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Microsoft

Microsoft Hypes XP Tablets 518

Dejohn writes "Just got back from the Microsoft Tablet PC launch event here in Seattle. Aside from a couple of application lock-ups during the demonstration (they claimed internet access was down at the demo center and was causing the difficulties), the new technology looks very cool. Microsoft Claimed it 'will recognize all your handwriting unless you can't read it yourself.'" They clearly haven't seen my handwriting. I ran into one of the Motion guys at a Starbucks in Boston and I got to see one of these machines in person and it was quite pretty. No reason you can't run Linux on them from what I saw. Additionally, Dan writes "Sure, CNET's editors got a good look at them and even the mainstream (free registration required) likes this stuff, but didn't South Korea supposedly have these last year, and running Linux at that?"
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Microsoft Hypes XP Tablets

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  • Cool. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:09PM (#4621850)
    The real question is.. what is the point? What can I do with my Tablet PC that couldn't already be done with PDA, laptop or desktop?
    • Re:Cool. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gogl ( 125883 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:15PM (#4621890) Journal
      The real answer is these "tablet PCs" probably aren't all that useful to "true geeks", as we're far too keyboard dependent, but could be quite useful to people ranging from graphics artists to grandmothers. There is most definitely a point, even if it's not that useful to us. The original iMac would be quite stupid for a geek to buy as well (unless you stripped it and put LinuxPPC on it or something), but it's definitely useful to grandma.
      • Re:Cool. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Think about it like this. You get a normal laptop complete with keyboard and trackball, but you *also* get a swiveling monitor and a touch screen.

        BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

        You get it at very little extra cost over the price of a comparable laptop.

        This isn't some huge technical breakthrough like screen-only tablets (I believe Sonic Blue has one of those POS), it's a logical extension of the laptop, like smaller size or better LCD. It won't revolutionize the way you work, but it may make it a lot easier in certain circumstances.
        • Re:Cool. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SerpentMage ( 13390 )
          No its not. I already told my wife to hit me over the head if I decide to buy it.

          Here is why:

          1) It is an underrated notebook. Most have only P3's. Today I finally have desktop replacement notebooks and I get knocked back again with these devices.
          2) All in one notebooks with swivel, etc are just asking to be broken. Notebooks are fragile as is, can you imagine how fragile these things are.
          3) Tablets are generally complementary devices and not primary devices. Typing is faster than writing and you can type smaller than you can write. Writing requires quite a bit of real estate because you cannot write as crisp as a keyboard.
          4) Cost is way too high, for what you get
          5) Writing hurts the hands. Originally when Pen Windows came out 92, I talked about how a tablet would change everything. A woman who's husband was an English Professeur said not a chance. Once when he had to goto England to read old texts he had to write out everything by hand. After three hands his hands were incapable of writing. Typing is simply faster.

          My point is that tablets will be nice, but as COMPLEMENTARY devices and not primary devices. A smarter move would be to make notebooks bluetooth aware and allow users to write on tablet screen's. Actually I am still dumfounded to this day why we do not buy notebook pieces that are wired together using bluetooth...
      • Re:Cool. (Score:3, Interesting)

        I don't know a graphic artist that has like the precision of any previous TabletPC models (yes this isn't the first TabletPC, sorry microsoft), unless they dramatically improved the imput resolution (and pen weight detection) I doubt these will be hits umoung the graphic artists either.
        • Re:Cool. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Pxtl ( 151020 )
          As a graphic artist, I could see a very specialized system that would hold my attention - make it giant sized. Basically a 30" tablet to work on - designed to support someone leaning on the screen - so that I can have a digital drawing table.

          Yes, it would be expensive, but artists would pay to get a nice mix of teh drawing table and the computer.
      • by siskbc ( 598067 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:37PM (#4622039) Homepage
        Not trying to troll, but when is it useful to save scribbles? Usually, I scribble on a napkin or whatever, but this isn't all too coherent. It's usually only useful to me when I make it a bit more coherent, and usually typed. How long do people keep srcribbles? It doesn't seem like it begs for being stored any longer than it takes me to lose it.

        At what point am I going to look for something I scribbled 2 years ago?

        I only see this useful for people who t y p e r e a l l y s l o w . . ...
        • I can think of quite a few situations where saving "scribbles" would be helpful. The main thing which causes people not to use word processing apps in more situations is primarily the speed hit as soon as any formatting is required. Sure, I might be able to type a lot faster than I write, but as soon as any formatting is required, the "pen-on-paper" scheme of just moving your hand to where you want the text to go is a lot faster and more elegant than the best of WP interfaces. Then there's other types of annotations - I can't really envisage taking a laptop to lectures for notetaking because as soon as the professor puts up any kind of diagram I'd have my work cut out opening a paint package, using a trackpoint to copy it down and importing it into my "notes" document before he moves to the next slide. Supporting a new type of data - for an equation or shorthand text would require plugins to be written for the word processor to support that type of information, but you can notate anything as scribbles with much less fuss.
      • Re:Cool. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:10PM (#4622252) Journal
        The real answer is these "tablet PCs" probably aren't all that useful to "true geeks", as we're far too keyboard dependent.

        I'm a "true-enough geek" (why am I begging to be labelled with what originated as the description of the carnival freak who bit the heads off live chickens??). Well, I write code anyway.

        But I don't type well at all. I do a two finger hunt and peck, and I doubt I'll ever train myself to do better.

        But I can scrawl a nearly unreadable scrawl maybe just a bit faster than I can type.

        If these tablets really can recognize handwriting, even words not in its dictionary, e.g, "int foo = functionReturningFoo( bar ) ;", it may be just what I want.

        Or maybe I just need a Powerglove or a Twiddler or a USB jack in my left temporal lobe.
      • Re:Cool. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by athlon02 ( 201713 )
        Put a screen protector film thingie on the tablet PC and have an onscreen keyboard. Current PDAs (at least that I know of) don't even offer 640x480. Imagine eventually that you'd have gigs of magnetic RAM (or whatever really fast non-volatile memory takes root in time) for a hard drive and of course this storage space fits in a really small and thin area the size of a compact flash card or so. I personally want tablet PCs to take off, especially if they make it foldable horizontally and vertically so it fits in my cargo pants :)
      • Re:Cool. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by User 956 ( 568564 )
        The real answer is these "tablet PCs" probably aren't all that useful to "true geeks", as we're far too keyboard dependent, but could be quite useful to people ranging from graphics artists to grandmothers.

        Which begs the question, why is it when Microsoft announces products like this, is it "hyping" them, but when Apple announces slightly faster laptops [slashdot.org] (note, nothing actually *new*, just *slightly faster*), they get a front page story written like it came out of the mouth of a PR drone?

