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What Kind of Tablet PC to Buy?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the beyond-stone-and-chisels dept.

Portables 546

nic barajas asks: "I'm going to be attending college this fall, so I have been looking into a computer to use on campus. My preference has been to looking at the Tablet PC, although they are still in their proverbial infancy. I have been looking at a multitude of vendors, including Sager, Acer, and Toshiba. I'm looking for something that has a sizeable screen (at least 12"), decent storage (40GB+), and a long battery life. What are some of the better models on the market with these characteristics?"

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STOP (-1, Troll)

tarquin_fim_bim (649994) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300097)

You don't need one, every tablet manufactured removes one acre of rain forest from this planet. Pointing devices however, like the 'Microsoft Intellimouse Trackball' on the other hand regenerate the wilderness on your very own workstation.

BTW I didn't read the article as I have tendinitis from using a trackball.

God... (3, Insightful)

Romothecus (553103) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300099)

How about none at all? Would you WANT a really crappy computer with a short battery that crashes all the time?

Sure, you can carry it anywhere, but it still performs like crap no matter where you take it.

LOL@Moderators (1, Flamebait)

Romothecus (553103) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300195)

Haha, how it is a "Troll" or "Flamebait" if almost EVERYONE OTHER PERSON AGREES WITH ME?

Re:God... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300250)

This guy is actually very acurate. I have a prof. that uses a TabletPC in class for PowerPoint slides and something has crashed on the machine every class.

Re:God... (5, Interesting)

NemoX (630771) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300280)

I agree. Of the 3 people I know that own them, not one is happy with it. Battery life and crashes are the reasons, too. Although, the crashes tick them off more, cause it usually happens at a seminar or meeting when it is most needed.

Re:God... (5, Funny)

c1ay (703047) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300289)

Here's [] the only reliable model that I know of...

Troll Question (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300101)

Who wants a tablet in reality? Laptop yes. PDA yes. Tablet? No redeming features...

Re:Troll Question (4, Insightful)

fatgav (555629) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300203)

I suppose if you are going to take notes in lectures, something that is quick to write with and enables you to draw sketches as and when necessary can be more than easily found in a tablet.

Then, in the really boring lectures just whip open Spider Solitaire and away you go!

Is it obvious I was a bum at Uni? ;-)

Re:Troll Question (4, Interesting)

npietraniec (519210) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300237)

Still not as nice and easy as paper and pencil. Unless you simply have to have everything in electronic format. Let's be realistic here... Wouldn't you rather study of physical paper notes? I would.

Re:Troll Question (4, Interesting)

npietraniec (519210) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300214)

Yea... When the MS tablet pc came to market I thought "who wants that?"

Was there a demand for this product or is this a market that Microsoft thought should exist? The last thing I read about those (maybe about 6-12 months ago) was that they were bombing.

Laptop if you want to be portable (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300229)

Stick with a laptop, they're already annoying enough to type on (5x the typos of a desktop keyboard due to no contour.) Get a PDA if you need to scribble. Or better yet, a pad of paper and a scanner.

Depends. (2, Interesting)

Trillan (597339) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300239)

I admit, a lot of the tablets out there are useless. But a minimalist (or maybe maximumist) tablet would be a notebook with a rotating screen and pen input.

I'd be very pleased to spend an extra couple hundred dollars over the cost of a notebook for that. (Apple, are you listening? Because my preferreed laptop to add this feature to would be my 12" Powerbook G4!)

Re:Troll Question (5, Insightful)

RoshanCat (145661) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300336)

Lets see,
i) Read thousands of e-books on my couch, while making notes on it
ii) Browse in a comfortable position, while watching TV
iii) Take Notes in a meeting / classroom.
iv) Pass it around easily to show something
v) Design/Architect solutions while not having to worry about transfering it to PC(the monkey coders at /. wouldn't understand that anyway)
vi) Reduce endless clutter of sticky pads

and surely each person will have a niche use

Me too (5, Informative)

Sklein382 (615377) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300105)

Seeing as I am now in the same shoes as you, I have been thinking about this too. At first I was going to look into tablets, and the obvious choice looked to be a tablet/notebook crossover. However, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered how much I would actually use the tablet functionality, and what the overall advantage would be over a pen and paper. But it seems like adding the notebook stuff to a tablet kills all the advantages of the tablet, such as the really small size. I've been developing some apps for my high school that we're running on a Fujitsu tablet (I think it runs for about 2G), and that seems like a really nice just tablet, if you want to go in that direction. But what I think what I'm going to do for next year, is get a lightweight centrino book, and a 19" or so LCD monitor for my pc. I can use the laptop for portability, and the computer/RDC for anything more.

Re:Me too (5, Interesting)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300345)

Stay away from Tablet PCs. When I was at Microsoft, we *begged* for one, because they seem so cool: they aren't. What you are going to get is an underpowered laptop for the same price as an expensive laptop. As laptops, they suck. As tablets, they are too bulky to carry usefully.

