High Resolution Screens and Tablet PCs – Part 2

What can you do with a high resolution screen?
Previously: Part 1

Click the thumbnail at the right to see a screen shot of my Toshiba
M200 in Secondary Landscape mode. That’s 1400 x 1050 with two
browser windows. These two browser windows are approximately
700 x 1040 each. Not quite as wide as Portrait mode for most
Tablet PCs (768 x 1024) but, hey there’s two of

It’s an odd thing, but I don’t connect the M200 to an external
monitor very often. Sometimes, just because it is easier than running
wires I will just use MaxiVista to another machine. That’s another
story for another day.

click for full sized image

mouse over the full sized image and look for this button to actually see it full sized. To
get the full effect when you view the image in IE, mouse over the
bottom right corner of it and click the “Expand to Full Size”
button. In the Mozilla browsers just click the image.

Here’s another example with a browser window on the left and a
MindMap on the right. I work like this a great deal. That is, I’ll be
looking at something on one side of the screen (typically the left
side) and thinking, pen in hand, usually with MindManager or Alias
Sketchbook Pro a note taking application.

click for full sized image

See the world in Tablet Portrait Mode (768 x 1024)

One last little oddity for the day… Here’s a a bookmarklet to
switch your browser window to 768 x 1024
for a different perspective on things if you are not running in that resolution in Portrait mode now.

Now go back and look at those full sized images and see just how much scrolling you have to do to see everything.


If you found this interesting you might like to read:
Size Matters – Artist

Tablet PCs and High Resolution Screens – Part 1

The two most common screen resolutions for Tablet PCs are

There have been new models released by Toshiba and HP lately. There was a great deal of  anticipation that there would be improvements in the high resolution screen technology. This appears to have been wishful thinking as both manufacturers have come to market with larger screens but with the lower (but seemingly standard) 1024 x 768 resolution.

Rather than compare the technical aspects of the screens, I thought it might be useful to discuss what it is like to live with and use them.

Link: Tablet PCs and High Resolution Screens Part 1

High Resolution Screens and Tablet PCs – Part I

 The two most popular screen resolutions for Tablet PCs are

There have been new models released by Toshiba and HP lately and not a little anticipation that there would be improvements in the high resolution screen technology. This appears to have been wishful thinking as both manufacturers have come to market with larger screens but with the lower (but seemingly standard) 1024 x 768 resolution.

Rather than compare the technical aspects of the screens, I thought it might be useful to discuss what it is like to use them.

I’ve been living with an HP TC1100 and a Toshiba M200 for over a year. The HP has a nice wide angle screen using BOE Hydis technology which is also used in products from Motion Computing, Fujitsu and others. It seems that this is not yet available at higher resolutions for Tablet PC consumers.

It is often remarked that the trade-off with the Toshiba Portégé M200 is high resolution at the expense of viewing angle. I agree that this machine doesn’t compare favorably to the HP TC1100 or Motion M1400 in this respect. The Fujitsu LifeBook T4000 does offer a wide-angle-viewing option, but not with the 1400 x 1050 screen.

Does that mean you should dismiss the machines with high resolution screens, as Tablet PCs?  No, I certainly don’t think you should..

Portrait Mode as a Simulation of Paper 

It took me awhile to notice, but although I frequently “ink” on the M200, I almost never use it in Portrait mode the way I do automatically with the TC1100. This seemed odd because if we are emulating a pad of paper when we use ink, wouldn’t it be natural to want the machine to be oriented the way we would have the pad of paper?

I thought about this for awhile and then it dawned on me:

The M200 is not very flexible when it comes to viewing it in portrait mode. You have to fidget a bit to be able to see the screen. For me, I was forever propping something underneath one end to get it tipped up towards me a bit. I finally gave up and just used it in secondary landscape mode. (That is what you get when you turn the screen around and lay it over the keyboard – without physically turning the base). Okay, so it doesn’t look like a pad of paper exactly but I stopped carrying paper that way years ago, so why persist in that view of the world?

Landscape Mode with a High Resolution Screen

If you view the M200 in ordinary “laptop mode”, that is with the keys visible and the screen facing you, it’s pretty good. From side-to-side and up and down, you can see everything well. I can’t substantiate this with any references, but I think it’s a safe bet that most LCD panels in portable computers were meant to be viewed this way. Clear-type technology is somewhat dependent on the screen being aligned this way too. Turn the thing sideways (portrait mode) and all bets are off, but turn it to secondary landscape, and it’s all good again.