        Honestly, it seems to me that Slashdot is really trying to pimp itself to Apple. Look at the evidence: How many Apple articles [slashdot.org] do you see on a daily basis? Why does Apple have its own section, customized [slashdot.org] to look like Apple's website? Why does Apple have eleven (count them yourself) different topic categories [slashdot.org]? (Compared to one for Sun, one for Microsoft, one for IBM, one for Compaq, and *none* for Dell, whose market share is nearly six times that of Apple [com.com]
    • Re:Cool. (Score:5, Informative)

      by HughsOnFirst ( 174255 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:26PM (#4621965)
      I have a Dauphin pen computer that I got in 1994 or so. It ran some microsoft thing called "windows for pens" and it was pretty good with my handwriting which is pretty amazing since my handwriting is so bad that I can't read it myself and haven't written in script since high school.
      It seems that bad handwriting can be easier for software to recognize than good handwriting

      It ran on a 25mhz cyrix sl486 with 6 meg of memory and a 20 meg hard drive and it worked remarkably well. I wrote my first web site on that, ran Netscape 0.x ...

      Try using a laptop while walking. Pen computers are great for that.
    • And more memory. More convenient to carry around than a laptop. Touchscreen interface. Come on, you know why these will be great.... you can take your pr0n anywhere!! And as a bonus, just wait for interactive DVD's that really make use of that touchscreen....
    • by Qrlx ( 258924 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:27PM (#4621969) Homepage Journal
      You can run an app in 1024x768. You can run Word and Outlook. You can play Counterstrike and aim/shoot by tapping the stylus on the screen.

      Not sure why you'd want to do that (except for the Counterstrike thing, that would be cool.)

      The killer app of the tablet pc is supposed to be the "ink" technology that reads your handwritings. The reviews I've read say functionality is mixed...kinda like early voice recognition I guess. Alas I think ink is not as cool as MS does, because who doesn't know graffiti by this point? Or who can't learn graffiti in like thirty minutes? And typing is still way faster than handwriting and requires a lot less cpu...

      People who handwrite stuff for a living are reluctant to actually start using a computer. They think it's beneath them (doctors at least feel this way -- to them it's data entry. ewwww.) Also the way business processes have been put together, there's a person whose job it is to take handwritten stuff and convert it to computer text, clean it up and so on. THis devie would force a paradigm shift, and ink isn't probably a compelling enough reason to change.

      Being able to rotate the display from landscape to portrait, to set up the device as just a display which is secretly a fully functional computer, all that sounds pretty cool to me. Maybe it will impress clients if your sales team shows up with tablet PCs -- kinda like the receptionist always has a flat panel display. I could see browsing the web as more "fun" on a tablet, but making this slashdot post would kinda suck. (My handwriting is atrocious, by the way. But I also know how to type 40wpm.)

      When tablet PCs didn't cathc on five years ago (warning: these thoughts are ripped from the article in WIndows .NET mag a few months back) they supposedly didn't catch on because they were like twice the cost of regular laptops. MS is hoping that vendors can make Tablet PCs cost competitive with (high-end) laptops, and thus at least one barrier to entry will be gone.
    • Re:Cool. (Score:2, Funny)

      You can pay microsoft's legal bills with this one
    • Re:Cool. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eccles ( 932 )
      What can I do with my Tablet PC that couldn't already be done with PDA, laptop or desktop?

      You can take it to a meeting and put it on your lap (unlike a "laptop") or your off-arm. You can enter data without needing the space for a keyboard. (no click-click either.) Unlike a PDA, you can see reasonably large documents, and use your standard applications. It's like a laptop, only even more portable when you need it to be.
    • Re:Cool. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by searleb ( 168974 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:32PM (#4622001) Homepage
      Whether I'm in class or at work, I take a lot of my notes by hand. This is primarily because I need to draw tables, write equations, or draw diagrams (I'm a visual learner) for my notes, or when I'm explaining a concept to someone else. One of the things I've always wanted my PDA to do is take text notes (memos) alongside drawings over multiple pages (i.e. a merging of a painting program with a memo program). I want this because I want my notes to be searchable and legible, but also be able to contain tables and hand drawings. The searchable note taking function takes care of half of this- now if only it would automatically transform my crappy handwriting to text so that it's legible. Of course, I'd rather if my PDA just did it because I don't want to lay down 2k to replace my paper note books.
    • Possible Cool Uses (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EccentricAnomaly ( 451326 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:35PM (#4622019) Homepage
      I can't wait until someone writes a unicode handwriting recognition tool that lets me input greek letters and funky math symbols and also lets me input equations... And then imagine interfacing all of that with something like mathematica :)

      Oh and it would be cool to draw a rough sketch and have the software automatically clean it up into a nice publication-quality diagram.

      Sure I can do this stuff now with latex and canvas... but a tablet computer would make this so much easier... and more fun :)

      I'm sure there would be use in non-technical stuff too... how about networking these things to a white board during a meeting or teleconference where everyone can draw on the same white board? Or what about drawing charts and diagrams for reports?

      Also drawing could be a form of data input. Say for playing starcraft and drawing out a path for a unit. ...and if you like mouse gestures, you could do even more with a stylus, right?

      Whenever these things take off, I'm sure there will be all sorts of cool new applications for them... I'm just not sure if they'll take off just yet.
    • Re:Cool. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, these may not be perfect for "geeks" who are used to keyboards. However I can see a great advantage to them for company image. Example ;

      Reps on the road.

      If you are trying to sell a product, especially one from a company and demands and claims "technological advancement" your prospects would be blown away by the technology. As a sales front it is an excellent tool.

      As it stands at the moment, our reps take out laptops, and type up contracts, print them, and get them signed. With this, the rep AND the customer can sign, ON THE TABLET, and its done. How quick, fast, and professional is that?
    • Imagine a lightweight unit that you can sit on your coffee table, and is "grabable" when you want to do some quick surfing or e-mail.

      This unit isn't that (too heavy, batter life, etc), but I for one am excited by something like that.

    • by copponex ( 13876 )
      A PDA is portable, but it's very hard to enter information; even if you're using graffiti. A laptop isn't small enough to carry around under your arm all day, and not flexible like a notepad. Desktops, of course, are not portable at all.

      There are tons of applications for this. I'm currently in a retail sort of situation while going through college, and doing things like inventory (hook up a barcode scanner on the top); directly inputting information into our customer database while I'm talking to the customer in the store; showing them similar products on the tablet that I don't have on the showroom floor; querying a database to check stock while in the showroom; jotting notes more quickly than possible with a pda or notebook...

      There are a lot of possibilities. The best computer in the world would be one that required no previous experience to operate it efficiently, and this is a step in that right direction.

