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Best Tablet PC For Classroom Instruction?

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the bang-for-your-buck dept.

Education 176

dostert writes "With all of the recent hype of multitouch notebooks, the Apple Tablet, the Microsoft Courier, and the CrunchPad, I've been a bit curious about what happened to the good old pen and slate tablet PCs. I'm a mathematics professor at a small college and have been searching for a good cheap tablet (under $1000) which I can use to lecture, record the lecture notes along with my voice, and post up video lectures for the class. I have seen some suggestions, but many are large scale implementations at state universities, something my small private college clearly cannot afford. All I have been able to find is either tiny netbooks (like the new Asus T91), expensive full featured tablets (like the Dell XT), or multitouch tablets, that really wouldn't allow for the type of precision mathematics needs. I know a Sympodium device would work great, but we really can't afford to put one of those in each room, so something portable would be ideal. All I've been left with is considering an HP tx series. It seems nobody has created a new tablet like this in quite sometime, and HP, Fujitsu, and Dell are just doing incremental updates to their old designs. Does anyone have experience with this?"

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Motion Computing (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524699)

I have a Motion Computing LE1600. Its an awesome little thing.
Check it out. I got it used for around 400$ with a docking station.

Motion computing is the only place i have found a true tablet PC that is not a just a laptop with the screen turned over.

Re:Motion Computing (2, Interesting)

Shamenaught (1341295) | more than 5 years ago | (#29526255)

So what are the advantages of a true tablet PC over a laptop with the screen turned over? I imagine the latter still has a touch screen, and has the advantage of optional keyboard input.

I had one once! (3, Insightful)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524715)

It was the HP TC1100. [] Great tablet. It had a half-size keyboard but didn't feel cramped. Sturdy construction and decent enough battery life for being used. Too bad mine got stolen. I'd say it would probably fit your needs as long as you don't require recent connections or bleeding edge performance.

It had great tracking on it and I regret not getting one earlier in my academic career.

Man...I wish I could find the burglar's who stole it.

Re:I had one once! (0, Flamebait)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524753)

Recent connections? That sounds like crap.

It should say "HDMI, DVI, etc". Jeez.

Re:I had one once! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524823)

I also had one (two actually, but I'll get back to that).

I fell into the "I'm in love with the idea of a tablet, but I don't really need one" crowd. Sure, it was novel at first. Sure, it was fun reading comic books (I was just getting through Marvel's Civil War, boy was the tablet format great for Comic Books).

Battery life, viewing angle in light, thickness, and a few other issues really ended up making the whole experience painful. One thing that the TC1100 got right was it's swiveling, detaching keyboard [] . It stowed away behind the tablet while not in use.

The pen, while better than other touchscreen models, lacked a lot for me. But, to each his own.

Re:I had one once! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525033)

You didn't take the keyboard off in slate mode? What a gimp! LOL! If you're bitching about it's thickness without the keyboard from a 5+ year old machine than you're just an idiot outright.

Given the technology behind a TC1100 they were much more than the netbooks of their day... which is obviously what you thought it was. Fuck, the unit still kicks the shit out of most modern netbooks with a hard drive upgrade.

Re:I had one once! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524869)

I have a tx2. I've had it for about four months. The digitizer (pen) broke after a month - but I called HP and they overnighted me a new one no questions asked and I haven't had an issue since.

Other than that it's been great - the hinge is pretty sturdy and the screen has held up pretty well. It (the screen) has a screendoor effect - but all tablet PC's have this to some degree due to the touchscreen and digitizer layer. Keyboard feels pretty good for a laptop as well. The only downside is pretty poor battery life - I have the 8 cell extended battery and if I don't turn the screen brightness down and do something processor intensive I'm looking at two hours of usage. If I turn down the screen and put it on power saver mode I get 3-3.5. Get the 8 cell battery - I can't even imagine what it's like with the 6 cell.

Oh... and the other downside is the HP bloat. It took about two hours to get it all uninstalled. One example of the insanity of the bloat - a 60MB TV tuner/scheduler program is installed by default on tx2. A tuner is not even an option on the laptop (and the software does not support a USB tuner or similar). Positively brilliant: good design trashed by poor software.

Re:I had one once! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525075)

Actually you can buy HP's usb tuner that works with the tx series (I know, I have it) and it works with the included software if you install HP's driver from the disk that comes with it.

Re:I had one once! (2, Interesting)

Compholio (770966) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524903)

I had one once! It was the HP TC1100... Sturdy construction...

Not a chance, we've got a lab worth of each of several different HP models and we have had huge problems with the TC1100. The biggest issue we've had is completely unrepairable (outside of replacement). You see, the power connector is connected directly to the motherboard (it's not floating) and is right next to the keyboard and video card controllers. If you bump that power cord at all while it's plugged into the TC1100 then you'll have huge issues. The problems start out small, but once you've damaged it then just normal operation of the tablet will quickly lead to a completely useless computer.

Re:I had one once! (2, Informative)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525187)

I'll agree the TC1100 is garbage, but just like all recent HPs, the way their connector sits always lends itself to having cold solder. Just crack the thing open already, and fix the solder joints. Problem solved in 30-60min.

Re:I had one once! (2, Interesting)

Compholio (770966) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525231)

We tried a few times, if you don't catch and secure them fast enough then the traces inside the board get cracked. Catching them fast enough is impossible if you hand them out to students (the entire purpose of having a whole lab of them).

Re:I had one once! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525467)

GCC, is it?

The HP tc4200/4400 series tablets are all very nice - My tc4200 is going on five years, and I am still using it as my primary computer. The tablet functionality is great for classes, and unlike the tc1100, it can be used as a full-featured and capable laptop, as well. Great computer.

Re:I had one once! (2, Interesting)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525147) all means stay away from HP tablets in general. Their hinges are complete crap, and their mainboards go out continually. HP & Compaq (same company so that's a shocker!) some serious quality control issues. The Lenovo tablet PCs are vastly superior in comparison.

Try Motion Computing. (4, Informative)

Tuxedo Jack (648130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524719)

They're slate PCs and they're damn good.

In my experience, Motion doesn't skimp on hardware, is reliable as hell, and the external batteries will LAST - my little brother's old LE1600 still gets six hours of battery life off the primary and secondary batteries with everything on and cranked up to full (and Win7 Professional).

No matter what manufacturer you go with, I strongly urge that you go to Windows 7 for this - the handwriting support is worlds better than in Vista, and that was a hell of a leap from XP Tablet.

They are kinda expensive, though.

Re:Try Motion Computing. (2, Informative)

natet (158905) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524945)

I second the motion computing. The ones I've seen at work also include a detachable USB keyboard, so you have a faster input device on hand when it's needed.

Replica Watches (-1, Offtopic)

benkss (1643359) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525299)

They're slate PCs and they're damn good.

In my experience, Motion doesn't skimp on hardware, is reliable as hell, and the external batteries will LAST - my little brother's old LE1600 still gets six hours of battery life off the primary and secondary batteries with everything on and cranked up to full (and Win7 Professional).

No matter what manufacturer you go with, I strongly urge that you go to Windows 7 for this - the handwriting support is worlds better than in Vista, and that was a hell of a leap from XP Tablet.

They are kinda expensive, though.

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Replica Watches (-1, Offtopic)

benkss (1643359) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525357)

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Re:Try Motion Computing. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525657)

Seconded... I have been using a Motion Slate for years in the classroom and I LOVE it.