Don't believe the hype. KISS.

Tablet PCs (-1)

Klerck (213193) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300106)

Tablet PCs. What're they all about? Are they good, or are they whack?

Re:Tablet PCs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300290)

I'd say they're whack.

Linux tablets (2, Interesting)

EnormousTooth (678644) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300108)

Has anyone tried any of the Linux tablets?
Is there more than one?
Would they replace the Windows tablets in functionality?

Re:Linux tablets (2, Interesting)

foidulus (743482) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300162)

Is there really any open source handwriting recognition software that would be as accurate as microsofts? It seems like an area of niche knowledge, and probably the beast from Redmond has hired most of the experts in the field, so without the handwriting recognition, why go for a tablet?

Re:Linux tablets (5, Informative)

EnormousTooth (678644) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300210)

Found a review of Lycoris's tablet:,aid,11274 3,00.asp
And here's a homemade project that'll run on a Compaq:

I predict (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300114)

the majority of the posters here will try to steer you into a different direction than tablet-pc's.

I got a solution... (5, Insightful)

cujo_1111 (627504) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300118)

Notepad and pencil... so much easier to edit on the run.

The bonus is that when transcribing your notes into a computer for safe keeping a filing, you are effectively reprocessing the lectures you go to. One of the best study methods i know of.

Re:I got a solution... (5, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300183)

The bonus is that when transcribing your notes into a computer for safe keeping a filing

No, the bonus is notepads and penciles don't cost FOUR THOUSAND FREAKING DOLLARS.

Re:I got a solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300247)

you know for some people that's really not that big of deal. some people have learned to save their money or have inherited large sums. for them, they can go buy things at will or on a whim, unlike you poor saps.

Re:I got a solution... (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300327)

And for those people I can highly recommend a deluxe executive leather clipboard, a Mont Blanc and a Jaguar XKR to keep them in.

A far better use of money than a tablet PC, not mention classier.


Re:I got a solution... (-1)

AssTard (684911) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300189)

Yeah there, and if you drop the son of a bitch it wont shatter into a dozen chunks.

Re:I got a solution... (5, Informative)

rockmuelle (575982) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300303)

I'll second this. I'm doing my second round of school (PhD after years of working) and am using a clipboard and paper instead of my notebook (computer) for notes. I had bought a nifty Vaio to take notes on and quickly abandoned it in favor of the tried and true pen(cil) and paper approach.

Three other advantages are:

1) Paper notes don't disappear when your hard drive crashes
2) The resolution of paper and ink is still better than computer monitors (save for the IBM Bertha display)
3) Layout flexibility - it's much much much easier to just draw something on paper inlined with your notes than it is to do it in a word processor (though ASCII art in Emacs can be fast ;) ).

Get a good notebook (or desktop) computer for other uses, but for taking notes, experience has taught me that you still can't beat a pen and paper.


Re:I got a solution... (1)

cujo_1111 (627504) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300334)

Get a good notebook (or desktop) computer for other uses, but for taking notes, experience has taught me that you still can't beat a pen and paper.

Saves you a thousand or so dollars in the process to spend on beer :) Sadly, it isn't free.

Re:I got a solution... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300358)

what about searching? is a notepad easy to search?

also, some people dont want to transcribe their notes onto computer.

Re:I got a solution... (2, Interesting)

sam1am (753369) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300367)

A notepad and paper are less distraction-inducing. Especially with wireless networks.

I have my own laptop, and I also was given a tablet for a few weeks to test out. I was really glad that I hadn't paid for the tablet, because I found it cumbersome and after a day of showing it off (well, a few days), I barely used it. I continued to use my laptop in seminar classes, for access to information for use in the discussion, as well as taking notes.

My laptop was faster (and it's an old 500Mhz iBook) and more comfortable to use; the graphics-drawing ability of the tablet was highly overrated, and the handwriting recognition was not very good (then again, my handwriting is not too legible).

But overall, I'm still a fan of the pencil and paper.

an alternative (2, Insightful)

tsunamifirestorm (729508) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300119)

i prefer a notepad. for like 2 bucks you can also get a "pen" which you can enter in data in directly. it doesnt take much battery power either.

Re:an alternative (1)

pseudochaotic (548897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300317)

Why are you paying 2 bucks for a pen? I get them for a dime or so.

Why? (5, Insightful)

ameoba (173803) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300122)

Really, you probably won't use it much. I've known a lot of people who have picked up PDAs or laptops for the purpose of using them in class and, after the initial novelty wore off, reverted to pen&paper. I can't think of anyone who's kept using them.

There's something to be said about a laptop for doing work while on campus, but I don't think that a tablet is worth the extra expense.