      -Dean
    • Re:Cool. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Grieveq ( 589084 )
      For us college students this is a huge. Try taking notes in an engineering course with a laptop. It just isn't going to happen because the notes are too technical and the diagrams cannot be reprodouced. Tablet PC here I come.
    • Re:Cool. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by subsolar2 ( 147428 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:17PM (#4622287)
      There has been no point. MS tried the tablet PC idea sometime around '93-94 with "pen windows" back in the Windows 3.1 days. They still have the same peoblems they had back then:
      1. The Battery Life is way too short ... you need to run at least 10 hours without recharging to be useful.
      2. Display are too small and resolution is too low ... the resolution is better than the first round and you have hi-color support at least vs 16 gray VGA for the orginals.
      3. They are too heavy and large, PDAs and Paper Note pads are still much lighter.
      4. Doing any significant data entry is difficult.
      5. The units are under-powered for laptop replacement, and over-powered to replace PDAs.
      Thing thay the current crop have over the first go round is that wireless conectivity. This will enable some of the tasks they were envisioned for so many years ago, replacing pads of forms in hospitals and other paperwork intense environments.

      I think the idea is cool, but the price, battery life and size is just not there yet. I would love something with say 150dpi resolution and just two pounds for surfing and e-books if the price was $300.

      subsolar

    • Re:Cool. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Decimal ( 154606 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:10PM (#4622581) Homepage Journal
      The real question is.. what is the point? What can I do with my Tablet PC that couldn't already be done with PDA, laptop or desktop?

      The difference is that it is a *lot* easier to leave fingerprints all over the screen.
      • Re:Cool. (Score:3, Funny)

        by DrXym ( 126579 )
        It's also a lot easier to fumble and drop $1000 of computer equipment precariously balanced on one arm.
  • by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:12PM (#4621868) Homepage
    Really, you'd expect a company the size of Microsoft to do much better when demo-ing one of the products that's supposed to revolutionize computing. Unless, of course, it wasn't the internet connection at all :). What a lame excuse.

    The Raven.

  • Cool II (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:13PM (#4621879) Homepage
    That IS the point -- it's very cool. Since when wasn't that enough to sell a nerdy product??

    I've waiting for something like this for a long time, mostly from an ergonomics standpoint. But the Microsoft part wasn't quite part of my fantasy. But with their track record, why wouldn't it be a good product? /sarcasm...
  • Tablet PC (Score:3, Funny)

    by afree87 ( 102803 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:14PM (#4621888) Journal
    It's like a regular notepad, except that it crashes...
  • Only MS (Score:5, Funny)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:15PM (#4621894) Homepage Journal
    Wouldn't be bothered by an Operating System that locks up because it can't get to the internet.
    • Re:Only MS (Score:2, Insightful)

      by marauder404 ( 553310 )
      Who says they weren't bothered by it? Ever have a system problem while trying to demo something? You downplay it, any way you can. I saw one poor guy struggle for twenty minutes trying to get something to work in front of 1,500 people. People were laughing at him and leaving the room. I don't see how this comment was modded up.
      • Re:Only MS (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rsclient ( 112577 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:01PM (#4622208) Homepage
        More seriously -- one quarter of all the tablets failed to resume when they were opened up.

        Well, it's a sample size of four. And one failed. That's, IMHO, awful -- if they really want this to be truly "pick up -- put down -- pick up" then the resume has to work perfectly. Not failed 25% of the time.

        It was clear from the demos that they didn't get much to actually work in pen mode, and like so many MS products, it's close enough to usefu lthat it's just really annoying.

        The "Journal" for example -- supposedly a neat new app that lets you write down your notes. Except that you can't export the notes to a regular PC. And you can't colloborate with another person, and have both of you draw on the same bit of "paper". And you can't share some of your notes, and not others, on the network. And the storage isn't hierarchical. And you can't add in a picture (they showed a grand total of *zero* pictures during the keynote -- and yet, wouldn't this make a great photo album?). And the recommended way to import into Journal isn't via OLE, isn't via compound documents -- it's by "printing" your information to a special "printer driver".

        The hardware seemed uninspired -- did anyone find out how robust these puppies are? If I drop one, will I be out NNNN dollars, or will I just get a little ding?

    • They swap to a network drive, in order to get hacker quiz points. Hackers are an important market for Microsoft.
  • been said before (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Satai ( 111172 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:15PM (#4621896)
    it's been said before, but it bears saying again. i, like many of you, was raised on a keyboard. my data entry skills with a keyboard are much higher than handwriting; in fact, i'd be so bold as to say that's the case with most people of the "computer" generation.

    Unless they develop some killer feature (yes yes, in ADDITION to Linux support, these [mira2go.com] notwithstanding) I've got absolutely no intention of purchasing one. I'll buy a laptop or another desktop -- my PDA is good enough for incidental use, and, conveniently enough, fits in my pocket as opposed to my backpack...
    • Since I started using my computer years ago, my handwriting has gotten steadily worse. Even when labeling CD's I get my wife to do it so it can be read. I'm actually embarassed to write anything. I swear 3rd graders have more legible handwriting then I have. Now I'm sad.

    • Re:been said before (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LordSah ( 185088 )
      I just posted this in the poll's discussion, but it's relevant here as well:

      Unlike previous attempts at pen-based computing, MS has actually put work into making the pen work like a real pen, rather than just a mouse. Newtons, Palms, and graphic tablets only use them as mousing devices or rudimentary text input (because those devices lack a keyboard).

      The ink on a Tablet is editable--you can insert lines, italicize it, spellcheck it, and use the other end of the pen to erase. All while leaving the ink as ink, and not converting it to plaintext first. It's much less constraining if you're taking notes, brainstorming, or authoring. After you're done doodling, then you convert it to text and publish in your favorite document format.

      The ink and the really neat stuff you can do with it took a lot of work, both from MSResearch and from the product development guys. That's the innovation.

      I'm a programmer, so the Tablet won't help me much with my regular day-to-day work. I do take notes, go to meetings, and produce my own personal content enough that I'd like to get one though.

      I've had the opportunity to play with a Tablet PC on occasion, and they're pretty damn spiffy. I'd get one over a standard laptop like the Dell Perspiron :)
    • by zipwow ( 1695 )
      I disagree.

      Well, I agree that I type much faster than I write, but I frequently wish for more functionality than a PDA.

      I'm in a meeting, and I want to look at the design document (in Word, invariably, or a PDF if I'm lucky). Right now, I have to kill a tree.

      The idea of carrying all the data in my computer with me to the meeting is pretty exciting. The interface of being able to write on the whole screen looks pretty good.

      And it looks like when I get back to my desk, I can lay it down, and use a regular keyboard and mouse.

      What's not to like?

