Size Matters? Maybe, for an Artist

When it comes to sketching on a Tablet PC size probably matters. With the recent announcement of the Toshiba Tecra M4, the most compelling new specification (for me) was the screen resolution / size. (1400 x1050 on a 14” screen).  There are lots of other interesting differences (physical size, weight, video processor, cpu, optical drive), but for today I will focus on screen resolution / size matters.


Join me as I contemplate the question: Does Size Matter?


Link: Size Matters – Artist

Screen Resolutions

By Size then Resolution

Diagonal (I)

Width (I)

Height (I)

Width (P)

Height (P)

Pix/Inch

           8.4

              6.7

           5.0

800

600

     119.0

           8.4

              6.7

           5.0

1024

768

     152.8

         10.4

              8.3

           6.2

1024

768

     123.3

         12.1

              9.7

           7.3

1024

768

     105.8

         12.1

              9.7

           7.3

1400

1050

     144.6

         14.0

            11.2

           8.4

1024

768

       91.4

         14.0

            11.2

           8.4

1400

1050

     125.0

         15.0

            12.0

           9.0

1024

768

       85.3

         15.0

            12.0

           9.0

1400

1050

     116.7

         15.0

            12.0

           9.0

1600

1200

     133.3

By Resolution then Size

 Width (P) 

 Height (P) 

 Pix/Inch 

 Diagonal (I) 

 Width (I) 

 Height (I) 

800

600

      119.0

            8.4

              6.7

         5.0

1024

768

      152.8

            8.4

              6.7

         5.0

1024

768

      123.3

          10.4

              8.3

         6.2

1024

768

      105.8

          12.1

              9.7

         7.3

1024

768

        91.4

          14.0

           11.2

         8.4

1024

768

        85.3

          15.0

           12.0

         9.0

1400

1050

      144.6

          12.1

              9.7

         7.3

1400

1050

      125.0

          14.0

           11.2

         8.4

1400

1050

      116.7

          15.0

           12.0

         9.0

1600

1200

      133.3

          15.0

           12.0

         9.0

Size Matters – Artist

When it comes to sketching on a Tablet PC size probably matters. With the recent announcement of the Toshiba Tecra M4, the most compelling new specification (for me) was the screen resolution / size. (1400 x1050 on a 14” screen).  There are lots of other interesting differences (physical size, weight, video processor, cpu, optical drive), but for today I will focus on screen resolution / size matters.

I have both:

  • M200 (12.1 inch screen 1400 x 1050 resolution)
  • TC1100 (10.4 inch screen 1024 x 768 resolution)
  • and I find that for sketching I will use either one, but if I want to do something more detailed, I will gravitate towards the M200.

When contemplating the Toshiba Tecra M4 I got thinking this way (see chart at the end of this article)

  • The M200 screen is about 1.25 inches smaller in each dimension, than a piece of 8.5 x 11 inch paper.
  • The M4 will be about the size of a piece of 8.5 x 11 inch paper.
  • A more general comparison is that the M4 will have about same Pixels per Inch (125) as a 10.4 inch screen with a resolution of  1024 768 (123.3), but you will have nearly 1.87 times as many pixels on the screen (math not shown in the table is 1400 x 1050 / 1024 x 768 = 1.87)

Because I started sketching on Tablet PCs, I have no experience working on a larger medium. I would be lost on a larger canvas.

I tend to work in a small area in the middle of the screen with small illustrations (max  1024 x 768) .  I doubt that I would  find much value in the larger screen on the M4. But that’s me, and the way I learned to draw. If you learned on paper or are used to working with tools or materials that are larger you may have a different view of this.

My point is that you might want to do the physical exercise of creating the real-life simulation. Then consider what you are drawing, and the target media. My sketches end up as illustrations in web pages so all of this is working fine for me on the M200 screen. But what I prefer is a relatively compact form factor.

I’ve looked at the Toshiba R10, and it seems to be about the same size as is predicted for the M4. Given the amount of time I spend carting my Tablet PCs with me, I doubt that I would be happy about the weight and size. I have ready access to optical drives on my network, so I can’t say that I’ve ever missed having one built-in.

So that’s some food for thought.

Here’s the chart.

