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The Xplore

connection covers

pen slot




ease of use

streets and trips


Motion LS800

The newest Motion Computing Tablet PC Release

Before writing this review, I attended a conference where the Motion LS800 and the LE1600 were being shown in the exhibition hall. Before writing this review, I thought I'd watch and see what the response was to the new LS800 by other computer experts. 

I'm not exaggerating when I say that the Motion Computing booth was inundated all during the conference.  There wasn't a time that I walked by when someone didn't have their hands on one of the LS800s.  Most of the time, there were people waiting for their turn.  It wasn't unusual to see folks 2-3 deep waiting for a chance to handle this new-sized Tablet PC.

I can easily hold the LS800 in one hand while writing with the other.  The screen resolution allows the text to be plainly visible, even though the Tablet is considerably smaller than the normal 12.1" screen.

The lack of a ViewAnywhere screen was one of the few faults I found with this smaller Tablet, however I've been told that it will be an option within the next few months.

The addition of the standard 802.11a as well as b/g is a nice touch.  There's also the option of adding an Atheros a/b/g card as well.

Other ports include a Universal Audio Jack supporting Microphone-in and Headphone-out, two USB 2.0 ports, IrDA port, external VGA port, RJ-45 connector, docking connector and DC power in.

The smaller size made it feel a bit warmer than the LE1600, but it wasn't enough to deter me from continuing to use it.

I think this is the ideal machine for doctors and other medical workers.  The more I thought about it, the more uses I found, such as warehousing, inventory, pilots, sales, etc.  It's small enough to fit in a lab coat or other large pocket, yet powerful enough to do all computing functions.  It's also great for anyone who's on the go a lot and for those who don't want to carry around the weight of a larger Tablet PC or an even heavier notebook.

The mini-dock is something I'd highly recommend for anyone wanting ultimate mobility.  It's size is good for traveling and the additional functionality it provides makes the Tablet PC even easier to use when at a desk or table.

The bump case is something that I'd recommend to anyone who moves around a lot and doesn't have a convenient pocket in which to slip the LS800.

The case not only protects the Tablet from bumps and potential bruises, but also has a shoulder strap that allows the Tablet to be carried when your hands may be full.  There's also a comfortable carrying handle.

There's also a sturdy wire stand that easily pops on to the Tablet -  instantly making it an easel when not using a dock.

The battery charger also shows the thinking that goes into Motion Computer products.  This charger will charge the LE1600 batteries as well as the new LS800.  The charger can  charge 2 batteries of any size at one time.  The three slots allow for 2 batteries of the same size, or one of each model.

There are some things that aren't quite there yet.  The maximum ram at 512Mb will be fine for most uses, but it would be nice to see at least a one gig option.  Screen resolution may be an issue for some users who use specific programs that can't be sized and are inconvenient to scroll.

Overall, this is a good entry into the smaller Tablet PC market.  For those who want a lighter, more conveniently-sized Tablet PC that can run all the options included with the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, this is definitely worth checking out.

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Motion  LE1600 - Part I

(Part II follows below)

Click on any photo to enlarge it

I was anxiously waiting for the knock on the door from FedEx. I knew that the Motion LE1600 was being delivered, along with the new attachable keyboard, dock and extended battery. What I didn't know was if it would have the View Anywhere screen. I use my Motion M1400 everywhere, so I was hoping for the usability of the View Anywhere screen. When I went to Tech Ed this year, I took my M1400 along with Microsoft's Streets and Trips GPS. It worked perfectly as a navigational tool, even in the bright Florida sun. While at a get-together before TechEd officially started, I had a chance to meet with Reed Rinn from Motion Computing. He was kind enough to show me the new model. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was different. The case is now a darker color, looking more high tech with its almost iridescent pewter finish.

The pen was bigger and the buttons had been moved a bit. I noticed three microphones for an even better array setup than the duals on the M1400. I didn't have enough time with it to really try it out, but what I saw was certainly impressive.

When I received the packages, I couldn't wait to dive in and see what was inside. Murphy's Law dictated that the Tablet itself was in the last package I opened. That was probably a good thing or I would have just dismissed the dock and keyboard in my haste to start using the  LE1600.

