Motion Computing J3500 arrives

I got hold of the Motion Computing J3500 this week, both the touch and Gorilla Glass models. As I mentioned in my last post I’ve been using the Fujitsu Lifebook T900, but I find that I use it almost exclusively as a slate. So I’m in the process of switching my mobile operations to the J3500.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the T900. It is certainly my first choice of convertible Tablet PCs. Fujitsu have been extremely reliable for us (less than 1% failure rates so far which is remarkable), and the T900 will continue to be my mobile video editing machine due to it’s performance profile.

I’m switching to the Motion Computing J3500 because of it’s smaller profile, dual battery setup (to be fair I could do this with the T900 too) and the Gobi mobile broadband. We don’t have mobile broadband as an option on the T900 here in Australia unfortunately.

So it’s onto the Motion Computing J3500 with touch. Here is a video that we shot to give you a little preview of it.

After using the J3500 and T900 for a few months now I am extremely impressed with Windows 7 and touch. The only drawback that I have found is that I am constantly touching the Wacom Interactive Pen Display in my office with my finger. I have to remind myself…

Written by brettg in: Tablet PC | Tags: , , , ,

Digital Note Taking and Inking is a Mainstream Feature!

Sumocat-Digital-Ink-Blog One of the best known digital inkers of all time is Sumocat who writes for Gottabemobile.com. To see a great example of what digital inking is all about, visit Sumocat’s ink blog here: http://sumocat.blogspot.com/

But something that he said in a comment on one of his articles yesterday got me thinking…

Just about the only thing I don’t like about the iPad is the lack of real inking, but this isn’t something that appeals to the masses. – Sumocat, Gottabemobile.com comments

Last night I was out at a business lounge in the Melbourne Airport Hilton with a couple of Motion Computing VPs and Sumocat’s comment came to mind… As I looked across the room I noticed business people all over the place having informal meetings and taking notes on pen and paper.

Perhaps Sumocat’s comment was referring to the fact that people don’t use pen and paper so much while vegetating on the couch (or toilet) – which is of course the intended use case for an Apple ipad. And he’d be right about that… Touch will do just fine.

However, I thought how many people work in an office, attend meetings all day long and take notes? Tablet PCs in their current form are unbelievably ideal for this use case, and I’d have to say that there are masses.

At home, at work, in the car (as a passenger or stopped of course!), at church, at the shops, at the post office… there are so many places that you scribble notes on paper. Surely everyone does that?

Touch in any form will simply not cut it to replace the ballpoint pen, but a proper windows Tablet PC with an active digitizer can! If we could only get them into a consumer format and priced like an Apple iPad.

I think now that Apple will never adopt the pen. I doubt that Google will either when they release a couple Tablet PCs shortly. C’mon Microsoft, it’s time to act on Courier – put your cards on the table(t)!


200,000 Tablet PC views on YouTube

Thanks to Apple iPad madness, my Tablet PC YouTube channel goes over 200,000 views tomorrow… At the start of the year (only one month ago), I was celebrating 100,000 views. Most of the traffic has been aimed at one video I did showing off the Motion Computing F5 with windows 7 on it.


I filmed this video before the release of Windows 7 showing it alongside another F5 with Windows Vista on it.

I wanted to show off the improvements for tablet PC users in windows 7 as well as the Motion F5 hardware… I think that I’ve certainly succeeded in both! This video itself will account for 100,000 views in a couple of days.

The thing that strikes me is that there are so many people who still don’t even know about Windows Tablet PCs, even though they have been around for 10 years in their current form (20 years really on Windows).

Sure 200,000 views is nothing compared to the dizziness that surrounds an Apple product launch, but I’m still proud of what we have achieved so far here down under… All part of a days work for me to get the message out about real, useful tablet PCs that will make your job quicker and easier – not just Apple richer. Swipe!

Written by brettg in: Tablet PC | Tags: , , , , ,

Apple iPad – Sure it’s an eBook reader, but it could have been so much more!

Apple iPad with portfolio I was seriously expecting the Apple iPad to be a game changer, but it appears to me that the folks at Cupertino haven’t spent any time using real Tablets. If they had, the iPad probably wouldn’t be lacking an active digitiser with digital ink capabilities.

