Daddy got a new Tablet PC! (aka my first impressions of my new Toshiba Portege M400)

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My daughter plays with my new Toshiba Portege M400 Tablet PC laptop (after eating a chocolate cupcake… mmm)

I just purchased a new Toshiba Portege M400 Tablet PC laptop… As far as the Tablet PC goes, I’m a long time listener, first time caller. That is the say that I’ve followed the Tablet PC for some time both in the news and in reviews and from people I know who have one and have considered getting one on several occasions, but until now I never took the step to actually own one.

Here are some of my initial impressions — warning they are going to be a bit scattered, but I’m hoping to capture some of my first thoughts while they are fresh and haven’t been erased by… whatever it is that leads many of to quickly adapt to new gadgets and new interfaces.

  • As you can see above, my daughter loves it already. Really, though, she took very naturally to it. It was cool, she thought she was on her chalkboard so she tried to rub off her scribblings using her thumb. 🙂 On a side note, Shonali and I both became afraid, almost at the same time, for every other screen in our house. We need to teach her early and quickly that she can only write on Daddy’s laptop screen… and that too, only with a special pen.
  • The first things that I find myself doing with this new device are the normal things I do with any PC. Login to GMail to plough through work emails (I just whittled my inbox from 275 messages down to 75… someday I’ll learn my lesson about leaving the office and heading to a conference with extremely engaging speakers for 3 days), listen to voicemails, download some photos from my camera. And unfortunately none of those apps really support my new laptop’s special capabilities (ie the Tablet PC side of things). Right away, I want to use the pen everywhere, I want to be able to draw on everything, make circles, notes, annotations and I can’t. The broad success of this thing is going to be around getting the right set of applications on a box and making them all very pen friendly. Maybe there’s a good pen layer for Office and that might help, but for folks like me that spend so much of their time on the web, in the cloud, there has to be deep pen integration in those apps / website too. A Firefox Tablet PC plug-in? I’ll have to look into it, it’s something I think I’ll almost certainly want. OneNote and Windows Journal? Well, those seem to be THE pen apps, and I haven’t spent anytime in them yet.
  • The thickness of the Toshiba Portege M400 is a put-off when it’s being used in Tablet mode with the pen. I usually rest my wrist on the paper/table when I’m writing (I think most people do, right?) and having my wrist elevated by 1.5″ makes it awkward to write. Maybe I’ll adjust, but it’s a big put-off to begin with.
  • Toshiba has this annoying pop-up that appears, by default, everytime you even slightly move the machine that tells you that Toshiba’s anti-shock technology has detected that your laptop is moving and to prevent any damage, it’s parking the hard drive heads. And you have to click it to clear it. Talk about a total put-off to the initial pen experience. I picked the laptop up from the desk and put it in my lap and started writing and every 2 seconds I had to clear this pop-up. I finally said, “don’t show me this message again” but shouldn’t that pop-up just be off by default? I mean, haven’t hard drives been automatically parking their own heads since the mid to late 1980s?
  • There’s a little bit of “wobble” in the Tablet PC screen when it’s in regular laptop mode. It feels like there should be some way to lock it into laptop-mode position, but there isn’t. In contrast, when I swivel the screen around and lay it flat to put it into tablet mode, the screen snaps securely into the base and the whole thing feels really solid.
  • There are these funny buttons on the bottom of the screen — I wonder what those are all about? One’s a joystick that kind of acts like the scroll wheel and when you press it you click.
  • When I’m in tablet mode, I miss my keyboard.
  • The smaller screen and keyboard (I’m using a Dell 300m right now) are a bit annoying, but I remember switching from my Dell X200 up to the 300m and being amazed at how much nicer the larger keyboard was so this is probably just the reverse of that effect.
  • I wish the screen was higher resolution, but I probably should have thought of that before I purchased this thing 🙂 Seriously though, I could see a higher resolution display paying more dividends than anything else.
  • Fan is kind of loud
  • As I read in a few reviews before buying the M400, switching from laptop mode into tablet mode can take a couple of seconds — it’s not immediate.

I’ll post more comments as I dig into the pen functionality of my new PC. At the moment, “a drawing pad for Ananya” is the best story I can tell about this thing.

2 thoughts on “Daddy got a new Tablet PC! (aka my first impressions of my new Toshiba Portege M400)”

  1. Congrats on the M400 purchase. I think you’ll be thrilled with OneNote and Windows Journal, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts in a few days! Drop a note with any questions; I have the M205, which is a generation behind the M400 and has the 1400 x 1050 res screen; the extra res really helps, but that’s just my personal preference! Best of luck…

  2. You’ll definitely see some follow-up posts from me on the Tablet PC, I still haven’t spent much time this weekend with the pen stuff. Lots of other things to catch up on at the moment. 🙂

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