The dock is similar to the original dock, but matches the color of the LE1600. I did notice one thing different. There's no longer a firewire port. Firewire is also missing from the connections on the keyboard and the Tablet itself. If firewire is a necessity, there are adapters available from several vendors. There's now a USB connection on the front of the dock as well.  That makes it easy to pop in a device for a quick download.

The attachable keyboard is much more refined than its predecessor. The Tablet support lifts easily and fits into 2 slots on the Tablet, can be adjusted for best viewing, then locks in place. Keys are easy to use and have the feel of a good notebook keyboard. The keyboard still doubles as a protective cover for the Tablet when not in use.

The improvements on the keyboard go well beyond just being a better way to attach the Tablet. On the back of the keyboard is a power connection and a USB port, allowing it to work as a portable dock. Behind a removable protective cover is another mini USB connection. The drawback is that the Tablet can no longer be connected to the keyboard while in portrait mode. While this is probably a trivial inconvenience most people wouldn't notice, I use my M1400 in portrait much more often than I do in landscape, even when attached to the keyboard. I'll admit it's a bit top-heavy when in portrait mode and used with the keyboard, so it's probably a good thing that I won't be doing that with the  LE1600. The other redeeming quality is that I can use my USB pen drives when connected to the keyboard - something I couldn't do when using the keyboard with the Tablet in portrait mode.

The Tablet itself is a work of art. As I took it out of its packaging, I noticed how well-balanced it was. The finish is lustrous and smooth with a high tech look that matches the high quality specifications of the Motion  LE1600.

As soon as I removed it from its packaging, I turned it over. There was what I'd been looking for - the label stating that it had a View Anywhere Display. As I looked over the back of the Tablet, I noticed a couple of things that were different from the previous Motion Tablets.

First was a fan to help keep the  LE1600 cooler. I'm sure this is going to be a plus with the powerful PentiumM 1.5GHz Sonoma processor.

The other difference is that there's a small sliding door. Open it, and you'll find a connection for the additional battery. Once connected, the battery promises an additional 4 hours of use. That's about 7 hours total without recharging.

The extra battery itself is different. It's flat and slim, only about 3/16" thick. It locks on the back of the Tablet, yet it's small enough that the air flow from the fan isn't blocked. There's a lighted gauge on the back that tells you how much power is remaining with a quick tap.

The standard battery has a new look as well. Rounded, it fits across the wide end of the Tablet and has the Motion Computing logo right on it. Expect about 3 hours of use with this battery alone.

Controls are similar to previous models with some improvements. The power switch is no longer on the same side as the Tablet buttons. A wireless on/off button has been added, making it much easier to save battery power when wireless connections aren't needed. The control/alt/delete button is now next to the fingerprint sensor and away from the other control buttons.

Buttons are a bit closer together, helping to keep from hitting them accidentally when picking up the Tablet or changing orientation. Picture shows Motion M1400 on left and the new LE1600 on the right.  The LE1600 is thinner than previous models.  Even with the extended battery attached (as in the photo) the LE1600 is about the same as the M1400.

The fingerprint sensor for security is standard. The Motion  LE1600 has a new mini-USB connection, two standard USB 2.0 connections along with the standard Audio In and Out, an RJ45 connection, VGA, three array microphones and a connection for a Kensington lock. The Ambient Light Sensor automatically uses the best setting for viewing while conserving battery life.

They've also added an SD card slot directly above the PCMCIA slot. This is perfect for downloading pictures from a digital camera without needing to use a USB cable or adapter.

Motion Computing once again leads the field with the inclusion of a DVI-D port for the best images on an external DVI display or projector.

The pen slot now boasts a tether so you won't be forgetting where you left the pen. The pen itself is bigger, giving it a more substantial feel. It's like writing with a good quality pen compared to a cheap ballpoint. There's a rubberized grip with a right click button. The button area is recessed just enough to stop most accidental right clicks. And there's an eraser, too! Photo on the left shows the LE1600 pen above the Motion M1400 and earlier models' pen.

I've done enough exploring for now. My hands are aching to get busy and put this Tablet through its paces! More info and photos after I've had some fun!!!

Part II

After using the new LE1600 for a few days, there's not much to talk about that I didn't like.  Although it would be nice to have a firewire port, that's my biggest complaint. I was a little concerned about the fingerprint reader, but after I tried rolling my finger from the first joint up towards the nail, I got almost 100% recognition.  I'd still prefer to see a biometric control where I could just place my fingertip on the scanner.  One of the other products I'm reviewing has this and it seems much easier to use with better accuracy.

