Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

Sunday, June 19th, 2005
Several people have written to share that, as a result of my blog, they have purchased a Tecra M4. A friend even surprised me by showing me his new M4 that he purchased after reading my blog. (More on that later.) This past week, I've demonstrated the M4 to numerous clients as well as people who come up and say "that's really neat; what is it?" As far as I know, I've apparently helped sell another ten M4's for Toshiba and at least as many licenses of MindManager, OneNote, and other Tablet PC applications.  Still, I've probably discouraged an equal number of folks from buying an M4 or a Tablet PC, too. To these folks: please understand that I push my systems to their limits and I'm quite harsh in my expectations of what a productive system should be like.

I continue to work with document management on the Tablet PC. Scanning books and documents to read and review on the Tablet seems to be working well and, despite the weight and size of the unit, I really enjoy the large screen. (I would not switch back.) As I explained to someone today: my screen is large enough to allow me to display a page in a window on the left and run MindManager or OneNote in a page on the right, I'm quite content to carry around a large Tablet. MindManager and Windows Journal remain my current favorite Tablet PC apps, however, OneNote is growing in favor. I've got GoBinder and a few other apps, however I've not had the time yet to explore their features.

I continue to enjoy the Tablet PC and the M4, well mostly. To be fair, four  items remain on my persistent tablet problems list.

1. Wireless conflicts - It seems there's disagreement between Windows XP Tablet Edition, the Intel PROSet Wireless Client, and the Toshiba Config-Free drivers as to who should get control of the wireless card. If I leave things alone for ten minutes the drivers seem to sort things out. Still, a big inconvenience. Ultimately, only the Intel PROSet application works.

2. M4 Goes into a standby or hibernate and I cannot get out of it except to power cycle. I still cannot explain this one.

3. At times, tablet goes into snail mode. I still suspect a power management or Intel Speed-step issue, particularly with pen mode. (The fixes I've tried don't seem to help.) Unfortunately, I have no time to reload until the end of June, so I'll continue to limp along. (For now, I only operate in high-power mode, which means that battery life is terrible.)

4. Most of my attempts to hibernate result in a windows error indicating that insufficient system resources exist to complete the operation.

[M4 owners, have you experienced any of the above?]

These seem like issues with the Tablet OS, or perhaps they are due to hardware conflicts, or both. I realize that problems 2-4 may also be due to software that I've installed; we'll see. Hopefully, my experiences are unique. I certainly hope so.  

My friend, Michael Sampson, who's here with me, thinks this is hilarious and reminds me that I could have bought a Mac.

I know that many of my clients read this blog and are following my Tablet PC pursuits. I want to work through all of the issues to determine my ideal Tablet PC configuration so that I can fully recommend Tablet PC Hardware, Software, and applications as possible eProductivity tools.

One last point: I don't want to make it sound like I'm down on the Tablet PC or Toshiba; I'm not. I have no plans to go back to a regular laptop. Still, since people seem to be relying on my blog for product information, I want to be honest about my experience thus far -- good and bad. I still see sufficient potential and promise in this technology, so I plan to stick with it.

Until I get these problems sorted out, I cannot consider whether or not I'm YABHTU; however, I remain very optimistic.

Discussion/Comments (22):

Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

Eric,

Some of the problems sound familar. I had the same difficulties with wireless early on and it was indeed sorted out when I dumped the Config Free utility and the Intel ProSet drivers and let Windows handle all of the wireless chores.

The snail mode symptom and also sounds familiar. I can't exactly remember the cause but it had to do with some program trying to access the internet and hanging. For awhile I though I had that licked by dumping the Toshiba software update utility, but it came back. I wish I could remember what the other program I removed was, but it solved that problem.

Again, remember this is all on the M200 not the M4.

Hope some of that helps.

Posted at 6/20/2005 5:18:40 AM by Warner Crocker


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

Eric,

I second Warner's comments on the Config Free utility and Intel ProSet. Actually, do double check for software updates on Toshiba's website. I believe the Config Free utility is new? I never had any luck with Intel's ProSet utility on my (now defunct) Toshiba Satellite Pro. Simply letting Windows configure the wireless settings is the most straight-forward route. As far as snail mode issues, I also dumped the Software Update Utility, and there's something called Pinger.exe that goes along with it. In the end, I installed a copy of Xteq System's X-Setup Pro and disabled several starting programs, which seemed to help. Oddly enough, I think the hanging on hibernate/standby may be a Toshiba thing, because my old Toshiba used to do the same, until I played around with some settings and deleted a few programs. I wish I knew what I did that ended up fixing this problem.