But don’t you lose the width and height advantage of portrait mode? On a high resolution screen, the answer here is “no”. With a resolution of 1024 x 768, in portrait mode you are working at 768 x 1024. With a resolution of 1400 x 1050 you are nearly twice as wide and still a bit taller without turning the screen sideways. In other words, you don’t have to turn the screen to portrait mode to gain the advantages of that orientation.

So give up the linear thinking about this and the advantages start to become apparent, but we can explore all of that another time.

See Part II – What can I do with 1400 x 1050 pixels?

Toshiba M200 Review Part 2 – with comparisons to the HP TC1100

After the second week of ownership with the Toshiba M200 I was ready to talk about it and draw some comparisons to the HP TC1100.  I wrote this about a year ago, but I think that the observations have stood the test of time.

It seems that if you own either of these machines, you are probably a fan. If you have neither, I hope you like this, the second in the series.

Link: Toshiba M200 Review Part 2 with comparisons to the HP TC1100

Related Link: Toshiba M200 Review Part 1

Also: Rob Bushway has published his Interview with HP’s Ben Thacker.

M200 Review – Part II with observations comparing it to the HP TC1100 – March 2004

I posted this on TabletPCBuzz a week after the first review.  

M200 – Thoughts after two weeks

– and more comparison to the HP TC1100

This is a continuation of my impressions after the first week.

As in the previous note, I’ll stick to anecdotal points rather than get into details of the specifications (these you can get from the respective manufacturers’ sites)

Overall, the TC1100 feels more refined than the M200. The fit and finish and design of the user interface seems better (The overall build quality of both units is excellent).

The M200 has a bigger screen, bigger keyboard, higher resolution, faster processor, higher (user accessible) memory capacity.

Based on the preceding sentence, I should prefer the M200, but I can’t bring myself to live with that conclusion. It is still pretty much a dead heat between the two. I have assigned the “winner” for several points of comparison below. I don’t expect you to agree with my assessments here. These reflect my priorities and values.

Screen – It’s a tie
According to Toshiba, the M200 has a very thin Poly Silcon screen. (evidently much thinner than the Toshiba 3500). The thin-ness is apparently the reason that there seems to be very little parallax errror (ink appears very close to the pen tip most of the time).

The HP has a tempered glass screen. Hard to say if this is going to more resilient, or scratch resistant than the Toshiba.

Feel / Inking – M200 feels better for inking
There is a slight texture to the Poly Silicon surface. It feels much more like paper than the 3500 or the TC1100.

The surface of the TC1100 is very smooth (glass), and it takes awhile to get used to writing on it. Going from the TC1100 to the Toshiba, this was one of the strongest impressions: The M200 feels more like a pen on paper.

When I first used the pen with the M200, the imprssion that it felt more like pen and paper was quite profound. As time has gone by, this has turned out not to be terribly significant. I am happy to “ink” on whichever machine I am using at the time.

Viewing Angle – TC1100 wins
Hands down – this category goes to the TC1100. This means that in slate mode, it is easier to see the screen. It means (and this is more subtle) that is is easier to work with the HP in variety of postures. I believe that this translates into greater user comfort and ergonomics.

The M200 screen looks great as a laptop. Similarly, as a slate it is fine in primary landscape mode, as long as you are looking at it from within a few degrees of 90.

Go into portrait mode on a table and you will wish you had a way to elevate the edge furthest away from you. This is true (but less of an issue) with the TC1100, Both seem similar with respect to glare on the screen. Where the TC1100 has the advantage is: once you find an angle where the glare is not an issue, the chances are better that the TC1100 will let you see what is on the screen.

Outdoors – TC1100 wins (mainly for viewing angle)
Neither the Toshiba nor the HP claim to be outdoor screens, but both have worked fine for me (subject to getting a decent viewing angle) in bright indirect light. It is easier to find an angle that “works” with the TC1100

Audio Speakers – TC1100 wins – you can hear the speakers
The TC1100 has stereo speakers. To have any sense of that you will want to be in primary portrait mode due to the way they are positioned. You can hear them just as well whether the keyboard is attached and closed or open.

The M200 has a single speaker that is covered by the screen when the unit is in slate mode. You can adjust the volume with a rotary dial that is accessible even when the screen is closed.

Audio Inputs – TC1100 wins – stereo inputs with noise cancellation
The TC1100 has a three audio jacks. One accomodates a stereo input and the second allows you to use a combination microphone / earpiece like you would use with a cell phone. The third is a standard stereo headphone jack.

