Which tablet to get?

I’ve decided by next portable laptop will be a tablet. While in the UK over December/January I thought a bit about how I work and what methods I could find to improve my approach to work management. Particularly the constant pieces of paper floating around my deskspace which I like to then carry around in my backpack, and when I’m brainstorm how I like to draw diagrams and hand write notes quickly. Stuff which doesn’t work very well with a normal computer. Further reading and many blogs about tablets which all pointed at OneNote pretty much decided me on the matter. Then last week I had a chance to play around with a HP tc4200 then a Fujitsu T4010. Handwriting works, and its pretty amazing.

Most of last year I was dead keen on getting a Powerbook. Buying a Mini Mac clued me of that. Then being able to run NX desktops clued me having requiring Linux to running on my laptop. For the last three months I was using a IBM R52 just running WinX. With my NX desktop on the other side of the world I contained myself within WinXP. Annoying at times, but most of the time I was only using Firefox, Thunderbird and Openoffice. Not problems. The main thing that happened during this period was I discovered that WinXP is not so bad to run after. There is some really good WinXP software out there. Thus using WinXP Tablet edition is now not an automatic cross of the list transaction.
Question now of course is: which tablet do I get?

Based on my past opinions and current information I’ve found, I’m focusing on three options. Thinkpad x41t, Fujistu T4020 or the Toshiba M400. I haven’t really looked closely at the HP as it doesn’t seem to have a good set of system software, like ThinkVantage.
This is given my base-line requirements:

  1. 12″ screen – Tablet is meant to be really portable. Extra bulk of a 14″ screen just doesn’t seem right. I can always get a larger screen for the office.
  2. Bluetooth – Good (data) mobility is pretty impossible without it.
  3. Good systems software – Thinkpads are hard to beat here. “Access Connections” and “Rescue and Recovery” are both very good apps. A quick check of the tc4200 showed it didn’t have any software like that, the Fujitsu does seems too and Toshiba has ConfigFree although I not sure how good it is.
  4. Good warranty/service support – IBM’s is ok in NZ, best bet is the online warranty; I haven’t used Toshiba locally at all; and worldwide Fujistu are meant to be quite good.
  5. Solid hardware – IBM make good kit. I had a Tecra 8100 and it wasn’t as good as the Thinkpads I’ve had. Fujitsu is meant to be as good as IBM.

Extra points will be considered for the following:

  1. Weight – Lighter is better.
  2. DVD burner – Either a DVD+RW or nothing. No point if the drive is just a CDRW, just have to use an external drive anyway.
  3. Good resolution – M400 definitely wins here, 1400×1050 is very good; but as long as the tablet has good external resolution the standard 1024×768 is probably sufficent for a 12″ screen.
  4. Battery life – Like any portable unit, but I think more so with a tablet, battery life is important.

Currently in NZ we have the following available:

  1. Toshiba M400 – The PPM40A-00F00G and PPM40A-00G00G models
  2. IBM x41t – The 18666SM model
  3. Fujitsu T4010 – In NZ this is distributor by a local retail computer store. The T4020 is not available in NZ yet. The T4010 is only on this list for the sake of reference as it has a CDRW drive.

In the next few days as I get time I’ll put together a matrix against the three options. I the main question I’ll be asking will be: “is the higher resolution and Intel Duo Core sufficent to take the M400 above all else?” Also, “will we be seeing a x60t out soon”?

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  1. Alan Peery Said,

    July 14, 2006 @ 2:44 am

    Remember that you’re talking about a tablet PC here. A second very interesting use of the tablet screen is as a 1050×1400 portrait mode display. Put your PC in a cookbook holder so it’s stable, connect a USB keyboard and mouse, and you’re ready to roll.

  2. Nicholas Lee Said,

    July 14, 2006 @ 10:42 am

    I did get a M400, which I’ve been using on and off. Stopped using it for a period because the system got corrupted and I didn’t have time to go into Toshiba MobileCare to get it fixed.

    One thing I note, is although the hardware spec is really good. The screen resolution and speed of the Duo CPU is brillant, the system software could be improved greatly. ThinkVantage is definitely a much better system software management package, although ConfigFree is ok the main point I dislike is that drivers and Toshiba system software needs to be tracked and updated manually.

    Still there isn’t a x60t any time soon, so the M400 is probably the best 12″ tablet on the market at the moment.

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