I'm one of the folks who, after reading your blog have decided against purchasing the M4, even though I bugged you about your thoughts on it earlier! Actually, it's more of a matter of circumstances. I returned my old Satellite Pro to Best Buy for warranty service, but they were unable to fix it, so gave me credit towards a new machine. I now own a Toshiba Qosmio F15 (sticking with Toshiba regardless) Media Center PC, which handles all my media-intensive tasks. I'm now shopping for a Motion LE1600, since what's left is using the tablet while teaching and while taking classes this fall. So, it makes sense to go with a slate at this point. Nevertheless, I have on my list most of the software you use, and even went out and and am now reading a copy of "Getting Things Done." Thanks again...

Posted at 6/20/2005 8:26:41 AM by Michael


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

Haven't had any problems with the wireless, but that may be because I've deleted configFree and let windows handle my wireless concerns.

As for the hibernate, I haven't had any problems with it at all. I hibernate my system 95% of the time (vs standby or shut down) -- never had a problem coming out of it on the M4.

Posted at 6/20/2005 8:41:01 AM by Chris Brandt


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

I've been following the discussion on this site and noticed there was some interest in WriteShield screen protectors in the past.

I'm not an employee of PocketPCTechs. I'm just a fellow Tecra M4 owner.

I negotiated a 10% discount for EricMackOnline readers...

Overview:

WriteSHIELD™ Premium Screen Protector:

{ Link }

1-Pak

{ Link }

2-Pak

{ Link }

They are advance order only and they expect to be shipping then on or before July 15, 2005.

For those of you wanting to get a 10% discount on a WriteShield...

Please use the discount code: TBUZZ0705

This needs to be put in the special instructions field. The discount will be applied to the order when they invoice it. The discount will not show on the weborder.

Posted at 6/20/2005 1:54:09 PM by Robert Lombardi


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

1. How well can you see the screen when it is outside v.s. inside?

2. How big of an issue is glare?

3. How does it feel to write on the screen, i.e. does it feel like you are writing on glass?

Posted at 6/21/2005 2:44:39 PM by Mike


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

The issue with hibernate may be related to a Windows issue with systems with more than 1GB RAM. There is a known issue where at times, with that much RAM, the system cannot hibernate. I had this issue with my M200 (and my previous laptops). The only way I solved it was by removing RAM (I used to have 2GB and reduced to 1GB). There is a KB article on this but I can't find it at the moment.

Posted at 6/21/2005 5:24:24 PM by Rob Copeland


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

I think I've found the MSKB article Rob's talking about above: { Link } There's a hotfix available as part of the article.

I also wanted to say thanks, Eric, for blogging about the Tecra M4; this device is so new that there's little information around. I'd like to second Mike's question about writing feel, and also ask about battery life: how long (roughly, obviously) is 'terrible' and how long was it in the previous power-saving settings you tried?

Thanks again!

Posted at 6/21/2005 6:41:56 PM by Calrion


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

Sorry for the double-post, but the link to the patch doesn't appear to be working. Navigating to the Microsoft Downloads site { Link } and searching for the MSKB ID (330909) does the trick.

Posted at 6/21/2005 6:46:41 PM by Calrion


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

I purchased an M4 and I have to tell you that I love all the features of the Tablet PC. I have not really found a lot of problems with it, but I don't really stress it out to the limit either. I love being able to write my sermon on it, then annotate it without having to print it out, then have the annotated version side by side with my text to edit it. It sure saves a lot of paper, and I can do everything at the coffee shop without printing anything out. Really cool.

I'm interested in what you are doing with document management. I would love to be able to do that on my M4. Do you scan the books in and then OCR it to Word, or is it in a graphics file and then you annotate it with OneNote or something similar? Could you let me know on that?

Thanks for your blog. It really helped me to make the decision on the M4 even though I had decided to get that one even before reading your blogs.

Posted at 6/21/2005 8:10:19 PM by Paul


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

I too purchased an M4 based on your blog Eric :-). The laptop should arrive in about two hours. I set up a blog just like yours to provide another review for the M4. It's at <{ Link }

Eric, I would uninstall/disable two of the three wireless connectivity programs. I know someone who had a similar problem with a ThinkPad -- the Windows XP wireless program was fighting for control with the Intel PROSet Wireless program. Disabling the Windows program fixed the conflicts.

Posted at 6/22/2005 5:08:15 AM by Rahul


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

"Tecra M4 incorporates Toshiba's EasyGuard technology which includes several software and hardware measures to protect data. Among these is biometric security courtesy of an integrated fingerprint reader and the Toshiba Trusted Platform Module (TPM) embedded security chip for data encryption purposes."

{ Link }

There is a fingerprint reader? I thought that was an X41 thing..