An interesting aspect with the TC1100 is that the stereo microphone input in combination with a stereo microphone can be set to use a special noise cancellation feature (software/driver) of the soundcard. This allows you to work with speech recognition with the external microphone aimed at you, without having to use a headset microphone. I was stunned that this works at least as well as my headset microphones. You can read about this here:

The M200 has two audio jacks, a mono microphone and stereo headphone. Since the microphone input is mono, and the M200 does not have support for the AudioMax feature included with the TC1100, you don’t have the special noise cancelling feature.

Added (new information that came to light about the M200 Microphones)
MicrophoneThree Microphones – No Waiting
Users share their experiences using the built-in microphones with speech recognition.

Memory Expansion – M200 wins – user access to memory is the reason.
Although both machines have stated maximum memory capacity at 2 gigabytes with the TC1100, only one memory slot is user accessible (easily). This means that realistically, the maximum most people could get would be 1.5 gigabytes.
The M200 allows easy access to both memory slots and has a realistic capacity of 2 gigabytes.

Don’t count how many times each unit was the “winner” because the categories are not equalliy important. The significance of each category will be as different as the people who use Tablet PCs.

So how do I decide between the two?

When less is more I take the TC1100.

When nothing less will do, I take the M200.

The TC1100 is a refined roadster with maturity and grace. It’s a great drive.

The M200 is a muscle car with low end grunt and terrific follow through, but less comfortable for a long trip.

Hope you had fun reading this and the previous notes (Impressions after the first week).

You can read this in context with comments at TabletPCBuzz 

M200 Review – Part I – March 2004

Got my (first) M200 about a year ago. Here are my initial impressions.

The M200 – thoughts after a week.
– originally posted on
TabletPC Buzz (follow the link to see this in context with comments posted by others)

As promised, here is a review of the M200.

Summary: I am glad that I don’t have to choose between an HP TC1100 or Toshiba M200. I think that they are both excellent implementations of the Tablet PC concept, addressing different needs.

Context: So that you can assess how relevant my comments might be for you, I am including some information about how I use the Tablet PC so you will know the context of my impressions.

How I use the Tablet PC:

Primary: – Presentations and Lectures/Teaching
Some presentations – are just that – and I run MindManager, Internet Explorer, Alias Sketchbook, Corel Grafigo, Journal, Excel, Word, and on rare occasions – PowerPoint.
When I teach technical material this involves all of the above, plus various integrated development environments – the most complex of which is Visual Studio. IIS, SQL Server MSDE, MySQL, PHP, various text editors, Netscape, FireFox, etc.

Connections required/preferred:
Projector (usually supplied running 1024×768)
LAN / Internet Access

Secondary – Personal Information Management
Software: MindManager, Outlook

Tertiary – Desktop Replacement, Development
Software: MindManager, Visual Studio, IIS, SQL Server MSDE, MySQL, PHP, various text editors, Netscape, FireFox, etc.

Configuration of my M200:
Pentium M 1.6
1 gig RAM
60 gig 7200 rpm hard drive
802.11 g (originally came with 802.11b)
Ethernet RJ45 10/100
No bluetooth

Prior to the M200
I already had a TC1000 and a TC1100 and for most presentations, I would bring both (using the TC1000 as wireless gateway for the video signal – to get to the projector). When not using it that way, I use the TC1000 to access material that I don’t necessarily want to share on the projector. It also served as a battery charger, and backup in case anything went wrong with the TC1100.

First Impressions:
The Screen
The high resolution screen is great.
I have no difficulty with the screen but probably because I am used to a lot of real estate in a small package. I do most of my development work on a ThinkPad A31p (1600×1200 screen, Pentium 4M 1.7, 1 gig ram)

Having 1400 x 1050 pixels on the screen vs 1024 x 768 on the TC1100 makes a big difference when doing development work.
When doing presentations, I have to scale back to 1024 x 768 (to work with a projector) and the screen is slightly fuzzy, but usable. It is very easy to switch to the lower resolution. Toshiba uses the same Fn-Spacebar shortcut as is found in the IBM ThinkPads.

Viewing angle is not as “wide” as the TC1100, but in desktop mode, this is not an issue. In slate mode, it is.

The TC1100 is a little faster than my ThinkPad. The M200 is faster noticeably faster than both. While the performance difference is nice, for most of what I do, it has little real impact on how I work or what I can do.

The M200 seems big and heavy, at times almost clumsy compared to the sleek TC1100. It is odd that I get this impression of it because it is really no bigger than the TC1100 with the keyboard attached – when it is housed in the portfolio case.

Another way to visualize this: I almost always carry the TC1100 in the original case. If you have one of these, you know that there is a little extra width to the case. I then pack that in various bags or hardshell cases, depending on where I am going. The M200 fits into all the same places as the TC1100 with its case does. I was surprised.