Re:Why? (1)

chazwurth (664949) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300184)

I've never used a tablet, but I use my laptop constantly in classes. Assuming you're a good typist, typing is much faster than pen and paper. In several classes, classmates of mine struggle to take decent notes because the professors talk too fast; I never have this problem. And if a lecture gets too boring, I can always get useful work done on something else.

As far as tablets go, I've never really felt I needed one; my laptop does everything I need it to. But I don't need to draw pictures much; a tablet might speed that up considerably.

digital ink and equation editor (1)

nounderscores (246517) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300196)

Has anybody played with the digital ink handwriting recognition for writing up equations?

is it faster than TeX?

pen and paper... (1)

segment (695309) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300191)

most of the times I would agree, although I must state I recently bought myself an older PowerBook which is pretty much nothing more than a word processor. Albeit a heavy one, it serves its purposes when I'm on Metro North doing something simple. As for the PDA's, I'm too clumsy/ignorant to mess with them too much I had a zion once upon an internet era ago and saw it as nothing more than a novelty

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

!3ren (686818) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300228)

The biggest problem I have seen with computers in the classroom, is the difficulty in reproducing illustrations. Tablets seem to solve this problem to a certain extent.
Personally I would be happiest with a standard laptop with a touch sensitive screen so I could draw as well as type.

wow, ask slashdot.... (1, Insightful)

caino59 (313096) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300123)

...when you are too fucking lazy to go out and read reviews and do research on your own.

go ahead, mod me down...but c' that matters?

oh I forgot, gotta go to for that.

Re:wow, ask slashdot.... (2, Funny)

thepeete (189121) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300288)

wow... you actually took time to reply...

Get a convertable (1)

Unregistered (584479) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300127)

The tablet interface has serious productivity issues, so make sure to get a convertable so you can use it as a real laptop when you actually need to get stuff done.

Re:Get a convertable (2, Insightful)

wozster (514097) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300255)


I don't think tablets have much of a future, but laptops that convert into tablets have a wonderful future ahead of them.

Tablets are too expensive (1)

doormat (63648) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300128)

A buddy of mine was looking at tablets a while ago, instead he went with the IBM T41. Of course, his needs were more along the line of Mobile-AutoCAD-Demo-Station, not just something to take notes on and maybe goof around on.

tablet vs. notebook? (1)

fugu (99277) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300131)

any reason you'd be getting a tablet over a regular notebook/laptop? and would this be your primary machine, or something that you'd have in addition to a desktop. it's hard to make good recommendations unless we know what you're using this for

"D" - None of the above (4, Informative)

ErikTheRed (162431) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300132)

Unless you have money to burn on bleeding-edge technology (and in this case, it could quite easily be described as bleeding-to-death) as a college student, I would stick with a traditional notebook PC - you'll get much more for your money, and you don't risk being stuck with a possibly dead-end investment.

Re:"D" - None of the above (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300207)

Sounds like the submitter is one of those rich kiddies. Too bad, you miss the college experience when you have money.

Re:"D" - None of the above (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300264)

lol and what experience is that? not being able to afford alcohol, decent food, and buying nice things for all those hot women? not being able to dress nice to attract those women? yah, that sounds like the college experience i wanted to have! too bad i had all that money and so much fun wasting it getting drunk and laid.

Seen this movie before (1)

Codex The Sloth (93427) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300238)

The tablet PC hype seems to be pretty strong lately but I've yet to see anything that has changed since the WinCE that were hyped the last time round (or the WinCE tablets before that, or all of the other failed tablets that Microsoft and others have tried to sell). The ad copy from the last version is almost verbatim -- the handwriting recognition is soooo much better, screens are better and they have a new OS which is pen centric. Also, given Microsoft's upgrade history for these things (new OS? Buy a new computer) it seems to be all stick and no carrot.

I've had tablet PCs before and, cool as it seems now, you will not use it as a tablet especially in school.

tablets (1)

superascal (238428) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300134)

out of all of them i like the toshiba.durable construction and descent warrenty. although i dotn think they are worth it still.

Re:tablets (0)

Lando Griffin (698606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300292)

...descent warrenty...

Is that some sort of warranty that guarantees you will be able to play that old game where you fly the little spaceship around in mining facilities and shoot robots?

Also, (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300141)

Does anybody no which washer and dryer I should buy? I'm thinking about a Whirlpool or a Maytag. What do you guys think?

Thanks in advance! Get back soon because my wife is in the car waiting to go ...

Re:Also, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300293)

only if it runs linux

Miele (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300342)

Get a Miele... you won't be disappointed!

-1, Offtopic

Stay away from Transmeta based ones (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300142)

The Transmeta based tablets have to be the slowest ones I've ever used. A 1Ghz processor from Transmeta felt like a 200Mhz Pentium chip.

Sorry Linus! But they suck!