Posted at 6/22/2005 5:37:35 PM by Mike


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

I too bought an M4 because of your reviews. I am experiencing wireless conflicts just as you are. However, my system has not experienced any slowdowns as of yet. Currently, my biggest problem involves shutting down the PC in any way (be it hibernate, restart, etc). Sometimes, Most of the programs close but the machine refuses to shutdown. Then when I try to load onto the program, I receive an error message telling me the system cannot startup any new programs when the machine is shutting down. I do not know if this problem is due to the system or is something I downloaded (security/protection software from zdnet or Windows freeware). Is anyone else having this problem? Beyond that, I am thoroughly enjoying the flexibility offered by the tablet design. Also, this whole entry was written in pen mode, which does take longer and sometimes needs error fixing but otherwise recognizes handwriting very well. I left in some typos but fixed others...

Posted at 6/22/2005 6:34:33 PM by Nimrod Grinvald


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

Invite your friend to try writing on his precious Mac screen :)

Posted at 6/22/2005 9:04:51 PM by Kevin


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

My mac (iBook with Mac OS X 10.3 Panther) crashes more than the three of my Windows XP machines combined.

Posted at 6/23/2005 1:43:23 AM by Rahul


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

I know, I know... this is a Toshiba entry and I do not own a tablet. I have just become turned on to the Fujitsu T4000 as opposed to the Tecra m4, because of the viewing angle, battery life, quietness, and it not having a heat problem.

{ Link }

Posted at 6/24/2005 10:18:01 PM by Mike


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

Hey Eric,

I would highly recommend running SpeedSwitchXP on any and all windows notebooks. It allows one to dynamically control the power management of the processor very granularly. Much more than the hardware manufacturers. It is available at { Link } Also, tell your mac friend that Steve Jobs can't ever decide which platform he wants to use. Talk about wishy washy. Besides, no macs can do what Tablet PC can do and I have never had a Tablet PC problem with my Acer C303XMi.

Posted at 6/26/2005 6:26:22 AM by Jason


Possible solution to Tablet PC problem

I have been reading your reviews and I think I may know why your computer sometimes slows down.

The microsoft XP tablet PC edition has, I believe, a memory leak. The sloution is to reboot the system regularly (at least once a day).

Also, I highly recomend you use msconfig. From msconfig, you can disable startup programs and system services. you can get to msconfig by opening run and typing "msconfig"

I hope this help and thank you for posting these reviews.

Posted at 6/30/2005 9:47:02 PM by Michael


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

What's the screen like outdoors?

Anyone used the WriteShield screen protector on a Tablet PC?

Posted at 7/6/2005 12:59:01 PM by Geoff


Firewall / Anti-virus could cause your standby mode problems

I have similar problems going into standby / hibernate mode on a brand new Toshiba S100.

I tracked it down to when I installed Norton Internet Security (NIS) 2005 is what causes my problems. When I uninstalled it, standby works just fine again.

I am not sure what in NIS 2005 causes the problems, but not having a firewall and antivirus on my machine is not really a good option. I also have a huge heat problem with my S100. I can't put it on my lap for more than 30 minutes before it becomes so hot, I need to get it off my lap.

So I am returning my laptop to Toshiba mainly due to the heat problem, and due to NIS 2005 not working well with it.

Does the M4 have heat problems where you can't use it on your lap for long?

-Rich

Posted at 7/7/2005 12:51:08 PM by Rich


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

Rich, those problems are most likely Norton's fault. I dropped their products sometime ago when Norton anti-virus trashed my machine twice, both times forcing me to re-install Windows to fix the problem. For a firewall check out Sygate and Kerio (both have free versions, I know Sygate has a commercial option too). For anti-virus I've been very happy with AVG (also a free and commercial version available).

Posted at 7/8/2005 12:04:36 AM by Geoff


Thanks for the suggestion - Going to buy a Tecra M4

Geoff, thanks for the suggestions.

I am going to try a Tecra M4 after reading this blog as well the forums on tabletpcbuzz.com

-Rich

Posted at 7/8/2005 4:39:07 PM by Rich


Selling folks on Tecras and tablets

I have noted some similar problems with being unable at times to shut off the M4 or it taking a very long time to shut down. One of the issues is that if you have loaded Web root spysweeper it takes a while to do its thing at shut down and slows the computer very much.

Standby is very unstable on my system and is difficult to return from without the system freezing. My system may go into standby while I am working on it! I do have Norton Utilities and Norton Firewall.

WOuld it be better to uninstall the Norton Firwall and use Zone ALarms firewall instead? Any other suggestions on the standby and shutdown and freezing problems?

David from Bellevue, WA

Posted at 8/18/2005 11:17:09 PM by David Musnick



Discussion for this entry is now closed.