Tablet PC

My experience with and about Tablet PC’s.

Daedalus: My New Tablet

As I mentioned last month, I was looking at getting a new Tablet. Well, I ordered it a couple weeks ago and it is now safely in my arms!

Daedalus is a Toshiba M700 Portege and I purchased it as originally spec’d: 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo with Intel Turbo Memory; 2GB RAM on a single DIMM; 120GB 7200RPM hard drive; Windows Vista Ultimate.

Some thoughts:

  • Even with the removable disc drive in, the machine is light and feels light.
  • The volume dial is a digital control that just freely spins. Thus, there isn’t a physical point that is the minimum or maximum volume.
  • The screen needs to be perpendicular to the keyboard in order to turn.
  • When I’m typing, I sometimes accidentally tap the touch pad which moves my cursor. There is a setting buried several layers in which allows you to disable tapping while typing.
  • The Windows key moved from the upper right-hand corner (on the M200) to the lower left-hand corner (in the M700).
  • There is not a physical latch for the screen.
  • The USB placements seem odd, but acceptable.
  • The screen resolution is crisp and I like it better then the previous resolution.
  • You can save about 10% by paying with a Visa credit card.

Looking at Getting a New Tablet

Forward: Many people ask me for my help in purchasing a computer. Here’s a sort of a behind the scenes of what I go through when purchasing a computer for myself.

In October, it will have been four years since I got my Toshiba M200. I think for most people, four years for a laptop would be pretty good. For me, that’s an amazing amount of time to have the same laptop. In face any laptop that survives four years with me should be nominated for some sort of award.

Originally, I wanted to wait until I graduated before I got a new computer. However, there have been some tell-tale signs that my current system is on it’s way out the door. Faced with that impending doom and reality that technology has bettered itself significantly in the last few years, I’ve spent the last couple of months looking for a replacement.

I’ve had a Toshiba for the last 8 years and there is a strong incentive to stay with them. I’m pretty apt (and comfortable) with opening up their systems, I have several Toshiba accessories (including no less then four power cords), and know for a fact there is a certified Toshiba Repair center with 45 minutes of my houses (both in Seattle and Colorado). However, the game was was open to all and in addition to Toshiba, I looked at Lenovo, Dell, HP, and Gateway.

There were some basic things that were pretty non-negotiable. Fortunately, every manufacturer was able to meet them: Core 2 Duo and 2GB of RAM installed.

I was appalled by Dell’s offer: $2880 for a basic system with a 1.33GHz Core 2 Duo and 2048MB of RAM, max. HP’s bid was a much more reasonable price, $1749, but only 1.2 GHz and still 2048MB of RAM (although I think you can get up to 3GB in the HP).

Gateway offers a pretty reasonable system, however I’ve had issues with them in the past that I still haven’t gotten over yet. They were also the heaviest system and the lowest ranked tablet by Laptop Magazine. So Gateway was out too.

This basically left it between Toshiba and Lenovo. Between the two, Toshiba wins on the processor and price. Battery life is a bit tricky to gauge, however I believe that Lenovo has . Lenovo has a 3-year 9×5 next day on site warranty while Toshiba I’d have to bring to Lone Tree to get it repaired.

While not a huge downside, the Lenovo does not have an internal optical drive (which Toshiba does). The Toshiba also has a 7-in-1 media card reader, which is nice because I transfer quite a bit of photos via CompactFlash and Secure Digital.

Both PC Magazine and Laptop Magazine gave the Toshiba M700 4/5 and the Lenovo X61 4.5/5.

I’m leaning pretty heavily toward the Toshiba and I’ll probably make my final decision within a month. I gotta also figure out money.

Trade study after the jump…
Read More »Looking at Getting a New Tablet


Fighting with OneNote

I’ve been fighting with my computer all afternoon to try and get inking to work in OneNote 2007. I kept getting an error about OneNote needing Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 with Service Pack 2 in order to work. Well, I have the RC2 of Service Pack 3, so I was thinking that may have been the issue.

So I uninstalled SP3 (build 3311). That ended up screwing even more things up since it decided to basically uninstall all my drivers. So I rolled back using system restore to Monday. That got me back to where I was this morning: working but still no love on the OneNote inking.

I tried a couple of things I found on the internet, including Daniel Escapa’s trick of of running cd %ProgramFiles%\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Ink\
regsvr32 /s inkobj.dll
and trying to the KB900722 patch.

No joy.

I trying running the OneNote diagnostics tool.

Again, no love.

I finally break down and get ready to send an email to Microsoft support. I’m entering in my details and I notice that the inking panel is active again.

Figures. As soon as I try to contact Microsoft, the program works again. No rhyme or reason.

By the way, I seriously was thinking about just getting another computer. I have less then 2GB of free space left and things are starting to fail (such as the motherboard). Lenovo has an awesome Outlet site and I priced out a MacBook that would have been nice. Problem is, I don’t have have $1500 lying around. Although I suppose I could get a pretty penny for my current Tablet…maybe $500? So I guess I would only need $1000. I still don’t have it.


Guest Authoring at GottaBeMobile

Update: It’s up! Check it out: GottaBeAStudent and The Myth of Battery Life. Also a special thanks to Mom and Dad for A) proof reading it, and B) providing me with a title.

