Saturday, July 02, 2005

How Would I Change the TabletPC?

Engadget asks the question: How would you change the TabletPC? Though I've answered them on their site, I thought it'd make a decent blog entry, as well, so I'm going to discuss what I'd change about my TabletPC, if I could, and what I want in my next TPC.

My V1250's max resolution (in portrait mode, which I use almost exclusively) is 768 x 1024. This is a probably my biggest gripe. Though some folks think a 12" screen would be unreadable at anything higher, I beg to differ. It's difficult to read some forum pages and web sites at this resolution, especially if someone posts a long url. My experience leads me to conclude that manufacturers should not consider anything less than SXGA for a TabletPC. If people can't read it, then they can change the resolution to something lower.

I've not had much reason to gripe with my video card. Hardcore gamers would look askance at the 64mb shared memory, but it's served me relatively well, other than the fact that I have to run Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War in safe mode (because there is no T&L support). Nevertheless, I do want improvement. I'd like my next TPC to have at least 64mb of dedicated video memory, and I want T&L support.

There's a protective screen mask on many Tablets that makes the view grainy and makes it harder for the LCD to compete with bright lights, including flourescent lighting. TabletPC manufacturers who haven't yet taken note of the way Motion Computing does things should do so now. Let's brighten the outlook!

It shouldn't even be an option to ship a TabletPC with less than 512mb RAM. That much should be built right in, the way the first 256mb is built into my V1250. Trust me, Service Pack 2 is painful on a TPC with only 256mb of system memory, especially when that memory is shared with the video card. As I mentioned in another post, I upgraded to the maximum, which is 768mb. No more TabletPCs should be made with so low a maximum capacity. I don't think this is an issue anymore, but I mention this just in case.

Lighter and thinner would be great. Some slate purists want to take away our option to have keyboards permanently attached, which would certainly make certain TabletPC models lighter and thinner, but I think choice is a wonderful thing, and I'm confident that the technology we have today can be improved to reduce mass without reducing function. However, with my own convertible weighing under four pounds, I'd rather push for other improvements, placing this one on the backburner for now.

TabletPCs without built-in CD drives should ship with utilities for making bootable Secure Digital (SD) cards or USB Flash Drives for recovery/restoration purposes. Few do.

Since installing ritePen to restore the Write Anywhere function that Microsoft's Windows XP Service Pack 2 programmers stole from me, I have greatly cut down on my Tablet Input Panel (TIP) usage. Still, it would be nice if I could train it to stop making certain bad assumptions when I'm writing.

Last, but not least...let's talk about price! I want to be able to afford two TabletPCs. The first one would be the do-it-all convertible that completely replaces my laptop, the way my little ViewSonic has. The second one would be a smaller slate that would never leave my side, going with me on grocery shopping trips, entertaining me at the DMV and pointedly implying that the line is, as nearly always, moving too slowly, displaying the movie showtimes for my friends and me before we leave the restaurant on Friday nights (yes, I actually do go out socially at least once a week!), and just being my all-around backup device and security blanket.

Oh, yeah...well, that kind of implies some other changes to the TabletPC, doesn't it? Like making some much smaller. Don't worry; Bill's on that case. To be honest, his prototype is even a bit too small for my liking (I'm thinking an 8-inch would be fantastic), but this bodes well for the future.

That will do, for starters.


The Miniature Mage said...

Another thing I'd do is make the Start Menu accessible from anywhere, not just the narrow strip of taskbar. I loved that feature of AfterStep on my FreeBSD machines.

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