I think a key aspect to good virtual whiteboards is using an active digitizer. I just sit back and draw on the slate and it comes up on the wall so nicely... My students love it.

Keep in mind though, that the slate form-factor is (IMHO) mostly USELESS in any setting other than a classroom... they are extremely clunky to use anywhere else. So something like a Lenovo X200 convertible tablet is ideal for someone looking for full computer functionality... When I'm not teaching, my Motion tablet is in my locker... waiting for me to need it for it's one special task.

Digital Paper (2, Interesting)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#29526261)

Or you could bypass the issue all together and go with a "digital paper" solution. I think the questioner is mistaken asking "what is the best tablet PC", and instead should be asking "what is the best method of achieving what I want". Solutions like Oxford Papershow [] use a form of patterned paper (very faint) that you draw on with a bluetooth-enabled pen, and it then transforms pretty much any computer into a tablet. You have to use it to get a real feel for it, but it's incredibly easy to set up (at least the Oxford Papershow tool) and you can use it on as many or any computers you want. Arrive in lecture theatre, plug in USB dongle, spend three minutes setting it up and you're good to go. You buy the initial device (pen and USB dongle combo) for around UK£100, I think. Then pads of the special paper are around UK£10 for a pad of a 100 sheets, I think. It's an expense, but it's upfront and works out okay actually. Certainly better than a lot of ongoing licences depending on how much you use. You can even print out copies of your slides onto the special paper in advance so that you're drawing on your powerpoint slide or whatever. The whole thing can be recorded, you can use it as a normal interface like a mouse, it's really surprisingly good.

The above sounds like a sales pitch. I have no connection to the company though our university is now trialling the product. I would rate it as better than spending the money on a tablet for a lot of people's needs. Windows only so far as I know, but I could be wrong.

save cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524743)

Use a chalkboard or whiteboard. The former is a proven, time-tested education solution. The latter is respectable and it's cheap.

Re:save cash (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524773)

And doesn't provide for automatic recording of his lectures! Fuck off, you retard.

Re:save cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524805)

Indeed, because audiotape and longhand notes are irrationally infeasible.
How in heaven's name did anyone attend college before the 21st century?

Re:save cash (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524839)

The point is, he obviously feels he needs it. Having recorded lecture notes (to put on the web, to save for later review, etc) is fantastic. He can even record audio, if he wants, and post that too.

He might jsut prefer being able to show powerpoint, or use some math software on the screen.

That said, I loved the massive 6-chalkboard setups at my uni. They ensured the prof didn't lecture faster than we could take notes. :D

Re:save cash (2, Interesting)

zubiaur (1207636) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524841)

Well, yeah, its a lot more accurate too, i've used many many touchscreen devices and... well...nothing replaces the feel of pen and paper, or even better, chalk and chalkboard (whiteboard sucks :p ), I have seen in many colleges (and not small ones) the use of a projector and a video feed of a piece of paper in which the professor develops the class, its looks good, its easy to write and because its paper, it can be easily scanned, check it out : [] .

But if you really want a touchscreen device on the cheap there are touch screen kits for most popular notebooks, just search on ebay. There are also touchscreen monitors bellow the 200 bucks, these can be hooked up to the existing desktop in the classroom and serve just right.

I would advice you not to set high hopes for resistive touchscreens, they tend to reduce the lcd brightness and contrast while incresing reflections and diffusing the image, if your really really want this implemented try before you buy.

My advice... wait about... (2, Insightful)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524769)

...1 year to 18 months. There is a plethora of tablets about to hit the market it seems obvious to me that waiting will yield much more choice and better value. Prices would fall after a handful of competiting products have gotten on the market. This will also put more pressure on netbooks which will become cheaper, and the low end of the full laptop market will ratchet down in price too. Apple, Crunchpad and Microsoft, would be the three I'd seriously consider. A lean towards the latter two depending on what software you want to run.

Re:My advice... wait about... (4, Interesting)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524881)

Seems to me all college classrooms these days come standard with dedicated pc, projector, document cam, and other goodies. If math apps would benefit from a stylus, why not attach a Wacom tablet? Good bang for the buck until tablet pc's come down in price.

Most of my reading now is done on the web, and I'm anxious for a touch screen tablet to make that activity seem more like reading a book. But I can wait for the price to come down to within my price range. I am a math teacher, and I have two kids to feed.

Re:My advice... wait about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525143)

HP's tx2500 is great for that (its not multitouch, but, meh) Its old enough to be cheep, and powerful enough to last a while still (Running Windows 7 Ultimate on mine and it still flys)

Re:My advice... wait about... (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#29526129)

Seems to me all college classrooms these days come standard with dedicated pc, projector, document cam, and other goodies.

*All* college classrooms? Where do you teach? Here on earth, where I teach, we're lucky if the room we're teaching in has a projector that we can plug our own laptops into. Dedicated PC? That would be great ... I've occasionally seen a nonfunctional or barely functional old lab computer in the classroom that I have to move out of the way so I can plug my laptop into the VGA slot; I guess that's technically a dedicated PC but it hardly does anyone any good. And a document cam? Damn! Does an overhead projector count?

Re:My advice... wait about... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525073)

The best tablet I owned I have been using nonstop for two years, in work as an IT professional, and in three years of college (I only had this the last two). It's the Lenovo x61 tablet, which was replaced by the x200. Here's a link; let me know if you have any questions:

lol (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525213)

"I want to buy the best , what should I get?"

My advice... wait about... 1 year to 18 months

That is a worthless truism, in effect for the last several decades (if not much longer), and will continue to be true until technology stops progressing. Anyone who answers with an honest opinion on a product actually available on the market has a better answer (in the spirit of the question) than one of "wait".

As far as your sig Mankind can no longer expand quantitatively, we must grow qualitatively, well that may be a laudable goal, good luck with a politically correct implementation.

Re:My advice... wait about... (1)

carlzum (832868) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525229)

It may be worth waiting just to see how WACOM's auto-switching dual-mode works out. The technology promises to switch between active (pen) and passive (finger) digitizer modes based on the application. The TabletKiosk eo a7330D [] is an ultra-mobile PC planned for release in October. The initial price is $1,500, but that may come down as more WACOM Dual Mode devices hit the market. It would give you the "pen and slate" functionality you want for certain applications and still work with the "touch" applications on the newer devices you mentioned.

Not Toshiba (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524777)

At my former employer, I had a company-issue Toshiba Tecra M4. Hard locks were common (OS was XP), especially in tablet mode for some reason. Docking station was a piece of junk. I wouldn't have one for personal use even if it was free.

Re:Not Toshiba (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525165)

It's the hard drive connector on the mainboard. They used ZIF cables to connect to the mainboard. The system tends to flex more in tablet mode so it's a lose lose situation. Toshiba tries to market their stuff as higher end than competition (while the hardware is mostly the same) as a way to justify their extra cost. Sadly the system sold outside of Japan don't get very good QAing.

Toshiba M200 is great and cheap now (1)

j-stroy (640921) | more than 5 years ago | (#29526257)

this a great tablet, used mine daily for 4 years before the graphics chip partially failed, (probably the ball grid array) 12" 1440x1080 screen with integrated wacom tablet.. writing looks and feels like a fineliner pen, dedicated vram. can ebay [] them cheap now performs great with extra ram used it teaching graphics.

hp is no good (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524785)

Don't buy a hp tx (1000, 2000 series). It will overheat, causing the gpu solder to go bad, leaving you with a dead laptop (intermittently I admit). Screens are also incredibly grainy and something has shielding issues, causing the mouse to jump around. Buy anything but a hp.

