09-29-2011 08:29 PM
I read your thread on Fujitsu q550 and TPT on tabletpcreview, and gosh, that is hands-down the best thing I have read about tablets anywhere. In those incredibly long posts you really spelled out what I thought a tablet should be, and your journey in searching for one is not just informative, it is agnoizing, inspiring and at times poetic.
Now that you have had some milage with TPT, could you provide an update on your experience? Thanks a lot,
04-07-2012 10:53 AM
04-10-2012 08:23 PM
I'd like to share with you my full experience over the past 6 months, but I'm too exhausted. The amount of acrobatics I've gone through with this machine has me barely able to work up motivation to type this. Really the only reason why I am is because it no longer even turns on, and I was looking for info about new tablets with pen to replace this one. There doesn't seem to be anything obvious, so I guess I'll either send this one in for warranty, or buy a new one.
I've dropped my tablet so many times I lost count. I'd worry about that voiding my warranty, except, I dropped it after it was already broken. It just gets to a point, where you don't cradle it with a gentle touch, and if it happens to fall off wherever you sat it, what more damage could it do? It's actually fairly durable. After being dropped, the casing is usually partially open, and you just snap it back together. The glass hasn't shattered, or scratched much, even after slapping flat on semi-hard surface. Mainly what's wrong with the hardware is internal, the connectors.
First, my power button broke. There's a plastic button you press, and inside is a little box propped up against where the plastic hits, with a round bullseye button. The problem is, this boxy button inside the tablet is only fitted to the circuit board with thin feet soldered to the surface. It doesn't take much for the whole switch to just break off, and then you pop the case open to rattle it out like losing your first tooth. But there's more to come.
Then the microUSB goes. But that one, didn't just break off. Instead, it plays a game, of charge or not, where you get to bend cords and balance things on it just right to get it to sip power. Sip it does, very slowly, unless you turn it off. But since I don't have a power button, every time I want to turn it on, I have to plug in the microUSB to get it to wake up, and if I need to power up from cold shutdown, I have to pry open the case, and use a little metal screwdriver to make contact between 2 of the 3 solder points on the board, and hold it for the little vibration to bring the tablet to life.
I didn't even bother to snap the case back together fully, because then it's more difficult to get open. I had to forget about using sleep, since I couldn't keep opening it, or plugging something into the microUSB port all the time. So I set it to not turn off for the longest option available, and would just have to have it on all the time, until I could bring it back to where the microUSB charging cable is. But that thing got bent so bad, and had to keep getting bent to get it to charge, that eventually the metal teeth inside the cable's connector fell out. Uh oh.
Now I've got no easy way to turn it on, and no way to charge, so with it set to not shut off I'm losing power fast. But without the dock, there's no other way to charge it. So I thought maybe it was just that the cable broke, and I could merely buy a new one. But now, despite having a brand new cable, I can't usually get it in just the right position to charge. So I have to keep moving it ever so slightly, and carefully insert the little screwdriver to make contact, and if it's getting power then I get some red light blinks, but usually there's nothing.
I tried letting it sit there in a position that caused the light to blink, but nothing changes. It just blinks if I try to start it. It must be a really great device to go through all this, right? Well, not really. I mostly gave up any hope of using it for all the things planned, and it basically just became a portable web browser, that'd crash at the worst times, so I'd have to reopen my tabs and redo whatever I was uncomfortably slowly making progress with.
The web browser has problems with various sites, where little things don't work right, and just crashes sometimes, without any good recovery of tabs and whatever else. It can be frustrating, but, I kept using it. Really the most pleasing app I used was the calculator. It's nice to have huge buttons to tap, feels like when you're little in school with those really simple big calculators. It never crashed once, and I used it many times. But I felt silly, paying that much for a big calculator.
So I used it for other things too, like tracking things with the spreadsheet app it comes with. That had its own quirks, but it did the job, inefficiently, until I coded a web app that'd do what I needed with less steps, then I didn't need that anymore. I used the alarm clock sometimes, and since I couldn't turn it off or on easily, I'd leave the clock app open all night, to basically just be a giant clock. Giant calculator, giant clock, it's good for these things.
It's good for other things too, almost. I used SketchBook Pro at first, and made some stuff with it, but it'd register touch input too and that kept getting in the way. Then after I had to reset the machine, and reinstalled it, something messed up and the market app would say it's installing, then wouldn't. So I didn't even have it for a long time, until I did elaborate tricks to get it to finally install again. But then I didn't even use it much, because, it's good, but not great.
That's the main problem, the little things. The browser almost worked for a lot of things, but didn't. It's the finer details, subtle things that aren't even worth getting into, because there's so many little things. This is expected, since Android really wasn't even supposed to be what it is, and some of us are trying to use a phone OS for desktop replacement. It works for lots of quick little things, in a sub par way. It's just when you want to do something serious, and do it well, then little things get in the way.
