Sunday, 3 June 2007

Current musings.

So we've been together a while now and we're getting to know each others' quirks. I've got to say I'm still very happy but there are some issues that need to be aired.

First of all, we'll start with battery life. Now this was always going to be an issue which is why I felt it was a great idea to have the spare battery and charger. The idea here being that one battery charges while the other powers the device so that seamless battery operation is possible. However, the battery runs down on the device before the other one has fully charged. I put this to Tatung who advised employing as many power-saving strategies on the device as possible. So I dimmed the display down (using the handy thumb wheel - shame there isn't also a thumb wheel for volume), set the display settings to 1 minute before switching off the monitor etc. This extended the life (about 3 hours) slightly, but still it ran down too quickly. Ultimately, this shouldn't be a problem in the classroom as there will always be overnight charging that will get both batteries up to speed for the following day.

The blue-screen-of-death returned. It seems that there is indeed a problem specific to the Tatung devices and my workplace. We have honed it down to the wireless network card, which, if disabled, allows the device to work fine. As soon as it is enabled, the device blue-screens. This may well be due to the enormous RF transmitter on the roof. All this is slightly concerning in light of recent scare stories around the whole wifi, RF situation. If it kills my computer, what might it be doing to me. The only solution I have is to use a (purchased) wireless network card that fits into the PCMCIA slot on the device. Slightly irritating, this.

Now my biggest moan. Tatung don't consider this device to be a Tablet PC. Now this is bizarre as it so clearly is. As a consequence, it does not ship with Windows XP Tablet Edition Operating System installed. Instead, it just has regular XP. This is significant. Tablet Edition comes with built-in handwriting recognition (I would consider this essential on a device that has a stylus-based input). So the M84A has a stylus but no handwriting recognition. This problem urgently needed a resolution. It was suggested (by Tatung) that I try (28 day trial period) Myscript Stylus software. I've done this and I like the software. 28 days has passed and I now need to buy it but at £30 this is an additional cost to be considered. What's more, Microsoft Onenote will not work properly unless XPTE is installed - this is annoying. Tatung now tell me that they are preparing machines that will have XPTE pre-installed, but that I can't retro-activate my device. Disappointing.

On the subject of additional costs, potential purchasers might also need to consider the cost of a USB mouse, keyboard and CDROM drive (for the installation of software), although the latter may not be necessary if software is installable via a network/server (which may be the case in a school).

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