No demand (4, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524793)

> It seems nobody has created a new tablet like this in quite sometime

Because it seems nobody really wants tablet (slate) computers. They are really neat and cool, until you have to *use* them. Then you usually find out that the interface is awkward, viewing the screen is uncomfortable, holding them is strange, and typing on a real keyboard is 100 times faster than trying to "write" or touch virtual keys one at a time.

Sure, there are some specific applications where they work quite well... but there aren't that many such applications. So demand is low and prices are high. This is one reason manufacturers started flirting with so-called "convertible" tablets- really just a standard notebook but with a swivel, flip tablet-like screen. Of course, those have issues too- they tend to be more fragile, more expensive, and heavier than just a plain notebook.

Re:No demand (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525865)

Slates are LIGHT though.

He could easily put a bluetooth dongle on one, and have a bluetooth mouse and keyboard when he wants to type quickly, and yet still pick it up and walk around his classroom.

NorhTec? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524801)

Try these guys. []
It's a great price at $435.
I'm sure the battery life is greater than average by looking at the hardware.
It certainly is basic.
And yes, it does run Linux.

Re:NorhTec? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524847)

I'm sure the battery life is greater than average by looking at the hardware.

It looks like you wrote the manual!

Direct Link (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524899)

Here. Let me save the planet a few man-hours of copy/pasting: Link.

Re:Direct Link (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524917)

Dang shift key. Here [] .

Papiereundpencil (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524835)

I've heard they make a great tablet PC. You can use regular pencils and perform all kinds of calculations on their tablet.

Tablets are Awkward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524845)

Pen based input is a terrible way to input information for most uses. Typing a 'w' takes 1 keypress, while writing a 'w' takes 4 pen strokes. Multiply this hassle times every character you ïenter, and the problem becomes clear. Additionally, your computer doesn't have to try and parse what keystrokes make a 'w' when you type it on a keyboard. The icing on the cake is that the pen based parts of Windows XP Tablet (and I'm guessing Vista for Tablets) are awkwardly bolted on over an operating system designed to be run by mouse and keyboard. Long story short, for most uses a tablet will just frustïrate you to tears.

There are some applications where it makes sense, and maybe complicated mathematics is one of them. Check with your academic tech department and see if they have an old one lying around that you can experiment with (our college did), and try to use it for everyday tasks like email and web surfing before you open your wallet.

If a tablet works for you, there are some good deals on old hardware. I got an old Toshiba M200 on lease buyout for $300 a few years ago, and it still runs flawlessly and does what I need. Also, recording audio from a classroom is an entirely separate problem, and you'll do much better using a separate voice recorder with directional recording and internal noise cancellation for that job.

Work with local guys (4, Insightful)

martinX (672498) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524853)

As someone who works in a multimedia department that co-ordinates AV purchases for a government institution (or at least tries to), my advice is to work with your AV guys on this one. Get a comprehensive solution that works for everyone. Otherwise you'll have a situation where you, the keen individual, will have a working solution that only you can use. Others will want one and either do something themselves (badly) or pressure the AV guys into implementing something too fast, too soon. Then whatever you have done will not work with what they have done.

I see keen individuals all the time. Work with the people whose job it is to get this working.

And what the guy said about waiting 12 - 18 months is spot on. Remember how many touchscreen phones there were and how good they were before the iPhone came along? Exactly. The landscape is about to change and adopting new tech now will be expensive. Wait.

We use(d) Gateway M285/M295s (3, Informative)

_spider_ (171782) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524859)

I work at a school district here in California that we've used OEM'd Gateway M285/M295 tablet PCs for a few years, and they've served their purpose. We've got hundreds of these units.

The good:
They do what they're advertised, and thats it. The math teachers like them, and thats about their only purpose.

The bad:
The drivers are funky. They seem to only work well with the factory image (LOADED with junkware). This makes creating and maintaining software images for the units cumbersome, not to mention the seemingly impossible task of finding a virgin version of WindowsXP Tablet Edition. The displays aren't very bright, which is painful in well-lit classrooms. The physical design (especially the keyboard) doesn't seem to hold well to a lot of use. Battery life is decent.

The worst:
The original OEM who we purchased them through has gone belly up. Even though our laptops had warranties, they all mean nothing now. Gateway doesn't support us. And the pens seem to fail at an alarming rate, and cost $79-99 each.

On the flipside, our district is moving to Mac, and thats been working very well. Apple's support for education makes you wonder why the rest of the industry hasn't caught up (its the customer, stupid!). We're at a standstill right now as to what to do with our aging tablets (that we get ZERO support for now). We don't want to get stuck in the same position as before, but Apple is also a proprietary system (but their support is awesome!!!).

I really, really like to see some good web-apps (ala Google Apps), or mutli-platform/open-source software that the students can use.

Re:We use(d) Gateway M285/M295s (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525023)

Hmmmm....$99 pens that fail at an alarming rate. By design perhaps? Now how does that happen and why do they cost $99?

Re:We use(d) Gateway M285/M295s (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525189)

The pens fail because they have a aaaa battery in them that doesn't last forever (yes that's 4 a's). It's soldered at both ends rather than on a spring or something.

I tried to modify a pen to have a replaceable battery on a spring and all that - I should have just soldered a new one in because with all the fiddling I did I managed to break the tip.

Also, the pens may not be designed to come apart, the one I took apart was one that had been altered by someone else, badly, once already and it came apart easily. But they had melted the plastic and it wasn't really straight anymore and didn't fit in the pen holder. Also the melted bits didn't look good.

The pens on those don't have tilt compensation, the calibration program sucks, and the standard driver doesn't support pressure sensitivity, though the hardware does.

There used to be a driver for photoshop that supported the sensitivity for that pen, but since the company was sued out of business by a patent troll, I haven't been able to find the driver. Also following the directions to get the pen working in Ubuntu have failed me numerous times.

The digitizer is slow (lags behind your drawing) and as I said the calibration sucks so you can expect the mouse to be a few centimeters off all the time.

Still, it's a great computer apart from being obsolete and having an inferior digitizer, so it's kinda a deal if you can find one used.

Of HP, Dell, Fujitsu, Fujitsu seems the best (2, Informative)

mike.rimov (1148959) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524891)

I had a Fujitsu T4210 for a few years and after seeing people struggle with LOUSY HP and Dell notebooks, I was very surprised at how zippy that little tablet was. (Can't comment on the latest round of tablets). It was fairly robust as well... survived a 3 ft plunge onto a concrete floor (I wouldn't recommend it as a regular practice though!)

Whatever you do be sure to uninstall the Norton Security trialware that comes with it. Performance will be significantly better.

Re:Of HP, Dell, Fujitsu, Fujitsu seems the best (1)

AniVisual (1373773) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524991)

I have a FUJITSU T4220. Let me just add that the FUJITSU Lifebook tablets guzzle battery power like an air-conditioner. Battery hour was 3 hr max, or so it was advertized. Mine lasted 1 hr 30 min.