It took just a bit of practice to get the extended battery off the Tablet.  It's awkward trying to hold the locks and lift the battery at the same time.  Once I tried doing one side at a time, it became second nature.

The cover over the keyboard/dock connection could be improved upon.  Although other connectors are always attached, this one pops on and off.  I'm sure that I'd forget where I left it eventually.

Those are about the only things I didn't like.  What did I like?  Everything else!

The battery life was excellent.  I turned the Tablet on, enabled wireless and turned off standby and used it as I normally would.  Battery life with the extended battery was 6 hours and 20 minutes.  I'm sure that using the standby feature would increase this to the advertised 7 hours.

The extended battery itself is a big improvement over most others.  Usually a larger battery changes the overall feel of the Tablet, not just the weight, but the balance.  I give Motion Computing high marks for deciding to use the battery they did.  The balance is unaffected by the addition of the extended battery.  Because the LE1600 is so well-balanced, the increase in weight is barely noticeable.

The pen was also something that I found to be a very good improvement.  The feel and balance of the pen made writing even easier.  I'm sure it's just that I was more comfortable using the pen, but recognition seemed a bit better.  The only drawback that I found was the tether.  This would probably be a nice feature for most, but since I've been using Tablets almost 3 years now, I've become very aware of where my pen is.  If it's one that's stored in the Tablet, I automatically put it back in its slot.  If I'm using my Cross pen, I generally lay it down next to the Tablet.  Because the LE1600's pen feels so much like the Cross, I often placed it on my desk.  Not a problem, until I'd pick up the Tablet and the pen would start swinging from its tether.  I've now trained myself to put it where it belongs.  The good side of this is that no matter how aware I might be of where I put the pen, eventually, I'd have forgotten it.  Now, with the improvement in the Motion pen, I rarely use my Cross.

Speech recognition didn't seem to be affected at all by the new design.  I've often said that the Motion series worked better for me with speech than some other models.  I have nothing to back it up, but I've thought that this might be due to the fact that the Motion Computing Tablets were more quiet internally.  After minimal training, speech recognition was excellent.  With the 3 microphone array, I've found I don't need to use a headset.  The array mics work very well in a both a meeting and a conference setting. 

The LE1600 has an added fan.  I wasn't sure if this was going to drain battery or affect recording.  So far, it's been completely unnoticeable.  I have to check to see if it's running.  Even with the extended battery connected and charging, the lack of heat from the Tablet is improved over previous models.

A wide-angle screen is standard. Motion isn't the only vendor offering wide-angle viewing, but it's one of the few who also offers a screen that's usable in any light condition.  The combination is truly amazing!  It doesn't matter what type of light, the LE1600's display is crisp and clear, even in bright sunlight. The ViewAnywhere screen is one option that I would recommend to everyone. It's available as an option, but the convenience of being able to use your Tablet anywhere makes the cost a true value. 

The attachable keyboard is a great improvement over its predecessor.  Now, the Tablet locks on to the keyboard and is very securely attached.  The keys are full-size and where I'd expect them to be.  The keyboard and screen feel much more solid on my lap.  I don't see much difference in stability between it and a regular notebook. 

The keyboard also serves as a mini-dock, with an additional USB and power connection. It still serves as a protective cover for the screen for safely transporting the LE1600 .

It's not the perfect Tablet PC yet, but it's as close as I've seen.  It has the true portability of a slate model, yet the convenience of a convertible with the optional keyboard.

Overall I'd recommend the Motion Computing LE1600 very highly to anyone considering a new Tablet PC.

For more information on the Motion LE1600, please click here or visit Motion Computing's Web site.

Motion M1400 by Terri Stratton, MVP

When I first got a Motion M1200, I thought I’d found the ultimate Tablet PC for me. And I was right – for that time. 

I’ve since had the pleasure of using a Motion M1300, and I thought the same thing when I started using it. 

Now, I have a Motion M1400. With the improvements included, such as the wide-angle viewing screen, it’s again at the top of the slate list. I’ve had the opportunity to see and use a variety of Tablets, but since I prefer using a slate model, I have to put the Motion M1400 at the top of the Tablet PC list, no matter what the style.

