my chicken scrach, which my wife says could be confuse with Sanskrit.

    It is a good product and sad to say MS made it. IT is here now and has pretty damn good functionality for many things. Sure someone will hack up linux to run on it, more power to you. But in the business world you need what works NOW, not what will work, or what you can say can be made to work.

    We need to take over the Desktop, then move on. But to downplay something as usefuls as this with FUD from the OSS camp is just ridiculous.

    Anyone in IT who has been in it for more than 5 years, done heave support, and has had to be a solution provider will recognize this a a good item.

    Puto
    • Yeah, I'd love to see this used in medical environments...
      "Doctor? The patient on 313 is in shock... yeah, we followed your indications, 15 ml. of estricnin... What do you mean you wrote astrigent?".

      You can't teach old doctors to type, and you can't teach them to handwrite nicely. And you can't teach a Tablet to understand the infamous "doctor handwriting". /playful_troll
    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @03:57PM (#4873863)
      For any of the tasks you mention a TabletPC is the wrong thing. A thin-client slate is far better.

      Nobody wants hostpital records, warehousing inventory etc done and stored on a heavy local harddrive. Nope, you want them stored back on the server. THus no need for the local harddrive (cost, size, weight, battery life).

      For any real job you need better battery life that can take you through a whole work day.

      In no real organisation will the BigBoss sign up to supply the blue-collar types with the latest most fancy and expensive computers..

      Jslate and aquapad-style devices are far more suited to this kind of role.

      They'll sell a few TabletPCs to the BigBoss who wants the coolest toy in town. That's it.

      M$ have screwed up every effort they have made to move off the desktop. This is mainly because they into a new field and try to force the Microsoft Way onto folks without understanding their needs. Unfortunately they have deep enough pockets to dominate (force out of business) anyone with real solutions.

      TabletPC is about Microsoft's sixth attempt in mobile space, why should this succeed when all their other attempst have failed? Naah, TabletPC can join the junk-pile with WinCE, Windows for Pen, Stinger for phones, CarPC (or AutoPC) and all their other stuff.

  • My father bought one of these and I, of course, had to help him set it up. After configuring it and playing with it for about an hour and a half, I can say this: it is nothing more then a really big Palm Pilot with laptop hardware and the attrocious Windows XP OS. And like a Palm, it only appears to recognize what you're writing 85-90% of the time.

    I don't know, I'm a Linux user that codes PHP as a hobby and still runs a P3 600, but my take on these tablet PCs is that they are for moms and dads that have money to blow and are easily drawn to shiny things.

  • by Hollinger ( 16202 ) <michael@@@hollinger...net> on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:42PM (#4871831) Homepage Journal
    Check out the SonicBlue ProGear [sonicblue.com]. It's a Transmeta 400 Mhz CPU with 128 Megs of RAM, 5 Gig HD, WiFi, IR, and a touch screen. It comes in two flavors, Windows98, and a bastardized Linux (that can be replaced with your favorite distro). I've got one that currently runs Slackware 8.1, and I've heard of others [progearhacking.com] that have RedHat installed.

    If you want to check out the "Progear Scene," head over to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/progear/ [yahoo.com] to check otu the Progear User's Group. We've been hacking away at this thing for a a good six months (or so) now.

    <SHAMLESS PLUG>Check out www.mira2go.com to buy a PG for circa US$600.</SHAMLESS PLUG>
  • How I use my Tablet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Diamon ( 13013 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @12:47PM (#4871877)
    I was a lucky enough b@#%!rd to win an Acer TM C102Ti as the MS Tablet PC launch. After piddling with it for a few weeks I've definitely noticed some interesting usage habits.

    For taking notes I use MS Journal, they go in as ink and stay as ink. My recognition of my writing will always be better than their recognition and I don't feel like going through the correction just to get a smaller file size. If I was sharing the notes with someone else I might, but what I keep for myself I keep as ink.

    Browsing I do a mixture or pen and keyboard. I definitely like browsing in tablet mode with the pen it just feels more natural, however entering URL's with the pen is still 50/50 so if I have to pull out the keyboard it's back to landscape mode.

    Any type of command line work such as admin work or coding simply requires a keyboard, no two ways about it. If I remote accesss in to work I have to use a keyboard (they are running a version of MetaFrame that doesn't support pen). This is where the pen will fail to win over the gear-heads in my opinion.

    Also I do find myself using keyboard and pen more than I thought I would. Glidepoints still just don't cut it for me, so I'd rather do the extra grab for the pen.

    All in all I'm really happy with it (I should be since it was free) and I can't imagine buying a laptop without Tablet features after using a Tablet.
  • Compaq tc1000 (Score:5, Informative)

    by aspeer ( 131086 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @01:01PM (#4872016)
    I had a chance to use the Compaq TC1000 [hp.com] Tablet PC for about half a day at work. It is easy to dismiss these products if you have not used them (I did), but they do have some fairly innovative features (note that innovative in this context means "new to this form factor of x86/Windows computer" - I am not trying to start a Newton-was-first flame war)

    I found the stylus (pen) interface extremely good - the mouse will follow the stylus even if the stylus is not physically touching the screen up to a height of about 1.5 inches. This makes things a lot easier than having to drag the stylus physically across the screen when moving, say, a folder. A single click is acheived by just touching the stylus to the screen for most applications. The stylus on this machine was apparently "active", requiring one AAAA battery - I did not take it apart to verify this, and have no idea how long the battery would last, but it must be a fair while.

