Yes, Tablet PCs are disruptive

Thursday, April 21st, 2005
Last week, I asked the question "are Tablet PC's too disruptive?" I don't really know yet.

Shopping for one certainly is.

In response to my blog, several power-tablet PC users have offered their advice, including Marc Orchant, Lora Heiny, Linda Epstein, Michael Hyatt, James Kendrick, and Rob Bushway,  to name a few. After several delightful conference calls and email exchanges with these fine people, I decided to purchase the Fujitsu T4010D Tablet PC ...

until I read the latest news ...

Just before I closed my shopping cart on the Fujitsu site, I checked Tablet PC Buzz; there, I read that Toshiba's just announced the Tecra M4 Tablet PC -- the latest in a series of Tablet PC announcements this month.  (See buzz thread.)This unit addresses many items on my Tablet PC wish list. The M4 sports an impressive list of features usually found only on high-end laptops. Perhaps I can become YABHTU after all!

Here are my quick observations taken from the PDF file on the Toshiba site:

Features that I'm excited about:
  • Larger screen. 14.1" - yes, I know that makes for a big tablet and a heavy one. I can live with that.
  • 8X DVD-R
  • DVD Dual-layer burning & playback
  • SATA Drive - presumably MUCH faster throughput
  • LCD Contrast
  • NVIDIA Graphics
  • FireWire built-in S-Video port, too.
  • AccuPoint - just like my IBM ThinkPad TrackPoint -- A big plus for me, when in laptop mode
  • SD Card slot
  • Reputation of M200
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Second Battery Option
  • Appears to offer options for HD up to 100 gigs, though only as add-on, not upon order. (Why?)
  • Microsoft One Note button on outside of Tablet for instant-access to MS One Note
  • "Longhorn Ready"  (Longhorn's a long way out. I will either grow to enjoy using the tablet or I will ditch the Tablet PC. It won't take long for me to decide.)
"Features" I'm not thrilled about:
  • Only one mic - no mic array. (I hope I'm wrong about this)
  • Bluetooth does not appear to be built-in. (Yes, I can buy Bluetooth as an "option," buy why? I hope I'm wrong)
  • Speakers obscured when in tablet mode. (Does this mean I have to switch to laptop mode to listen?)
  • No clear path to order faster processor or larger HD as a custom unit. (Fast HD is a requirement.)
Questions remaining:
  • Is it real, or just announced? If I order a customized unit today, when will I receive it?
If Toshiba had made it easy for me to buy the M200 I wanted weeks ago, I would have done so. I don't like to play the game, "let's see what gets announced next," as there will always be something new around the corner. I have work to do. Still, since I cannot get one immediately, I've had more time than I want to consider the options. I still really like the Fujitsu and, as I mentioned, had planned to purchase it this week. I've written to Paul Vollenweider, the VP of the Toshiba Business Direct Unit, to find out if this Tablet is real, and how soon I could get one.

I've run out of time. I need to return the wonderful IBM T42 I have been using and make a purchase.

What I thought I could do in a day - purchase a new Tablet PC with the features I wanted - has turned into an amazing adventure. I'm exhausted.

Still, the journey has been a productive one. I've learned a lot and I've met some very interesting people along the way. For that alone, this adventure has been worthwhile.

I would like to make a final purchasing decision in the next 48 hours. (If I can get the answers I want, I'll even order today.)

If you would like to offer your two cents - and I hope that you will - now is your chance.


Discussion/Comments (14):

If I were buying one today ...


If I were buying one today and needed to make a decision now, I'd go with the Fujitsu (since you've whittled down your requirements to the Fujitsu).

Here is why: I'm betting that the Tecra M4 won't be available for another month or so - shipping delays, demand, etc. I could be totally off base here, though. I can't even find where resellers are selling it yet. If the Tecra were available right now and you could get it next week, I'd jump on it.

Being as though you can't wait, the Fujisu comes to the top. I do think that the Tecra is a better equipped Tablet PC and you will end up getting more tablet and laptop for your money. But you can't wait - that's your problem now.

Even though the Tecra is equipped for Longhorn and will offer you a longer lifespan and better ROI, its' probably going to be 2 years before you get to install it due to availability, waiting for the bugs to be worked out, etc. I wouldn't base the decision soley on Longhorn readiness - its' definitely an issue to look at, though, just shouldn't be a weighty one. Minimum requirements now for Longhorn are definitley going to change over the next two years.

The Fujitsu can meet most of your needs right now and you can get it right now. You need it right now. Go with the Fujitsu and don't look back.

