Cool Tech Reviews

Just Cool Tech

March 31, 2006

Tablet PCs small and large


Over at his PC Magazine blog, Michael J. Miller has a preliminary review of the Toshiba Portege M400 convertible tablet PC. Frankly, it doesn’t seem all that different from other convertible tablets except for the compact 12 inch screen size which is the main point:

I’m a big fan of both small notebooks and tablet computers. I like my laptops light, because I’m a train commuter, and carry my laptop a lot. And I like tablet computers mostly because I like reading on them (with the screen in a vertical position), and for occasionally annotating notes and documents with the pen.

Ultimately, Miller remarks that he prefers the Lenovo Thinkpad X41 12 inch convertible tablet which is even lighter at 3.7 pounds than the M400 at 4.5 pounds. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Eric Mack who teases his readers with news of an “ultra-wide screen” tablet PC that he is expecting shortly from an unnamed manufacturer:

I just got off the phone with an excited representative from a well known computer manufacturer who called to let me know that, because of my blog, I’ve been selected to evaluate one of their new ultra-wide screen Tablet PCs. She promised me that it was perfect for Tablet PC mind-mapping and that I would be very happy with the display resolution and size.

Since Mack also says he’d “be happy with a 2.5″ thick Tablet the size of a Tecra M4 with a fold-out screen twice the size of an M4″ which is 14.1 inches, it’s clear he’s not worried about portability.

I can see the merits of both points of view, but the real problem is that the amount of time I really want a tablet PC of either size is vanishingly small. Battery life inhibits true portability and I am not comfortable enough with tablet technology to have some monster version parked permanently on my desk taking up space. I’m hopeful though, that one of these days there will be a tablet that convinces me.


Posted at 10:55 am. Filed under Brands, Companies, Lenovo, Notebook, Tablet PC, ThinkPad, Toshiba

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November 8, 2005

Nokia 770 Internet tablet available in Europe


Tom Krazit has the story at InfoWorld:

The Linux-based tablet announced by Nokia Corp. a few months ago can now be ordered from various Nokia Web sites in Europe for about €350 (US$413.35), Nokia announced Monday.

Nokia first announced the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet in May. The device comes with an integrated Wi-Fi chip for browsing the Internet and runs an operating system called Internet Tablet 2005, which is based on Linux and incorporates several open-source applications.

The 770 is a bit of a departure for Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone vendor. It is much smaller than Tablet PCs that use Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system, but like those devices it is designed to be used with a stylus and comes with handwriting recognition software.

More details at the Nokia specs page (flash demo here) and a press release indicates it will start shipping the USA in about a week.

As far as reviews go, jkOnTheRun, MobileBurn, debain.org, and Howard Chui all have given it a test drive. Bear in mind that the reviews are for pre-preproduction models, so various glitches (mostly software) may well have been ironed out in the shipping models.

That being said, it’s generally well received aside from the nagging question of exactly what the intended purpose is. It’s not a cell phone and doesn’t really have a full set of PIM/PDA software but the competent Linux software application suite makes it a nice portable web surfer if you can find a Wi-Fi connection, which means a commercial hotspot or to my mind, around the house. (In fairness, a Bluetooth cell phone connection works as well.) There’s no keyboard so you’ll have to use the handwriting recognition or onscreen “keyboard,” but none of the viewers felt it was a note taking device. If I were to sum it up, it’s seems to me that it is an “Internet player” which at about $400 may well find some takers. It’s also a first step for Open Source in the tablet arena. The Open Source 770 community site is http://www.maemo.org/.


Posted at 10:47 am. Filed under Internet Tablet, Linux, Nokia, Notebook, Operating Systems, Tablet PC

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November 5, 2005

Bill Gates’ favorite reporter and the Motion Computing LS800


Mike Wendland is a Technology Columnist for the Detroit Free Press and he’s also Bill Gates’ “favorite reporter”:

Not to be a name dropper, but when Bill Gates spotted me last week at a news conference in Ann Arbor his face broke into a big grin and he greeted me with something to the effect of “Hey, Mike, my favorite reporter!”

Alas, it wasn’t my journalistic skills that brought the compliment. It was the machine I was using to ply my trade: a small, slate-like computer using the Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC operating system.

And Bill Gates loves tablets.

The Tablet PC I was using last week is the LS800 from Motion Computing, one of a dozen or so computer makers who put out Tablet versions.

And it (like all of Motion Computing’s tablets) is a slate, not a convertible that has a screen that swivels up to reveal a keyboard.

The unit will also work by wireless Bluetooth with an optional detached keyboard.

The LS800 is the tiniest of the slates made by Motion, weighing just 2.2 pounds and about the size of a thin paperback book — 8.94 inches by 6.60 inches by 0.87 inches thick. A button lets you have the screen appear in vertical or horizontal formats.

I think of it as a stenographer’s pad sized machine and it sounds great for a reporter.

The LS800 and all Tablets come with a built-in microphone. On the LS800, though, is a multidirectional array microphone design and configurable acoustics software called Speak Anywhere that maximizes the sound quality. I recorded the news briefing with Gates, for example. He was two seats to my right around a conference table and the mic picked up every word just fine.

Battery life ran about three hours for me, using the OneNote application to record Gates and then, as I wrote the story of his news conference, to transcribe the interview.

Well, the battery life could use some work, but that might defeat the form factor. More details by following the link. The LS800 product page has more and there are also other reviews of the LS800 at Mike Wo’s, ZDNet UK, Craig Pringle, and TabletSwitcher. To net it out, there are some complaints about heat and that the screen is too small, but most folks are intrigued with the form factor though even Mike says his favorite is actually the 15 inch Motion 1400 Tablet.


Posted at 8:01 pm. Filed under Companies, Motion Computing, Notebook, Tablet PC

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