When commentators said that the lack of Tablet PC sales means that people don’t like the pen, maybe Apple listened. But most of those folks that pass comment on Tablet PCs haven’t seriously used one either…

It’s not true that people don’t like the pen. They might not like the idea of it, but for the most part they’ve never tried it, so they don’t really know that they don’t like it. It’s an experience that they have never been able to have, so they really don’t know how useful it is. The disappointing thing is that thanks to Apple, they may never know.

Windows Tablets are still far from perfect, but due to the lack of a digitiser they are still far more useful than the iPad appears to be.

Tablet-PC-Meeting with Motion C5, J3400 and LE1700 Tablet PCsTo give you an example, I spent the weekend in a conference. I took notes through the entire full day session on a Motion Computing C5 tablet on one battery. That included scribbled notes, mind maps, sketches, drawings and audio. Windows indexed all of my handwritten content in the background so that I can search through it… which I often do.

Another example, when a customer calls on the phone, I have my Tablet PC open with Microsoft OneNote and our enquiry form template. I fill in the details we discuss without distracting the person on the other end from the conversation with the noise of frantic key tapping. It’s much faster to note take this way than on the keyboard anyway.

The original TC1100 Tablet PC When I go to a meeting with a customer, I always take notes and fill in the answers to my questions so that my sales process does not rely on tatty notebooks, sticky notes and lost paper.

I often take screen shots of things like web pages, pictures, documents and videos, then scribble on them and email them off using the Microsoft Snipping Tool.

I never print letters of faxes that I have to sign. I just sign on the screen and email them straight back using Bluebeam or Word.

Digital note taking, sketching and drawing is all impractical on a device like the iPhone or iPad. There are no tools to do it with… Sure, you could use the brushes application shown at the iPad launch to draw with your finger… But that’s a bit like drawing with a blunt stick. Practically useless when compared to using a Tablet PC with a Wacom active digitiser – Which is both proximity and pressure sensitive, while your touch screen is neither.

No, there are only 2 things that have held Windows based Tablet PCs back from going where Apple is about to go (and I’m not talking about UMPCs here).

  1. Price – iPad is cheap in comparison
  2. Availability – iPad will be available to get your hands on in most places.

Windows Tablets did not take a huge hit today, because Apple decided to play it safe. Did Apple fall into the old corporate trap of too many focus groups, too many committees, too many meetings, too many voices of fear in the back of their heads? They played it safe and just supersized an existing product… I don’t think that’s going to fly.

This is not the mobile phone scenario where windows mobile is being seriously spanked by the iPhone. Phones are pretty much a closed system, whereas Windows Tablets leverage the 92% of computers in the world that run Windows, not to mention the fact that they can connect to and access practically any server be that Windows, *nix or Mac.

That said, if Microsoft et al don’t act – and be seen to act – it may be only a matter of time until history is rewritten by Apple.

Remember the first iPhone? With no 3G, no video, no app store? Apple won’t stand still with a seriously deficient product like this until it becomes a seriously useful product like the iPhone 3Gs.

Written by brettg in: Tablet PC | Tags: , ,

It’s a Tablet! Seth Godin confirms release of Apple Tablet

Seth Godin confirmed tomorrow’s release of Apple Tablet on his blog this morning…

I want to be the very first author to announce a new project for Apple’s tablet.

He adds,

Steve Jobs will probably never speak to me again for announcing before his launch. That’s okay, he never speaks to me anyway.

It’s not really news, but it’s still interesting… As is the Vook Video / Book reading platform that is referred to in the post.

Read it here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/01/jumping-the-gun.html

Written by brettg in: Tablet PC | Tags: , , ,

Super impressed with Kindle 2 – Can’t wait until UMPCs come like this!

kindle2I got a chance to get up close with the Kindle 2 over the holidays… Until recently, that’s been pretty hard to do here in Australia.

My verdict: Super impressed!

The eInk screen is very comfortable to read, although I didn’t get a chance to use it in the sun (as it rained in QLD pretty much the whole time).

