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Old 01-17-2007, 03:41 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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Creative TabletPC and UMPC alternatives

Have you got a hankering for a highly mobile TabletPC or UMPC, but find you are not quite convinced you want to spend so much money on one before it has your favorite features?

I've had my eye on the Fujitsu 1610 small TabletPC and the Samsung Q1P UMPC. The small form factor and touchscreen sounds very useful, while still mobile. But I just can't justify paying the price. I would buy one right now if it had Vista, 1gig ram, a decent power-conserving CPU, usable keyboard, SVGA or better resolution, wi-fi and 5hr+ battery life all for less than $1000.

I suspect that many others want to jump into the TabletPC, but are also waiting for the price/feature ratio to come more in line. So what are the alternatives in the meantime?

Standard Options

Option 1: Gateway Tablet PC -- They have two convertibles in the $1,000 price range and it has nice specs. Looks like a nice powerful full-sized option, but pretty big and heavy. Not sure about battery life and quality.

Option 2: New HP Tablet PC -- This HP tx1000 was recently announced and looks like another contender that may show up when consumer Vista notebooks come out.

Option 3: UMPC -- The Samsung Q1 or Q1P are pretty attractive alternatives, but are fairly pricy. Especially if you include the case and keyboard and extended battery, etc.

Update: I should point out that the Fujitsu P1610 is still pretty neat if you have a lot of dollars to spend.

A Couple of More Creative Options

Creative Alternative #1 -- Get a regular small screen notebook plus a graphics tablet. Craig Pringle explains this option at his blog article. You get tablet pc features on a Vista notebook, but you have to touch the external graphics pad instead of the screen. Still, it should allow you to do electronic note taking, and it probably isn't a lot to carry.

Creative Alternative #2 -- Get a scanner!
What does that do for you? Well it might not be of interest if you need the input to happen interactively. But if you just want to be able to get freehand stuff in the computer, then why not use paper (which is still a better way to write than a touch sensitive screen) and then scan the papers.

It's a little bit of hassle to process the papers. You have to scan them (hopefully with an auto feed scanner, like on some all-in-one printers have), and you have to get them into whatever program you will use to manage all the notes and documents you created during the day.

You can even make use of the scanner for book scanning and general document scanning, so if you don't like processing your papers this way, you still get your money's worth from the scanner.

But if you are just trying to get that stuff into electronic form to carry around with you, it might be another way to get a feel for things without jumping into a Tablet PC. Why buy a desktop and a TabletPC and a smartphone and a regular notebook, when your notebook can be dual purpose until you see what you really want on the market?

Conclusion

I do think that the TabletPC revolution is coming eventually, and well integrated touchscreen capabilities will be very useful. Especially for small form factors. And it will be a lot more powerful than what we see on PDAs and smartphones.

But until the technology advances a bit, we will have to accustom ourselves to some compromises. Price or specs or size for certain. Plus the typical usability issues with any immature technology.

Then in the years to come, when it catches on, look out!
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Old 01-17-2007, 03:47 PM   #2
Peaston Ewe
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Thanks, Bob.
This is quite a useful information here and also good read.
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Old 01-17-2007, 04:48 PM   #3
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As my profile shows i've got a Acer travelmate C110 tablet PC.
I've been ecstatic ever since getting it.
It's first plus point was that it was very cheap (for the UK £700...this was a couple of years ago)
The second was that it's a 10" screen and size is absolutely spot on, I've tried 12" to 14" inch tablets and they just don't have that portability that the 10" does.
The only down side......
you can't get them anymore.
Any other 10" on the market are in the £1200 to £1400 range, and if this one dies on me...i'll be forced to pay over the odds to get a equivalent replacement (because once you've tried a combo machine you can never got back...and i mean NEVER)
Anyway good look on your search but please remember once you crack the 10" size you get this unaccountable habit of just using it as a laptop rather than a tablet.
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Old 01-17-2007, 05:05 PM   #4
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I'm an owner of the Samsung Q1. I have to say I really didn't know how it would work out with the sad 800x480 resolution. I bought it on Woot for $750 (refurb) and haven't had one problem with it (knocks on wood). I bought the 6-cell battery from Buy.com and the Google Checkout promo for $85 shipped. The Q1 can last 5-6 hours on the 6 cell.

Overall, I absolutely love this device. The ability to hold it in hand is almost perfect (better with 6 cell). The processor is snappy and handles XP without strain. The built in CF reader works perfect when I am in the field shooting with my 20D. Wifi, Bluetooth, and ethernet... there's no excuse why you can't always find a connection.