      -Zipwow
    • by marauder404 ( 553310 ) <marauder404@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:36PM (#4622028)
      So maybe it's not for you. I type at over 100 wpm, too, and I can get data in much faster by typing than by writing by hand. Surely I don't expect to code with one of these things. But I will say this: the keyboard is now an accessory for you. You can take it with you if you want, or you can leave it behind. You can leave a keyboard at both work and at home, and just carry the tablet back and forth, and you can read your mail, doodle, or look at porn while on the bus/train/plane in between home and work. Ever try to get a notebook open on a coach-class seat on a plane while the guy in front of you has reclined his seat? This solves that problem. You're not forced to use the tablet as the only input.
      • by sweetooth ( 21075 )
        I'd rather have a laptop that I could fold open completly or something. Have a switch to turn the keyboard off and go to feedback from a stylus of some sort. That way I can type on a real keyboard when I want to and browse on a pad when I don't need the keyboard. Of course it would be even better if this device was VERY thin. That's the only way I could see this being at all usefull for me. Any data entry by stylus is going to be horrid for me as I no longer write often enough to have anything be recognizable except maybe my signature. Unless of course I wrote everything really slowly which would be even more annoying than typos from the handwriting recognition software trying to figure out what the hell I just input.
        • Re:been said before (Score:4, Informative)

          by marauder404 ( 553310 ) <marauder404@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Friday November 08, 2002 @03:54AM (#4623755)
          I don't want to tell you that this is machine is the one for you and at the risk of being condescending, I feel like you just read the short clips about it here and there but you didn't see the pictures. Honestly, I felt the same way -- I didn't think it was the next big thing at all. But after seeing some pictures and doing a lot of reading, I'm convinced that it's worth a second look. It may not be for me, but I'm definitely going to check it out.

          Anyway, I think all of your concerns are already addressed. Take a look at this Compaq Tablet PC [tabletpctalk.com]. It's 0.8" thick, has a detachable keyboard, weighs 3 lbs (4 lbs with the keyboard), and opens up more or less conventionally. I would like it to be thinner, but that'll come in time if this goes anywhere. It's not the panacea that Microsoft makes it out to be, but I think you'll agree that it's worth a second look. I also hope that the handwriting recognition is fast enough to keep up with me -- I hear that it scans 133 times per second and makes several guesses at what you're trying to write and anticipates. When it misses (something like 5 out of every 10,000), it'll present some options.

          Here's a comparison list [tabletpctalk.com] of Tablet PCs and some specifications. It looks somewhat out of date and incomplete, but it gives you an idea of what will be available soon. I would like to see larger, higher resolution screens, but that, too, will come in time.
    • Would you rather hand-write code or type it?

      Imagine having to develop software on a keyboardless computer. Don't people realize how long it takes to "write" a parentheses, curly bracket, colon, semi colon, astrick, percent, or cash sign and hope the recognition software identifies them correctly? I have a PDA and it takes special strokes to create even the mundane characters like x and k, even more complex for * and $ and some characters I have to switch to the keyboard palette. (like _ ).

      Just now, I tried to enter in the characters listed as they are, and I got an error from slashdot:

      Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!

      Reason: Please use fewer 'junk' characters.
    • Unless they develop some killer feature (yes yes, in ADDITION to Linux support, these [mira2go.com] notwithstanding) I've got absolutely no intention of purchasing one.

      My boss still writes out half of her messages in longhand... and as often as not, for causal notes we still use paper around the house or the gaming table.

      A tablet PC isn't a replacement for a PDA--it's a grown-up PDA, with enough size and processing power to do all of the neat things that Star Trek PADDs "can" do but PDA's are simply too small for.

      I'd love to have a tablet PC, but I'd never write with it. I'd leave it out for causal use--like when looking up a recipie for cooking, making a shopping list, checking the TV listings, or any number of things that a PC (or even a laptop) isn't ideal for.

      This isn't any more necessary than a GUI, a mouse, speakers, a DVD drive, a modem, an ethernet card, or a 3D accellerator were when they were debuted. This is a change to the system, and I hope it propogates, as it will make the whole computhing thing get a heck of a lot more common.

      The PC has allready replaced the typewriter and the fax machine. A tablet PC can take a pot-shot at the coffee table TV guide or pad of paper.
      • (yeah, I know I'm replying to myself)

        Having said all of the above...

        If Palm came out with a new device with at least a 8 inch x 9 inch usable area and a resolution of at least 640 x 640, I'd pick that up instead of a tablet PC. It's have the same uses, same effect--and the batteries would last for more than fourty-five minutes.
  • by steveadept ( 545416 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:18PM (#4621902)
    As I read the NYTimes article, and saw that most tablets included keyboards, it became clear once again that Bill Gates isn't really predicting the worldwide takeover of tablet PCs ("Within five years, I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America"), but rather that within five years, most laptops (already on their way to market dominance) will feature detachable screens and a design which allows them to be used in a completely flattened-out manner.

    Okay, that's nice. It's good. It'll definitely lead to new applications (read: everything that would work on a PDA if only the screen were larger), but given this level of "innovation," they probably won't be coming from Microsoft.
    • Considering Jaguire has handwriting support built into the OS (on every version), I don't think it's a large leap to figure out what the next PowerBooks are going to look like :)
      • by dhovis ( 303725 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:10PM (#4622253)
        Actually Apple has stated on the record that they don't think that the Tablet PC has any future. The inclusion of Inkwell into MacOS X probably represents a hedge against Tablets becoming popular.

        People are using Inkwell to a degree. Many design people use Wacom tablets for everything and switching to the keyboard to enter a small amount of text can be a pain. Those people are using Inkwell now. Almost nobody else is benefiting from it now.

  • When is Microsoft not Hypying one of its products?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:18PM (#4621906)
    Why do you want to run Linux on a tablet PC unless you can get the same level of handwriting recognition. The cool thing in tablet PC is not the operating system, people who wants to use tablet PC do not care how your OS handle swap space. It is the user interface. So can Linux compete in this sense with Windows XP on tablet PC?


    No way.

    • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @12:54AM (#4623137)
      That is Microsoft's party line, but they are wrong.

      There is plenty of Linux handwriting recognition software out there (among others, from the handhelds.org effort), and speech recognition software can be adapted for handwriting as well. And X11 has had provisions for alternative input methods for many years. Ink notebooks, annotations, and all that are old technology as well and are not all that difficult to code up.

      The only thing that has been missing up to this point is reasonably priced hardware. Now that that is there, Linux will move into that space as well.

    • Yes way.

      Linux has one thing that is totally ubiquitous and works, where the Windows equivalent is not. It's called X and would work wonders for this kind of thing [*]

      Let's say you have a wireless network, and your "computer" is really simply a thin client that is driven remotely via X from a "desktop server". There are lots of compelling reasons for this setup anyway in corporate networks, but it's ideally suited for tablet PCs.

