Tablet PCs


So after seeing Roberto’s TabletPC (I think it’s the Toshiba M200 or M205), I haven’t been able to get these things out of my head. The things finally seem to be maturing, with decent displays, pressure sensitivity, more power, and better battery life. Does anyone here have a TabletPC and would like to give their impressions?

I’m considering getting one in the coming months, and have started doing some research on them. The M205 seems like the best of the bunch, as far as my own needs goes, but I found one that’s much cheaper, for roughly the same equipment. The only problem is that I can’t really find much info on it. Anyone heard of the “ACI Pen Tablet PC”? I saw it on Pricewatch, and with the configurator, managed to get a 1.7 Centrino with half a gig of RAM and an external CD-RW/DVD drive for somewhere in the region of $1600 (compare that to the M205’s $2300). The only odd thing about the configurator was that the OS choices didn’t include Windows XP Tablet Edition. So is this a full-fledged Tablet PC, or is it a wannabe?


I’m just going to bump this once, because I’m still interested. No one here has a Tablet PC? Or knows anything about that ACI Tablet PC?


i am looking for the same information.



Ooh, more potential tablet pc addicts! :slight_smile: I bought an almost new hp tc1100 (centrino 1gig) on ebay for £1200 a week ago. Weight is very important for me, I don’t like dragging a big chunky laptop around. That’s why I like my tablet pc with its detachable keyboard.

I bought mine because I was fed up with being stuck at the desktop pc for painting. I’m too impatient to learn traditional painting (and it lacks undo which is important if you suck at painting like me) and now I can paint on my tablet wherever and whatever I want. Plus, surfing the net wirelessly while watching tv and sitting on the comfy sofa is great too. :wink:

I had a laptop before and couldn’t really do as much with it as I wanted because for painting you’d have to plug in a tablet and that means I’d be stuck at the desk again which defeats the purpose… Laptop just isn’t mobile enough. I also hate using touchpads. Having a pen for everything is so much better!

Whatever you get, make sure it has a wacom digitizer. After you’ve installed a special wacom driver you can use pressure sensitivity in Photoshop and other applications. The driver doesn’t come with it but can be found somewhere on the wacom website. It’s like using a wacom cintiq with an entire pc crammed into it. :wink: It doesn’t have as many features as normal wacom tablets though, no tilting for example and only 256 pressure levels (intuos2 has 1024). But still good enough for most stuff.

Plus, you can put all your images, demoreel etc on there and take it to job interviews to show off. It’s small and light enough to take with you every day to work as well, very important if you do freelance and don’t want to use the company’s rusty old macs for example. :wink: It’s powerful enough for 3d work (centrinos are more powerful compared to desktop pentiums at the same mhz). It has a geforce4 go in it (stay away from shared graphics if you want to do 3d with it).

Ahyes, the screen is extremely good as well, much better than most laptop screens. Haven’t seen any other tablet pcs though so I can’t compare. You won’t see much on it outside in the sunlight though, but Fujitsu do a tablet pc with an indoor/outdoor screen (stylistic something, can’t remember which one, but that’s the one I wanted to get first until I read that the screen overall isn’t that good, but if you need to use it outside it’s probably better than most).

About that ACI one - I’ve found some info on it here:

It doesn’t seem to be a real tablet pc and doesn’t include the tablet pc OS, and it’s quite big and heavy so I don’t think you could hold that in one hand and scribble on it with the other. :wink: And the pen isn’t pressure sensitive either… I’d rather go for a proper tablet pc with detachable keyboard or no keyboard. For me it has to be as light and compact as possible. But that’s just me…

Tablet PCs are the greatest things since sliced bread, honestly! And I don’t care what other people think. :wink:

Is there anything else you want to know? :slight_smile:


It doesn’t seem to be a real tablet pc and doesn’t include the tablet pc OS, and it’s quite big and heavy so I don’t think you could hold that in one hand and scribble on it with the other. And the pen isn’t pressure sensitive either…

I was afraid of that. I knew that pricepoint was too good to be true. :hmm:

I was looking at the TC1100, actually, though I’m really liking the M205. It’s got a relatively hefty price tag, but it has just about everything, from a nice screen to a bundled optical drive to a GeForce GoFX to that sexy 1.5Ghz centrino. That, and it’s got the highest-resolution display on the market. I’m not sure about the battery life on it, though. What’s the battery life like on the TC1100 for regular (in this case I mean painting and 3D) use?

As for indoor/outdoor screens, I saw this on the Motion Computing’s website. Looks SICK! They seem to offer only slates, though, and at 1.1Ghz (I’m still awed at the 1.5 on the Toshiba).


It’s a heavy monster though! If I was you I wouldn’t just look at the specs. The fastest processor and the biggest screen won’t be of much use if it’s too heavy and big to carry around with you…

2 hours. But I usually set it to maximum battery which turns down the speed and I set the screen brightness to the lowest level and then it lasts for 4 hours. Still fast enough for painting and modeling. For rendering and gaming probably too slow. I use Cinema 4d on it though which isn’t very demanding, I guess Maya might be different. :wink: The battery is definitely better than any laptop I’ve had so far.

