A Wrap-up – Tablet PCs – A Writer’s Infinite Desktop (Part V of V)

May 27, 2008


Where can I buy?
There are only a handful of brick and mortar shops that sell Tablet PCs along with laptops – and for good reason as TPCs are only 7% of the laptop market.  The web is your most abundant resource for Tablet PCs – direct from manufacturer or through resellers.  A great source for writers with beer budgets is the world’s biggest garage sale –
eBay. You can get used Tablet PCs going for 30% – 70% off new prices.  Be careful to only purchase from sellers with quality feedback and numerous sales.  Note: A perfect feedback score of 100% with only 3 reviews is not good enough. 

Allegiance Technology Partners (ATP) is a good reseller of many popular brands such as Lenovo, Toshiba and Fujitsu.  ATP allows you to test drive a demo unit for a 48 hours using the TPC of your choice, for a minimal fee.  They are also a trusted source for purchasing your tablet when you’re ready. Some Best Buys carry HP tablets.  You’ll have to look closely because often times the way these devices are displayed, the center pivoting hinge is hidden behind a security bar, disguising it as a regular laptop.

Dollars and Cents
New tablets range from $799 to $2600.  HP has a very economical convertible tablet in the TX2000 series starting at $799.  Dell gets the prize for the most expensive (non-rugged) convertible with a beginning price of $2599.

Does Weight & Size Matter?

Most tablets come in a light mobile form factor ranging in weight from 2 lbs to 5 lbs.  If you are a writer that likes the freedom of mobility, extra weight can really become an albatross, even a pound or two.  I recommend convertible models weighing around 4 lbs or less.

Convertible and slate screen size is usually 12”, and Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPC) are between 8 – 5 inches.  If you’re a writer who frequently uses the  inking feature, I would stay away from small tablets and UMPCs – like the Fujitsu P1620 and U810.  These are awesome computers for mobile folk and super-travel partners, but the cramped keyboard and passive digitizers are just not conducive for use as a writers’ main computer.

Online Resources
TabletPCP2– Has a very useful matrix which displays all the specs and pricing of most tablets on the market.   This is a great place to start.

Tablet PC Review– Offers a frequently updated website with tablet reviews, as well as a forum.  

Tablet PC Buzz– Offers a frequently updated website for tablet reviews, as well as a forum.  At one point this site was the place to be for the latest TPC news.  It went south and so did a large portion of its membership.  However, since the site was taken over by John Hill of Allegiance Technology Partners it seems to be a stable resource once again for TPC information and social networking in the forums.

Vista vs. XP…as it relates to Tablet PCs
I personally believe Vista will be a wash in 12 months and this debate will no longer be.  We will all rejoice in the (fingers-crossed) stability of Windows 7.  That said… Vista has handwriting recognition built in to the software, whether you’re using a desktop or a TPC.  Windows XP does not.  XP Tablet PC Edition comes with all TPCs running XP. 

If you’re concerned about handwriting recognition Vista wins.  If you’re keeping your notes in digital ink and not too concerned with handwriting recognition, but you want a stable OS, then Windows XP Tablet PC Edition is your best bet while you can still get a copy.

Can you recommend a brand?
Choose a tablet like you would choose any other computer – according to your needs. Once you decide on the form factor and determine your budget it’s time to hunt for a reliable manufacturer or reseller. We have had great experiences with
Fujitsuand Toshiba.  Fujitsu has been in the pen computing business over 20 years and it really shows in their products.  Both Toshiba and Fujitsu traditionally have good customer service, although if you dig, you’re sure to find any number of horror stories.

Although, to date, we have yet to purchase an HP tablet, they offer two very nice machines in the TX2000series and the 2710P.   If you’re also into gaming or heavy into graphics, the TX2000 may be the only tablet currently on the market with an advanced graphic card in the NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) Go 6150. The majority of TPCs use integrated or shared graphics. My best advice in choosing a machine is to look for one with Wacom Penabled technology.  Nestled just beneath most TPC displays you’ll find Wacom – the hardware that makes your TPC screen recognize the digitizer.  Most manufactures chooses Wacom Penable technology, but there are a handful that don’t – and it shows up with sketchy inking.  Wacom also makes really good digitizers.   When you get your tablet go to their website and download the Wacom penabled drivers for the Tablet PC.

This concludes the five-part series on Writers and Tablet PCs.  Go forth and ride the wave of technology.


Five-Part Series

Tablet PCs – A Writer’s Infinite Desktop (Part I of V)

Tablet PCs – Choosing the Perfect Form Factor for Writers (Part II of V)

Tablet PCs and OneNote – The Writer’s Never-Ending Notebook and Research File (Part III of V)

Tablet PCs and Mac Users (Part IV of V)

 A Wrap-up – Tablet PCs – A Writer’s Infinite Desktop (Part V of V)


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Aaron J. Walker June 20, 2008 at 12:06 am

Wow, sorry I just discovered this series of articles.

As a long time tableteer and user of OneNote, I really enjoyed it. The tip on how you organize for writing a screen play was really excellent .

In addition to outlining, capturing thoughts, and writing, I also use my tablet as an illustration tool.

I didn’t see it, but you may want to include how easy it is to sync your OneNote notebooks between your tablet and desktop so they are always in sync.

Thanks for bringing tablets to a wider audience.


Robin June 20, 2008 at 9:17 am

Aaron – I’m glad you were able to locate us and found the articles useful.


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