      Imagine on your desk there are two towers, which hold a detachable flat panel. This panel really is flat too, and light. It contains only the display circuitry and a small, low powered chip with some software in flash ROM. These things exist today in the form of the PDA but I'm imagining tablet size here. The tablet/panel runs only a miniture X server. When docked to your thin client on your desk, the X server detects that there's also a keyboard near by and uses that. When there is no keyboard, it starts relaying pen messages to the desktop server and back comes your handwriting. Because you're not lugging around an actual computer, they can be fast, light, small and have long battery life. Because all your doing is moving X displays around, you've still got access to all your applications, all your documents just as if you were at your desk.

      What's more, with some smart use of xmove, you can "throw" applications to another tablet. If you're running say a mapping application (or any specialist) and want to take it to a meeting, you just detach the screen and walk down the corridor. When there, you can share the app with others so they too can draw on it, or you can throw it over the the projector etc.

      And yes, X can deal with pen input very nicely, it's then just a case of hooking up some good handwriting recognition to it on the server side. I think that'd be too cool.

      [*]: Yes, I know windows has terminal services, but that works in a different way iirc and isn't as efficient bandwidth wise. Also some apps have difficulty with it and you I don't think stuff like OpenGL works too well. Anyway, my point stands. It can compete at any rate.

  • by EccentricAnomaly ( 451326 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:19PM (#4621910) Homepage
    I have a few questions for anyone out there with access to one of these machines...

    1. How do these tablet PCs recognized input from the stylus... do they have a touch screen?

    2. Is the Tablet PC handwriting recognition better than OS X's inkwell?

    3. How do you 'right-click' with the stylus? Is it something like control-click on the macs? Is there anything like a scroll wheel?

    Thanks for helping out my curiosity.

    • check out the ny times article that's linked

      they respond to the magnetic tip in the stylus so it only responds to that, not your arm resting on it or anything

      handwriting recognition isn't perfect..but then again, i doubt it ever will be

      there's a right-click button on the stylus which, from the ny times article, looks like it's placed in an incredibly stupid place..right where you grip the stylus
    • by marauder404 ( 553310 ) <marauder404@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:44PM (#4622087)
      I don't have access to one, but this is what I understand ...
      How do these tablet PCs recognized input from the stylus... do they have a touch screen?
      The screen is touch sensitive, yes, but only senses proximity and contact from the stylus, which is electromagnetic. This means you can rest your hand on the screen as you write, as you do with a regular piece of paper. This is different from "stabbing" or "scratching" with a stylus on conventional PDAs. It also senses proximity, which means you can navigate through menus by hovering over the screen and not touching it.
      Is the Tablet PC handwriting recognition better than OS X's inkwell?
      I hear it's an excellent system. Whether or not it's better, I don't know, but it is considered by many to be the best system yet. It recognizes handwriting anywhere on the screen going in any direction.
      How do you 'right-click' with the stylus? Is it something like control-click on the macs? Is there anything like a scroll wheel?
      The stylus has two buttons that can be programmed, one of which would presumably be a right-click.
  • by MoThugz ( 560556 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:20PM (#4621917) Homepage
    I thought the tablets were something of the medical type... to cure you from XPlitis from using the PC at work!

    Imagine my disappointment when it turns out to be quite the opposite. More exposure to XPlitis infested equipment!
  • by asv108 ( 141455 ) <alex@phata[ ]o.org ['udi' in gap]> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:21PM (#4621923) Homepage Journal
    I could see using a tablet for specialized applications, where you would be standing while using the machine, but besides that, this tablet hype will die down real quickly even if the technology is only in its infancy. Tablets will never replace laptops for most users, because the keyboard is much more effeciant than handwriting.

    Walt Mossberg had a good article [wsj.com] about tablets in journal this morning. Personally, I think that in five years we will be laughing about "tablet hype" much in the same manner that we laugh about "thin-clients" and "push technology" today. I'm still waiting for the day when everyone uses word processors through the browser.

    • by zipwow ( 1695 ) <zipwowNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:33PM (#4622009) Homepage Journal
      Did you look at the site? You use the tablet at your meeting, you return to your desk and dock it (sideways) and use it as your monitor as you go about your business with keyboard and mouse.

      Its like carrying your computer with you to your meetings. Better than a laptop, because you don't have to have table space to set it on, and you don't appear to be hiding behind it. And, hopefully, it weighs less.

      It seems like the most natural interface. While you're out, you write on it like a notepad. You get back, and you type with your keyboard. How's that better than a yellow legal pad? I can pull up the design document on the arcane subject we wandered into on my tablet. Everyone else is stuck with what they printed out to bring along.

      I think it would be a good thing, even if the handwriting recognition is lousy. Which, of course, they claim it isn't. Who knows, on that account?

      -Zipwow
    • by marauder404 ( 553310 ) <marauder404@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:52PM (#4622147)
      You're assuming that you *have* to use the tablet to enter in data. The keyboard isn't eliminated. It's just an accessory now. You don't have to drag it around with you if you don't want to, but when you get home, you just plug in your keyboard and mouse and you're ready to go. I see little downside to getting a Tablet PC other than added cost, which will probably go down -- the market will decide by how much.
  • by Lodro ( 77033 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:22PM (#4621928)

    "Microsoft Claimed it 'will recognize all your handwriting unless you can't read it yourself."

    Well, then I'm screwed...
  • 2 questions (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nuckin futs ( 574289 )
    how hot does it get and what kind of battery life can I expect?
  • by MyHair ( 589485 )
    Microsoft Hypes XP Tablets

    In other news, GM hypes cars. . . .
  • One of the benefits of MS's development methodology ("we're a software company") allows them to branch out in this direction a little more easier than Apple -- of whom a lot of people have been asking if something similar is in the works due to Ink, etc. Essentially MS has shunted off the hardware cost to the likes of HP and only have to worry about the software, and they've leveraged XP for most of the software as far as I can tell.

    The downside of this strategy, though, is that if the hardware folks don't see a viable market MS is going to be left with software that doesn't have a platform to run on (see Sendo and the Windows Phone [slashdot.org]). Even by Gates admission he doesn't see tablets hitting the mainstream for 5 years which makes me wonder if / how long the likes of HP will push the platform. Tablets ain't cheap, and other than geek reasons I still don't see them taking off any time soon, even in the general business sector. Batteries are going to have to last all day, weight will have to drop and durability will have increase before they become really, really usefull.
  • Well pen computers are common... look at Apple Newton. The original Newton 100 to 120 didn't do it right, but Apple did the right thing for Newton 2000 and 2100, sad that Steve Jobs killed it. Check Wired : Apple's Newton Just won't Drop [wired.com]. Also the Go pen computing operating system. Both Go and Apple suffered the "first mover disadvantage". Too early. Hand recognitions were crappy for early models.