That’s quite an impressive screen! I like that one as well. :slight_smile: Though I’m still happy with mine and wouldn’t swap it for anything. :wink:


Oh, pshaw. :wink: 4.4lbs isn’t all that bad. It’s admittedly a lot heavier than the TC1100, but it’s still pretty light compared to the old Compaq laptop I used to own, and magnitudes lighter than the monstrous antique Thinkpads we have in the office. :stuck_out_tongue: I’ll have to actually test them out at a store, though, to get a proper feel (I tried it with a 5-pound file folder, though, and it didn’t seem all that bad).

For 3D I mainly work with Wings3D, so I shouldn’t have a problem with battery life, and then there’s Photoshop for 2D. Still trying to figure out an average batt life for the M205.

That’s quite an impressive screen! I like that one as well. :slight_smile: Though I’m still happy with mine and wouldn’t swap it for anything. :wink:

The 1400x1050 rez of the M205 is still quite a draw for me. As is the CPU and GPU. Agh. Choices choices choices.


Hehe… But that’s half the fun! Doesn’t sound like I can influence you much so why not just go for it, it’s not the worst choice. :wink:


Well, I still have some time before I put together the money, so it’s not a huge rush. Thanks for all the info, though. :slight_smile: I’ll still be looking around and doing research. I wanna hit up a store and test run the various Tablets to see what works well for me. :slight_smile:


Dayum! There’s a new Tablet PC coming out based on the Athlon XP-M 2200+ going for $1300, from Averatec. Just came out, so I haven’t seen any reviews out yet (from what I can tell the journalists are waiting on their review units). Looks like a really promising unit, though a little heavier than the M205. I’m waiting on some review of the graphics capability, and I’ll probably be hitting up Costco sometime this week to give it a spin. Incidentally I tried out the M205 today at Best Buy, and I was blown away. The handwriting recognition is far beyond what I expected. But the $1300 price point of the Avaratec has got me truly psyched. :bounce:

Looks like the integrated graphics chipset is not hardware DX9 compliant. Will that make any difference for the major 3D packages? I know it will impact recent and upcoming games, but not sure about the 3D apps, specifically Maya.


You should probably check out and look through the discussion boards. There seem to be some keyboard problems with it… About the graphics chip: I wouldn’t be worried about it not supporting directx9, it’s more the speed you need to worry about. Even if it did support dx9, I don’t think you’d be able to play doom3 and hl2 on it. :wink: Also for OpenGL you can’t expect much from shared graphics… It will definitely make a difference. Not supporting dx9 doesn’t make a difference for Maya, Maya uses Opengl if I’m not totally wrong. It will work but it won’t be very fast I guess. A mobile radeon or geforce of some sort would be better. There’s usually a reason why cheap stuff is cheap. :wink: Most of the time it really is too good to be true… I would wait for some reviews.

I envy you, at least you can test them in the stores before you buy one. :stuck_out_tongue: Here in the uk I haven’t seen a single store with a tablet pc. Some guy I asked didn’t even have a clue what I was talking about! When I asked about tablet pcs he presented me with a wacom graphire tablet…


Thanks for pointing me to that discussion forum. I had seen that one, but prior to any decent info on this particular unit. It looks pretty promising, and I just confirmed with my local Costco that they have about 7 or 8 units in stock right now, with one on display (they’ve had them since last week!), so I’ll be heading down there tomorrow after work to check it out.

Some preliminary pros and cons, based on info that’s available:

  1. Cheap!
  2. 80GB HDD
  3. Athlon Mobile (I’m rather partial to AMD)
  4. Cheap!!!


  1. Heavy (but still manageable, imo)
  2. Possibly hot (will check on that when I test the unit)
  3. Middling battery life (not too big an issue, I think)
  4. Middling graphics performance (though I doubt my daily use will tax that too much, being mainly sketching/painting in Photoshop, with 3D stuff primarily done on my desktop)

Since I’m being prudent, I’m going to wait it out, painful as that may be (I haven’t been able to get this whole TabletPC thing out of my head for the last two weeks… it’s bordering on unhealthy obsession). I’ll test the display unit at Costco, and hopefully there’ll be some reviews soon. And maybe by the time I decide to buy it, there’ll be some rebates floating around that’ll make the pricepoint even sweeter. :stuck_out_tongue: Of course, I may just wait it out and get an M205. :stuck_out_tongue: Agh. The anticipation is killing me.

Dayum. Those forums have some really fantastic discussions about Tablet PCs, and the ones concerning artists and their TPCs are of particular interest to me. I have to thank you once again for the heads up on those forums.



I hear you man, as you can see i was the one who looked for the same information.

I have been looking at the tablet pc for the last two weeks too!

I went to j&r almost everyday to check the m205 out, i almost bought it like 5 times!!!

lol, if I didn’t get my sony vaio z1RAP on Jan and My Ti Powerbook G4 last week, I would have bought it already.