What I like about the Kindle 2:

  • Super thin
  • Very light – easy to hold for long periods of time
  • Easy to read
  • Long battery life…

What I don’t like about the Kindle 2:

  • Still very limited selection of titles in Australia. It’s getting better, but still not good enough
  • Scrolling control / jog dial – could take a lesson from the old HP TC1100 jog dial
  • Lack of touch input
  • Device is locked in Apple style…

Pros outweigh the cons as far as I’m concerned. The Kindle 2 will do much to attract people to e-reading.

What I’m really excited about is the prospect of using a Tablet PC or UMPC that fills this form factor. No, I don’t want it to run some dumbed down mobile phone OS like Google Chrome or Windows Mobile either… I want full Windows on it. I want it to replace my desktop like my Motion J3400 does… Can’t wait for that – It’s only a matter of time.


Tablet PC – why you need to be patient…

Microsoft MouseEvery article I read about Tablet PCs in mainstream IT press seems to want label the Tablet PC as a failed concept. As I watch significant numbers of Tablet PCs walk out the door every month in our business, I chuckle every time I hear about it… Of course, even I’m old enough to know that it’s all happened before…

Into Personal Computing History…

In its current form, the PC mouse is now 42 years old, but it is really only 25 years since it went mainstream with the Apple Macintosh – 1984… Here’s what a respected PC journalist had to say about that:

"The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter). Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. It, unfortunately, leaves the “why” out of the equation – as in “why would I want this?” The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I dont want one of these new fangled devices."

John C. Dvorak – Commenting on the mouse that came with the Apple Macintosh, San Francisco Examiner, 19 February 1984

Tablet PC Meeting With Paper And ScissorsThat pretty much sums up the way the tech journos  write about Tablets and UMPCs today…

Like the switch from keyboard to the mouse, most people will initially resist the change… I still know people who hate the mouse so much that they continue to operate completely without one.

That said, even I was still using PCs without a mouse well into the 90’s (we had PCs at home, not Macs). Nowadays, it would be practically impossible to work without a mouse (barring touch and pen input of course!).

I believe that the adoption of Touch and tablet technology is similar. Digital pen technology has been around in a commercial form for 20 years now, but it really hit the mainstream in 2001 (2006 for UMPC). So it’s been 9 years and things are getting exciting for a couple of reasons:

  1. Better hardware – outdoor / indoor screens, capacitive touch, low power processors, mobile broadband access.
  2. Better software – Windows 7, multi-touch, Android, better handwriting recognition and ink enabled apps like Microsoft Office.

HP TC1100 Convertible Hybrid Tablet PC with Docking StationSo the Tablet will continue to gain ground as  an accepted mainstream form of computing.

However, it won’t play out exactly the same. That’s because tablets are most useful in mobile scenarios, whereas the mouse could be used practically on a desktop. Practical Tablet PC use also has much higher software and processing requirements – like handwriting recognition and virtual keyboard input.

That means that unlike the mouse which is now attached to practically every PC, tablets will probably never gain that sort of presence. Additionally, they will take longer to gain mainstream acceptance.

Apple will have a good crack at it this year… like they did with the mouse, with the release of some sort of Tablet. But like the much like the mouse, they probably won’t be able to change the market overnight.

Also, if Apple do adopt touch input on a PC – as the mouse has taught us – it does not mean that Apple will ultimately own the market.


Getting to know (and love) the UMPC

I’m definitely a Tablet PC guy and I have to admit that I never really got into the UMPC thing… In the early days, going to a UMPC meant taking a massive cut in power. It was like going back to the original days of the Tablet PC.

Anyone who ever used that slug of a thing called the HP TC1000 would know what I’m talking about. Simple tasks like clicking on a website link to 2 or 3 seconds to process. There is nothing worse than waiting for your computer to catch up with you.

Fortunately, HP quickly switched over to Intel Centrino processors, introduced the TC1100 and we never looked back from there. Things were reasonably fast again…

Then along came the UMPC. We go back to 600 MHz processors and super slow computing. It was like a time warp. It has always disappointed me that OEMs in the Microsoft camp (probably pushed into it by Microsoft themselves) tend to release things that aren’t ready for the market, ahead of their time.

So the first generation of UMPCs came out with hardware that was way underpowered and they struggled to run windows full stop. I wasn’t impressed and the market wasn’t either. Gigabyte T1028X TouchNote - Touch Screen Netbook

To their credit though, Microsoft and several manufacturers have hung in there and tried a few different things with UMPCs. We’ve now gone through three or four iterations of the UMPC.