    Now let's not worry about how evil is Microsoft first. Really the reason I use a computer because I write crappy stuff and want to express my idea QUICK. I bet many people can type more than 50 words per minute. Try do that with that Tablet PC. Yea that's why the Danger PDA and the Treo comes back with the keyboard. Also if you notice from Microsoft's propaganda [microsoft.com], other than their classic "editorial", you should be able to see that Microsoft wants people to write more of their idea in their handwritten form... okay... taking all my notes electronically, is it easier if I bring a smaller Wacom tablet with a small Sony VAIO or my beloved Powerbook ? This way I can draw and type productively. (Yea Apple adopted Newton's handwritten technology into Inkwell also)

    Also, now get to the price of a $1000 to $2500 USD for one of this table, for its handwritten purposes, I might get a yellow pad papers at OfficeMax for $5 USD, still serve me well.

    Also I wonder if I lose of the table PC, then I've ruin the rest of my day with it. I did that many times with my Palm.

    I'd rather bet on the OQO [oqo.com] more. Yea some of the employees are ex-Apple, somebody correct me if I'm wrong
  • by CatWrangler ( 622292 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:26PM (#4621961) Journal
    Emily Litella:I heard that Microsoft is hyping ectacy tabs. Now, you know that is immoral, evil, and rotten. The government should arrest them all.

    Chevy Chase: Emily, they are hyping XP tablets, not ecstasy tabs.

    Emily Litella: I stand by my statement.

  • Microsoft Claimed it 'will recognize all your handwriting unless you can't read it yourself.'

    <joke>

    That's easy; take your handwritten notes and open up notepad (or maybe Emacs or Vi), then proceed to type your handwritten notes into the editor. The editor will recognize all your handwriting unless you can't read it yourself.

    </joke>
  • Next-gen paper (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcelrath ( 8027 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:31PM (#4621992) Homepage
    These WILL NOT succeed until they are as easy to use and as convenient as paper. Numerous companies have tried to produce what is essentially a laptop with a pen attached, and failed miserably. Most applications are horrid to use with a pen. It will require a handful of revolutionary applications to make these things fly.

    Think: replace PAPER, not nifty-new-gadget. I want to download my textbook in PDF format, and annotate it. I want to take notes in class (including math and drawings) and then organize them the way I do files on my computer. But if I have to spend a lot of time clicking and tapping to input my notes, it will fail. It has to be as easy as, or easier than paper. It's hard enough to both listen to the lecturer and transcribe the blackboard, without having to deal with the input mechanism not doing what you want it to...

    Oh, and 3 hours of battery life? Forget it. That won't get me though one day's worth of classes.

    -- Bob

    • Re:Next-gen paper (Score:2, Informative)

      by spectecjr ( 31235 )
      These WILL NOT succeed until they are as easy to use and as convenient as paper. Numerous companies have tried to produce what is essentially a laptop with a pen attached, and failed miserably. Most applications are horrid to use with a pen. It will require a handful of revolutionary applications to make these things fly.
      Think: replace PAPER, not nifty-new-gadget. I want to download my textbook in PDF format, and annotate it. I want to take notes in class (including math and drawings) and then organize them the way I do files on my computer. But if I have to spend a lot of time clicking and tapping to input my notes, it will fail. It has to be as easy as, or easier than paper. It's hard enough to both listen to the lecturer and transcribe the blackboard, without having to deal with the input mechanism not doing what you want it to...


      Textbooks:
      Step 1. Install Microsoft Reader.
      Step 2. Download Textbook. (Requires your textbook to be in an e-book format).
      Step 3. Open it, and annotate it onscreen using the pen, as if it were a real book.

      Happy?

      Why not go to the website - www.tabletpc.com - and actually look at some of the screenshots of their apps. You can even make *your own handwriting* bold, or italic, if you really want to.

      Simon
      • Re:Next-gen paper (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcelrath ( 8027 )
        To view these demos, you need Microsoft Internet Explorer (version 5.0 or higher) and the Macromedia Flash Player (version 6.0). For an optimal viewing experience, use a high-speed Internet connection, and set your screen resolution to 800 × 600 or higher.
        Awww, fuck it. It just pops up a blank window. Go microsoft.

        --Bob

  • by tavon79 ( 163246 )
    As a student, I been trying to figure out how to effectively take notes in class. Considering the fact that I type 10 times faster than I can write with a pen, using a computer in class only seems logical. However, the problem comes when you have classes that requires the student to input/draw graphs, math equations and non-ascii characters. Classes like philosophy and english are great for plain-ol notebooks, but classes like economics and math/engineering related is just too hard without some kind of pen-input system. I'd like a system where I don't have some things in my notebook but some in loose-paper form. I hate carrying binders around...

    So far, I've thought of a WikiWiki system that easily indexes and connects documents with some sort of applet that would allow for easy pen-input which would embed/insert the graphic within the Wiki page.

    Tablet PC's allow the perfect medium of both worlds. Now I can take notes then doodle graphs/equations as I go and I have the perfect note-taking system. It's like the IBM-Notepad laptop but better. I don't have to buy a graphire pen-tablet either.

    What do you think? I'd like to hear what other slashdotters think about my idea...
  • by eyefish ( 324893 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:33PM (#4622012)
    Most people who spend a couple of years at the computer quickly realize a few things about keyboard-based text-entry:

    1. It is faster than handwriting.

    2. Other people can understand what you type.

    3. It is easier on foreigners who use other forms of writing (like Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Arabic languages), in other words it is a better way to communicate in an increasingly global society.

    I consider Tablet PCs a step back in the communications department. Does it have good points? yes, like the ability to draw doodles, figures, and graphs easily (that is still faster today to do it by hand than by computer commands, but only for simple graphs). My guess is that Microsoft engaged on such a proyect solely because "the man" Bill Gates transformed it into his pet project. On a small side note, if there really wanted this thing to succeed at some level I'd have done the following:

    1. Focus on vertical industries only, in areas and industries where this type of devices are commonly used.

    2. Develop technology to extend battery life to at least a full working day (say, 10 hours), since these devices are *supposed* to be carried arround all day, that's the point; what good would it be to have it docked recharging every 2 hours for 3 hours? for that case simply buy a laptop.

    Finally, like many have commented on the net, this seems to be a breed taking everything a PDA and a Laptop does, but not taking into account the benefits of each (portability, simplicity, and battery life).