    The "lazy susan" type keyboard (note: not full docking) station is extremely space efficient, and the key feel is (for me) not too bad for the form factor. The tablet is "smart" enough to know when it has been plugged in to the keyboard base, and rotate the screen from portrait to landscape mode automatically. I was sold - it would be a great setup to take on the road, as it would actually be quite usable in an aircraft, on your lap etc.

    Apparently there is a full docking station available (with CD/DVD ROM etc), but we did not have access to it. Under most circumstances, given the inbuilt WLAN interface, the keyboard station would be sufficient.

    For those wanting to support Transmeta, this device contains the new 1Ghz Crusoe TM5800 processor. Battery life was claimed "up to five hours", realistically about 3.5-4hr max. Not stunning, but quite good considering the form factor. Speed was not lightning fast, but probably acceptable for most tasks you would envisage for this type of device. ZDNet bagged it in this [zdnet.com.au] review, but I did not find it as bad as they make out

    I hardly used the digital ink features, so cannot comment on them, but others in my section who tried the journal feature seemed to like it.

    When I first saw this device, I pretty much blew it off as a "toy" laptop with a detachable screen, but they really are a bit more than that. After using it for a short while I had to revise my initial hasty opinion, and by the end I did not want to give it back. I would use it in place of a "full" laptop without hesitation.

    Naturally for a new product the price is a bit steep for what you get, and since as far as I know no Linux geeks have had a chance to check it out, its Linux readiness is unknown - it is a given that Linux probably cannot support the software augmented hardware features such as the digital ink/journal etc - but even if the device supported a standard linux install with X, and the mouse and wireless card worked, these would be a great portable. workstation.

    If I can get my hands on one for a bit longer I will try a Linux install, but will need to be carefult to not blow away the OS if possible - it did not look easy to reinstall the base OS, given the lack of inbuilt CDROM device. Comments from anyone who has tried (even at this early stage) to install Linux are welcome.

    • Is there really much point to installing linux on one of these things yet as there is absolutely no linux handwriting recognition app that could make the most useful part of it (the pen) actually, well, useful?


      Depending on how these evolve, I may go for one once the price comes down commensurate with its real capabilities (it is less capable than a decent laptop but costs more). I would love to be able to slap a linux distro (any distro) on it if/when it could take advantage of the pen and handwriting rec.


      I'm not holding my breath on that last bit though. This is just not an area where I see open source coming through.

  • Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know that we just finished tweaking the servers by adding another 3mbps to the image server. The site should be faster now (meaning it will actually load in most cases).

    Enjoy the review,

    Matthew Witheiler
    Senior Hardware Editor
    AnandTech.com
  • My experience (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cptgrudge ( 177113 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <egdurgtpc>> on Thursday December 12, 2002 @01:09PM (#4872103) Journal
    I suppose I'll start my post while I wait for the load strained pages of the article to load.

    I feel a little like I'm being a tool for Microsoft, but it's probably because I've made a few other posts on the subject. When someone puts together a great product I feel they should get credit where credit is due.

    I purchased the Viewsonic v1100 after playing with it in the store for an hour. If I had to do it again, I would probably get one of the Fujitsus instead, since that is what other slashdot users seem to buy. Don't get me wrong though, I love the one I got. It's worth every cent I paid. I figured that if I was going to plunk down some money on one of these, then I would embrace it. And embrace it I did. I stopped using paper whenever possible, and tried to convert as many documents into their electronic counterparts.

    I work as a technician between several buildings, so with this tablet I can connect, through 802.11b, to the help desk software we have. Using this, I have effectively replaced all of my notepads, lists, and papers that I used to carry around with me. It ends up replacing about the same weight, only now everything is organized, and I can bring it all with me.

    All I can say is that it just works. The interface is simple, yet works extremely well, and it runs all the apps I need.

    Oh yeah, and it hasn't crashed once in the three weeks I've had it.
  • The one complaint I've heard repeated hundreds of times is about text recognition. Most people are saying the text recognition is between 75-90%. Personally I've used a hacked e-pods with Caligrapher for over two years now and seen 98-100% recognition during that time.
    Having said that I will say there are some things I've noticed about writing habits (watching other people use the device). Some people like to write very small - for text recognition the bigger the better. Some people complaining about the recognition level can't write legible text i.e. I have a friend who will write something down for me and I can't read it. Two days later if I give him the same paper back and ask for an explanation he can't read it either. Recognition is relative.