Starting later today, I’ll be doing a series of articles on that deals with tablet issues from a student perspective. We’ll, at least from my perspective (if you know me, you know that I can bring a unique perspective to anything).

GottaBeMobile is the site for Tablet PC information, so it’s a pretty big honor to write for them.

I also need to take a moment to point out the incredible irony that finds me, an engineer, writing in a situation like this. One of the reasons I went to Mines was to get away from all the writing that high school and humanities classes had. Yet, I find my self blogging several times a week on my personal site and writing articles for two outside sites.

In any event, it’s going to be more of an article based series, rather than the short and informative posting I do like to do at However, I think many will find them just as helpful.

I’ll post again when I put up the first article later today.

I’d also like to thank Rob for giving me (and STPC) a chance to expand my (our) audience and Tracy for letting me get away with it 😉 . Rob was also very helpful and kind in helping me make the decision to contribute to GBM, including helping me with a list of topics.


GBM Reader Meetup

  • Tablet PC

What I spent my Saturday doing:


All in all, this is one of the best meetups of any kind I’ve ever been to. For whatever reason, I think tablet owners are even more passionate then bloggers. Part of this might be the higher barrier to entry – you have to drop at least a couple hundred bucks to get into the tablet/UMPC club versus almost nothing for a blogger. The other part might be tableteers extreme dedication to their babies devices, despite the dearth of them (we gotta band together, ya know?!).

One of the best/most exciting parts was finally being able to meet the people I read online in meatspace. I should start a list of who I read and have met and who I need to meet. Hmmmm.


Why Can’t They Just Replace It, Like I Asked?

I headed down to to Central Telecom, Inc., literally the only certified Toshiba shop for a couple hundred miles. Plan A worked, kind of. Unbeknownst to me, my warranty had free expedition! Awesome. So I waited the 45 minutes or so it took to process it. Everything sounded fine for while, however, I was wearing my headphones. I took them off and the fan started the rattle again! WTF?! I heard some air blowing when I was CTI, so I’m thinking they decided to just blow it out ’cause the dust must be the problem, there’s no way over two years of almost constant use could have caused a bearing to fail. Can you hear my sarcasm? Good, it should be oozing through your keyboard by now.

So I’m going to call them on Monday, tell that I went in today and that I don’t think they replaced the fan and that I need them to replace it. Then I’ll drive down, again, and wait some more, again.


12 Hours of Uber Productivness

I’ve been pretty productive the last 24 hours or so. Here’s what I’ve accomplished:

  • Got a good start on my housing for next year…maybe even almost finalized
  • Called tech support to try and get my laptop fan fixed (it’s been really noisy of late and needs to be replaced)
  • Got an appointment setup for Red October (my car) to get some things diagnosed and fixed, including:
    1. Constant pull to the right
    2. Low idle speed (~200 RPM) with jumps to regular (~1000 RPM), bad O2 sensor?
    3. Under body rattle at lower (<800 RPM) speeds
  • Got a bunch of blog posts out of the way and cleaned up my desktop a bit

Tech support has been less then helpful. They want $75 to expedite my diagnostic. Otherwise I have to give up Apollo (my Tablet) for 3-5 business days, which can’t happen because I do all my school work on it. I can buy the part myself for $36 and change, plus shipping.

If you figure the drive down to Lone Tree and back is about 23 miles each way, I’m looking at $5 in gas for a round trip. If I do that twice (once to diagnose it, once to actually get it fixed…both while I wait), that’s $10 in gas…or almost a 1/4 of the cost of the part. Bonus: There is a Krispy Kreme in Lone Tree, which I’ve been craving since my dream yesterday.

My plan is to drive down there and turn on the charm and logic. Turn the computer on, show them the racket it makes, and get them to order the part.

Plan B is to talk with Nick Lew from SAAS and see if he’d be willing to get the part for me under warranty and have it shipped to me for a modest fee.

Plan C is to order the part my self.


An Option

The part that broke is called an LCD Mask, Toshiba part number P000388420. I did a Google Search for it and the prices are around $180 ± $50. This, as it turns out, is very close to the “official” price from Nation Parts Depot (Toshiba’s parts vendor) of $172.22.

For fun, I decided to check on eBay. Low and behold, I found an auction for the exact part I’m looking for. Even better, it would only be about $60 with shipping, as of now. But seriously, how often do these buggers break? Methinks not that often.

Despite the fact I would have to spend 60 of my hard earned dollars, it would still be cheaper then driving down to Lone Tree and back, and paying the $75 express fee to get them to look at my laptop now…instead of in 10 days or whatever.

I’m going to check with Toshiba directly to see if they’ll just send me the part if I send mine back.


Oh Crack

I’m at Ryan Goodwin’s house, doing my Statics homework like a good boy. I flip by screen around and ever so gently tap the pepper shaker and my screen cracks. Actually, it’s just the plastic on top of my screen that cracked. It’s still usable, but now it has a hairline crack going through one corner.

I called up my good friends at Central Telecom, down in Lone Tree, Colorado:

Bad news: They won’t be able to look at it until Monday at the earliest.
More bad news: They currently have a 10 day turn-around time.
Maybe good news: Toshiba should cover it.
Good news: It stills functions just perfectly. I just have a hairline crack in it.

Here we go again.