    Botton line: pass this one on, and instead buy yourself a superslim notebook and a PDA-Phone like a Handspring Treo. You'll even have money left to buy some accessories.
    • DVORAK (Score:2, Funny)

      by Flamesplash ( 469287 )
      1. It is faster than handwriting.

      Now only if we could get people to use Dvorak layouts, then they could be faster than faster than handwriting.
    • by marauder404 ( 553310 ) <marauder404@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:01PM (#4622209)
      1. For some reason, you think that there's no more keyboard. The truth is that you can now use a keyboard if you want to, but you don't have to. When you're on a plane, you don't want a keyboard to read your mail. You just want a screen. So the value isn't in doodles -- it's in portability.
      2. The system definitely attracts business types more than code monkeys, but I travel a lot, and if I can carry a keyboard with my Tablet PC for no additional weight penalty than I have now, why wouldn't I just get a Tablet PC?
      3. Battery life depends on manufacturer, but is usually comparable to current notebooks. One manufacturer is even claiming 10-16 hours [tabletpctalk.com].
      4. Tablet PC's are expected to be very popular in Asia due to their ability to read different languages very well. Chinese, for example, has many complex characters that are hard to type. Because of each character's shape and stroke order is very specific, it's actually very easy for handwriting recognition to be very accurate in Asia, relatively speaking
      5. Don't knock it till you've tried it. I'm still somewhat skeptical, but I took some time to research it and hope to use one soon.
  • by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:36PM (#4622024) Homepage
    The head article said "No reason you can't run Linux on them" - well I can think of one really big one. The driver to understand the handwriting is going to be in software, and would need to be reimplemented from the ground up if you stick a different OS on it.
    I can't imagine that being a trivial task.
  • by child_of_mercy ( 168861 ) <johnboy@@@the-riotact...com> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:39PM (#4622047) Homepage
    they won't run with linux because they rely on handwriting recognition tog et the most out of them.

    Which is the sort of high price, patent encumbered research (a bit like OCR) which open source struggles with.

    And don't go thinking this is coincidental with MS's love of the platform.

  • My vision for something like this is a small, thin unit maybe 1/2" thick that I can toss around the living room and grab when I want to do some surfing. Wireless, long battery life, etc.

    To this end, I find this other product that Microsoft is developing more interesting: the Smart Display [microsoft.com].

    Microsoft hasn't been hyping it as much, presumably to avoid confusion with the Tablet PC, but in a nutshell it's a remote display that connects "PCAnywhere-style" to your desktop computer. This seems WAY closer to my vision of a "toss anywhere" remote computer.

    It should be a lot cheaper, too, along with better battery life. I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing how these units shake out.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Typical Slashdot story:

    [Insert Company Here] recently released their much-hyped new [Insert Product Here.]

    [Insert Mainstream magazine here] praises the new device, while [Insert newspaper writer here] also had great things to say about it.

    [Insert Slashdot editor here] asks "But Can it run Linux?"

    Tere's nothing more fun then taking your $2000 Tablet PC with multimedia features and making a cursor blink next to:
    bash$

    Nevermind it won't do anything more. But don't dismay, it runs Linux after all!
  • by eyefish ( 324893 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:42PM (#4622069)

    TThhies etss whyat's whrr0ng wWigth tthe thcabblE Pc, eiit's

    [dead battery]
  • But.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    does it run OS X?
  • It's not enough to just run linux on it. The tablet actually has to be useful.

    These things come with Windows XP Tablet edition, which has built in handwriting recognition software and special software tailor-made for the touch screen input. How much mature open source software is available for linux to make this worthwhile? Can you flip and rotate the screen on the fly with it? How easy is it to use and how well integrated is it with Xfree? Sure, some of the Zaurus apps could be ported... but point is, XP Tablet edition Works. As well as many other micro$oft products anyway, and to an end user, that's more than Good Enough.

    Just be wary of knee-jerk reactions to MS, that's all.

  • by MrChuck ( 14227 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:46PM (#4622097)
    Where is this useful?
    all those places where laptops and pda's don't work well, work for a tablet.

    Now granted, it's Microsoft, so it's not innovative. The Xerox PARC pads 'n Tabs was sort of the Platonic ideal. Sun's been the only folks to come out with workable computing where your session follows you (really your smart card) from screen to screen.

    But getting the hardware out is a step. And yeah, wait 20 minutes for KDE, GNome, Linux and NetBSD to be running on it better than MS.

    So uses? Warehouses, any place live inventory management happens. Any place a clipboard is in use. Very useful to the blue collar/labor people where a PDA is useful mostly to white collar/office people.

    The Newton was too small for much of that and my Zaurus certainly is. A large screen, lightweight tablet has been a missing part of the lineup for a long time. My laptop is WAY too bulky and using a keyboard when you're walking around is impossible.

  • by RelliK ( 4466 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @09:50PM (#4622120)
    Like most other people, I can type faster than I can write. However, these things would be great for taking notes in class: use the keyboard to type; use the stylus to draw. It wouldn't work with a regular laptop very well: I draw bad enough with a pen; I certainly can't do it with a mouse. Also, there is no easy & fast way to type formulas and some funky math symbols, so tablet & stylus could be a step forward -- provided that it works as advertised, of course. What are your thoughts?
  • by amichalo ( 132545 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:03PM (#4622219)
    I know /. is known for representing teh mainstream non-techs who respond to "Dude, you're getting a Dell" commercials, so when I read about average consumers, I think of my 50-somthing uncle who hates computers and uses them every day.

    I ask myself, would my uncle (and thus, the populous) buy this thing? The answer is no. I conclude this by the following:
    * A pen is faster When my Uncle needs to write something, he isn't going to always be near his table PC and it isn't going to always be on and ready to write on. Plus, he can leave pens all over his home/car/office.
    * A pen is cheaper There is no WAY he will shell out thousands to write on a computer. He wouldn't even shell out $99 for a Palm Zire.
    * If he drops a pen, I doesn't break A pen goes in his pocket, it can be sat on, it can be lent out and kept and no big deal.
    * A pen allows for expression He can underline, write really big or in all caps or circle stuff with a pen. He can make a note adn stick it somewhere.
    *A pen gives feedback With a pen you "feel" what you are writing, slow, fast, pressing hard or lightly, etc. With (given, CE or PalmOS aren't the same) the tablet PC, there is no such feedback.

    So I think this tablet may have application for people who can't type but need to do data entry. But mostly, this is what people were clamoring for ten years ago, just being delivered today. Sorry...times have changed. I have no need for this device.

    Oh look, a computer!
    • You miss the point of the tablet pc. My father on one hand IS the target at his work. Down in the machine shop and testing areas they're always taking down notes and entering numbers from the machines. This requires running all over the rather large shop. It's not physically nice to carry around a laptop (no place to set it down), so they use a pad of paper.

