Monday, January 03, 2005

Time to talk about my TabletPC!

The V1250 and my external USB TEAC CDRW drive Posted by Hello

On May 15th, 2004 (in pretty much the middle of the night in my time zone), after forcing myself to wait a year, I ordereda ViewSonic V1250 TabletPC, from Dell, no less, and I have been completely enthralled ever since. Seven months later, I still have trouble putting the thing down for very long. I LOVE my TabletPC! I have fun playing with it. I have fun working with it (is that not weird?). Given that it appears that ViewSonic is not as popular a brand among TPC owners (at lest, not as popular as, say, Acer, Motion or Toshiba), I am astonished at how truly delighted I remain with my Tablet experience (but then, ViewSonic is no stranger to the world of computing) especially when I've seen some of the comments made by less-than-thrilled owners of the brands that are higher-profile.

Under the hood:
The V1250 is a convertible , and before SP2, I used it in laptop mode most of the time. After the improved handwriting recognition of Service Pack 2, I almost never come out of slate mode (see an explanation of the types of TabletPCs at, and see pictures of the V1250 in both modes in Microsoft's Comdex 2003 photo gallery). It's got a 1 gHz Centrino processor (not sure which Centrino), and I have read that this model's performance isn't on par with other devices that have Centrino processors, but I don't notice a problem. I started out with 256mb RAM. This ran ok until Microsoft released Service Pack 2, so I maxed it out ( at 768mb, and everything was back to happy (note: ViewSonic recommends Kingston for memory upgrades). By comparison, the V1250S holds a gig, and the V1250P hits its peak at 2gb. I've got to buy a bigger hard drive; 30 gigabytes isn't enough.

The video card is Intel embedded AGP 4X. It can access up to 64mb of my system's RAM. I saw signs that this was a bit of a problem before I upgraded to 768mb of RAM. A reviewer once said the V1250 LCD looks as good as some lower-end laptops, though TabletPCs are known (except for the Motion, anyway) for being a bit hampered by their digitizer layers. My darling can be a little hard-put to compete with florescent lighting sometimes, but I've found it to be legible in direct sunlight, if I fiddle with the brightness settings.

Intel 2100 3B 802.11b is built in, and it works fine, but I can't use the Intel PROSet; my machine will blue-screen. As a result, adding a 26-character hex key for WEP is a less efficient process than it could be (one day I'll have a router than can do WPA). Ethernet works great. I used the modem once to send a fax, which I'm told was received, so the modem must work (with broadband at home and work; I've never tested dial-up... boy am I spoiled!). No Bluetooth, but nothing else I have has it, either, so I don't miss it. I have no Infrared port; that annoyed me, but I have a USB-to-IrDA adapter, and it works fine for syncing my Nokia phone and my PDA. The plastic tongue thing broke in my USB port (the one closest to the power), and the computer shuts off if I try to use it, forcing me to disconnect the power cable and remove the battery before it will come back on; I'll send it off for repairs before the warranty goes out; for now, I just use the 2nd port.

Some TPCs have microphone arrays; I just have one mic hole, but it did ok with voice recognition before SP2. People who hear my TPC think the sound is pretty good for a portable. Other convertible Tablet owners have complained that their speakers are covered up when they flip into Tablet mode; ViewSonic had the prescience to make sure this was not an issue.

I can boot with the TEAC USB CD burner I bought; quite a few TPC models from other vendors require one to buy the vendors' drives in order to boot cds or DVDs. The Secure Digital /Memory Stick / MultiMedia Card slot works great with my SD cards; I don't have any of the other types for testing. The one PC Card slot worked fine when I used a PC Card adapter and a Compact Flash card; I haven't needed the slot for anything else. The V1250 has 9 hardware buttons; I think 8 are customizable (I've heard that Microsoft specifies that the security button shall not be changeable), and I've modified the functions of two of them. Often people cite battery life as an issue with TabletPCs; if I'm not getting the advertised 3.5 hours on battery, it's mighty close. My best laptop never gave me that much!

As I've gotten long-winded, I'll just make this post the hardware post and follow up with a new post about the software I've been using with my beautiful device.


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