Shawn Wildermuth's Rants and Raves

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Of Tablets, Smart Displays and Laptops...
Of Tablets, Smart Displays and Laptops...
November 19, 2002

I’ve been in the market for a new laptop for the last few months. With the upcoming new laptop ideas coming out (Tablet PC’s, Smart Displays, etc.), I decided to wait for the technology to catch up to my desires. Finally everything is out!

Of Tablets

Back in ancient history (the mid '90’s), I worked with Toshiba tablet systems running Windows 95 for a vertical market package. I loved the form factor and secretly wished for a touch display for my laptop for years now.

I held out in anticipation of the new tablet/laptop combos. But after reviewing a number of the first generation machines, I am disappointed. The two primary reasons:

  • Battery Life
  • Screen size

For machines meant to be carried around like a super PDA, the average of two hours of battery life is just too short. My current laptop gets almost four hours, cutting that in half would be a death nell.

In addition, with screen sizes of 10" and 12", the screens are not large enough for when I want to use the computer as a laptop.

I’ve decided that I cannot wait until the second generation of tablet PC’s come out and hopefully solve this killer issues. What’s my next option? Smart Displays…

Of Smart Displays

Smart displays are a new Microsoft vision for extending the reach of the desktop computer. It is essentially a tablet that is your desktop’s monitor. You can unhook it and walk 100 feet away and use your computer with a pen or touch screen. Intriguing, but not compelling. I need a device that works in several locations and can work on the road. So as interesting as smart displays are, they aren’t the right fit. Maybe as an addition

Of Laptops…

Since battery life is important to me, I immediately discounted the new trend: Desktop CPU’s in laptops. My Mobile P3 850 is already incredibly hot, I can’t imagine a full P4 2 GHz on my lap. The other change in laoptops in the inclusion of real video cards. The GeForce 4 Go or equivalent ATI card are a real 32 or 64 megs of video memory. This is a significant improvement in my measely 8 megs.

After reviewing hundreds of machines, it seems that the simply upgrade of my Dell C610 to a C640 is my answer. I am giving up on the touch display, but the upgrade to a 2.x MHz processor, a gig of memory and a 32 Meg video card will help ease the pain. Too bad the newest crop of laptop replacements are just not ready for mainstream yet. Maybe by next year’s Comdex.