Posted at 04/21/2005 11:38:15 by Rob Bushway

Toshiba won´t ship ´till May 5

Eric, I called Toshiba - they won't start shipping until May 5. My guess is that if you ordered today (pre-ordered), that you probably won't get it until the end of May, early June - just a hunch though.

If you can wait that long - I'd get it. If not, see my advice up above.

Posted at 04/21/2005 13:42:54 by Rob Bushway

Yes, Tablet PCs are disruptive

Based on what Rob just posted here, I'd also suggest you order the Fujitsu. I have two reasons for suggesting this:

1. I think it is the best fit for your needs.

2. I hate the acronym and want you to stop using it already! ;^)

Posted at 04/21/2005 14:17:39 by Marc Orchant

I agree with Rob and Marc

I'd have to go along with Rob and Marc, for many of the same reasons. The acronym is ok by me.

Posted at 04/21/2005 14:50:28 by Warner Crocker

You won´t regret either one

If you absolutely can't wait then get the Fuji, otherwise based on what you've told me the Tecra works best for you. I don't think you will regret either one, actually.

Posted at 04/21/2005 15:06:52 by James Kendrick

Yes, Tablet PCs are disruptive

You really should buy a Mac Eric ;-)

Posted at 04/21/2005 19:44:32 by Michael Sampson

Time for a Mac?

Michael wrote:

You really should buy a Mac Eric ;-)
I know I can always depend on you for sage advice, Michael. Too bad the Mac won't run the applications that I want/need to run; otherwise, I might consider it.

Some of the applications that I am most interested in, while not tablet-specific, are quite compelling on a Tablet PC. (MindManager, One Note, etc..)

Seriously, if I did buy a Mac I wouldn't have anything else to blog about now would I? ;-)

Posted at 04/21/2005 20:19:03 by Eric Mack

C´mon Warner - seriously?

That acronym sounds like something a giant robot would cryptically mutter while plotting the end of the world. How about if we get Eric to YASTO (Yet Another Satisfied Tablet Owner) as soon as possible?

Posted at 04/21/2005 21:02:35 by Marc Orchant

E-Mail from Toshiba

I received this email from Paul Vollenweider, the VP of the Toshiba Business Direct Unit. Posted with permission:

Dear Eric,

Toshiba Tecra M4 Tablet volume production has begun at our manufacturing facility. Initial shipments of "Featured" product (Part Number PTM40U-0F0021) with a suggested price of $1,999 will arrive at various authorized distribution channels, including Toshiba Direct, the week of May 2. During the week of April 25, build-to-order features will be launched on the Toshiba Direct site. Shipment of BTO orders will begin in early May.

If you would like to post this information on your Blog, you may do so.



Posted at 04/22/2005 14:58:15 by Eric Mack

Yes, Tablet PCs are disruptive

Thanks for a very interesting blog. How did you make out? Did you get the Tecra? I ordered one and have been waiting but was told by Toshiba Direct last Friday (May 6)that it will be May 20 for shipping and I orderd the first day they were advertised at TD.

Posted at 05/09/2005 9:06:40 by Joe Maiurano

I hate waiting!

Joe, Like you, I ordered the first day that Toshiba's web site would accept the order. I immediately received the pen, battery, warranty, and memory. I hope to receive the tablet soon; however, the TD web site will not provide any details. I'll post something once I receive the unit. - Eric

Posted at 05/09/2005 9:14:33 by Eric Mack

Yes, Tablet PCs are disruptive

Great as it will be interesting to see this pan out. I made the switch from laptop first to an Averetec for about 2 days, then tried a M200 series but want larger size screen and internal optical, then a R15 and had a minor issue. Sent it back and decided on the Tecra. Totaly got the run around from TD and lots of dates, etc. Finally spoke with the TD customer service manager who seems to think the 20th is a go BUT remote chance of sooner. Saw on "buzz" that a guy called and was told his was due to ship today. As a new TPC person I would love to hear how your first experiences go WHEN it finally arrives!

BTW never blogged before so hope I am "doing it right"

Posted at 05/09/2005 9:22:34 by Joe Maiurano

Yes, Tablet PCs are disruptive

Has you M4 shipped? I am hearing that they have started shipping and that some are getting theirs by Wednesday!

Posted at 05/10/2005 5:11:54 by Joe Maiurano

Yes, Tablet PCs are disruptive

I've been so close to buying Toshiba's "new" Satellite Tablet (had it in the shopping cart and everything - just like you and the Fujitsu!), but wanted to do a bit more research and such. Between then and now, they've got the Tecra M4 - definately more of what I'm looking for! I'm looking forward to your reviews of it...

Posted at 05/19/2005 11:15:47 by Laura Howard

Discussion for this entry is now closed.