For weight: the bare M200 weighs about the same as the TC1100 with its keyboard and its standard case. So the impression that the M200 is bigger and heavier are perceived but not actual. In actual use, I frequently use the TC1100 in “slate” mode without the keyboard, so it is then 3 pounds vs. 4.4 and about 1/2 to 3/4 and inch smaller than the M200 in all dimensions

Despite the perception of weight, I am more comfortable toting the M200 between tasks (from place to place within the same building without a case) because I can close it with the screen facing inwards. Not an option with the TC1100.
I *never* carry a Tablet PC with the screen exposed. It is just too easy to scratch the screen with a watchband, button, or zipper pull.

The M200 has a few little warts. The edge of the screen is not quite flush with the case near the hinge. This means that I can ‘feel’ that edge when in Slate mode. (I am right handed) so the heel of my hand brushes across this edge all the time. In Desktop mode, there are triangular plastic pieces in the bezel at the top corners. These are probably screw covers, but they don’t fit quite flush.

The Hinge
This seems very sturdy, and in Desktop mode, the screen sits level with the body. There is no wobble or jiggle when using it. The swivel mechanism is smooth.

The Latch
I like the latch mechanism. It seems clicks into place “with authority”. Since it takes a some effort to “lift” the screen, I am struggling a bit with opening the M200 with one hand. I’ll probably figure it out in time.

The Pen
I didn’t like the skinny pen at first. I found it slippery and a bit awkward to use the button. Over the last week though, I have grown accustomed to it. I’m fine with it now. I’m not so comfortable with the location of the pen garage. In the way that I use it in Slate mode, the pen comes out the bottom. I fear that I could lose it someday.

The clip on the pen is an integral part of the locking mechanism, so I have to be aware of that and careful not to break it.

Although there is place to store an emergency pen in the battery compartment, this is for me an optional extra.

User Interface: Buttons etc.:
– You can lock the power button so you don’t accidently turn the M200 on/off.
– The “cross” button is handy for scrolling up/down and left/right when in Slate mode.
– Pen Buttons: There are also “soft” buttons in the bezel that you activiate with the pen. These are context aware, and can do different things depending what application is running.
– Physical switch to disable wireless. This is on the edge, so don’t have to open the screen to get to it.
– Analogue volume control: (think old transistor radio with a skinny wheel on the edge of the unit)
– nothing really
Two sets of indicator lights for ac connection, power, battery, hard drive access, wireless. One set is visible when the screen is open. The other is visible when the screen is closed.

Physical Appearance
Don’t really like the appearance. All the contrast betwen the black base and brushed metallic top and accents reminds me of chrome bits on a car. I prefer body paint matched side mouldings in a car, and would have preferred a similar look on the M200. I haven’t figured out what the top is made of, and am a little concerned that I could scratch it.

Ports and Connections
Most of the connections are at the “back” if you are in Desktop mode. This is great from a cord management standpoint, but a bit painful when actually connecting things. The SD card is at the front left, and PC card is on the left side, near the front. If I needed these, this would be convenient.

This is really nice for changing the screen orientation. Turn the unit, press the button, the image rotates. The motion detecting alarm system is fun, too. It is not all that that secure because it can be defeated by turning off the power, but it would at least alert me if someone was tampering with it while my attention is elsewhere..

I’ve tried to use the tilt and shake options with the Accelerometer, but I don’t find them very useful/usable. Maybe in time.

Other than that, it has great novelty value. It is like the keyless entry/ignition system in my car. It doesn’t do very much, but I enjoy it every time I use it.

The layout is good. This is a full size keyboard with the non-ASCII keys positioned it seems by typical frequency of use. Some might quibble about the Windows Key and the Applications Key being positioned at the top right. I don’t mind this, but I would have preferred the Home and End keys (that are also at the top right) to be at the bottom right near the arrow keys.

I find the keyboard to be very noisy. Even with headphones on, I can hear the keys as I tap them. I would not want to be using the keyboard in a quiet lecture, a library or a meeting. This is diminished somewhat because at least in a lecture or a meeting, I would be using the pen not typing.

When doing something that requires typing and I am in the presence of other people, I am quite aware of the noise. The HP keyboard, and the IBM keyboards that I have used in the past are a lot quieter.

