Tecra M4 Observations for May 28, 2005

Saturday, May 28th, 2005
For the past two days, I've used the Tecra M4 as my only computing device. In all, the machine worked well. I should point out that other than a brief impromptu Tablet PC demo to David and Jason, I worked almost exclusively in laptop mode.

Some quick [unscientific] observations:

The M4's fast; consumes lots of power; the screen rocks more than a traditional laptop screen; the fan is much louder than the ThinkPad T42 (I was plugged in which causes the M4 to default to high-power); and I am not yet comfortable with the keyboard.

Keyboard observations: I've owned almost a dozen ThinkPads over the past decade, and I've been spoiled by the wonderful ThinkPad keyboard. The M4 keyboard is not bad mind you, but I'm not adjusting to it very quickly. Here are a few differences that I've encountered today: When using the Accupoint (TrackPoint, for you IBMers) the left and right mouse buttons are now top and bottom mouse buttons. Now Idea why Toshiba did that. I'm constantly clicking on the wrong button. In addition, the Accupoint seems very stiff to move around, even after adjusting the settings. The ThinkPad Keyboard has CRTL & ALT keys on each side of the space-bar. The Tecra's layout is very different. My productivity has dropped, largely because I have 10 years of ThinkPad keyboard experience to undo. Again, this is not a bad thing, but it will take some getting used to. Of course, I'll soon be doing everything in ink, right?

Screen observations: I 'm beginning to understand why wide angle viewing is such a big deal for a Tablet PC. When I look at the M4 straight on or use it in laptop mode, the screen is fine. If I'm even a few degrees off center, however, the screen readability drops. This would not be a problem with a laptop but a tablet, as I'm finding, is used very differently. For example, I tried to show Kathy a video clip. She was sitting next to me on the couch and could not see it. If I want to sit in a chair and lay the tablet on the table in front of me, it's difficult to see. If I prop it up a little, it's fine. If I want to write with the tablet in my lap I have to make sure that I'm looking at the M4 straight on to get the clarity that I would expect. Unfortunately, I have no way to compare this screen to another tablet, such as the Fujitsu, so I don't know if this is state-of-the-art or if I'm justified in expecting more.

As I type this, my fan has kicked into high gear. It does that from time to time. For the most part, I've been able to manage the power settings, but there's a high pitched whine - probably like my blog. I'll see what I can do to mitigate that and share what I've learned. On the topic of sharing, I have a list of questions people have asked me on or off the blog. I'll collect these and respond soon. Thanks for your patience.

I realize that not everything I've shared about my quest to become YABHTU is positive. I don't like to complain, but I'm not going to sugar-coat something that I think could be better either. As for the comments that I have made (or will make) about the Tecra M4, you should know the standard of comparison that I'm using. It's the IBM ThinkPad T42p. I've been fortunate to have this laptop for almost a year, and it's a delight. For the most part, I've been spoiled by IBM, the ThinkPad and the service and support. Oops; That's not entirely true. There was the one time I tried to give IBM $50,000 and they would not take it. But that's another story.

I guess this is all a part of the learning curve. I work with many new systems each year, and I retain few. Of those, still fewer do I recommend to clients. I'm still a long way away from any definitive conclusion on the tablet platform. I want to give it a fair chance.

All in all, my Tablet PC experiment continues well, though I'm not sure I did the Tablet PC justice in my impromptu demonstrations to David and Jason. My demonstration of OneNote and MindManager were not as smooth as I would have liked. Still, I think I was able to make a compelling argument for why I think the Tablet PC is a platform to watch. David's comment was that he's glad that he "pays me to evaluate hardware and software to figure out what works and what does not." There's still much that I want to learn about the Tablet PC as a paradigm for getting things done.

As I learn more I'll share it here. Over the next few days, I'll try to switch and do the bulk of my work in Tablet mode and see what kind of an impact that makes on my productivity.

Enough rambling. It's late.

As always, a special thanks to those of you who have taken the time to post comments with advice and recommendations.

Discussion/Comments (11):

Tecra M4 Observations for May 28, 2005

With reference to the viewing angle, I have posted a couple of items on my blog.