Back to the screen, letter sized PDFs aren't the easiest to read as it cuts the page in half (actually a bit less). CHMs are a lot easier to navigate. I haven't had a chance to read a LIT or others on it. Overall, I gladly returned to my Q1 when I thought the Sony reader would solve my desire for a true reader.

The Q1 sold out in hours when it was priced at $750 which in my opinion made the purchase a lot easier to swallow. I never would have considered it when it was over $1k. I think the more sites, blogs, editors that continue to hammer the point that price is the biggest deterrent... the more likely manufacturers will hear the call. I'm a tablet fanatic (you can see in my device list). I really would love to see UMPC's take off as I believe the UMPC community is still in its infancy.
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Old 01-17-2007, 05:36 PM   #5
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I have a question for you, Mr. "Q1 owner" timmins -- is there a docking station type of thing for them?

I like the looks of the UMPC concept, but I'd want to be able to drop it on a station and have a standard keyboard/mouse/monitor set up. Oh, yeah, and power.
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Old 01-18-2007, 08:52 AM   #6
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Here is one I spotted on Fox network.

www.slwf.net

S-Xgen PDA

It reminds me of the mobile computer terminals fro SeaQuest. Flip it open then fold out the keyboard.

Windows Pocket edition with pocket office.
MP3 player
ethernet/WiFi/Bluetooth
USB master and slave
Mini Camera
Touch screen.
fold out QWERTY keyboard
Keyboard folds all the way back


$1300.00
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Old 01-18-2007, 08:59 AM   #7
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A similar option to a scanner is digital pen input. The variant I use is the Pegasus Mobile Notetaker, becasue it works with plain old paper. This product has had poor reviews, however I use mine regulaly for taking and storing meeting notes, connect it to the PPC and it's great for annotating Word documents on screen, it's small & light (especially when you don't need the laptop) and relatively cheap.
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Old 01-22-2007, 07:17 AM   #8
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Talking Creative alternatives -- the VNC Rover!

So you want to flop on the sofa and read a novel. I understand. It is a nice feeling to get away from the PC screen and enter the world of fiction. All of what we are about here is in aid of the "reading experience".

What if we build a simple handheld touch-screen that used a VNC (Virtual Network Computing) client running over WiFi? The handheld need be nothing more than a screen, a low-powered microcontroller, a WiFi connection and a battery. The handheld could be simple and low-tech -- needing only to transmit and receive the RFB (Remote FrameBuffer) protocol over TCP/IP over WiFi. The handheld could be simple, light, inexpensive and standardized. It could even be open-sourced hardware design.

VNC: http://www.realvnc.com/ and http://www.tightvnc.com/intro.html

VNC is proven technology. All of the intelligence in the system interfaces to the VNC server running on the PC. The PC runs applications that present whatever interface can be devised running readers presenting whatever document format is desired. The server end of the system can be, and perhaps should be, open-sourced too.

But, you ask, what if you want to take the the VNC Rover beyond the range of the wireless connection? Why, you simply run the server application on your Palm T|X which you cleverly hide in a pocket! After all, the point of it all is to have a good read and to have the screen with which you feel comfortable.

Last edited by mogui; 01-22-2007 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 01-12-2009, 03:49 PM   #9
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I've tried several different tablet PCs and have been reading ebooks since around 2003.

My various reading devices have been:
Tablets:
TC1000 > Motion Computing 1200 > Motion Computing 1400 > Fujitsu P1610 > TC1100
PDAs
Cassiopeia 110 > Ipaq 1910 > Ipaq 1945

I have a Fujitsu P1610 and while I think it is great as a small and portable laptop I don't find it wonderful for reading for extended periods. The up and down controls make turning painful for reading for longer than about 30 minutes. Also, the weight gets annoying when reading at night. I often read novels for an hour or so at a time so page turning and weight are important.

The best device I have for extended periods is my Ipaq 1945. It is small and light enough to enjoy reading on, has a battery which lasts for around 4 hours and supports all the various ebook readers. I have several spare batteries which are useful for long flights etc. I don't use it as a PDA for appointments etc, just for reading (novels, non-fiction and bible study). I have found that a backlit screen is essential and the very light weight of these devices makes them easy to carry everywhere. I traveled for about 3 years and found the size to be perfect I also brought one for my wife who never thought she would give up paper books and after a novel or two she got used to it and now won't give it up.

For PDFs, reference books and and general tablet PCing I use my TC1100. These can be bought very cheaply secondhand and have a fantastic form factor for reading. I would buy one of these over the P1610 if I was choosing between the two.
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