By Size then Resolution

Diagonal (I)

Width (I)

Height (I)

Width (P)

Height (P)

Pix/Inch

           8.4

              6.7

           5.0

800

600

     119.0

           8.4

              6.7

           5.0

1024

768

     152.8

         10.4

              8.3

           6.2

1024

768

     123.3

         12.1

              9.7

           7.3

1024

768

     105.8

         12.1

              9.7

           7.3

1400

1050

     144.6

         14.0

            11.2

           8.4

1024

768

       91.4

         14.0

            11.2

           8.4

1400

1050

     125.0

         15.0

            12.0

           9.0

1024

768

       85.3

         15.0

            12.0

           9.0

1400

1050

     116.7

         15.0

            12.0

           9.0

1600

1200

     133.3

By Resolution then Size

 Width (P) 

 Height (P) 

 Pix/Inch 

 Diagonal (I) 

 Width (I) 

 Height (I) 

800

600

      119.0

            8.4

              6.7

         5.0

1024

768

      152.8

            8.4

              6.7

         5.0

1024

768

      123.3

          10.4

              8.3

         6.2

1024

768

      105.8

          12.1

              9.7

         7.3

1024

768

        91.4

          14.0

           11.2

         8.4

1024

768

        85.3

          15.0

           12.0

         9.0

1400

1050

      144.6

          12.1

              9.7

         7.3

1400

1050

      125.0

          14.0

           11.2

         8.4

1400

1050

      116.7

          15.0

           12.0

         9.0

1600

1200

      133.3

          15.0

           12.0

         9.0


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High Resolution Screens and Tablet PCs

If I Knew Then, What I Know Now – Part II – Investments

Continuing those notes to self, if I could post a letter back in time, this time I’m trying to prepare myself for some of the harder-to- quantify aspects of Tablet PC ownership. Let’s talk about investments.

Unlearning

Give yourself some time to unlearn things that have been second nature. Part of this is realizing that not everything you input into the machine has to be manipulated.

So much of the value I attributed to the computer was being able to anticipate changes (edits, re-writes, assumptions) that I had a whole mindset of write-once, edit forever.

Ink on paper is some much more permanent (and bulky, and fragile). Ink in the computer is an odd hybrid. Easily copied, pasted, erased, backed up, it is different. At the same time it is more permanent than managed text. At least it is not as easily edited or transformed to different output mechanisms.

I came to this understanding slowly. It takes awhile to sense when ink is a better choice than text and when text is still m ore effective.

Favourite Applications – Transitions

I was lucky because my all time favourite application was and still is,  MindManager. This was the killer application of the 90s for me. When it became ink-enabled, that was the end of the wait. I couldn’t put it off any longer. I needed a Tablet PC. I was used to distilling ideas to key words and drawing lines to document relationships.

I read somewhere, someone was saying that he would never buy MindManager until you could use Ink in the text notes. Until I read that, it had never occurred to me. Even if you could do it, I seriously doubt I would.

So if I were writing to someone else about to embark on their Tablet PC journey, I would ask:

  • What is your favourite application?
  • What do you do with it?
  • Why do you like it?

Instead of looking for ways or excuses to use Ink in that application, I would dig further into the “Why do you like it?” aspect to see if there were any compelling reasons to bring Ink into the mix. If not, then fine. There’s no need to force it.

Work and Approach to Work

You can ask two related but different questions.

  • What work, or tasks do you do with a computer? (Let’s disregard leisure activities for now).
  • How do you approach it?

The first question my be more about outcomes, while the second is about beginnings and process.

For me, I start in the abstract and move to the concrete. Ink works well at the beginning, the generative part, but when things become more structured, I’m back to text.

In the days before relatively accessible Tablet PCs, I had to start new work on paper and migrate to the computer as the work progressed. If that describes you, then it will be a relatively easy transition for you. If not, then it may be more difficult to find the rationale for the extra cost.

Investments

Be prepared to invest some time in this. This does not mean that you have to throw away your keyboard and take 10 times longer to do things. I do mean that is may take a little longer at first to take the time to ponder, “Is now a good time to pick up the pen?”

Take some time to reflect and learn from the experiences. It might take five time as long to hand-write a personal note, but this is one case where the argument that I can type many times faster than I can write may be immaterial, if most of the composing time was actually spent staring at the screen instead of banging on the keys.

Oh, and about the money, if you look at the cost difference between a Tablet PC and a comparable (non-inking) portable computer, Ask yourself if a dollar a day spread out over the anticipated life of the machine is going to be worth it to you.

If it saves you even a couple of minutes a day or allows you to do things that you simply couldn’t do on a regular portable computer, you probably have the justification for it.

Learning

Why do adult learners go to school? When it comes to applications software most I have met are perfectly capable of teaching themselves. So why do they go to school?

A big part of it seems to be the need to get out of their other environments so they can focus on learning. I haven’t seen any place where you can go to school to learn Ink centric applications software. So if you are like many adult learners, you are just going to have to set aside some time.