Like how you have to keep clicking the app list and hitting the X to close them, and some apps don't display right in the list to switch to so then you have to go to the home screen to open it. Or the few times when your touch accidentally pulls up the spinning wheel task switcher you never use because it's so clunky. Or how you can't hide the bar at the bottom when you want to maximize screen and absorb into what you're doing.
Or how the pen, although able to register tiny details, feels like its ink is dry and rubbery, where it doesn't just gush out with the slightest touch, but has to be pressed down, then moved as it slowly oozes out in a rigid way. It's so subtle, maybe most people don't notice, but then you go back to a Wacom tablet for a moment and it's like someone took off the rubber gloves so you can feel again. I still wrote stuff with it, but it's not perfect.
I thought at first the hard buttons would be good, but I didn't use them much, and sometimes they got in the way, or were accidentally pressed. The button on the pen turned out to be totally useless, and I never used it, except to test to make sure, that yes, there's still no purpose in using that. The keyboard, never worked. When I'd do things with SSH, or the web browser, I had to type with the touch keyboard. I'd plug in different keyboards, and nothing worked.
I used it as a flashlight a couple times. Towards the end, I was using it every day and night to read ebooks, and it seemed to work well for that. I'd usually switch it to black background with grey text, and dim the screen real low for night reading. I read in the sun before, with brightness on max. It has its use. Even though the pen doesn't gush out, it does register movements, and I did use it for working out thoughts and planning projects.
Which is why, as under construction it is, I still need a tablet with pen, and I deeply prefer it to be fanless, in a small lightweight body. What else is there, but the ThinkPad Tablet? As difficult as it has been, I still went through it, the daily rituals of screwdrivers and the like, the uncomfortable feeling of having it constantly on as I carried it about, the battery draining away faster than need be. I went through it because, it does serve a purpose, and it is a work in progress, but it still works.
Eventually there'll be better tools, but in the meantime, we use what we have, that is life. I am thankful that they even developed one with an active stylus. They didn't have to. The focus seems to be all about the fingers, when it seems to me they should almost all have digitizers for pen input. So, as imperfect it all is, if there's no better option available soon, then I'll be back to carrying it around, jumping through its hurdles, dropping it as I go.
04-10-2012 10:14 PM
04-11-2012 12:30 AM
04-11-2012 09:24 AM
04-11-2012 10:14 AM
It is unusable for many of the applications one might imagine, which are normal with a Windows-based Tablet PC. What it can do, it does not do well, so although some tasks are possible, they are often inefficient, and unstable.
For example, I wanted to use it for coding, but mine had an odd defect where no USB keyboards worked, only mice, so I could not type. Even if I could, the IDE apps for Android are not very good, so it'd be better to just use SSH, but then you always need to have a net connection.
I wanted to use it as a notebook, for writing down thoughts, drawing diagrams, and brainstorming; it does work for that, but the pen does not write in a pleasing way, so it does not feel like a paper replacement, because with a real pen you never have to worry about pressing deliberately.
Although Wacom-based slates are also not as pleasing as pen and paper, they do not require such deliberation while writing fast. With the ThinkPad Tablet, if I stop thinking about it completely and just write, I'd end up with curves missing in the letters, so it was not readable and information was missing. If you naturally write the word, "m i l k", especially if you write it fast, you might end up with something like, "n l / |-", as some strokes aren't registered. You must press the pen to the starting point, and deliberately make each stroke to get it to register, which does not feel natural and distracts you from your thoughts. If you get into that habit, you can write more effectively, but it does slow you down and hinders your fluidity. It's kind of like, writing with a broken pencil that's taped together in the middle. Sure, you can still write with it, but it has a weakness you must be partially conscious of to avoid it bending in two. You must change your grip, your tension, your style of movement. Then even when you do all that, it never quite writes as detailed and elegantly.
Then even when you do write or paint with it, the apps aren't anywhere near the level you're used to with Windows. For example, one cannot simply search for a word in their notebook to quickly find notes that contain that handwritten word, and copy it as text to paste into another document. Maybe the apps will develop, and have such useful features, but at the time of use there wasn't even an Android-based replacement for the simple Windows Journal.
It becomes useful to have it as a portable web browser. But there are quirks with how it renders and interacts with pages sometimes, and even if you get through all that, it crashed at least once a day. That means, you have multiple tabs open, are in the middle of something, or maybe not, it doesn't care, and then, the browser is not responding, you may wait, but you'll wait forever, so you must click to close, then it's gone. You have to redo wherever you were.
I'm not using it now, it doesn't even turn on. But it's like if you have a daily commute to a place of employment, and your car's turn signals don't work, and you have to push it down the hill to get it to start. Sure, one can say, just bring it in to be fixed, and yet, you will often see people pushing their car down the street every day for what seems far too long. Why? The vehicle is barely usable, and yet, they persist. It is because, they depend on it, even if it is just comfort of routine. They could certainly find a way to get a ride for a while, walk to a bus station, but, the amount of work required to push-start it and deal with the little peculiarities they've grown accustomed to is less than all that. We tend to take the path of least resistance, and that is not always laziness, but behaving efficiently.
04-11-2012 09:48 PM