My father had one from work (5, Informative)

Phosphor3k (542747) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300145)

And returned it very quickly. Wait another generation or two if you really need to buy one. Give time for kinks to be worked out. Likely by then you'll find yourself not needing one and will have saved yourself a few bucks. If you seriously feel you need to have a computer in the classroom, there's no reason a small laptop can't do what you need better than a Tablet PC. Baring that, hadwritten notes will be easier to take and study with later on.

Holy Sidekicks, Batman (1)

SeinJunkie (751833) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300146)

The only real reason anyone should get a tablet PC is if they already own and use a full-on desktop PC. That way, you can use the desktop for normal use, and grab the tablet for reading /. in bed or pr0n in the bathroom.

way of the dodo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300147)

Tablet PCs haven't sold very well lately; I'd be seriously worried about vendors dropping support. Might want to go with a more conventional laptop.

Why a tablet (4, Insightful)

john82 (68332) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300149)

What is the driving force to spend extra dollars for a tablet over a good laptop? What do you want to do with it? If you can answer that, it might help some of the folks here provide more relevant answers. If you can't answer that satisfactorily, that should tell you something.

Check with your prospective school. See what their requirements are and what sort of discounts/deals they offer to students who buy through the university. That should factor into your evaluation.

tablet comparisons (5, Informative)

segment (695309) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300150)

Try checking out the comparisons here [] . Why? Check out the links on the comparisons, as well as the owner of the domain via whois... At least you know this (unlike Computer Shopper magazine) site is not being whored out by some vendor. It's a pretty detailed site on specs, vendors, etc.

Get a 'real' Laptop (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300154)

The Tablet PC's aren't nearly as usefull as they are touted as being. Sure, you can draw driectly onto the screen.

They are like giagantic PDA's in that respect. If you want a good PC for college, get a VERY powerful system that will last you a good three or four years before showing it's age.

Take a look at one of the high-end gaming Laptops from Dell, Alienware or other high-end laptop manufacturer.

I considered tablet PC's for some of our sales staff, after taking a look at a few models, I found them quite lacking in terms on long-term performance, long-term durability as well as usability. Some of them DON'T have keyboards at all.

If you need serious portable computing power, a Tablet PC is nothing but a really fancy toy.

Get a Laptop (5, Informative)

modnemo (670684) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300157)

I own an older Fujitsu Stylistic Tablet and can honestly say they aren't worth all the trouble you put into them...get a laptop. Here @ Purdue they are piloting a test program of the Acer pen tablets and they are nothing more than a fancy laptop w/ a stylus and a keyboard that folds back. They ran slower and seemed very flimsy than other laptops I've used, even ones a few years old. They also have alot of software that is needed for all the "special features" that in all honesty doesn't get upgraded that often. Just my 2 cents

don't you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300160)

those with tablet PC don't read slashdot!

seriously, the tablet PC technology is more for places like airport information kiosks etc which are used by non-tech savvy people.

if you don't know what kind of tablet PC to buy, then most likely, you don't need one either.

tablet pc vs laptop (2, Insightful)

Camel Light (730621) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300164)

Other than suggest some googling to find reviews, my only other piece of advice is a question.. What makes a tablet PC better than a laptop for school? I think that may help you make your decision.

uhh, (4, Informative)

mm0mm (687212) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300165)

Powerbook, if you can afford it?

Since I don't have extra $$$ to burn (and I'm not a mac user), I use Thinkpad and am happy with it. I'm running SuSE on it. :p

Why tablet? (5, Informative)

demonic-halo (652519) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300169)

I've used the Acer one. It's pretty nice, built in ethernet, wireless, and pretty easy to use, but I don't feel it's practical.

I used one for software compatibility testing (it basically is as compatible as an XP laptop would be), but I did find myself using it in laptop mode most of the time though. Passwords and login information are really hard to enter in in tablet mode. Since the pen input usually assumes you're typing in words, it'll tend to add extra spaces when writing login information and passwords. As for other types of writing, it's easier just to type in keyboard mode.

I've only found it useful in Tablet mode for tapping out check lists. Maybe someday I'll find a better use for it.

Re:Why tablet? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300359)

I have the Acer Travelmate C300. Battery life is around 5 hours and it comes with a cd-rw and wifi.

I use mine all the time and would definitely recommend it over a regular laptop. A huge benefit of taking all of your notes with this is being able to perform keyword searches over your entire notebook and (depending on how clear your handwriting is) having it return lecture notes on that topic.

I'd like one... (2, Interesting)

Mondoz (672060) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300174)

If I had money to waste on such a thing, I'd love to have a tablet pc for wireless web surfing on the couch while watching TV or playing games... Being able to look stuff up without having to go to the PC and print it out would be rather nice...

A tablet would be less bulky than a full blown laptop, and a bit more appropriate for this.