      These numbers still have to be entered into a computer later on to be crunched (via excel usually), errors happen as a result of messy handwriting transferance, resulting in big headaches. Solution: Use the tablet PC to enter the numbers directly into excel as they're standing at the machinery. Crunch there. No mess, no errors, instant results.

      This is the market of the tablet PC. Not your uncle.

  • Handwriting? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mbogosian ( 537034 ) <mattNO@SPAMarenaunlimited.com> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:14PM (#4622277) Homepage
    Microsoft Claimed it 'will recognize all your handwriting unless you can't read it yourself.

    Gee...that's funny...I type a lot faster than I write. Of course, maybe that's why Handspring got rid of the letter pad and replaced it with a keyboard on their Treos....

    This is "innovation"?
  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:27PM (#4622330) Homepage
    This has been repeated over and over ad infinitum, but since it pops up in the topic again, I'll answer.

    Lines of full-fledged tablet PC's with both digital ink and toggle-on-off-able handwriting recognition have existed for a decade. The original impetus for the IBM ThinkPad line was the PAD concept. Fujitsu has the Stylistic. Casio has the Fiva. Panasonic has a tablet PC or two, as do several other manufacturers.

    Years ago I had a Fujitsu Stylistic that ran Windows 95 which had Microsoft pen extensions which would recognize my cursive handwriting, allow me to doodle, mark up Word documents and Excel spreadsheets with revision marks, take notes in "digital ink" and optionally recognize them later. I took notes on it in school. Everyone 'ooh'ed and 'aah'ed even though the machine was already years old. Apparently, people are still 'ooh'ing and 'aah'ing.

    This isn't new. The marketing push is new. The technology has been around for ever in technology terms. Prices aren't even all that steep. Go to eBay and search for 'Fujitsu Stylistic' and you'll find yourself a whole gallery of Pentium-based tablet PC's in the $100 range which can run Linux (see http://www.linuxslate.org) or Windows 95 with pen extensions.

    If anything is interesting about this, it's the following question: if so many people are so excited about this technology every time they see it, how come it still isn't very well known?
    • : if so many people are so excited about this technology every time they see it, how come it still isn't very well known

      IIRC, hypertext was first demonstrated in 1968, and people who saw the demo got really excited. Then of course there is the infamous XEROX PARC deal where they demoed a fully functional GUI and all the suits could come up with was "How can we attach a copier the size of a refrigerator to this?" The rest is history. It may take the muscle of MSFT to not only hype the technology, but also to take customer feedback, respond to it, and create a winning product. I mean, sure they had a mouse back in the 1960s, but it's a long way from an upside-down trackball the size of a softball to the first GUI Mac. I don't mean to say that the earlier tablets are that crude; but sometimes you need just the right refinement to push something into the mainstream.

      Now that we have smaller, cooler CPUs, the time may be right. The "ooh that's cool" feature has always been there. What will be new is the "hey, I can use this all the time". Before it was "this gets heavy, hot, and uncomfortable after a while, and the software doesn't work well enough".

      Once again, the Simpsons has something to say about this: "Beat up Martin" --> "Eat up Martha", followed by Nelson throwing his Newton. So... when I get a chance to test one, "Beat up Martin" will be the first thing I write.

  • by madpuppy ( 96129 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:37PM (#4622395)
    They keep pushing tablet pc and they get a lukewarm reception from consumers....the companies that make these things keep forgetting that price and usefulness drives a new market.
    All this talk about "tablet PC's" is a waste until they are being sold for around 250.00 to 500.00
    why would I spend 2000.00 and up for it? you would have to be an idiot to spend that kind of money when you can get a High end laptop that has tons more functionality or a pda which may be small but is also relativly cheap. I will tell you what a tablet pc would be good for. when you want to browse the internet in bed or on the pot. it would be better if it was a wireless device for your PC. now THAT would be usefull.
  • This is another "that's cool, now where's my free stuff for attending" performance from Microsoft.

    Under the right applications and circumstances, it would eliminate the repetitive type, move-hand, mouse, click, move-hand, type, move-hand, mouse, click, type nonsense that's such a pain in the neck.

    However, I can't see anyone with average or better typing skills using this for anything more than reducing the amount of work to scroll pages.

    Based upon my experiences with a iPaq, handwriting notes system is just too klunky. Obviously increasing the size to a tablet would really help that, but I can't imagine myself ditching the keyboard and using this for anything but checkboxes and scrolling.

    If Microsoft really wants a winning innovation, how about eliminating the nagging fear I have each and every time I open an email in Outlook from someone I do not know. Now that would truly be useful!
  • Typical... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Badanov ( 518690 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:03PM (#4622550) Homepage Journal
    I swear, same slashdotters looks at some device and automatically they think, maybe we can run Linux on that. Slashdotter's Mom: Would you like a nice cuppa coffee from my new coffeemaker? Slashdotter: Mooo oom, may be we can run Linux on the coffeemaker.
  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:56PM (#4622819)

    1. Microsoft, after conducting polls consisting of them seeing if they can get the average person to call it "cool", decides to spend billions on development of cheap, portable flat panels, efficient power supplies, and come out with a $500 version of a tablet PC that stores an 8-hour charge overnight, with extra rechargeable batteries $20 a pop.

    2. People decide they'd rather have a keyboard, and a non-specialized operating system, so just get laptops instead.

    3. Nintendo and sony release portable gaming devices with HUGE LCD displays based off the defunct technology that they buy off all the companies that went along with the Tablet PC idea.

    Or perhaps it'll just end up an extension of the X-Box in a few years. Just so long as the development of the displays gets done - otherwise, all we have are crippled laptops without keyboards, or a moderately bulked-up PDA, depending on how you look at it. I guess it's still better than the "Internet Appliance". :^)

    Ryan Fenton
  • by enjo13 ( 444114 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @12:23PM (#4625732) Homepage
    It seems like 95% of the posts here all trumpet the same theme..."I can input faster with my keyboard." This is true, but I challenge you.. can you input faster with your keyboard while standing up?

    That's the point.. The problem with traditional laptops is that they are essentially useless in the hallway or standing in line. The tablet PC's are more like really big PDA's, they are designed for the executive/professional that spends a large part of their day on two feet. They provide keyboards on most models for those "other times," while still affording them the ability to make use of their machine virtually anywhere.

    For example, my Father in law is an insurance auditor. Right now they have a laptop that they use to fill out reports after inspecting the sites. They can't write the report during the inspection, after all their laptop is worthless while they run around inspecting things. With a tablet PC they can use their traditional PC applications to fill out their reports without having to scribble notes onto paper and then transfer them to the laptop at a later time... They spend their days on their feet, and this looks like the perfect answer for them.

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