Author: Yogi Schulz

If you’ve been thinking about acquiring a Tablet PC but have been hesitating for various reasons, it’s time to take another look. The second generation of Tablet PC’s from various manufacturers is now available. These tablets offer significant performance and usability improvements that address the shortcomings of the first generation that led to slower than anticipated adoption of Tablet PC’s.

A Tablet PC is not simply an over-grown PDA. A Tablet PC has enough power, ease-of-use and functionality to serve as the primary PC for most office professionals. The early adopters of the Tablet PC’s are individuals who move around a lot like medical doctors, sales professionals, repairmen and warehouse managers.

I’ll compare the two leading tablet models; a Toshiba Portégé M200 Tablet PC that I own and a HP Compaq Tablet PC tc1100 that HP provided to me to evaluate.


The first improvement that both tablets offer is a marked performance improvement over their predecessors. While the Toshiba retains a small performance lead, the HP has moved up from marginal to acceptable.

Hand Writing

A big difference between a tablet and a laptop is the stylus for writing notes and operating software on the tablet. Handwriting recognition is the second improvement. Significant progress has been made through the years from the Apple Newton to the Palm, to the Pocket PC and now to the Tablet PC. I was particularly impressed when the handwriting recognition program even corrected a spelling error I made.

Mr. Jeff Hamilton, a frequent user of his Toshiba Tablet at Lethbridge Community College, likes the flexibility of typing or writing as seems most appropriate for the occasion.


Windows Journal, for taking notes, is the key application that makes tablets appealing. On launch, Journal displays a lined pad. Writing on the screen with the stylus is easy and comfortable. One particularly useful feature is the ability to add space between existing lines of writing. How often have we wanted to do this on a paper pad? When you’re finished taking notes, you can save them or convert them to text for further refinement using a word processor.

Mr. Clayton Driver, the Chief Information Officer at Aquila Networks Canada, uses his HP Tablet almost continuously. He’s an avid user of Journal and likes the ability of tablets to make handwritten annotations on a document and then return it to the author for clarification or enhancement.

To input text into other programs such as Internet Explorer or PowerPoint, each tablet comes with the Tablet PC Input Panel program. The Input Panel displays either a keyboard image where you can peck at the keys with the stylus or a writing area. In either case, what you write will appear at the insertion point in the application that you have open.

Mr. David Schnerch, of Mobile Data Solutions, uses his Toshiba Tablet for his personal diary. The ability to easily keep sketches, drawings and text together in one file is particularly appealing to him.


Tablets are intended to be carried easily around the house or down the corridor to a meeting. Low weight is the third improvement. It’s crucial to easy portability. The HP is the low weight champion at 1.8 kg because of a slightly smaller screen and the clever ability to leave the keyboard behind. The Toshiba is a close second at 2.0 kg.

Battery Life

Long battery life is a prerequisite to the effective use of tablets. The usable life of a tablet battery is about 4 hours. The increased battery life is the fourth improvement. It’s achieved through a combination of improved battery technology and more sophisticated power management that reduces power consumption of idle components like the disk or screen.


In addition to Ethernet and a dialup modem, all tablets come with WiFi, a wireless network communication technology. WiFi makes it easy to walk around your house or office and stay connected to the Internet and your internal network. Surfing the web while watching TV or answering e-mail during a mind-numbing meeting is a breeze. WiFi access is now available in most hotels and in an increasing number of cafes.


Unlike older generations of tablet devices, Tablet PC’s can run standard PC software. I’m using the same versions of Microsoft Office 2003, Internet Explorer and Acrobat Reader that I also use on my desktop machine. The only difference is that, for the tablet, I installed the Digital Ink functionality from the Microsoft web site. There are no file or function incompatibility issues that I have been able to discover.


Choose the Toshiba Portégé M200 Tablet PC for performance and keyboard comfort. Choose the HP Compaq Tablet PC tc1100 for lightest weight and coolest looks.

Docking Station

The Toshiba Tablet PC Docking Station is quite elaborate. It has a detachable portion that enables you to set the tablet onto a flat surface and use its keyboard in laptop mode and still be connected to the base station.

Little Features make a Big Difference

The HP pen is fatter than the Toshiba pen. I found the HP more comfortable.

The HP QMenu brings together a number of items that you want to adjust from time to time. Toshiba achieves the same function with a larger number of system tray icons that are harder to remember.

The HP is encased in a zippered notepad case. This avoids rotating the screen around all the time to protect it when carrying the tablet.

I prefer the Toshiba TouchPad to the HP Stick Mouse.

The HP keyboard is smaller, lighter and more cramped. The Toshiba is wider, a little heavier and more comfortable.

The HP has a jog wheel that is effective for scrolling, just like the HP Jornada.


David Schnerch –dschnerch@mobiledatasolutions.caI have been using the Toshiba Portege 3500 for over a year and have enjoyed a lot of success with the device. With a number of features for taking notes, sketching ideas, and drawing diagrams in a presentation this machine has saved a lot of time by keeping the notes local to the machine. With the Tablet PC software it makes it easy to search on the computer something that was writen in my own hand righting and I am able to review my notes in my own handwriting. This also eliminates the need for Black book diarys. I can now keep notes in a journal(diary) format and be able to cut and paste modify or discuss ideas with my counterparts from the Journal writer.

Contracts can be reviewed, highlighted, approved and signed right on the Tablet PC. Basically eliminating the need for paper. With the quick standby and hibernate mode I am able to close the lid of the Tablet and get right back to the last place I was in. Today’s Office 2003 gives the additional capablity to draw, highlight on a document, which is backward compatible to other users.

Today I use the Tablet PC with Mobile wireless cards from 1xRTT to GPRS, including WiFi products (802.11 and Bluetooth) so I have full internet access anywhere I go. The primary applications used on here is online applications, full feature applications and PIM (OWA Outlook web access).

Jeff Hamilton []I use a TabletPC exclusively for my computer system. I had a laptop and an ipaq but replaced both with the Tablet. I love the ability to write or type when the occasion is appropriate. I find that I write about 33% of the time. My typing speed is very good otherwise I would be handwriting all the time. Microsoft has recently improved the handwriting capability so the accuracy, even with my poor writing, is extremely good. I often use the tablet for email as I can navigate messages more quickly. When I am at home the tablet is in handwriting mode almost all the time. Whether I’m surfing, answering email, msn’ing, or helping kids with homework I find the Tablet mode extremely helpful. The only irritant I have had with the tablet involves the battery life; running on wireless mode with decent screen brightness I only get about two hours of life. The newer machines come with the Centrino processor so they have addressed that issue already.

I’ve taken to reading books on the Tablet, too. It’s great to have a selection of booKs in one spot The screen readers have been greatly improved so reading on screen is a natural experience.

I have played with Windows Journal and OneNote lots. For note taking and even brainstorming, OneNote is MUCH superior. The note organization is fantastic. You can search all your notes – even if they are handwritten. I keep track of every meeting, phone call, conversation using OneNote. The only application I use more is email. Good luck with the article.

When I bought the Tablet a year and a bit ago the recognition was pretty good. With some of the updates the recognition improved. I also think that the Tablet seems to learn how you write. I guess what I was referring to with regards to the improvement was the beta Service Pack 2 that is circulating for Windows XP. It has a rewrite to the handwriting tools which are phenomenal. It used to be that to type in url in a browser I was almost forced to use the keyboard. The new update lets me handwrite web addresses and it’s VERY accurate.

Jeff Hamilton
Admin, Instructional Technologies
Lethbridge Community College
403 317 3524

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