I like the lighter weight of slate model. Since I use my dock for when I need to use a keyboard extensively, not having a keyboard attached when using my Tablet isn’t a big deal. I have a keyboard available in my briefcase for those times when I absolutely MUST have a keyboard, but those times are very rare. Motion’s snap-on keyboard is a great alternative for those who want to have a keyboard close by, but not carry the weight when not needed. It replaces the screen cover and gives almost immediate access to the keyboard just by placing the computer into the specially-designed rack on the keyboard and plugging in the USB connector. Instant notebook! 

Since the release of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, the new Tablet Input Panel makes a keyboard almost redundant for me. Maybe I prefer a slate because I made myself use the pen exclusively when I first got a Tablet PC before the Tablet launch. I wanted to know what users were going to face when they bought their first Tablet. It was a convertible machine, so the keyboard was an option. It wasn’t an immediate change, but within a couple of weeks, I found that I was using the keyboard less and less and the pen more and more. 

You’ve probably already read my experience when I finally got my hands on the Motion M1200, but if you haven’t, you can check it out here. Everything I said there, I still say, only more so! 

Let me give you the specs of the machine first. Mine has 1G of ram and the ViewAnywhere screen option. If you do much multi-tasking or graphics or developing, I recommend bumping up the standard 512Mb of ram. You don’t need to go to a full Gb, and you don’t need to order it at the same time you order your machine. It’s easy to add on ram at a later date. Just be sure you get good quality. 

The ViewAnywhere screen is one of the best options I’ve seen offered anywhere. I wanted it on the M1300, but didn’t get it. Now, I know what I was missing. Although it adds a small amount of weight, I think the trade-off is well worth it. This screen is crisp and bright in almost any situation, from a bright light glaring on the screen on a desk or table to full sunlight. Better yet, there’s no loss of clarity in normal lighting situations. I don’t need to keep changing brightness settings when I move from one location to another. I love sitting out by the pond, using the Tablet to check mail and newsgroups. When I tried this with other machines, I could barely see anything. It just wasn’t worth the effort. 

The only negative thing I have to say about the ViewAnywhere screen is that it needs to be cleaned more frequently than the standard screen due to the smudges left from oil from my hand. It’s very noticeable when the machine is in standby or turned off, but barely seen when the machine is in use. A quick cleaning and it’s like new again. 

Speech is one of the most underused features on any Tablet PC. Whatever Motion is doing with internal hardware is working. I get great results using speech. I’ve tried speech on other models as well. It works, but not with the accuracy Ive gotten on the various Motions. I don’t know if the internal noise is less on a Motion Tablet than on other machines I’ve used, but whatever it is, it works for me!

The array microphone is a new standard feature. This is a great improvement over the single mics used previously and by most other Tablet manufacturers. Whether doing dictation or recording a class or a meeting, the microphones pick up things that would have been missed with a single mic. Using the array mic with OneNote is amazing! You can set the range to narrow or wide, depending on what you're recording.

To prove how well speech recognition works, this review was done entirely by using speech and the standard array microphone. Speech is a real timesaver once it’s trained. Training takes only a small amount of time, often only about 10 minutes. The more you use speech, the better it recognizes your voice and your words.

Wireless network connections are a breeze to get going. This isn’t unique to Motions, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. The Centrino technology and SP2 have made this easy for anyone to connect to a network, whether wired or wireless.

Battery life is something that I’m asked about often. I recently used my Motion while at Microsoft. We had meetings all day long. I took an extra battery with me and found that I was easily getting 4 hours use each, and that’s with wireless connectivity going as well as using email, newsgroups and OneNote (not recording). I’d switch out at lunch with over an hour remaining, and the second battery gave me the entire afternoon with time left over. I haven’t used this Tablet yet to watch a movie, but when I do, I’ll update this review. 

Visit the Motion Computing page on this site here, or visit Motion Computing’s website by clicking on their logo in the left navigation pane. 

Motion Computing Tablet PCs aren’t at the low end of pricing, but quality doesn’t come cheap. If you’re looking for a slate Tablet PC that will be usable for several years, then I can honestly recommend the Motion M1400.

My Life In “Motion” By Terri Schurter

I got the Motion M1400 with the view anywhere screen on Thursday, December 9, 2004 with Service Pack 2 preinstalled and…I love it, I love it, I love it!!! 