    Gates wanted the recognition software to tailor to the user, but the product developers want the recognition to be more generalized and the users would have to adjust. Personally I think there has to be a compromise - people need to pay attention to penmanship and the recognition software should adapt somewhat to the individuals writing (much like speech recognition adapts to the individuals voice).
    • I'm guessing that when people here are saying that the text recognition is between 75 and 90% what they're really saying is that 75-90% of the time it gets everything they wrote correct. That's REALLY different than meaning it got 75-95% of the characters correct. (75-90% word recognition alone is more like 95-99% character recognition and 75-90% total recognition is 99%+)
  • I really don't see much of a cost benefit over a high-end PDA. Sure it has more bells and whistles, but it is also heavier and not as compact. I use my Palm primarily for one thing. Reference. I store lots of notes there. I seldom edit them.

    I'd also like to see the durability of one. If it can't take some abuse then it will fail. It is too expensive to break if it drops on the ground.

    I really do hope it works because it would open up some interesting possibilities, but unless the price drops I really don't see it being a big seller. Don't forget that tech people will still be needed to fix problems which adds to the cost. There are backup & restore issues which adds to the cost. There are security issues where an expensive device vanishes (not to mention the data on it) and that adds to the cost.

    I'd also be curious to see how people who are not good with PCs react. Odds are they are comfortable with a pen and paper and would just as soon keep it.
  • by jhines0042 ( 184217 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @01:45PM (#4872457) Journal
    Tablet PC. I think I would like to get one and hang it on a wall. Then I could put pictures on it (in a screen saver like mode) and it will be plugged in so that battery life isn't important.

    Then when I need to control my MP3 Jukebox I can simply walk up to the "picture" and access my MP3 Jukebox (which I can control remotely) and request a new song.

    It would be like using a terminal in Star Trek!

  • by Oliver Wendell Jones ( 158103 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @01:52PM (#4872545)
    I went to a local CompUSA store with a co-worker who was very interested in buying a tablet PC. He currently lugs his laptop to meetings every day and he wants something a little more horizontal.

    There was one tablet on display, but no stylus to operate it. I tried using my PDA stylus to no avail. A salesperson eventually wandered over to help and said he'd have to go get the special pen they keep under lock and key. When he came back after a couple of minutes I asked why they didn't have it on some sort of chain so people could use it, he told me that the pens for the tablet PCs they stock sell for between $150 and $300 each depending upon the brand (they appear to be interchangable as we used a Toshiba pen on a non-Toshiba tablet) and they had already had two grow legs and walk away.

    As someone who has lost at least 3 PDA styli in the past few years (yes, I was one of those kind of geeks who bought a Pilot the first week it was released) I know it's just a matter of time before I would lose the tablet's pen, and there is no way in hell I'm going to tie myself to a PC that is useless without a $300 pen that can be lost that easily.

    After leaving, I got to wondering if the tablets could be used with the same kind of stylus that a graphics tablet uses, as those can be purchased for far less than $150. I'll need to remember to take my Wacom pen with me next time I go shopping...
  • by Blahbbs ( 587167 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @02:32PM (#4872929)
    How does one press Ctrl-Alt-Del with a Tablet PC? :-P
  • by zephc ( 225327 )
    I'm surprised that no one noticed several screenshots had references to 1984 by George Orwell. The reviewer having fun at MS's expense I guess.
  • user review.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Suppafly ( 179830 ) <slashdot@nOspAm.suppafly.net> on Thursday December 12, 2002 @03:11PM (#4873293)
    Penny-arcade had a decent review of atleast one tablet pc. On 2002-11-27 [penny-arcade.com] and 2002-11-28 [penny-arcade.com].
  • finally.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Suppafly ( 179830 ) <slashdot@nOspAm.suppafly.net> on Thursday December 12, 2002 @03:13PM (#4873312)
    I honestly don't understand why these weren't "invented" years ago. They are just touchscreen laptops that have the screen attached to the back. A lot of these tablet pcs even work like laptops except the lcd hinge is made in such a way they can be swiveled around and folded underneath.
    • Re:finally.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by jpmorgan ( 517966 )
      The idea may be old and obvious, but the software and hardware necessary to make this kind of thing truly usable has only developed in recent years. There's a lot of Hard Problems(TM) with respect to user-interaction (good handwriting recognition, for one) that needed to be solved before they can be generally useful, and of course the hardware necessary to run the software.
  • by spleenhead ( 633571 ) on Thursday December 12, 2002 @03:16PM (#4873353)
    I always appreciate more options for entering data into a PC - and the Tablet PC is basically a laptop that offers another way to input data.

    just look around your desk where you work - see all those scraps of paper? you probably used them because its too much a pain to enter it in a computer. In my case, they are usually diagrams and drawings to help figure something out. No way could I enter those quickly and easily in a computer. no way can I easily search through all those papers for a specific drawing done a year ago. the Tablet PC offers this.

    for now, its a bit too expensive and probably not a good as it can be, but thats true of all new technology. in a couple years, it'll be just about right.

  • Anybody try an io? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheConfusedOne ( 442158 ) <the@confused@one.gmail@com> on Thursday December 12, 2002 @03:54PM (#4873833) Journal
    Anyone out there have or try one of the Logitech io's? This seems to be the real solution for note taking.

    I've got an old CrossPad as well and it was a great compromise between the new Tablets and regular old pen and paper. The best thing is that you always had a hard copy of whatever you wrote no matter what. I imagine getting an application crashing error after an hour or two of taking notes would absolutely suck.

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