Translation: (1, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300181)

I'm a rich kid, whose parents will buy me anything that I like, so should I whine for them to first buy a tablet PC, only to throw it out and have them buy me a nice purple iMac with matching iPod, or should I just complain that I'm failing my classes because, like, the PC ate my paper, and it was a really good paper?

iBook 12" (4, Informative)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300185)

It's small enough to be truly portable, powerful enough to do more or less anything reasonable you want to do with it, and it's OS kicks ass. Or you can run Linux on it if you think you'd prefer it, though my guess is that after a while of using it, you won't.

College?!?? (0, Offtopic)

miracle69 (34841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300190)

Learn how to arc weld and start your own Discovery/TLC show - Monster Haxxor!!

Get a large screen laptop... (4, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300192)

You say you need a computer at college. Get a large screen laptop (15 inches are well under 1G now). That way it can act as a decent desktop too. You'll spend far more time at your desk studying than anywhere else.

just use a laptop (1)

reuben04 (740293) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300201)

Have you ever used a pda?? It unfortunately has most of the same shortcomings. The screen still isn't large enough, sometimes it gets your notes wrong and believe me, paper is faster. Transcribing your notes back to your laptop later acts as study time, and when you read the notes that you rewrote 6 months ago you will still be able to read them. If you were going to have the money to buy a tablet, look into IBM's thinkpads, light, durable, fast, great warranty. I have used thinkpads for over 4 years. They are the best in the business. T41 is a good choice.

Re:just use a laptop (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300354)

Have you ever used a pda?? It unfortunately has most of the same shortcomings.

-And a tablet has none of the real advantages of a PDA: small size, long battery life.

I took notes on my Palm at collage (it was actually faster and more accurate for me, not to mention 'open note' exams with searchable notes...). Then I had a regular desktop as my main computer. For almost all cases I would recommend that setup, and for the rest I would recommend a good laptop. What are you thinking you will use the tablet functionality for?

Word of advice... (1)

Xiar Prime (721325) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300208)

Word of advice: buy a laptop, instead. Laptops have been manufactured for years, and, as such, the companies producing them have become quite good at it. Large hard drives, large screens, even several removable storage drives are no problem for these portable titans. Laptops are quickly becoming complete desktop replacements. Given laptops ubiquity, their presence is insured for a long time coming, while the Tablet PC's existance is threatened by mediocre sales and poor quality. Trust me, as the owner of several laptops, a Tablet PC, even in a laptop-style dock, is a poor substitute for a laptop.

Fujitsu Lifebook (1)

Bob the Hamster (705714) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300211)

While not actually a tablet PC, I think the Fujitsu lifebook would be just the thing for you. I have been delighted with mine. It is very small, has excellent battery life, uses a Transmeta Crusoe [] processor, and runs linux like a charm []

Only if. (3, Insightful)

Pu'be (618443) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300218)

Only get a tablet PC if you will be taking a lot of graphic design oriented classes. Or just art in general. But if you have never played with a regular ole tablet on a PC, do not go out and by a TabletPC! They have specialized art based uses, and are not useful for anything else then that (maybe except signing your name). If you do not need one, save the money from a TabletPC and get a better laptop, or more batteries.

Go Convertible (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300219)

You are doing a smart thing. The full touchscreen on Tablet PC's is what drew me in, and honestly I wouldn't have it any other way- the ability to surf the net with just a pen to scroll, or just clicking things with it, it feels MUCH MORE natural. Make sure you go with a convertible, however, because it sucks when you get stuck without the keyboard.

Other than that, I can recommend that you stick with a Centrino-powered model- the models based on other chipsets/processors will not be as fast. Centrino gives you a much faster notebook with good support and battery life and you get the performance of the Pentium-M, which is a very impressive processor.

Other considerations (1)

jraf (652354) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300222)

In term of specifications, most tablet pc models come with the minimum of 12" screens and 40gb hard disks. So your requirements pretty much encompasses every tablet pc out there. What you might want to consider beforehand are the following: 1. Convertible (with keyboard) or slate (external keyboard). I personally use a convertible model, since my typing is still waay faster than scribbling. 2. Connectivity. Do you need bluetooth built in ? 802.11G or B? 3. Battery life. Depending on how many power points there are in your lecture theatre, this is likely a big concern if you plan to take lecture notes. 4. Processor power. Tablet PCs range from 800mhz to 1.6mhz. if you plan on running hefty simulations,etc., you might want a rethink. Finally, ask yourself if you -really- need a tablet pc. Remember that you are paying a premium for being able to scribble on your laptop, at the same time forfeiting some screen quality and performance.

Oh hell no. (2, Interesting)

jdcook (96434) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300226)

Tablet PCs suck. Really. It's a giant PDA! It's a crappy notebook! What's not to hate?

All you really want is decent note taking right? Instead of a $3,000 POS, get a decent PalmOS PDA and a Stoaway folding keyboard [] . Spend the >$2,500 you save on beer and condoms.