This is my third day with my Motion. Although I got it on Thursday I don't really count Thursday as a day because I got the unit so late in the day, and all I was able to do was get it out of the box and spend a couple hours with it before bedtime. 

I had not planned to use it at all on Thursday night for fear that I would not fall asleep if I got myself too excited using the tablet. I also didn’t have the User’s Guide printed out because my printer at home is not working. 

I had no plans to use the tablet that night, but something funny happened. I thought I would just practice putting the hard top on the unit, and taking it off. Since I didn't have the user manual printed out I knew nothing about how to get started. I am the type that actually reads the documentation before turning on a new machine, at least a little of the documentation. Well, after I got the top on, I couldn't get it off! I started to panic. I was pulling at it with no success. I started to look for a release button. I came upon a likely candidate and slid it to the side. The lights came on, and I realized that I had turned on the tablet and still couldn't get the cover off. I felt really stupid, and I imagined that I would run down the battery and mess things up by not typing in the information I needed to supply at start up. What was supposed to have been a tender moment, the first few minutes of startup of a new computer, had turned into a moment of panic instead. I continued to claw at the cover and eventually got it off. Having started the tablet up, I felt I should continue, and went through all of the setup procedures. 

The first thing I did after that was connect to my secure network and download McAfee Antivirus, my Yahoo Toolbar, and a few other things like my Go Game Client, CGoban. 

When I ordered the tablet from Infocater I was told that Motion is moving to a USB DVD/CDRW drive instead of a fire wire drive, and that the new optical drive was not yet available to ship. As a result I have been unable to install any software from disk, but there is plenty I can install from the internet, and plenty to play with on the machine. I didn't get Microsoft Office preinstalled because I am a teacher, and am entitled to use the Teacher and Student edition of Office. I still have two installations of Office I can do legally from the disks I purchased for my desktop, so one of those installations is destined for the tablet as soon as I get the optical drive.

I am a touch typist, and had some big concerns about getting a slate. I waffled back and forth between wanting the Motion and wanting the Toshiba convertible. What kept me coming back to the Toshiba was the pressure sensitive screen combined with the higher resolution, and the convertible keyboard. I tested the keyboard at Best Buy and really liked it. The Toshiba tops 4 pounds, however. I think I made the right decision for me in buying the Motion because the tablet would never really be an art machine anyway, but rather a note taking and doodling machine. For serious Photoshop work I would still need a desktop because the application is too keyboard intensive. So pressure sensitivity turned out not to be that important after all. Another consideration is that the slate alone feels much heavier than one would imagine. When you are holding it for more than a couple minutes three pounds is pretty heavy, and it is really a little over 3 pounds with the six cell battery. I can’t imagine how I would feel about four pounds in the crook of my arm for more than a couple minutes. I also reasoned that the same thing that drew me to the convertible, the fact that I am a touch typist, was the same reason I should avoid the convertible and choose the slate instead. In order to really learn the benefits of a tablet I needed it to be a bit of an effort to use the keyboard so I would not always choose to use the keyboard as a default. To be able to swing the keyboard into place quickly on the Toshiba might have lead me to take the easy way out, and use the keyboard on occasions when I should have been working to accustom myself to using the tablet as it was meant to be used.

The hard top keyboard does not take that long to connect, so it is only a matter of a few seconds to make the conversion anyway. Even though a couple of the keys are small or in an unexpected location it doesn't take long to get used to the keyboard. And the Motion hardtop keyboard features my preferred method of mousing, a track point. I hate touch pads. They force me to take my hands too far away from the home keys. The mouse buttons are harder to depress than those on my Dell Inspiron, so instead of one handed mousing I often end up using the left hand to depress the buttons while my right hand drives the track point. I was afraid I would not be able to use the tablet with the keyboard on my lap because of stability issues, but as long as I keep both feet on the ground there is no problem at all. I wouldn't recommend using it on your lap in Portrait mode though, or even on a table in Portrait mode, for that matter. I would be afraid it would tip over backwards in Portrait mode. The plastic stand that comes with the unit has been really useful for propping up the tablet on the coffee table while I am watching TV. I can see the TV and the tablet at the same time and grab the tablet if someone messages me in Yahoo Messenger. I am considering getting a few more of these stands to scatter around the house and my classroom at school. Infocater may soon have to remove the comment from their web site saying that no one has ever purchased one of these. I might purchase four or five. 