Lenovo x61t (1)

kcitren (72383) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524907)

The thinkpad tablets are good. Nice battery life, sturdy as hell, linux compatible. The only think I don't like about it is the resolution [the one I've got is 1024x768, can't seem to work with that low a resolution anymore, but I think they offer a new higher res one now],

Re:Lenovo x61t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525193)

The thinkpad tablets are good. Nice battery life, sturdy as hell, linux compatible. The only think I don't like about it is the resolution [the one I've got is 1024x768, can't seem to work with that low a resolution anymore, but I think they offer a new higher res one now],

X61t with a high-res (SXGA+, 1400x1050) screen is awesome, but discontinued. Most tablets I see these days are WXGA (1366x768), including all the lenovo thinkpads (X200). The difference in resolution is pretty significant, and an absolute show-stopper in my opinion.

Re:Lenovo x200 (2, Informative)

eufaula (163352) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525197)

i teach economics at the university level, and i have a lenovo x200. it is way outside the $1000 range. it has a wacom screen and the stylus is very precise (we do lots of crazy math too ya know). my normal computer is a mac, but i LOVE this thing. lightweight, LONG battery life (5hrs easily), and very sturdy construction. its currently running vista and i've had no problems (core 2 duo 2.0, 4gb ram)

i'd either save up (or convince them to give you more money - if your university is in the US and receives perkins funding, you might go that route. as long as you teach perkins eligible students, your grant administrator can probably find the cash (it might take bribing them with chocolate or, if there is a PC in the room invest in a wireless/bluetooth tablet that you can just carry to the classroom with you. you are going to have a hella-hard time finding all that you need for less than $1500 (unless you go used - our university wont buy used), and one of those cheap ones will just fall apart. one of my colleagues got one of the $1000 HP offerings and HATES it. a year later, the screen flickers, the battery sucks, and the tablet is not very sensitive.

good luck!!!!

Re:Lenovo x61t (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#29526291)

...linux compatible.

Cool. Has anyone here had experience with handwriting recognition on Linux? That's one thing I've never tried in over 15 years of using Linux. Trouble is, my handwriting is pretty idiosyncratic, so I suspect it might be a tall order for any software to cope with it... :-(

just a suggestion (0, Offtopic)

chelroms (1642993) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524931)

i've been studying and searching for good devices.... i only recommend to read on this site maybe the one you are fits the gadgets in here... here yu go mr. dosert...

My solution (5, Insightful)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524937)

Dont do it. My school had exactly what your trying to do and they got rid of it because it cost an arm and a leg to do it right. I personally like the feature but they basically needed a dedicated room and production crew to do it. (They did it for a while so students could video commute to class). For me as a TA and a student the best solution has been simply use a projector which can project a piece of paper and scan the paper later and post it online. If you really want some kind of video. The best option ive seen is a laptop with power point hooked up to a projector and a external microphone. If you want a tablet esq feature get a usb drawing pad for 100 bucks....itll save you an arm and a leg.... Its funny around here you see a lot of old professors using tablets etc however most of the younger professors use the old fashioned tech. I think part of growing up with all the technology is realizing when not to use it..

Re:My solution (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525881)

I worked IT at a college, we had desktops with projectors already, and we went with hitachi Starboard monitors. They were roughly in your budget, but they will last a bit longer, since they don't have to be replaced every few years because they get slow. We had the exact same needs, teaching math in an interactive way, that we could save the teachers lecture notes, and play back later online for students that were home.

Fujitsu LifeBook T Series (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524947)

I have had a Fujitsu LifeBook T4215 for nearly 3 years as my primary computer. It's still alive and kickin'.

It's been incredibly reliable, still reasonably powerful, and works great in Linux. I'm currently running Fedora 11 x64 and the tablet features worked with zero configuration.

However, I question the effectiveness of using a tablet PC for instruction. Virginia Tech's College of Engineering has had a policy of requiring the tablet convertible format for several years. Very few students use it for taking notes after freshman year where it is required.

Lesson = Technology doesn't automatically mean your students will be better engaged. It usually means they're surfing the internet or playing solitaire while pretending to pay attention in class.

Same place (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524955)

Wherever the tablet PC went, the multitouch will likely follow, and for the same reasons, many I'm sure are posted in here somewhere by others.

I've had a tablet for two+ years (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29524969)

I have been using my ASUS R1F-K049E since August 2007 which works like a charm. I got tired of doing "Insert >> Symbol" for all of the greek letters, which for any engineering equation there's bound to be about 5 per line. The operating system that came with the tablet PC was Windows Vista Business, which doesn't have the bloatware and Windows Media Center, so it wasn't as resource intensive. When Windows 7 came out I've been using it since beta, and even with 2GB of RAM it works great.

When you're looking for tablets, be sure to study how the tablet is designed and how it vents. My ASUS has one large vent that vents outward when you're writing (turned 90 degrees) so it doesn't burn your hand when you're writing for hours. Also beware of what's on the side of the tablet as well. If you hold the tablet against your chest while walking around in the halls while writing (or rushing between classes like I do), then you want to be aware of what buttons you're pressing. My ASUS had a problem because I kept hitting the DVD drive's eject button. But I solved the problem by taking that drive out altogether and getting a second battery to put in. It extended my battery life from 2.5 hours to about 8 hours - which is pretty cool if you're on a long plane ride across the US.

Also, I've tried a few tablets out after I bought my ASUS. The old HP ones didn't have very good response when writing and I kept on having to stab the monitor with my stylus to get any response at all. The ASUS one is pretty awesome, but since it's not multitouch, you can't use your fingers. Also the Fujitsu one's pretty good too.

Lastly, only get a tablet PC if and only if you don't require video acceleration. Most tablet PCs only come with 'integrated video", which is only great for business graphics, but anything that has to do with gaming or modeling/CAD work will make your computer lag. Hope this helps.

Speaking from an ICT integration perspective... (5, Informative)

who's got my nicknam (841366) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524983)

I work in the tech department for a small public school district with a heavy emphasis on educational technology integration in the classroom (we have a 1:1 laptop program as well). A few years ago, we did an experiment with tablet PCs, where we purchased 5 different models from the major vendors (IBM, HP, Fujitsu, Acer, and Toshiba), played around with them, and then offered them to a few teachers to try out. The only one we had any success with was the HP tc4200, which was given to a Primary teacher who used it extensively for a year.

The Thinkpad was the best unit in terms of 'feel'- it was light, solid, with a good battery life. However, both the first and second models we got were sent back because of poor performance (very slow to boot up, high latency during operation, and a tendency to run very hot). The Fujitsu was too heavy, as was the Toshiba. The Acer (Travelmate C200) was great in terms of performance (dedicated 256MB Nvidia graphics, 2GB RAM, etc), but was a bit bulky due to its built-in optical drive. In addition, Acer's method of sliding the screen up from the slate position was stupid, locking it into one angle when using the unit as a notebook. I'm using that one as a gaming platform now (three years later!). The HP tc4200 was, quite frankly, the best tablet I have ever used. It's light, sturdy (not quite as solid-feeling as the Thinkpad), and quick. The lady who used it said she never felt it was annoying to carry it around her classroom for most of the day. In addition to the tablet, we gave her a wifi-enabled projector, so she could work untethered while moving about, and this worked perfectly.

My suggestion is to get one of the tc4200's- they are dead cheap these days, and you can upgrade the RAM and hard drive easily if you wish. I have seen them for $400. Not only that, but you can even shoehorn OS X onto them if you are bored- I did that with our for shiggles and it was awesome for a few days before I missed my Macbook Pro too much!

Most projectors these days have built-in wifi for wireless projection (at least from Windows computers!), and this can really make a huge difference for instructors.