Re:Oh hell no. (5, Funny)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300347)

the kid in class that types notes into his PDA using a foldup keyboard has no use for condoms.

Screen size, storage, and battery life are related (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300227)

Size of screen as q
size of hard drive as r
speed of hard drive as s
battery life as t
No constants are used, because I have a life (posting as an AC!)

----------- = 1
q^2 + (r * s)

start saving now (1)

oneishy (669590) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300231)

Seriously. Start saving you money now, and wait for Apple to release a tablet. Any tablet that Apple Releases will be sure to be top notch and meet your needs.

Tablet PCs (3, Informative)

yar (170650) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300241)

I have an early version HP from work, and I also tested the Acer tablet and briefly tried out the Motion version... all in all, I wouldn't recommend using the tablet PC unless you a) give lots of presentations or speeches, as I've found them more portable than laptops, or b) like to draw a great deal and don't have extra money to spring for a Wacom. When I use the tablet, I often find myself needing to attach the keyboard to get things done quickly. I've all but given up using it in favor of a regular notebook, which has a longer battery life, more memory, and... well, more of just about everything, for a smaller price.

That being said, the handwriting recognition for Windows tablet is pretty good. If I was going to purchase one for myself, I would probably try to evaluation the Motion Tablets [] . I was fairly impressed with them, and I wish I had more time to use it. Battery life is a KILLER on these things, and they had a nice little back attachment available (about the size of a notebook, so increasing the width) that would greatly extend the life.

infancy? not... (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300256)

the Tablet PC, although they are still in their proverbial infancy

Hardly. I had an i386 based tablet PC back in the days. More correct to say that after all this time, tablet PCs are *still* the neglected children of the PC world. They still aren't replacements for good old pen and pad yet aren't as full of goodies as a full blown laptop. I suggest getting a regular laptop. There are smaller ones, if size and weight are strong considerations, that are far more useful in the long run than tablet PCs.

Huh....Shows how open source is low on innovation. (0, Troll)

zungu (588387) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300257)

I guess the case of tablet PC, Speech Recognition, etc. shows how the open source movement is good at replicating what others have done. But very low on innovation. I mean open source hasn't bought out the best handwriting recognition engine! Guess the innvotation that can bring in money and food on table is always done by so called close source! If you wanna disprove me give me a link to a open source handwriting recognition that runs on a tablet PC and is better than microsoft's tablet OS.

Get an Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300267)

The 12" PowerBook is the best value out there. It's certainly the best constructed, best looking, and most secure with it's UNIX based OS. As a student, you'll get $200 off your purchase.

"attending college", "proverbial infancy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300291)

"multitude of vendors" "characteristics"

Oh shit do you need to get laid.

Silly consumer (2, Interesting)

orionware (575549) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300294)

Don't you know that your tablet PC sucks because Apple didn't come out with one first?

Had Apple come out with one all shiney and metallic the press would have heralded it as "visionary", "inventive", "out of the box" and whatever other nonsense terms the marketing dreck could muster.

Now for the useful part of this post.

I've spent a few weeks with the Toshiba Portege 3500 and found the handwriting recognition was excellent and the performance excellent as well. It was a bit pricey and I wouldn't have paid for it if I had to

If you take a bus, they are nice (1)

MelloDawg (180509) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300298)

One of my bus-mates has one, and it allows him to productive on the bus-ride into work. It's a convertable so he can work efficiently at the office, and in tablet mode, it takes up just the right amount of room.

Pen and Paper (1)

edwardog (731271) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300300)

This is a "me too" post - I find that a laptop really isn't necessary during my stay at university. Besides, if you have a less-than-stellar work ethic, having your machine relatively grounded means that by simply going somewhere else, you're more likely to be more productive, due to you not screwing around on the computer mindlessly. Honestly, ask yourself what you're going to be using this machine for; my guess is that it'll include programming, web browsing and some word processing (along with peripheral tasks like listening to music and gaming). Note taking on a laptop blows, and it pisses the people off around you because they have to accomodate your annoying clicking and typing. Additionally, a pad of paper crashes much less often than a word processor (you may not think this is so important, but just wait till it happens to you right at the end of a long lecture).

wait for the Apple edition... (3, Funny)

The Lynxpro (657990) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300305)

Ducks for cover! Shortly thereafter, a thousand Voodoo2 PCI boards were thrown in his general direction... :)

I recommend... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300306)

i don't mean to troll.

just seems like the main benefit of Tablet PC's is that they make more money for the hardware manuf's.

1. Get a laptop from a reputable brand.
(Dell, IBM, Alienware, or Apple)

2. Get a student discount
Dell, Apple do this, probably others too.

3. Get a 3 year extended warranty.
Laptops are fragile, especially when carried around! SOMETHING WILL BREAK, and replacement parts are EXPENSIVE. This will carry you through most of your college life.

