Tablet PCs

I’m getting back into writing and would like to buy a Tablet PC on which to do this. I hate “writing” with a keyboard and prefer longhand, so a good handwriting OCR converting thingy is important. I also like drawing when sketching out ideas (Paint Shop Pro type stuff, nothing fancy) so a drawing type capability would be nice. Other organizing type software would be nice too, but not critical. I don’t much care if it runs games or whatnot. In fact, I’d like something resembling a regular paper-sized, long-battery, backlit, inexpensive 2006 Apple Newton that I can run at Starbucks while wearing a jaunty hat and sipping chai.

I searched for previous threads and the last one was nearly six months ago focused on gaming, so I thought a new one would be in order. Any help out there? Hello, is this thing on?

Gaming on a tablet doesn’t compute. Buy a nice one that does what it’s meant to, be a portable computer that you can take notes on, draw, organize, etc. Trying to buy a tablet that you can game on is just asking for trouble.

Tablets overall are much more expensive, their hardware a bit slower. You’ll still be able to play previous generation games, but don’t hope to run Splinter Cell 4 in its full glory on a tablet or anything.

With that being said, I still dig my old IBM X41V.

I’m interested in getting a tablet, too- for pretty much the same reasons as you. I think I’ve got it narrowed down to the Motion Computing line- they’re one of the last companies to make ‘slate’ tablets- they weigh almost nothing (~3 lbs). I can’t afford the 1600, though, so I’m wondering if I should just settle for a used/refurb 1400. Otherwise, the Compaq M200 looks nice and is still reasonably light. I’ve seen lots of different types for sale around on Craigslist (yes, locally), but while they have modern power (centrino 1.7ghz CPUs), they also seem to weigh in at around 6.5-7 lbs., which is way, way too much to hold comfortably.

Anyone have any thoughts about these observations?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Not helpful to the question, but I think something like the sony eBook reader would be a good starting point for someone to make a modern Newton. Add a digitizer and a backlight, and that e-ink display would probably work nicely for HWR, once you got used to the slow redraw.

I hope you find a suitable tablet… I’d like one myself.

The One Laptop per Child people have probably the closest thing to the ideal currently-shipping hardware for such a gadget from a cost, power, and display standpoint. It folds into tablet mode too, come to think about it.

I’ve got a Toshiba M200 that I just love.

Don I don’t know if you were messing up your manufacturers (I don’t think Compaq makes a M200) but if it’s the Toshiba you’re talking about - it’s not that heavy at all. I use it in tablet mode pretty frequently and it’s fine.

As far as perf goes - yeah you are not getting a bleeding edge gaming laptop. They are pretty zippy though; and you no longer pay an insane premium for Tablet PC functionality. It’s still more expensive than an equivalent laptop, but it’s not that much more.

Yeah, messed that up. Weight is a concern for me, but the M200 seems to strike the right balance between power/features/weight. It’s good to hear that it still seems zippy even though it’s not bleeding-edge. The Motion series look seriously sweet, though, though they do seem a little underpowered-- three pounds, though! There’s a couple of m200 deals I see on eBay right now, I just have to bite the bullet. I have a budget of about $1000, and it’s either a tablet or an HDTV to go with my new 360. Decisions, decisons. Thanks for the info, though. :)

Poo on those who say “no gaming tablet for you, monkey boy.” WHY NOT? There’s no reason on God’s green earth that someone couldn’t put a beefy CPU and graphics into a tablet. I’d buy it! (Well, I’d buy it in late 2007 or 2008 or so, once I save up the money…)

I mean, I have a Portege 3505 (yep, early adopter, that’s me). The video SUCKS FUCKING ROCKS and the touchscreen has lots of dead spots, so now it’s basically an underpowered laptop. I definitely won’t buy any portable with shitty video ever again, and really I want a machine that I can put all my hacking projects on and hack at high speed, OR use in tablet mode to read stuff on BART, OR play games on when I’m traveling or whatever. Why should I have to have two laptops in order to do all that? Answer: I shouldn’t. I hope tablet functionality just keeps quietly getting more common and cheaper, so these false dichotomies go away.

Well, the problem seems to be that with that power comes three things- weight, bulk, and heat, all of which are pretty crappy things to have if you’re going to hold the thing up with one hand for much of it’s use. There are tablets that have decent (mobile) graphics chips and CPUs in them- they weigh 6-7 lbs. That’s a lot to be holding up at length with one arm, and the bigger they get (you can get tablets with 14.5" widescreens), the more awkward it is to carry them. Put it in your lap? The heat from all those killer compnents will make it uncomfortable. There are tradeoffs to all of these technologies- the ones I listed above seem to be pretty good at walking the line (the m200 does have a geforce go5200 graphics chip and can have anywhere between 1.5-2.0 centrino cpu)- I’m sure there are others, though.