From a pedagogical perspective, you can even justify the cheap route and buy a bluetooth-enabled Wacom tablet. Sure, you don't get a screen built in, but for $250 you get the mobility of the tablet, as well as all the functionality of the penabled software such as Smart or Promethean offer. You can mark up notes, documents, etcetera and save your notes, email them to your students, and so on.

But my money's on the tc4200.

Re:Speaking from an ICT integration perspective... (1)

_spider_ (171782) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525277)

Are these tablets in use by the students (grades 6-12) or by teachers? Ours are used almost exclusively by students.

I thought of the Wacom solution as well, but, the problems become having a more complicated setup to be over-seen by a teacher with 28-36 students in a classroom that wasn't originally designed for computers. So, they have to be put away, charged, taken out and used the next period.

On the flip side, we also have a lot of Windows-only software (Fun with Construction, etc.). We have both Promethean and SMART boards as well - thankfully they work on Mac too, but Linux support needs to be looked at.

I'd really like to hear more about your program and the challenges you've encountered.... j o s h v o g e l g e s a n g ((( a ))) g m a i l . c o m

The hackintosh method has crossed my mind, but, obviously there is that little legal issue. :)

Re:Speaking from an ICT integration perspective... (1)

who's got my nicknam (841366) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525721)

Meh, legal, schmegal. You can now do an install off a retail Snow Leopard disc, so all you're violating is the EULA, which probably won't hold water anyhow!

Am following up with an email...

Re:Speaking from an ICT integration perspective... (1) (897193) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525495)

I agree completely. Have been using a TC 4400 for nearly 4 years now. In fact I have been looking to upgrade since a year but it still seems better or at least as good as the newer models like X200 or TX2 etc. Only upgraded the RAM some time back so that I could run Win7 and the HDD so i could dualboot PCLinux and still have space for a lot of data. I think if you ask long time users you'll find TC4200/4400 to be the best and cheapest solution. As good as any other laptop and with all tablet functions.

Re:Speaking from an ICT integration perspective... (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29526305)

My biggest issue with using tablets (the external kind) is the lack of direct and precise feedback. With my mouse it's at rest and I'm moving muscles very little to get a response.

With pens they are never really at rest. It's either so close to the table that the cursor is jumping all over the place, touching and thus triggering a ton of inputs, or not close enough to move the cursor, giving me no clue where the bloody thing will jump the next time.

And unlike a mouse I can't just lift the pen away from the surface and move it to the other edge or middle, because that's not how they work.

What I would like to see is a large tablet with a screen underneath. Shouldn't be a touch sensitive screen, just one that works with the pen, so I can see, what I'm doing directly, i.e. the table's width/height is the screen's pixel width/height. Then it doesn't matter if the table is 4x6 inches, 8x12 or whatever, because I'd have a direct visible connection with it.

Re:Speaking from an ICT integration perspective... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29526331)

I'll second the TC4200 recommendation - I'm actually posting this from a TC4200. I supported about 20 of these in a medical clinic with minimal hassles for 2 years. The only problem any of the docs or nurses ever had was one unit that had a bad ambient light sensor - sometimes the screen would just turn off or dim down, and only a reboot would 'fix' it. Used 4200s are cheap these days, and so is laptop DDR2. One last caveat - they take IDE drives, and you can't shoehorn a SATA in there comfortably.

Looked at a Cintiq? (1)

LinkFree (1112259) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524987)

Have you considered using a Cintiq [] ? It's fairly inexpensive by comparison, and should work with just about any computer. I haven't used one myself, but I know a few people who swear by them for working in photoshop, so it should offer the precision you're looking for.

The problem is your budget (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 5 years ago | (#29524993)

Niche portable devices are never cheap. Your requirements are pretty low. Why not just shop around for some older (cheaper) tech that needs some love? All it needs to do is record sound. Portable usb microphone? HP Compaq Tablet PC Tc4200 is just a hair over $700 used. How much more power do you need for notetaking/voice recording/video playback/mathmatica? Drop in 2 gigs of ram (the max) and windows 7 and you are set. Judging from prices I doubt any newer models will get much cheaper and will likely hover in the $1500 range or so. Personally I don't see this sort of thing taking off. Graphic designers might drool over the idea, but the average user needs a keyboard. As another has suggested a wacom tablet may be a pretty good compromise, or, even alternatively, a cheap desktop PC with a touchscreen display. Throw in a cheap project and you can do a lot of things. Though not as portable, you could easily put it on an AV cart and wheel it around. It could easily be cheaper than $1000 as long not taking it home isn't an issue. Not as sexy, but I think on your budget you might want to start looking at compromises given whats's on the market right now and what it costs. A $500 laptop and even a $500 touchscreen would meet your needs pretty well. I've reread your question several times now and I can't seem to figure out if your are either buying the tablet for yourself or planning a buy for your department. Hope that gives you some ideas.

Big Chief (2, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525003)

Biggest Carbon-based Tablet for a child - Big Chief writing tablet.

Wacom Cintiq 12WX (1)

DivemasterJoe (932367) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525015)

For my mathematics lectures I have been very happy with my Wacom Cintiq 12WX. It is portable, has a reasonable surface area for writing, and a nice "feel". My personal preference is for Smart Technologies Notebook 10 software but other vendors, such as Interwrite, have similar products. The Smart Technologies software does require a $300 license when used on a non-Smart branded tablet so together with the $1000 for the Cintiq 12WX my setup is a little beyond your stated budget.

4 ways I have tried this for CS4102 at U. VA (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525039)

I have had the same dilemma. I teach an algorithms course at UVA; it is math- and proof-centric. I wanted the ability to "write like one might on a black board" but to also record my writing and my audio so that my lectures can be easily posted online for students to review later. I have used several different tools for this task:

(1) Toshiba Tecra? Windows tablet/Powerpoint/Camtasia. I would make my slides in Keynote. Export to Powerpoint. Give lecture on the Toshiba, use Camtasia to record, and then export to a flash and ipod format for the web. The best part of this is that Powerpoint+Camtasia+Tablet is well-integrated. Powerpoint allows you to mark up a slide using the tablet and save the strokes. Keynote and Powerpoint-on-Mac do not have this feature. However, this laptop belonged to a colleague. It was old, faulty, and involved hassles. Fonts would be routinely messed up between Keynote and Powerpoint. I researched new windows tablets to buy, but could not bring myself to buy one. I happen to use a Mac; I feel anxiety and unctuousness when I have to interact with a windows interface.