In summary, the 'sharing' of information on the screen is best done by handing them the Tablet... a process which was not so easy with a laptop. This 'sharing' process works well (Just make sure you get it back!)

I have also posted some pictures to show the viewing angle of my motion. I don't seem to suffer so much with that type of screen. It might be that all tablets have various angles of display ?

Posted at 5/29/2005 1:19:58 AM by Ian

Tecra M4 Observations for May 28, 2005

Viewing angle would be greatly affected by the size of the screen and probably the one area the Tecra's 14" LCD would be a disadvantage. I am interested in reading your linked story above but the link appears to be broken.

And lastly, sugarcoating? We don't need no stinking sugarcoating! :)

Posted at 5/29/2005 6:08:05 AM by James Kendrick

I´ve fixed the link ...

FYI: James, last night, I stayed up 3 hours and reviewed all of your past blog entries. Not content to stop there, I read another 40+ pages of helpful information that you linked to.

A wealth of information.

The best part? I did all of this in tablet mode. I really enjoy Toshiba's crosspoint button.

Posted at 5/29/2005 11:17:47 AM by Eric Mack

re: Tecra M4 Observations for May 28, 2005

Thanks, Ian. Helpful post and pictures. - Eric

Posted at 5/29/2005 11:21:07 AM by Eric Mack

Screens b/t Tecra and Lifebook BIG differences!!!


I compared both the Tecra M4 and Lifebbok and went with the Lifebook. Veiwing angles are wonderful in the Lifebook! No need to manipulate it so you can see. It is a first class tablet. I hated putting books under the Tecra so I could see the screen. PLUS it is possible to have several people next to you to see the screen without compromise. There is an article about why the screens are so different and the technology used by the different companies. It was in pen computing.com.

Posted at 5/29/2005 3:35:54 PM by Sara Tompson

Tecra M4 Observations for May 28, 2005

Eric, thanks for the kind words! Sorry I made you stay up 3 hours, though. :)

Posted at 5/30/2005 6:48:26 PM by James Kendrick

Tecra M4 Observations for May 28, 2005

James do you have the View Anywhere Display option on your motion?

Sara, are you referring to the T4010? So you were able to check them out side by side? That's very interesting that you find the screen so much better, I'd imagined it would be basically the same screen as an m200.

Posted at 5/31/2005 2:16:14 PM by Andy

Tecra M4 Observations for May 28, 2005

woops just realized the T4010 is available with the option of a wide angle XGA screen, vs. the SXGA screen I was thinking of.

Posted at 5/31/2005 3:15:55 PM by Andy

Tecra M4 Observations for May 28, 2005

Just wanted to say how much I am enjoying hearing about the Tecra and getting it set-up. I have been thinking of a tablet for some time, but admit that I was rather put off by Michael Hyatt's comments on his Blog so I am avidly following your story! Also I have been testing MindManager after seeing you used it - I am very impessed espcially as it has the capability of linking to a Pocket PC. I love the Podcasts!

Posted at 5/31/2005 11:43:30 PM by Edith

Tecra M4 Observations for May 28, 2005

Hi Eric,

talking about the high amout of power, the Tecra M4 consumes, can you be a bit more specific? Do the power cells last long enough to work for about 3 hours? I'm in my own research on a Tablet PC that suits my needs best and currently evaluating the trade-off between performance and mobilty (where duration is the most important factor). While the T4010 might be an option in this manner, its very weak graphic acceleration discouraged me from buying it (well, I travel 2 hours a day and I'm still a student, therefore I'd like to play some games too ;-) ).

So what's your experience with the mobility of the Tecra M4? Do I have to hop from plug to plug or may a second power cell be the solution?

I'm looking forward to reading more about your Tecra M4.

Posted at 6/2/2005 7:37:36 AM by Matthias

Tecra M4 Observations for May 28, 2005

About Accupoint: have Toshiba 8100 that I got used and am actually ready to upgrade. I love everything about it, except the Accupoint eraser-head. It is so stiff, I kept wondering if it needed cleaning or something. I've always disabled it and used an external mouse, which defeats the purpose of going portable, don't you think? I sure hope my new Satelite A75 touch pad works better. The reviews seem to be good.

Any one know?

Posted at 3/7/2006 5:29:59 PM by Jo

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