Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Report on new "toys"

Just a side note. This has nothing to do with politics, so if you're here to get your blood pressure up, move on. If you need a non-partisan break, keep reading. I'm working on a post about my work in the recycling world, but it's going to need some work. Because of that job, I made a friend who tracked down about 50 Compaq TC1000 "Tablet" PCs. I told him not to let me see it, because if it was good, I'd have to get one. He failed me and brought it to my office. I have one now, as does one of my co-workers. Many of you know what a PDA is and possibly have one. What if you could put that kind of functionality in your hands, the handwriting recognition in particular, and make it weigh 2 pounds, and give you a 1024x768 10.4" display? Oh, yes, it's a 1G processor, 512M of RAM and a 30G drive inside, running XP w/ SP2. No more little cut down versions of Excel and Word, or Internet Explorer, you now have the real stuff! TC1000 Specs from HP for the curious. The display can transmogrify (I learned that word from the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strips) between landscape or portrait mode by clicking a button on the bezel. The hand writing interface is amazing. The day after I got the tablet, I sat at Borders writing posts for here. I cranked out about 6 pages in Word and maybe corrected about 3% of my "typing." You can do letters, or cursive and it learns your handwriting better the more you use it. It has become my choice of "tools" now and as I type this on my big computer, my fingers are rebelling somewhat. I could write very quickly and it kept up with me and as I botched some cursive words, thinking "it's not going to get that!" in many cases, it did just fine. For meetings, classes, lectures, jotting quick notes, without the agony of sitting down later to type them up is eliminated with this tablet. No subtle clicking of keys in that lecture hall, or at the board room table on your obtrusive laptop. Better yet, you can pull it down on your lap, just like the clipboards of days gone by, and just jot away with the stylus. Silent and effective. There is an application named Windows Journal, which looks like a regular lined pad of paper and has "tools" like highlighters (pick one of 8 colors) and erasers, as well as "flags" to drop on the page to call attention to your scribbling. You can actually just write/draw on the pages here. It's not great in bright outdoor light, as I found out this weekend sitting on the end of a friend's dock on the Intercoastal. I was going to write, but I sat and watched the seaguills and pelicans, and Marine one fly over instead. Anyhow, It's difficult to describe how useful it has become, with it's built in 802.11b around the house, as well as working elsewhere. It boots like a regular PC, so the "instant on" isn't there, but it's like a PDA on steriods. If you see one, ask the owner if you can play with it, but be ready to reach for a credit card. I'm selling my notebook to finance it! To find out more tips on saving money on electronics, come back in a few days and I'll share some of what I have learned in the recycling world in how to save lots of money on toys such as this.... This is not an advertisement for my friend. His source for these was sold out within two weeks of getting them. I just wanted to share my excitement about this new capability. There are some still on eBay, but it appears they came from the same place Mark was getting them, so they will most likely dry up soon.

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