Dear Pre-Tablet PC Self,

As you are thinking about getting a Tablet PC…

What are your favourite applications on the computer now? What do you do with them, and why do you like them? If there was another way to accomplish as much or convey the same or greater value, would you be willing to let some or all of those applications go?

If you could be more effective or do things that weren’t feasible before, would you be willing to spend a dollar or two a day to do it?

Are you willing to invest the time to ponder your work or tasks, and take the time before embarking on new tasks to ponder the applicability of using Ink?

Finally, just how will you find the time to learn the new approaches and software that enables it?

 

If I Knew Then, What I Know Now

Here’s a collection of thoughts I would put in a letter and send to myself in a time machine. The date: A couple of weeks before I purchased my first Tablet PC.

Ink is Ink and Text is Text and you don’t have to convert Ink to Text
At first I wanted to use the pen to replace keyboard input. As it turns out, when the novelty wore off, I stopped trying to use the pen for large blocks of input, especially when it would have to be edited, shared, or converted to other formats. I have since learned the jargon and refer to this as managed text.

In the beginning, I would “write” just about everything and then convert it to text. While this was good for learning how to write and be recognized, it wasn’t very efficient.

It didn’t take long to understand that some things are better captured as “ink” and left that way. Other things are better captured with the keyboard.

Part of the learning curve is figuring out the difference.

Weight may not matter as much as I thought it would
Most of the time the difference between 3 pounds and a little over 4 pounds is immaterial.
(first and second machines, carrying weight in “corridor” mode).

The reason: I use the Tablet PC standing up, walking around for perhaps 3-4 hours a week, but ten times that amount seated or standing with the Tablet PC on a lecturn.

When comparing screens, TILT
When looking at a Tablet PC before buying, be sure to look at it in Portrait mode. Actually, look at it from all four sides because it will probably look great in primary landscape mode (standard laptop mode if it is a convertible) but you might end up in secondary landscape (upside down) or portrait a lot.

Watch the position of the connectors
If any of the connectors come out of the long side of the Tablet PC (probably the “back”) if it is a convertible, if you intend to draw on the Tablet in landscape mode (which will be secondary landscape) the odds are very very good that the image will come out upside down on a projector.

The quick workaround? Turn it around.
The result is the cables may be coming out towards you.

This will only concern you if you are doing a lot of presentations with a projector, and
you are drawing in landscape mode, and
you can’t or don’t want to fiddle around with the projector to invert the image.

Apparently this is a feature shared by all Tablets, but is less of an issue with machines where the connectors are coming out the short sides of the machine.

Pressure Sensitivity Matters

I wish I had known earlier, how much more I would enjoy the whole Tablet PC experience with pressure sensitivity. Being an old fountain pen person, the pressure sensitivity created a much more realistic “sensation” of writing and sketching that was a real joy that I had not anticipated.

How do I know? – Having owned a Tablet PC that did not have a pressure sensitive screen, and then later, one that did…

Size matters

Don’t be surprised when you find yourself using this more than you thought you would.

This means that you will probably end up taking it with you much more than you might have taken your laptop.

It may be the case then, that you will prefer a smaller and lighter unit vs. one with a bigger screen with its attendant weight.

How can you know if you will be this kind of user?
Do you ever take your laptop with you to a ‘non work/business’ destination, just in case you need/want to use it?
I’d bet you are one of the people who will end up taking the Tablet PC almost everywhere.

Life is too short to worry about battery life

Don’t set yoursefl up to obsess about battery life. You can manage it by turning down the backlight, terminating wireless, shutting down the hard drive and throttling the processor. You can set the suspend and hibernation to kick in at relatively short intervals.

But every moment you spend obsessing about battery life, is a moment that you are not being productive or having fun with your Tablet PC.

Get a spare battery or two. Personally, I prefer the external batteries like the Valence or Electrovaya products. These can be very flexible. You can charge them outside of the Tablet PC and most importantly for me, they can be used with more than one kind of Tablet PC. This means that I can use the same external batteries for all my machines.

 

 

More discussion: See Tablet PC Buzz

 

 

 

 

Are Tablet PCs Too Expensive?

see how I got to this placeHow often have you read or thought that Tablet PCs will not enter the mainstream until the price comes down.


Let’s ponder that awhile and explore the question,
“Are Tablet PC’s too expensive?” Today let’s ponder …


Compared to What?


I think it is a tragic failure of logic to look at a Tablet PC and see a portable computer. This will be the first of several  mini-articles addressing the question.


Link:  Too Expensive? Compared to what?