The handwriting recognition is much better than I expected, but then I didn't expect much. I am accustomed to using grafitti on my PPC. I was pleased to see that there are so many ways to enter text and to correct mistakes. It was also nice to see that once I entered text in an application that doesn't support digital ink using the TIP that I could place my cursor back into that text and continue to edit the text using the TIP if necessary. One major annoyance has been the tendency of the software to “correct” the spelling of my preferred user name. It keeps changing “Terriblue” to “Terrible”. I have to see if there is a way to train it to recognize my user name as a legitimate word. I have taken to entering my user name through the interface on the TIP that allows you to enter one character at a time. It is the only way I can get it right, and it’s a hassle. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Getting the Tablet to recognize your name is easy. Use the writing pad to write terriblue. When it recognizes terrible, tap on the printed word, then correct it on the screen that pops up. Once it reads terriblue, click Add to Dictionary on the right side. From then on, it should recognize it.)

I downloaded, and am enjoying ArtRage. I have downloaded EverNote and really like the interface. I also downloaded GoBinder, but don't think I will like it nearly as much as OneNote and EverNote. I installed the Zinio Reader and like being able to read magazines in Portrait Mode. Alias Sketchbook Pro is fun to use. I doubt that I will have much use for Colligio, but I might be wrong.

As for the screen... It has been working nicely indoors, and I just walked it outdoors to see how it works in sunlight. On my porch with a roof it looks about the same as indoors. When I walk into the sunlight it gets duller, but I can see to use it, and I imagine that a normal laptop or tablet screen would simply be unreadable in the sunlight. I will probably use the tablet in the car occasionally (not driving of course), but I doubt I will actually use it in the sunlight much. I got the view anywhere screen primarily because I intend to use the tablet at school where I have florescent lights in my classroom, and I find that my PPC is very dull under those conditions, so the view anywhere screen should help in the classroom with the tablet.

Tomorrow I take the tablet to work for the first time. I will be showing it off to the administrators who will all want one, but they don’t have a chance of the school district putting out the kind of money necessary for them to get one, so they can just be envious. I anticipate finding ways to use the tablet to help teach my kids at school. I teach Photography, and I conduct small critiques with my students, and rotate the students through the critiques over the course of a week. Within five days I get to see each student. This weekend I scanned all of their photographs from the first roll of film and I resized the scans so the longest dimension of each photograph is 700 pixels. This allows me to use My Computer to show the contents of the folder with the scans as a slide show and have the verticals and horizontals receive equal weight on the tablet screen.

I can hardly wait to show off the tablet tomorrow.

The following have been written by Tablet PC users.

We'd like to hear from you, too. Drop us an e-mail to share your experiences with the Tablet PC.

My First Tablet PC

By Jim Gilliam - "Perseverantia Omnia Vincet Deo Volente"

Shortly after unpacking the Fujitsu ST4121, I was immediately able to use it. The interactive tutorials helped me through the relatively short learning curve from desktop and laptop PCs to the Tablet PC. The learning curve is not difficult and if it is for some users, then there are in-depth tutorials available. The Fujitsu ST4121 is easy to hold in my arms or hands. It is comfortable, lightweight, and sleek compared to other models I considered.

Fujitsu seems to be the leader in comfort and convenience in the Tablet PC. I already want the 5000 series! The accessories on the ST4121 are conveniently located and useful without being intrusive. One concern, however, I have is the stylus. Specifically, the location of the stylus buttons that imitate some mouse functions. I am constantly reminding myself to not press the buttons by accident while writing with the stylus. I’m unsure at this point whether or not other stylus’ work with the ST4121.

I am also concerned with the crispness of the display. The display is good, I would not say excellent. But the Fujitsu does outperform the Toshiba M205; when I changed the M205 to 1024x768, the clarity and crispness seemed to vanish. I am hoping that the ST5000 series Fujitsu has just put out have better vividness than the ST4121 does. Testing that theory, however, is expensive! I want to see the ST5000 Tablet PC Fujitsu has on the market, but none are on display in CompUSA, BestBuy, or Circuit City. All of these stores carry the Toshiba M205 models only in Little Rock, Arkansas… of course, my geographic location could be the culprit to the availability of Tablet PCs! ;-)

As a technical writer, I plan on using my ST4121 for multiple tasks… from web development projects to writing my Ph.D. dissertation, so we’ll see how my Fujitsu runs multiple applications in some of my intense development tests.