(2) Instead, I purchased a Wacom Cintiq 15" display. You can connect it to any laptop, and you can write on it like a tablet. It is also pressure sensitive; a pleasure to use. I used this with my Airbook in the following bizarre combo: Airbook-->VGA splitter--1-->projector and --2--> to Cintiq. Thus, I would get one presenter display for the airbook and one screen on the Cintiq/projector that was public. Unfortunately, Keynote did not allow writing on slides. Either did Powerpoint-on-mac to my surprise! I tried various "screen grafitti" applications on top of Keynote, but none of them would allow the markup to be saved. Finally, I came upon the "Jarnal" program---an open source program written in Java---that allows a notebook functionality. You can import PDF files into it and annotate them. Thus, my workflow is something like: Make slides in keynote--->Export to PDF--->open as background in Jarnal--->Lecture. Jarnal can also record the strokes and play them back. However, I found that a screen capture program "iShowU HD" could capture both audio and everyone that was presented. I would then transcode this into flash and post. This worked for 1.5 semesters. Jarnal is sometimes flaky. It does not render PDF correctly all the time. However, it exports your strokes to PDF, and it saves them in an easy to read .jaj file for future processing. We also use jarnal to grade homeworks online and return them online (no paper printing!),

(3) My current setup is this: Axiotron Modbook + Jarnal + Camtasia for Mac. The Modbook is a mac tablet. I thought it would be fantastic, but it hasnt really solved all of the problems. The pen/tablet interface is fine on the Modbook---but a little flaky sometimes. Jarnal is open source; and I really believe in using open source when I can. The recently released Camtastia for Mac works very well, but misses an important feature that the Windows version has: it allows the slides or pages that you use in your lecture to be bookmarked. The Mac version, however, is intuitive to use for me, and I have given 9 lectures so far without too many problems. It is also very convenient to come to class with just a tablet (instead of the contraption in (2)). You can see the results of some of these lectures from say (skip over the first 15 min which is a guest speaker discussing if you want to see the jarnal/writing part). I do not use keynote animations (only drawings of data structures, algorithms, etc). Thus, the setup is the best one for me overall.

(4) Cheapest and surprisingly good solution: The Livescribe pen. (I received one to try for free, but it is only $129). You must write on special paper with dots. The pen has a camera and a microphone. You can give lecture and use one of those "overhead camera" contraptions that takes a picture of what you are writing from above and feeds it into a projector. The pen records what you say and what you are writing and keeps it all in sync. Later you can upload these pencasts to a website. The best feature of this is the interface that students can use to review a "pencast." All of the lecture material that you have presented in class appears gray in the pencast. As you write, the writing becomes green. The cursor is a red dot; when you click on a gray word, the pencast immediately forwards to this point of the lecture and plays from there. Thus, if you missed just one point, you can very quickly navigate to this point and start listening. This is very useful, and something not possible with the others. (Well, (1) almost had this with bookmarks for each slide.) I have a few examples of livescribe exercises posted on my site as well if you are interested. You can also just go to livescribe and look at some of the lecture notes there.

Thus, the conclusion is this: If you do not have Windows anxiety, then any of the full size (eg 15"+) windows tablets + powerpoint + camtasia would be a really good and easy setup. Reliable and easy. A Modbook (2200) + Camtasia + Jarnal works well for me. If you do not have funds earmarked for educationally-oriented purchases, and must therefore invest your own scarce funds, then the Livescribe pen is also a very good solution.

Hope this helps.

Always Innovating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525047)

Dumb name but atleast their product has actually shipped. Of course it's an ARM processor so it won't run Windows except for whatever their portable thing is. It's also a little light on ram and disk space but I think if I needed it, I'd just use it to VNC/NX/RDP into an actual workstation to do those tasks.

Want something dirt cheap? Very cool device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525049)

It's basically a pen input that allows you to record voice as well. Perfect for a student or teacher and very afordable.

ASUS R1F nice, also consider standalone like MOBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525059)

I have an ASUS R1F and have been really happy with it. You might also consider a standalone tablet, there are several out there that are designed to be used in the classroom, such as the MOBI from eInstruction. Combined with the Workspace software that comes with it, it would meet your goals. Although no multi-touch but the cost is no where near the price of a whole new machine.


The best tablet is a notebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525061)

A notebook is a tablet with useful entry devices (keyboard, trackpad) and a monitor stand (the base), and can do everything else you asked for.

Do NOT get a HP TX. (3, Informative)

srothroc (733160) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525083)

I have the misfortune to have an HP TX, from the 2xxx series. They have massive overheating problems, some of them have cores that won't actually run at the advertised frequency, and worse still, the wacom layer will NOT work properly due to the overheating problems.

The way they're designed, the primary vent is on the rear right-hand side of the laptop. If you use the laptop for a while and it starts getting hot (and boy does it get hot), that vent will screw with the wacom layer, causing your cursor to jump to the lower-right corner of the screen and right- and left-click randomly in that area. Yeah, right there, where the system tray is. You can imagine the problems this causes.

The only way to prevent this from happening is to disable the wacom layer entirely, in which case you have an expensive, underpowered laptop with a bright screen and a single shoddy hinge assembly. No touch or wacom interface at all. It completely defeats the purpose of having a tablet PC.

I contacted HP about this several times and they refused to admit that it was their problem, despite the fact that numerous other people have complained about it as well. It's a crippling defect. This crappy product and their crappy service have completely turned me off of all HP products. Do not even consider the TX series.

Re:Do NOT get a HP TX. (2, Interesting)

srothroc (733160) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525087)

As a side note, there are a bunch of posts like this about the TX series in this thread alone, yet they've all been modded down. I wonder why.

Re:Do NOT get a HP TX. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525419)

I got a TX series exactly two years ago and I thought it was awesome until the NVIDIA GPU took a shit this week. Supposedly it heats up enough that after a while the BGA solder joints go bad. Others reported the same symptoms I had (first the wireless went out, followed by total system failure), so I believe this to be the issue. Conveniently for HP, it's out of warranty and they don't have to do jack shit about it.

The ENGLISH speakers even called me back today and said they'd get me a case manager so please hold for a few minutes.
I turned down the TV and waited, hoping it meant they'd actually do something for me, only for the case manager to tell me that since there wasn't a recall on the TX in particular for this problem and since the warranty is expired, I would have to pay to fix it.. you know, the exact same thing the Indian call center told me earlier in the week.
Waste of time.

I didn't raise a shitstorm with them (maybe I should have) but I won't give them another dime of my money unless I hear that they really get their act together.

Re:Do NOT get a HP TX. (2, Informative)

odoitau (182387) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525723)

I'll second that.

In the school district where I work, we bought some HP tx1000 tablets for the math department. After a few weeks, they refused to use them, and we had to replace them with Gateway TA-6 and TA-7s.

The biggest difference I found was that the tx1000 series laptops don't have the same touch screen as a tablet. The screen works similarly to a Palm touchscreen (the stylus is simply a piece of plastic, and you can interact with the touchscreen using your fingers.) However, I found the screen is highly inaccurate, and loses calibration faster than an old cheap joystick. After the screen broke and I had it replaced, the touchscreen won't even calibrate at all - it thinks it's a couple inches to the right or something.

Our math teachers use Gateway tablets and they're satisfied - the Gateways are more solid, the hinge is better, and the Wacom touchscreens are orders of magnitude better than the shoddy HP trash.

However, the silver lining is that the HP tablet is small and light - the screen is about the size of a US letter sheet of paper, and the machine is lighter than the Gateway tablets we have. Of course, that doesn't really mean anything if the touchscreen doesn't live up.

Oh yeah, and my experience with HP tech support... well, it left a lot to be desired. As in, I desired that I'd bought a Dell. Or had splinters driven under my fingernails.

So, I can't really tell you what to buy, but I can tell you what *not* to buy. Don't buy HP. The last decent product they made was the 48GX. Everything after that's been crap, IMHO.

Re:Do NOT get a HP TX. (1)

tabrnaker (741668) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525857)

I've got a TX2524 running ubuntu 9.04. I have absolutely no heating problems whatsoever, though it did overheat in Vista and earlier versions of Ubuntu. As well, my cores and frequency scaling work no problem.

