A site devoted to discussing techniques that promote quality and ethical practices in software development.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A review of two Windows 7 Tablet PCs with touch support

I was looking to buy a Windows 7 tablet PC that was more than a touch sensitive notebook. I am not a novice to Tablet as I am still using a T1510 when it was first release several years ago. Any candidate must be able to write like a tablet PC as the primary requirement, which means you can input without the use of the keyboard by means of the TIP (Tablet Input Panel) and touch support was a secondary requirement.

I narrow down to two: Acer Multi-Touch and Fijitsu T4310L both running Windows 7 Home Edition. The processor specification was of secondary concern to me. The functioning as a tablet was more important to me.

Because of the price difference and the weight, the Acer was the first that attracted my attention. In all respect this machine had every tablet tools and support - TIP, Journal Writer, Snipping tool and sticky note, except one thing.

This machine does not come with a pen and rely solely on touch operation which was currently in vogue. This decision by Acer defied the natural human instincts. No human I know of writes with a finger otherwise Quill was never discovered.  But Acer, in search of being vogue failed to deal with this probably. Most likely buyers' ignorance and misconception of a touch computer and a tablet. I placed the blame on the level of competence on the sales people.

A quick test of writing my name was a real struggle with the TIP and I challenged anyone to write more complicated text such as any Chinese characters on it. Even the sales person had a real struggle. Sure you could flick through image files with ease with a finger but you could not flick out a sentence or even some basic words.

Seeing several people struggling with it, I declared that Acer was not only an unsuitable Tablet PC but also bordering on not being a Tablet PC either. It is basically a touch sensitive notebook with all the Tablet tools, that no one can basically use. Its bias towards touch robbed its market share. It was more than a touch (pardon the punt) of disappointment.

I would definitely not recommend this to anyone as a Tablet PC. If your sole purpose was to get that flicking and touching actions, then you could do a lot better with a purely touch sensitive notebook, rather paying for an imitation Tablet PC.

With this shocking disappointment, I moved over to a Fijitsu T4310L with Windows 7 Home edition. This machine came with a special pen and also reacted to touch, like flicking. Writing on the TIP with that pen instantly showed the difference between this and the Acer. It was like comparing a Harley Davidson with a bicycle.

It was pure joy to write with the pen on this machine, even to a novice by-stander. Coupled with the smart recognizer, which was also available to Acer but incapable to exploit it properly, the degree of accuracy was several order of magnitude of improvement over my T1510. The special pen had programmable buttons on it as well as an eraser at the top of it.

The only disappointment was that it used a special pen that was expensive to replace. Without it, one had to resort to using the finger and this brought it back to the level of incompetency of the Acer.

With respect to some of messages from Microsoft on the combination of hand writing recognizers one could have in a Home Edition, I was pleasantly surprised to see the presence of Traditional and Simplified Chinese recognizers in an English Windows 7 Home Edition.

I was so disappointed with the Acer that I did not bother to try to discover this support. The other reason was that I could not use the finger to touch that tiny down arrow to drop down the language options in the TIP. Not such frustration on the T4310.

Hence I could not be certain if the policy reported had been repealed quietly for the sake of good common sense and now an English Home Edition could have any other language recognizers one needed, just like previous editions of Windows. But I could be certain that it was available in my T4310 running Windows 7 Home Edition.

T4310 was a clear winner, even though it was dearer. What's the use buying a cheaper Tablet PC imitation.

No comments:

Blog Archive