Of course the ST4121 has standard wireless built-in; which is quite awesome… the speed I get from the ST4121’s wireless connection seems quite close to my actual Ethernet wired connection. Interestingly, I’m writing this review using the ST4121! I opted for the indoor/outdoor display because I love writing and reading while I am outdoors. The Fujitsu is perfect for me.

Once I get a little more experience using the handwriting recognition from Microsoft, everything should be fine. Or, perhaps I should say when Microsoft develops a more intuitive handwriting recognition technology. My advice for successfully using the WriteAnywhere option is to visually disregard the animated lines that pop up constantly while you move your stylus…well, on second thought-while writing… or maybe I should just focus on the lines to keep my text inline. I am not completely sure which of “us” should comprise more. Microsoft definitely needs to pour more development dollars into the handwriting technology… this is the first time I’ve used it, and I’m already addicted! I hypothesize that I am getting an 80% accurate conversion rate; and I have horrible “scribble” for handwriting. All Tablet PCs will have problems accurately converting handwriting into text until Microsoft refines this incredible technology further… you’re getting close Microsoft! But digress from Fujitsu’s ST4121, which is what this review is about, not Microsoft.

Fujitsu’s standard docking station for the ST4121 is a must I think. The station is convenient and very worthwhile, as is the optical wireless mouse and wireless keyboard. I can instantly pull the ST4121 out of its docking station to finish working on my project while I am lying on the sofa and watching television.

With the exception of the crispness of the display quality on the ST4121, I highly recommend this unit for writers, students (especially at the college or post-graduate level), and my wonderful sister, Debbie, who cannot type well at all! ;-)

Pros: nice design and comfortable; lightweight is an A at 3.2 lbs; optional high-capacity battery that other companies do not offer; standard battery charges fast.

Cons: expensive screen protectors (which you’ll need plenty of); expensive high-capacity battery; buttons on the stylus are in an awkward location; standard battery does not last long; the display lacks vivid colors and crispness.


Case Study: TabletPC for video analysis outdoors and indoors

by Phil Webster
Founder, cSwing, LLC
Microsoft MVP, DirectX

March 17, 2004

Editor's Note - Click on a picture to enlarge it

cSwing is a software program that uses video to analyze and improve athletic performance in sports as diverse as golf, tennis, skiing, polo, weightlifting, karate, baseball and football. cSwing is also used for patient analysis and rehabilitation by doctors, physical therapists, kinesiologists and chiropractors. It provides advanced capture, drawing, analysis and practice tools. cSwing's business is Internet based which allows us to provide our advanced software at a very affordable price.

The TabletPC is a great platform for our software. However many of our customers need to be able to work outdoors. So, I was intrigued when I read about MotionComputing's M1300 with the new ViewAnywhere display last December. I got my M1300 in mid-January. It is by far the best solution I have found for indoor and outdoor use. I am using it to write this review. It has replaced my laptop as my office applications and portable machine (Outlook, Word, Excel, FrontPage, Access, etc). It's the one I take when I go to the range to video someone or on a business trip. I have a separate dual processor machine that I use for software development.

The M1300 is as bright and readable indoors as a regular laptop. Here is an unretouched photo of the M1300 in its desktop stand. The bright background is intentional. It gives you a comparison point for the photos below that were taken outside. All photos were taken with a Canon GL-2 in auto exposure mode. The M1300 is connected to the network and a USB hub that has a mouse and keyboard attached. It also has an additional FireWire card inserted into the PC Card slot. Note the Dell Inspiron 8200 which has been relegated to providing a base for the M1300's stand: 

The configuration on my M1300 is Pentium M 1 GHz Centrino processor, 60 GB disk, 768 MB RAM. Battery life is excellent at about three hours when using cSwing. Battery life is even longer when using it for less CPU intensive applications. I purchased a second battery with my M1300 but I have only had to use it a couple of times when using it for all day sessions on the range at PGA TOUR events. Another two advantages to the Centrino processor are built-in 802.11b wireless networking and the fact that it doesn't have a loud fan like regular Pentium 4 based laptops.