TX2000 looks nice (1)

FishOuttaWater (1163787) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525085)

My kid just got an HP TX2000 from eBay for ~$500 to do his flash graphics, college physics, diff-eq's and such. It's a 12" screen, dual cores, has a decent graphics card for a laptop, and seems to work pretty well for him on the whole. When he's not doing his homework, he's playing games on the thing even though he has a new quad-core desktop with whizzy graphics just down the stairs, so clearly the performance is more than adequate. Much to my surprise, I see him using the pen as much as the keyboard, so the pen interface is not a case of "seemed like a good idea at the time." Too soon to say anything about reliability, though. Best of luck in your search. - Tim.

The back of a shovel and a piece of chalk! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525139)

And get off my lawn!

Oh, and my solution is GREEN! (but don't get that radio-active Chinese chalk, and be sure you don't buy that shovel at Walmart, dag-nabbit!)

Tablet or smartboard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525151)

Are we talking tablet or smart boards that can capture your lectures? What about a wii remote and infrared ped?


Taking math notes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525163)

For those of you reading this from the student's perspective, allow me to tell you a story. It's short.

I'm currently a math student. This spring, I took set theory from a professor who eats symbol spaghetti for breakfast. As an experiment I decided to take all my notes on my laptop. Not by drawing with a tablet pen, but just by typing.

And you know what? It worked impressively well, thanks to lyx. Once you learn a few hotkeys and all the \kitchensink latex math names, it's no problem to keep up with a fast paced math lecture. The only thing I couldn't do was draw figures, but seeing as it was set theory this wasn't a big deal.

As for the original question, consider preparing slides beforehand with something like Beamer, or using pen/paper or a small whiteboard under the document camera, before jumping into something as complicated as trying to record everything from a tablet computer.

Livescribe Pulse pen. (2, Interesting)

jddj (1085169) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525173)

I've been using the Livescribe since June of this year in my meetings, and it'd be perfect for this use, particularly if you're the lecturer (vs. listening to the lecturer in a large hall).

Livescribe records your handwriting and your audio, synchronizes them, allow you to play back your audio from any point in the recording by touching the spot in the notes later (on the notebook, or on your computer), and allows you to upload the notes and audio to a community site. It does a really good job at recording your voice, and there's room for many hours of it on the pen. It's a good writing instrument (much better than the cheap-ballpoint tip in the "Fly Pentop" which uses the same handwriting technology, but doesn't record audio, isn't as polished an experience).

You'll want the pen, and a few of the hardback journals (so they provide something solid to write on as you pace or stroll).

the 2GB pen (vs. the 1GB) is $199, can find it at any Target, and comes with one Livescribe notebook (you'll need to use Livescribe's special paper, but they offer a number of good, flexible and classy options).

Much lighter than a pentop, and arguably less fragile, less of a theft target.

Only downsides:

  • The pen is completely round and will roll off your podium if you don't tend to it. When it hits the floor, it will break.
  • If it does so prior to a synchronization with your Mac or PC, you'll lose whatever's on it and not-yet-synced.
  • You can't move pen content back onto the pen.
  • You don't have any control over line weight. If you sketch a lot, you'll have to double- or triple- stroke lines to add weight, learn to crosshatch for shadowing and filling.
  • You'll run out of ink before you run out of paper - keep spares around.
  • Finally the Mac and PC software uses different data models, and you can't exchange data between the two, nor move from one platform to the other.

These things don't stop the pen from being quite useful. More info at Livescribe [] site.

Re:Livescribe Pulse pen. (1)

zobier (585066) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525335)

I came in to suggest the LiveScribe too, you can use it in conjunction with a overhead webcam + projector thingy.

Tried Wacom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525223)

Wacom drawing tablets are input devices which are designed to let you draw and write naturally. Unlike a tablet PC you don't get to see your notes appear at the tip of your stylus, but it is easy to get used to watching the computer screen as you write. A basic Wacom Bamboo tablet (what I have, and I use it for taking notes and making diagrams) is about $80.

Gigabyte T1028X (1)

DavidKlemke (1048264) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525305)

After spending about a week searching for a decent netbook I came across this little beasty: []

10.1" screen and a decent amount of grunt behind it. The reviews I've read on it so far seem to be positive and I've ordered one for myself since the only other option was the T91, which you mentioned. The difference in features between the two was more than enough to justify the higher price on the T1028X, although the clincher for me was the screen.

Since I got mine for under AU$900 it would seem to fit the bill quite nicely for you :)

Definately Windows7 if Math is important. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525341)

Definately Windows7 if Math is important.

There are tons of low and mid and high end slate and flip/convertable tablets that are lightweight and you can find older models from 2007/2008 for around $600 to newer top of the line models for as expensive as you want to go.

The trick is the OS, and Vista was a step up from XP TabletPC Edition, and Windows7 is another step forward with some really nice Math input tools.

Here are some of the features, scroll down to see the Math Input Panel...

Also go to YouTube and search Vista Handwriting, you will find several videos of people using Vista with both Tablet PCs, and even Wacom digitizers with Vista and demonstrating how amazing the accuracy is, especially when a human can't read the handwriting, but Vista does just fine. I had a customer that signs her name so that her Capital E looks like a C at first glance, yet Vista and Win7 knew it was an E the first attempt without any training, and that is what is great, as you don't even have to go through a training process, you just start using it, and it adapts and keeps learning on the few things it might miss the first time around.

(Windows handwriting recognition system is based on 'ink' and uses all information gathered from stroke pressure to direction to speed to figure out what letter you are attempting to make, so that even if you have horrible handwritting, it will still figure out what you meant. )

Microsoft has been doing handwriging technologies since PenWindows from the 3.x days, and the XP TabletPC revamp of the technology was a new generation of computer usage. Vista and Win7 continue forward with these features included as standard features in the OSes, and all it takes is having a TabletPC/Digitizer driver installed and the features automatically just turn themsevles on.

PS The math formula stuff in Win7 is quite fun, and there are also other pieces of software from Microsoft, like the included Journal or even OneNote from Office that are amazing with a TabletPC. You can even find some really fun physics based 'object' drawing tools from Microsoft Research, and literally draw a ball and have it bounce around the screen or demonstrate gravity or motion.

Re:Definately Windows7 if Math is important. (0, Offtopic)

_spider_ (171782) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525435)

Yeah, just buy more....

I've done the math and it would cost us an astronomical amount to 'upgrade' to Windows 7 - not to mention a far from consistent user experience. We're already trying to get the kids used to the XP Mac routine (which, they've taken the Mac up at an astonishing rate).

The worst part about the Windows 7 question is that (in our tests) less than half of our district software runs correctly, if at all, on Windows 7 (we've had it on some of our sandbox computers trying things out).

Our push is now going to publishers of curriculum books, math software especially, to go to web-based apps. Thats where the future is. Personally, I think we should be teaching kids to use the keyboard on how to enter math language, or learn to use a calculator as well - real world skills. I don't like that we're teaching them to use something that they will likely not find in the business world.

Used computer (1)

talcite (1258586) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525355)

If you're planning on using this tablet as a teaching tool and nothing else, I suggest getting an used X61 tablet. They're well under $1000 now and they're portable enough to be brought from class to class easily. They're also extremely durable. I'm using a 5 year old T42 right now with no signs of breaking down.

Tablets Not Yet Ripe (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525371)

If this were to be my only computer, it wouldn't be a tablet. Nothing currently available that I've seen can fully replace a desktop, or laptop, computer for all the tasks you're likely to want to do with it. Apple may finally change that game, but Apple hasn't arrived yet, and will likely be pricey when it does. I wouldn't want to type in a term paper on a tablet.

