And so... another year, another attempt to get the ultimate meeting Tablet PC. The Asus T101MT generally worked well but with palm rejection mode on, writing on the screen had some irritating problems every now and then, but since I had no other choice at the time I lived with it. And of course, now I've find a replacement. The Fujitsu T580
Once again I've gone with the convertible form factor.
The Fujitsu T580 again falls under the portable notebook category with it's 10" screen, for general tech specs you can refer to the Fujitsu Product information site. So what made me decide to get the T580?
The NUMBER ONE reason is that the T580 has a hybrid digitizer, so not only does it have a 4 point capacitive multi touch screen, it has a honest to god DIGITIZER, which means writing on the screen with the digitizer pen is FANTASTIC.... Except for 2 problems.
The first problem is that I can't figure out how the digitizer works, wheter it's magnetic reasonance (inference.. or whatever) like a Wacom pen or ultra sound like this pen I once had. Why am I even interested in how it works? Because sometimes the pen goes crazy (once so far) and acts like I never lifted it up from the screen, and this was exactly how crazy the old ultrasound pen would get when it had too much interference. Some people attribute it to N-Trig's (the OEM provider for the pen) QA problems with manufacturing the pens but I'm not too sure about that.
The second problem is that the pen is powered, while don't mind having a powered pen. The problem is that the power source that the pen uses is a AAAA battery, no I didn't spell it wrongly, I DID say A A A A. Here's how it looks sitting next to a AAA.
Yes, I also didn't know AAAA batteries existed till when the Tablet PC was first launched and the Compaq models used them. It seems like they decided to go with AAAA because of it's slimmer profile in order to be able to make it small enough to fit inside the pen silo
Having the pen kept inside the device is always a good thing no matter what Steve Jobs said. That said, I do have one worry about the T580's pen silo, it seems to hold the pen via friction instead of any lock mechanism so I do wonder how long would it last.
So where do you BUY AAAA batteries? Well, I've found ONE shop in Malaysia that actually stocks them... I should go buy a pack for emergencies even though they mentioned one battery last a year.
The other method of getting AAAA like batteries is to butcher a 9V battery.
A 9V battery consists of 6 1.5V cells that are slightly shorter than a AAAA battery, the polarity points are usually reversed, not ALL of them salvaged this way can be used in the pen but at least I have a way to get some in a pinch.
Power in a tiny package
Even though it has the tiny footprint of a 10" notebook, the T580 comes equipped with a Intel Core i5 1.3Ghz, which can turbo boost to 2.0Ghz under load. That's enough to do pretty much any work I have for it! While the powerful processor might turn out to be a power hog and shorten battery life, I created a special power profile which I use during meetings which puts the maximum processor performance at 45% and STILL it runs OneNote pretty well and have about 3.5 hours of battery life.
One interesting added advantage about all that power is that the integrated Intel HD graphics GPU is DirectX 10 compliant (compliant, doesn't mean it has great performance) And therefore the system is more than capable of running the Windows Phone 7 emulator, that coupled with the availability of a multitouch capable touchscreen means the T580 is an ideal Windows Phone 7 development machine, because with a multitouch device you can debug multitouch code on the Windows Phone 7 emulator itself without the need for an actual device!
The T580 comes with a built in 3G modem, evident by the presence of a flat little antennae on the top of the screen.
Which means I could just turn off the normal Wi-Fi radios to save power.
At least I could IF turning of the wireless switch didn't turn off WiFi, Bluetooth AND the 3G modem as well. Luckily through the use of Fujitsu's own Power Saving Utility applet I am able to selectively turn off WiFi and Bluetooth radios only.
Another added surprise is that the T580's SATA hard disk slot is easily accesible.
I immediately splurged on a 64GB SSD to replace the 500GB Hard Disk that it came with so that I don't have to worry about any problems that moving around a spinning hard disk might cause.
The Fujitsu T580 was not my first choice as a replacement for my Asus T101MT, I was initially looking at the sleek Fujitsu Q550 Slate Tablet PC, but all the enterprise features which Fujitsu put in it pushed the price up to a level which I was not comfortable to get something just to work as my notepad, since that is what the Q550's main responsibility would have been cause its powered by an Intel Atom CPU. Where as with the Fujitsu T580, I have a complete ultra portable development machine to work with.
My usage of Tablet PCs are always compared to the iPad, and people have always mocked the weight and thickness of my convertibles. But it's ok, my Tablet PCs allow me to get actual work done so I don't care too much about that any more.