Nitpicking about the keyboard – but things that are troublesome for me
Next, are a couple of issues that are important to me, but wouldn’t necessarily be for others.
I have grown used to the (often controversial) positions of the Fn and Ctrl keys on IBM ThinkPads and the HP machines. (Bottom left row is: Fn Ctrl Alt). On the Toshiba it is (Ctrl Fn Alt tilde/backquote). This means that I have to stretch farther than I’m used to, to get to the Ctrl key and to use the Ctrl key combinations. Even after a week, I am still having trouble with this.

The full size keyboard would be nice for most people. Personally I prefer the smaller keyboard in the HP machines. I just find it more comfortable to type on a slightly undersized keyboard. The less stretching for the keys, the happier I am.

This is a major issue for me. I have been using the IBM style TrackPoint and integrated scroll functions for years. I don’t get the scroll functions with the HP machines, but the pointing stick is there.

The good news (and not really news for anyone who is used to a touchpad mouse) is that there is a lot of functionality here. Four programmable functions in the corners are nice. I have mine set to cut/paste and Ctrl-scrollUp /Ctrl-ScrollDown. The latter two are very handy for increasing/decreasing fonts in Internet Explorer.
There is also an area near the top that lets you go back/forward with a quick drag of the finger.
You can also scroll up/down and left/right. It took about a day to get used to all of the functionality, and to really like it.

All this works well when I am seated in front of the M200 and the machine and I are relatively stationary with respect to one another.

Now here’s the rub… At least half of the time, I am using the machine while standing, doing presentations. All of a sudden I can’t seem to remain correctly oriented with respect to the touchpad.

Clicks turn into double clicks, drags turn into IE forward/back. Attempts to scroll up / down turn into changes to the font size. I gave up fighting with this on Friday, and connected (horrors) a mouse.

Well, I am not a great typist, and it is now many hours since I started this tome. I will try to document some other observations comparing the M200 to the TC1100 in a later posting.

I have to acknowledge all the others who have posted their observations about the M200. Without your input, I would not have had enough information to make the decision to get one.

I am not ready to retire or dispose of the TC1100. I will keep them both. Pluses and Minuses in complementary ways: and those things that are Interesting about them, are lots of fun to explore.

Best to All



note: I’ll post Part II (a week later), tomorrow

Take my Tablet PC … Please!

Henny Youngman, from a 1990 promotional flyerTake my Tablet PC … Please!
– With apologies to Henny Youngman
Much to my surprise, a well known  personality in the Tablet PC space wrote to me asking my opinion of the HP TC1100. I know that he is familiar with The Tablet Rationalizer tool, and my first inclination was to suggest he use it.

Reading his note again; he did not ask which Tablet PC to buy, but rather:
Do you like TC1100? Would you recommend it to others?“.

Link: Take my Tablet PC … Please!

Take my Tablet PC … Please

Henny Youngman, from a 1990 promotional flyerTake my Tablet PC … Please!
– With apologies to Henny Youngman
Much to my surprise, a well known personality in the Tablet PC space wrote to me asking my opinion of the HP TC1100. I know that he is familiar with The Tablet Rationalizer tool, and my first inclination was to suggest he use it.

Reading his note again; he did not ask which Tablet PC to buy, but rather:
Do you like TC1100? Would you recommend it to others?“.
Short answers:
Yes I like the TC1100.

… I take my Tablet PC with me everywhere, but it keeps finding its way back!
– sorry Henny

I’ve had my TC1100 for over a year and recently picked up my second Toshiba M200.

My take-it-everywhere machine is the TC1100. I rarely take the keyboard, but I am very glad to have the option when I foresee that I will need it. The rest of the time (most of the time), I travel light (3.1 pounds).
The point is, I take it with me everywhere and do so without reservation or regret. Any place I have taken it to use it in that mobile Tablet PC kind of application, I would do it again. Hence:  “it keeps finding its way back“.

A few reasons I like the HP TC1100:

  • Overall design – I like the asthetics. It “feels” like a well engineered piece of technology.
  • Size / Weight – Not the lightest, it is for now, light enough and small enough that I do take it everywhere.
  • Viewing angle – Except for direct sunlight, I can comfortably work with this little marvel in just about any posture I can still manage.
  • Tiny footprint – Attach the keyboard (which I happen to like) and the space this takes on a flat surface is tiny. This matters at a meeting table, airplane tray, or student desk.
  • Support – My experiences with HP support have been unremarkable. That is: When things come up, they handle it and I have no cause to complain.

Would I recommend it?

I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places.
– Henny Youngman

If you think that you would like what I like about the TC1100, then definitely “go there”. In a very long winded comparison/review of the TC1100 and the Toshiba M200, I likened the TC1100 to a sports car – a svelte personal touring machine, and the M200 to a muscle car.
I will find and post that long comparison / review tomorrow.