Were it me, I'd just get an inexpensive netbook for regular computing tasks, and an iPod Touch for music, video, all kinds of eBooks from Kindle to Stanza, and save the rest of my money for when a good tablet finally does arrive.

I've been doing this for years. (3, Informative)

awaspaas (663879) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525413)

I teach chemistry at a small college and have been using the combination of prepared notes in OneNote and the tablet to write on them in class. I use Camtasia to record the lectures and post PDFs of the completed files as well as audio podcasts and screencast videos onto the web for the students. I have a simple Toshiba Portege tablet which serves its purpose very well, although it is taxed by compressing the video. Toshiba still sells a convertible Portege laptop/tablet like what I use for $1200 - I'm sure you could find a used one on ebay for much less.

I would recommend a tablet highly over a dedicated in-classroom solution because it has the flexibility of moving from classroom-to-classroom, as well as recording some dedicated online-only lectures at home (like I was just doing tonight).

Check out [] for the stuff I've been doing. This is for a hybrid (half-online) organic chemistry course that only meets one day a week for lecture and lab. A course like this probably wouldn't be possible without the tablet handwriting and screencasting tech.

Advice (1)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525421)

I've had experience with HP, Acer, Fujitsu, Itronix, Toshiba, and Motion Computing. Our customers have purchased hundreds of tablets and I hear it when they don't work as advertised.

Do youself a favour and get a convertable with a built in webcam. I've seen refubished ones on Ebay for around $600.

The expensive ones are better but not usually worth the extra money. You can replace an Acer or Fujitsu three times for the price of a high end Toshiba or Motion machine.

Avoid machines with 1.8" drives like the plague. They are SLOW and usually around 80GB.
Make sure it supports 2GB ram, 1GB is usually enough though.
A 4 hour battery really lasts for 2 hours.
Price out replacement batteries. You will need to replace it every year. The ones I bought off Ebay are as good as the OEM ones for 1/2 the price.
Make sure it is visible in bright light and sunlight.
Call the support line before you buy to see if you get through. I found Acer support the best YMMV.
Slate tablets are useless.

Record audio separately (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525431)

I have not used Livescribe recommended by another poster. But it seems to me you will not be able to record your audio unless you actually walk to the blackboard with your tablet. Of course if you are always in tablet mic range then it might be okay.

Another thing is quality. You can get a pin mic (see audio technica brand or there are others) and voice recorder (they all have sd cards and usb these days, the most popular one for business will record 1000 hours or less at MP3 quality, best I am told is Olympus but there are other brands and some are pretty small).

This might give you better quality and you can pin the mic to your lapel or shirt front while slipping the recorder in your pocket. But if you can indeed just use tablet for all drawings and always be near it you might have good enough quality plus be able to synchronize. Of course this assumes you have a way for the student to play it back. I think personally it would probably be much better quality if you do this:

Create written course notes in advance with nicely written equations etc. on your tablet
Draw on blackboard with tablet and record that, give this and the advance notes to the students on your course website.
Use voice recorder to get high quality sound and dump the sd card to your website. Verbally say which page of notes, or blackboard drawing, you are talking about.
Optionally have a video camera synched to voice recorder, depends on how animated you are and how important are the gestures at the blackboard. Maybe not so important.
Then organize the files on your site, with a wiki or blog and maybe a rss feed to let people know when it is updated. Maybe scribd would be useful too.
I saw some info at []
and []


Bad Idea (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525443)

From a student.

Don't do it. If you want a new toy buy one and play with it, but leave it out of the class room.

I've been through several "let's get all high tech with the teaching" initiatives, and they all failed miserably.

The vast majority of the class ended up suffering through the mandatory attendance lectures and took notes from the book instead.

There is no concept in mathematics at that level that you cannot teach with a stick and a large patch of dirt.

Indoors, a chalkboard will do.

Any additional complexity or whizz bang gadgetry is at best a distraction and at worst a complete waste of your student's time.

Thinkpad X200 Tablet (2, Informative)

etherelithic (846901) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525683)

I used a Thinkpad X61 tablet pc for note taking and lecture recording while doing my bachelors in EE, and still use it as a regular notebook and note taking now as a grad student. I recently loaded Windows 7 on a SSD and it flies. The screen's 1400x1050, so no screen real-estate complaints here. Most of the time I type my notes, but when I need to write down equations and diagrams, I flip it around and draw them, then go back to typing when I need to. It's fast enough to be a regular use noebook, especially with the new SSD. I love it. The sad thing is they don't make 12.1 inch IPS high res screens anymore, as the latest incarnation, the X200 tablet, uses a 1280x800 screen that's far inferior. Still I think it's worth a look.

Just say no. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29525825)

Don't use technology as a crutch to prop up poor teaching skills.

Fujitsu stuff (1)

mrpgilbert (1182033) | more than 5 years ago | (#29525933)

As a Fujitsu reseller, I've shipped quite a few of their tablets over the years, both slate and convertible. We have a Primary school in Cornwall successfully using Stylistic slates with kids on a daily basis, but price has always been the issue. They have currently got a convertible thing called the Lifebook T1010, which is sub-£1000 (we're nearly at parity, aren't we...), but its battery life is crap and it lacks the modular bay of the T5010. Upcoming to launch alongside Win7, however, is a T4x10 range, which looks a lot better. Should be reasonably sub-£1k. As an alternative to the Sympodium, try the Interwrite iPanel. Cheaper, better and doesn't have nasty SMART software... And if anyone can tell me why the keyboard on my old Lifebook T3010 has died after I spilt a cup of tea on it...

My experiences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29526127)

We recently deployed some in-house high-tech classrooms with video/lecture recording in Truman State, MO. Professors and students *love* it. There were some advanced math courses going on and the students really like the ability to interact in-class as well as review the lecture after each class session.

The interactive equipments we used are pretty cheap, but you will need to talk with the AV/Instructional design guys in order to set them up. We used the equipments from Smart Technologies [] to provide an large, beautiful interactive whiteboard. It's not very expensive and is under $1000, provided you already have a projector in the room - and you have a huge, wonderful thing to write on. If you want to go with an even cheaper option, Smarttech provides a thing called the AirLiner [] to provide Wacom tablet alike functionalities over bluetooth (that you can use while walking around the class and hand to students as well!) The deal? They come with a software suite that is specifically designed for classroom use, which is not groundbreaking but is really a joy to use. Basically it will turn the whiteboard to a notebook and a presentation platform with as many pages as you like with as many types of multimedia contents as you like. Then it will export lecture notes to a PDF file that you can provide the students to download and review later on. The software also runs on Linux and Mac with no problems at all if those are one of your concerns.

For audio capture, again you really need to talk with the AV guys, if they have some decent clip-on wireless microphones laying around. We use a dedicated system to capture the audio (and classroom video also) but I imagine the same functionalities can be achieved by plugging the receiver into the computer, and record the audio using a software application such as Audacity.

Maybe off topic but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29526169)

I really think you should reconsider the good old blackboard. I have probably attended 500 lectures, and the top 10 have either used a blackboard or nothing at all. I think the fundamental principle for every good lecture is a common focus between the lecturer and the audience. This would be impossible if you had your eyes on your tablet while the class was paying attention to a large screen. The lecturers activity level is another important factor. Technology makes the lecturer more passive, and the subject more boring. This is why so many power point presentations is a drag.

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