Monday, March 09, 2009

Tablet PCs: Still Too Heavy

I went out and bought a nice new HP Touchsmart TX2 the other day. And I’ve been very happy with it. For one thing I’ve hankered after a tablet for some time, but the shear ‘double the price’ barrier has always stopped me. But that’s not the case with the TX2, which goes for under $2k and is fairly comparable with it’s non-tablet brethren.

And it’s a touch-screen as well, though the multi-touch capabilities are pretty much just gimmicks supported by a handful of built-in HP apps until Windows 7 comes along. That being said, I’ve already got very used to flicking the screen for page up / page down operations (though I still think a scroll-wheel on the side would be just as easy).

But it’s just too heavy.

It’s not heavy by current standards: it’s sub 2 kilos, and even the (far more expensive) Fujitsu Lifebooks only go down to 1.6 kg (in a 12”). And it’s definitely not too heavy to carry in a bag on your shoulder. But in my totally non-scientific ‘picking things up with my hand’ testing I’ve determined that the ideal weight for a tablet PC is less than a kilo (the weight of a Dell Mini 9 in fact). Tablets are for holding, right? Well at 2kg (and without much grip on the edges) your thumb is getting a good workout, let me tell you.

So my requirements for a tablet PC that will genuinely shift usage patterns:

  • <1kg
  • 4 hours battery life minimum, ideally 10, included in the weight above.
  • Some decent ergonomics around the frame so one can actually hold onto the damn thing.
  • About $600

Various rumours regarding tablet netbooks seem to be coming to fruition, so provided the dual-core Atom has enough grunt to handle the handwriting recognition, then this will be all good. Many a time I’ve sat there with the Mini 9 on my lap thinking ‘if only the screen would just flip round…’

Coming soon: less hardware ramblings. Promise.

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