I bought the sony mostly for my programming, i also do max, ps, flash on it, i feel i put too much pressure on the poor sony(it is great great great machine).

I uses the G4 Mac for linux/mac. i have to learn linux!!

I told myself if I get my work on cgtalk frontpage OR if I collect my $$ from my last freelance job, I will go there ASAP. I don’t want to touch my mortgage money, u c?

if you are in NY, i think we should go to Costco and/or BestBuy to check them out together.

arr, i am way off topic. but good luck man, good luck to myself too!


Janine, thank you for the info too, you almost inspire me to get it that day, but I got out of the store soon enough. hahahaha.


Okay, managed to swing by the local Costco to check out the C3500. It was locked in a laptop bracket so I wasn’t able to pick it up to test the weight and bulk, but I anticipated that, and have been walking around the office the last two days with a 5.5lb 3-ring binder in the crook of my arm (and getting some strange looks from my colleagues), and have found the weight to be more than acceptable. The unit itself feels a bit cheap, materials-wise, but solid enough for my tastes. The keyboard complaints I’ve been reading about turned out to be unfounded (aside from having to get used to the slightly small size of it), for I was able to quickly hammer out several paragraphs of everyone’s favorite “the quick brown fox…” sentence without a hitch. It seems a bit hot at spots (top left corner and behind the screen in particular), but should theoretically not present a problem when held in slate mode. The screen actually performed better than the Toshiba’s, as far as viewing angles is concerned, shockingly enough. Unsurprisingly, there was no stylus provided, so I was unable to test the response time in that regard. This thing is looking better and better. :slight_smile:


What is the battery life on the Averatec ? ( Both published , and real world )

I know you can mirror the Tablet PCs screen onto a larger monitor, but is this just a literal mirror copy of the smaller screen ? ( In other words will you see a dead pixel from the small screen mirrored onto the larger screen ? )

From what I understand, Z-brush mostly uses memory for realtime modeling and the video card is not important . How do other 3D programs deal with not having a video card ?

One of you mentioned C4D. I have C4D as well. How do you like it on a Tablet PC ? How does it compare to a traditonal setup?



Hi Vegan,

I don’t know about the battery life of the averatec, but try the forums, there are loads of threads about it.

About the external screen - you can use an extra screen just like you would for your desktop pc. I haven’t tried it myself but you should be able to either mirror the image or extend your desktop onto the second monitor. In any case, any dead pixels (of which I have none, wohoo) will never be mirrored because they’re part of the screen surface, not the graphics card.

I use zbrush on the tablet. Zbrush is absolutely perfect for it! Very fast (my tablet has 512 ram) and it’s even more of a “natural sculpting process” than using a wacom on your desktop. The only disadvantage is the smaller screen size (only 1024x768). Some tablets have higher resolutions though.

It’s not like you’re not having a video card btw. :wink: It’s all onboard but it’s still proper graphics hardware. That’s if you get a geforce or radeon tablet of course. Shared graphics (intel extreme etc) will have a big impact on programs like Cinema 4D and Maya though. Cinema on the tablet is fine, you can use it completely without shortcuts, by using the icons and menus and context menus. Make sure you tick the “Graphics tablet” option in the preferences though, otherwise your models will go wooshing across the screen (just like with a wacom tablet).

Ah yes, one other thing I should mention: When I started using the tablet the fact that I could see a pointer under the pen was really disorienting. I kept trying to tap things with the pen tip but the pointer is always slightly offset depending from which angle you’re looking at it, especially since the tc1100 has a glass sheet on top of the screen. It took me about a week to get used to it! But now it’s like I’ve been using it for ages. So if you try a tablet pc for the first time don’t give up, you will get used to it. :wink:


I’ve been following the threads on, and I’m so far incredibly disappointed that the digitizer and stylus seem to be causing a lot of problems with the more popular graphics packages. By the numbers the digitizer/stylus seems to be better than the Wacom-built ones, with double the pressure sensitivity levels and even tilt support. But that’s all a moot point if the drivers are crap/non-existant. Ah well, I’ve decided to start saving up for an M200/205, after much consideration and deliberation. Heck, during the waiting period, I might even find a better fit, or the M200 might drop in price more (and now it’s available with a 2ghz dothan :D). :stuck_out_tongue:


I bought the Toshiba M200 month ago and i must say my other two computers are now gathering dust most of the time :).

Its awesome for sketching, especialy with the new appliaction called Artrage, which is free btw. It runs 3D applications very good thanks to the geforce fx on board. It took a while to get used to using it in tablet mode but now I set up my getures and similar I dont switch between tablet and laptop mode that much. The screen is pretty good, but still not that much usable under sunny conditions.

btw. I paid over 3200$ for M200 due to price difference here in europe, still i dont regret the money.

Only thing to consider if you are from europe is that the basic M200 comes with only 256 MB ram which is too little to run windows xp and graphics applications. I upgraded with a 512 MB stick so the total is now 768 MB and now the computer is much faster.


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