In the meantime, the Intel Atom processor – that was first introduced to the Windows world in the UMPC – spawned the netbook craze. Massive netbook sales have meant that the hardware base for UMPCs with their tiny form factors is massively improved.

Add to the that release of Windows 7 and the swelling desire for touch functionality – particularly of the multi-touch iPhone style – and you have a plethora of new UMPC devices that are somewhat flying in the face of my last post on the subject…

In my collection I now have several UMPCs including:

With the exception of the Q1 which is about to move on from the collection, they all include inbuilt 3G / Next G mobile broadband hardware perform exceptionally well. The all use the latest generation of netbook style Atom processors and they run Windows XP or Windows 7 well.

The Gigabyte is a very useful addition to the family. We were thinking about getting a standard non-touch screen netbook for the house, but the Gigabyte was a great decision. Not only is it a really good expandable netbook, it is also great as a Tablet slate for eBook, news and blog reading. It is always more comfortable to read from a slate because you can get closer to the screen. The only thing that I would like on it is a backlit keyboard for working at night…

Viliv S5 UMPC - *Now Available*The Viliv S5 is truly incredible. It amazing that so much can fit into such a tiny package. In fact it is a little too small at times, but coupled with my mobile bluetooth keyboard it is pretty awesome. I can blog from it using my favourite wordpress interface – Windows Live Writer. I’ve tried blogging from the iPhone, but it is far too limited and small. The Viliv S5 fills that gap nicely.

Viliv X70 UMPC - *Now Available*The Viliv X70 is my take away PC. It is a much nicer size to work with, but it is also logically a fair bit larger than the S5, so not as “sneakable”… 3G inbuilt again, and with my stylus pen and custom touch keyboard it is quite nice to use. I think the X70 is the ultimate eBook reader.

I’m looking forward to the next generation of UMPC hardware. The UMPC won’t replace the digitiser based Tablet PC for me, but I am a UMPC convert. They certainly make life easier for me.

Written by brettg in: UMPC | Tags: , , ,

iPhone or Tablet PC

Since i’m a touch / tablet geek I have an iPhone, several UMPCs and several tablet pcs.

I’m fairly proficient at typing so there is nothing faster than typing. But the reason that I have tablets is that it’s often not convenient to pop out a keyboard to type. You can’t always have a flat surface handy to rest your laptop on (although I’ve seen plenty of people try).

So with all touch and tablet devices input is the question.

The combination of the capacitive touch screen, virtual keyboards and predictive correction is great. I use it all the time for quick emails. SMS is so easy with this too.

When writing something like a blog post on long emails, the virtual keyboard on the iPhone is way to slow.

On the other hand, my tablet pcs are excellent for that job. They are a lot bigger than the iPhone so not as discreet. However handwriting recognition quickly becomes a very fast method of input. The good news is that with windows 7 it is even faster! In fact with my experience at pen input, handwriting is fast catching up to typing as a method if input.

So the tablet pcs fill that space. Very mobile, great for longer more detailed input.

So whar about the UMPC? Well they are not as good as either the tablet or the iPhone for input. But what they do have going for them is windows! There are so many things that you just can’t do easily with an iPhone… For me that’s things like access files on the network, play windows media content, access certain websites, backgrohnd instant messaging etc etc. UMPCs can do all of that well…

Wrote this on the iPhone… Very hard work!

Written by brettg in: Technology | Tags: ,

Installing Windows 7 on Viliv S5 without a USB hub

s5_2I’ve been attempting to install Windows 7 on the Viliv S5 tonight via USB memory key. I don’t have a USB hub so I had to pull out the USB memory key and plug in a USB keyboard when needed.

When I got to the installation drive options screen I still had the keyboard plugged in  and I kept getting an error when l selected the drive:

"Windows cannot install to the selected  location error 0x80300001"

After a fair bit of hair pulling I discovered that I could get past the problem by plugging in the USB memory key and using the Viliv buttons to get through that screen.

Problem solved and lesson learned:  Remember to have a USB hub and keyboard handy before installing Windows 7 on a Viliv S5

Written by brettg in: Business | Tags: , , ,

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