4. Wait until JULY to order your laptop.
Get the most bang for your buck.

Save money for beer (1)

destro_99 (570923) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300311)

Get a laptop if youre not a gamer, you need to get out of your room sometimes. And buy beer during the week... You can easily sneak it in the dorms during the week days... you'll have girls in your room in no time. Paper and Pen is best... i'd hate to see you take notes during chem/physics class. lol Introduce yourself to every girl you see the first week of school, and say a friend of mine may be having a party this weeknd(yea it's a lie... but you said MIGHT)... trust me Thank god for older brothers.

Why??? (2, Informative)

PSaltyDS (467134) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300313)

Why a tablet??? Get a decent laptop. My PHB got a tablet with XP on it, and has had nothing but trouble with it. The WiFi is intermittent, the battery life is short, and the handwriting recognition is unusable. It also has lower specs and twice the price of a laptop with same weight/screen size. I just don't see the point in the things at all.

Toshiba Portege 3500 && Some general tips. (4, Informative)

Hollinger (16202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300319)

I have the aforementioned Toshiba, and, to be honest, think it's a great machine. It is absolutely awesome for classes where the professor gives you a copy of his notes (like my thermodynamics class). All I had to do was "print" the notes to a Windows Journal file, and was able to mark them up with no fuss.

I'm going to suggest that you keep below US$2200 though. The price deprecation on the machine will hurt if it's much more than that. Trust me on this. I bought a $3000 laptop (thanks, Uncle Sam for the Tax Credit!) and within 6 months the machine was valued at about 2/3 that. Stay in the middle of the pack, regardless of whatever machine you buy, tablet or notebook.

Also, be sure to consider a convertible tablet, i.e. one with a keyboard. There are many times when it's simply more effient to whip the display around and type out notes in MS Word or whatever. However, at the same time, in certain classes it's much, much easier to draw diagrams, derive equations, and things with a pen. Having both options is very much worthwhile.

Also, think long and hard about an extended warranty. The machine supposedly will travel with you for at least three years, taking quite a bit of abuse along the way. Mine was VERY handy on another machine (Sony VAIO GRX-520), which experienced a sudden failure due to some hardware issues. After 20 minutes on the phone with a tech, they fedexed me an empty box and label, I fedexed the machine, and two days later, I got it back in perfect working condition (Sent it out Thursday, got it back Monday (FedEx only delivers on Weekdays). If I had not purchased that warranty, the service would have cost about $800 and who knows how much heartache.

Oh, and one last thing: Don't splurge and get a machine capable of playing the latest, greatest games. It'll be outdated within a year, and you'll have no upgrade path. Again, buy the middle of the pack and save some money for a replacement battery in two years or so.

That reminds me: Don't buy generic batteries, or old batteries off ebay. Lithium Ion batteries start to decay from the day they're manufactured.

Just my two bits...
Mike Hollinger

Expensive. Prone to walk. Fragile. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300320)

An expensive item to leave lying around or to throw in your rucksack. Murphy's law says that it will contain the only set of your notes when it's stolen. Sod's law says this will happen just before exams. Stick to pen & paper for taking notes.

no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8300321)

ibook or powerbook.
not tablet pc!

Defending the Tablet PC for college students (5, Informative)

ParadoxDruid (602583) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300323)

As I said when a similar topic came up in October:

I use my Acer Travelmate T102i every weekday for about 8 hours a day.

I'm a college student and researcher in Biochemistry.

Tablet PCs are _perfect_ for this setting. I can take notes without having to lug around huge notebooks, I can reference professor's webpages on the fly, and most importantly: I can include all the diagrams and drawings needed in my field in with my notes, saved on a computer to search and reference.

You can't type a lot of college notes- there are too many diagrams, drawings, and weird flowcharts to do that.

I haven't used a notebook since November 2003, when I first got my Tablet PC, and it's completely changed the way I get my work done.

I'd reccommend the lightest weight one you can find-- using it like a notebook means often holding it or resting it on your arm for extended periods of time.

Sager (2, Informative)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300338)

Go for the Sager. Sager is legendary for their customer support system. PC Torque [] is a Sager reseller, and although they don't have the 2880 and 2885 listed on their site they can order them. PC Torque hosts TalkNotebooks [] , where all sorts of laptops are discussed. It is the best source for Sager tech support. However, if you can't find an answer there, Sager provides a system like this:
  • Call or email them.
  • A real live tech who builds the computers will call or email you back!
You can't beat Sager for tech support, community, and price for what you get. I bought a 5680 from PCT/Sager, and I love it. It's incredibly powerful, and I've had zero problems with it (except a cracked LCD frame, but that was my own damned fault). It runs Linux perfectly, I run Red Hat 9 without a problem. It takes a little bit of configuration to get the touchpad working, but other than that it's great. I've been recommending anyone who asks me about laptops to go Sager. You can't beat 'em.