The 60 GB disk provides lots of storage. This is important because miniDV camcorders produce high quality video which uses 3.5 MB per second. The 768 MB of RAM allows cSwing to capture to memory and provide fast response when opening multiple videos simultaneously. The optional hardtop keyboard is a must have addition. It provides both protective cover when the tablet is not in use and USB connected keyboard/trackpoint mouse combo for use when composing large quantities of text.

I work closely with two of the top coaches on the PGA TOUR: Mike Wilson and Cameron Doan. Both are impressed with the M1300 and each is considering purchasing a unit. Unlike most outdoor displays like the Versa Daylite, the ViewAnywhere display on the M1300 is bright and visible indoors. The M1300 works outdoors but it is not ideal in the brightest sunlight. We have found that in virtually all conditions two people to can look at a video outdoors by orienting the M1300 properly in relation to the sun. We are investigating developing a cover to go over the top edge of the M1300 to improve visibility on the brightest days.

The next two unretouched pictures do not do complete justice to the visibility outside. The screen is more usable than is indicated in the pictures. They were taken at 11 am on a very bright day. The first is a picture of the M1300 with the sun behind it (it is not in the shade that is in the background). The second has the sun shining directly on the screen.

One of the cool things about being one of the first to get a ViewAnywhere display was seeing the reaction of the players, coaches and caddies at the tour events I have attended recently. Many of them came over to see the M1300 and were impressed with it. Some of the players requested that I film some swings and show them how it works. Even some of the spectators called me over from behind the ropes so that they could check it out. Several said they were eager to get to MotionComputing's site so they could order one for themselves.

My two months with the M1300 led me to make several changes to the software for our upcoming release in April 2004. Most of these centered on making it more pen friendly:

  1. One of the key new features is that you can drag the pen left or right on a video to seek backwards and forwards in that video respectively. Previously this function was only available using a mouse wheel or the arrow keys.
  2. cSwing has many keyboard shortcuts. For example, holding down the Shift key while drawing snaps lines to a vertical or horizontal orientation. I added a new Snap Angle toggle button to the drawing toolbar so that the Shift key is no longer necessary.
  3. In order to make the most commonly used commands available with the pen, many of the toolbar buttons were programmed to accept a right-click for an additional related feature. In Windows, I changed the settings for the pen button to right-click and turned off the press and hold option for faster reaction to clicks.
  4. On the range at the Tucson tournament, one of the players kept accidentally detaching the toolbars from their docked positions while pressing the buttons. I figured out how he was doing this and programmed the toolbars to be locked.
  5. All capture modes now allow a mouse click to stop recording. cSwing has an audio hit detector and the space key on the keyboard was an alternative in the Live capture mode. I added the ability to left click to stop capturing.
  6. The software caches capturing and loaded swings in RAM when there is enough available. Capturing and accessing the video from memory uses considerably less battery than from disk.

The M1300 weighs three and a half pounds compared with my Dell Inspiron 8200 which is over eight pounds. The lightweight M1300 is ideal for use in hour long golf lessons. A problem with laptops is they are awkward to use outside. I saw a teaching pro at the Bob Hope tournament struggling to use a Versa Daylite. In contrast, the M1300 rests comfortably on the left hand and all functions are available using the pen in the right hand (or vice versa for lefties).

cSwing is designed for minimal keyboard input but the M1300's handwriting recognition or pop-up keyboard are a pen click away when needed. The built-in buttons on the M1300 complement the use of the pen when necessary. The Esc button comes in handy every once in a while. The arrow keypad can be used as an alternative to sliding the pen across the video. The tablet can be changed from landscape to portrait while using cSwing with a simple press of the orientation button.

The M1300 has a built-in IEEE 1394 (also known as FireWire) port. This allows cSwing to capture digitally from a DV camcorder. I have tested it with a Canon GL-2, Canon Optura Pi and Sony TRV-38. Our upcoming multiple camera support works by adding an IEEE 1394 PC Card in the available slot. The multiple camera support worked perfectly without dropping any frames during capture. The M1300 also has two USB 2.0 ports for use with DVD burners and other high speed peripherals.

The M1300 with the ViewAnywhere option is the best solution for cSwing for indoor and outdoor use. It is very portable and it has the power and features required to do multiple camera capture. We recommend it to customers. We do not sell hardware so we can give unbiased advice.


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