You can get a Gateway Convertible that’s got a dual core CPU. The 3D card is kinda iffy, but put 2GB of RAM (which you should if you’re going to run Vista, which you should since the support for Tablet PCs is vastly improved) and it flies. I have the non-dual core CPU version (bought it 3 months too soon, argh) and it’ll run MMOs like WoW and CoV fine. Haven’t tried putting Civ4 on it yet.

Anyway, I really recommend the Convertible, it’s the best Tablet PC I’ve seen and in the past 6mos or so have made good use of it for note-taking and general writing.

Yeah- that’s one of the ‘modern’ ones I was talking about. There’s one up on the Seattle Craigslist right now for $1000. The guy bought it from CL last week for the same price, started using it, and decided it was too heavy (6.84lbs with the battery installed!), so now wants a lighter one. Pretty much sums up my attitude.

The hell? My convertible isn’t a heavy weight. Or maybe I’m just used to people at work with whacked-out Alienwares that can double as gaming rigs. If you think 7lbs is a hefty laptop then (and I think the convertible’s closer to 5) you probably want an ultralight laptop, which (a) isn’t going to be good for gaming at all and (b) won’t be a convertible. You can get just a tablet slate that’s really lightweight, but then if you want to type on it (which is still the quickest way to actually do things like writing as opposed to note taking) you’ll need to plug in an external keyboard and mouse anyway which means you’re still lugging around lots o’ stuff.

Don’t buy it from CL for $1000 anyway, that’s about retail.

As the OP, I’m actually interested in an ultra-cheap.

Hit eBay. Should be able to get a nice laptop for $500 (but it won’t be a tablet PC). A few years ago I scored a year-old iBook off eBay for $200. Hard to beat.

This guy has an older gen (not dual core) convertible for $750 Buy-It-Now, so some searching should uncover better deals.

If you do get a tablet PC, you absolutely have to get two things: Vista and 2GB ram (so you can run Vista well). Vista’s tablet PC support is far better to XP, for example only Vista has handwriting recognition training.

Thanks for the link, I’m been lazily browsing the e all day. It seems to me that some kind of, and I shudder to say it, “Internet Appliance”-like thing for writers would be a decent niche market. You build a 9x12 writable screen with built-in handwriting training/recognition, a good backlit e-ink touch screen, a basic wifi web browser, and PDA-like sync functionality. I was hoping for something like that. Even the OS doesn’t really matter to me.

Yeah, this is why I want to suffer with my current laptop until late 2007, when Vista’s been through a couple of patch cycles and the laptop graphics hardware has improved just that much more. My dream is a DX10 tablet, but I’ve posted that dream here before and people have said “forget about it until 2008,” which may or may not be too long to wait.

I don’t really care about holding it with one arm, I would be sitting while using it 99% of the time, so 7 lbs would be OK.

No, I wouldn’t buy that laptop. As I said earlier, I’m quite OK with slightly outdated tech if it a)keeps the weight down and b)keeps the cost down. I don’t really play games on the PC anymore- that’s what the aforementioned 360 is for. I just want it to take notes and sketch on the go- have access to various documents and projects. The M200 is listed at being around 4-4.5lbs. Pretty good. The Motion series of slates I was talking about weigh about 3, and have have either a bluetooth keyboard or an ‘easel’ sort of usb keyboard in the lid, and a neat set of array mics built in for speech recognition. But they are a bit more underpowered. I see an M200 on eBay right now with a 1.7ghz, 1gb ram setup, with dock and dvd-rom drive for $900. That almost seems like a good deal. Another with just 1.5ghz, but it has 1.5Gb Ram (and all the other accessories) for $650-800(BiN), but no OS. I wonder how that could run Vista (it’s only got the go5200-64mb, so you couldn’t use Areo, but the rest of it…)

Note: the weight I listed was from Gateway’s site- they bury the weight in the specs where you can’t find it easily. No, it’s not a behemoth ‘desktop replacement’ 9-10lb. monster, but 6-7lbs is heavy for a tablet. Here’s what Gateway says:

Modular Bay Battery and Primary Battery Cover-6.17 pounds
With Standard 8-Cell Lithium Ion Battery and CD-ROM-6.84 pounds
With High-Capacity 12-Cell Lithium Ion Battery and CD-ROM-7.22 pounds
With Standard 8-Cell Lithium Ion and Modular Bay Batteries-7.08 pounds
With High-capacity 12-Cell Lithium Ion and Modular Bay Batteries-7.45 pounds

Oh, and another reason I probably wouldn’t but a gateway: Pressure sensitive pens. Apparently they’re the only tablet builder that doesn’t use Wacom digitizers for all (any?) of their models, and the Finepoint digis they use aren’t pressure sensitive, which isn’t good for art apps. Granted even the pressure stuff in tablet PCs pales beside dedicated digitizers, but hey, some is better than none at all. :)