It depends a bit on what you want... (5, Informative)

drklahn77 (599154) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300339)

My company is currently evaluating Tablet PCs as a potential platform for one of our software products. We have 5 of them, most from different vendors. We have a couple that are slate only, and a couple that are convertible. I'm one of the primary designers for the product, so I've been using a Toshiba M200 [] for a few weeks now.

My initial impression has been favorable, though you're right on in your assessment that tablets are still in their infancy. Microsoft's handwriting recognition is excellent, definitely the best I've seen. They also have some limited support for gesture and shape recognition, though they don't appear to be using them for much at the moment.

As far as I can tell, there is not yet a "killer app" for the tablet pc platform. The only thing that comes close is OneNote [] , which is pretty damned cool, but not really worth the extra money, imo. The tablet platform still has quite a few warts, the biggest being the lack of decent integration with existing apps. MS's solution to ink input for legacy apps is a rather clunky keyboard/writing area applet that sits above the task bar and transmits your handwriting as text to selected text input controls after a short delay. I suspect that this will get better and better with future revisions of the tablet pc operating system services.

As for the hardware, the Toshiba is a nice machine. It's fast, being Centrino based, though not as fast as some of the other Pentium M machines out there because they've pushed it as far in the battery life conservation direction as possible. Mine gets about 4 - 5 hours under normal conditions. The display is good, and I like the high resolution (1400 x 1050). The graphics accelerator is middle of the road for current laptops. Overall performance is decent, though noticably slower than my Thinkpad T40p.

That said, I do have a few gripes with this particular model. It's much larger than you might expect, especially given that it has a curiously cramped keyboard. It's very thick, and fairly heavy for a tablet. I vastly prefer the form factor of my T40. It is, however, leaps and bounds above the 1st gen HP/Compaq tablet we have, which was based on a suck-ass tranmeta processor and just felt cheesy as hell. Apparently the newer ones are much better.

As for competitors, we have one of the Motion Computing slates, which definitely wins in terms of sex appeal. It's thin, good industrial design, and very appealing. I haven't had a chance to play with it, though, and I think I would sorely miss the keyboard in short order.

To summarize, I think my advice would definitely be NOT to buy a tablet right now . For the extra money, you can get an absolutely kick ass notebook that really blows the tablet away in terms of overall capabilities. I like my tablet, but I like my T40 even more. It's much friendlier to use, and I find myself wishing that I were typing when I take notes on the tablet.

If you just have to have the tablet because of the cool factor, make sure you have an opportunity to play with both types (slate and convertible) before you take the plunge. Buying a convertible is a concession to practicality. When you stop using the tablet features after the first month, at least you still have a decent laptop to use. With the slate, you're pretty screwed unless you use the docking station all the time.

- adam

how about no? (3, Informative)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 10 years ago | (#8300343)

Others have said basically the same thing, but as someone who's just wrapping up his college career, I can basically second this: Don't bother.

I have a laptop. An honest to goodness, actually portable, quiet enough to use in class laptop. This is an important point, because everyone at universities nowadays has a laptop, but most of them are of the ~8lbs./non-mobileCPU/1.5 hr battery life flavor. My handwriting is atrocious, and I'm an English major. Those two things together meant that I could actually read my notes (in classes where the class structure lent itself to massive notes on some days), and I could work on papers during the hour or so between classes that I might have otherwise wasted. To be brutally honest, I never, ever wished that I had a tablet, mostly because they don't seem to have any redeeming features for people other than comic artists.

Get a decent desktop. Something small enough to bring into the dorms, maybe one of those Small Form Factor machines, or a mini-tower. Get a nice, 17" flat panel monitor to go with it. Unless you want an uber-gaming machine, you should be able to do this pretty easily for about $1,200. If you really want a laptop, might I suggest an iBook. The 12" models are light enough to carry around (5lbs., which is pretty close to my ceiling for what I will carry around in addition to the big-ass book that that one professor will always want you to bring), they get a good 4 hours or so in the real world (provided you aren't hitting the hard drive or optical drive too frequently; make sure to load it with RAM), and while the polycarbonate finish will get minor scratches, they're very durable notebooks. You can (at least last I checked) get the G3 models with few frills (CD-ROM, 30GB Drive) for $800. Toss in another $125 or so to max it out with RAM, and I managed to get my airport card for $50. At $1,000, it is ever so slightly more expensive than the ludicrously cheap after Mail-in-rebate jobs at some of the retail stores, but it is significantly more lightweight and significantly less noisy.

Honestly, though, outside of a few classes (generally the giant lecture hall ones), I rarely used my notebook. It was mostly for time between classes, but that was only because I lived off-campus and couldn't get home to work on my desktop. If you are absolutely positive that you need a tablet, go ahead and snag one, but I'd otherwise recommend grabbing a desktop and waiting to see if a notebook is something you really want after you've been there for a few months.
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