I’ve been using tablet PCs as far back as 2004 when I bought the HP TC1100 with Windows XP Professional Tablet edition. The TC1100 is more of a slate than a tablet PC since you can detach the keyboard and use tap on the screen with a digitizer pen to input commands and text by way of a soft keyboard. On one occasion my daughter borrowed my Tabby (yes, we give names to our computers at home) and many of her classmates thought it was a “cool, new” computer. Once on board a plane I took out Tabby to do some work and the passenger next to me asked what device I was using. I could never fathom why HP would decide to kill this product in favor of a conventional tablet PC with a swivel screen. You can see the slate formfactor of the TC1100 on first season of Bones.
With Tabby being six years old and nearing retirement I’ve been on the lookout for a replacement machine. I’ve checked out HP’s TX2 and Dell’s XT2 (ever get the feeling some product marketeers just aren’t that creative?). Both are too heavy for a truly portable experience. The growing popularity of netbooks certainly made me think of the possibility of a netbook equipped with a digitizer. True enough a number of tablet netbook (netvertible) have recently cropped up (see list at the bottom).
The success of the iPod Touch and iPhone shows the possibilities. But even the latest Apple product – the iPad – can’t be construed as a true productivity tool because of its technical limitations. To get a sense of what I mean, click here to watch this video.
One vendor that has been pushing hard and fast in the netbook craze is Lenovo. Lenovo has branded its netbook offering under the label ‘Ideapad’. Early this year, Lenovo launched its first tablet netbook. What is unique about this tablet netbook is Lenovo’s use of a capacitative touchscreen (the same technology used on the iPhone). This is important because capacitative screens are one of the reasons why the iPhone and iPod Touch became popular. Unlike resistive screens which require you to put pressure on the screen to register an action, capacitative screens uses static electricity to initiate an action. The net result is a more fluid experience.
The Lenovo Ideapad S10-3t uses the new Intel Atom Processor N450 which offers a 40% reduction in power consumption. It is rumored that when the N470 becomes available, the S10-3t will offer this option as well.
The fact that this is a netbook and not a laptop means you have to be prepared to take things in stride. A standard feature in most laptops and desktop computers is the ability to multi-task, i.e., run a number of applications at the same thing. The good news is that on a netbook you can still multi-task (unlike iPhones, iPod Touch and iPad). The bad news is that depending on the applications you are running, the experience may not be as smooth or satisfying. For example, watching a video while surfing the Internet will result in the inevitable skips or pause in the viewing experience. Don’t fret! This is hordes better than on an Apple iPad where you can’t surf the Internet while writing your memoirs. The Apple iPad OS simply doesn’t support this today. (more…)