Comfort Zones: More Road Warrior’s ‘Truth About Tablet PC’

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The following recent post at offers one user’s comprehensive view of the utility of the Tablet PC while traveling.  Enjoy this “interesting viewpoint”.

Comfort Zones: More Road Warrior’s ‘Truth About Tablet PC’

Following my (i.e. Marc Eisenstadt’s) largely favourable — with a few surprise personal twists — Truth About Tablet PC personal blog entry a few months back, I thought Get Real readers would be interested in hearing a more extensive on-the-road deployment story.

I recently had a 10-hour transatlantic flight, during which I needed to do some urgent work, finishing up a keynote talk, both slides and speech. Normally, I don’t need to write the words in advance, because I’ve done these things plenty of times before, and the slides, graphics, movies and demos pretty much are the talk; but this time I was being offered the services of simultaneous translation, and the translators said although not required, they would really appreciate seeing the exact words beforehand. My kit consists of an HP TC1100 Tablet PC, and one extra battery. I had selected the TC1100 after a lot of research entirely because of its compact form-factor, and this is what really won the day on my flight.

For Business Class, any laptop will pretty much do the job. But for Economy Class, where I was stuck, four features of the TC1100 really stood out for me, and caused me to reflect upon the idea of a ‘comfort zone’ of very-close-up use:

  1. Operating in portrait mode, with the tablet pen, is extremely convenient for fine-tuning large chunks of work that had been prepared beforehand. I wouldn t want to originate too much material this way, but for arranging/editing content, it works brilliantly, even in very cramped quarters. Moreover it felt quite private: the guy inches away on my left could not really see my work.
  2. The power-switch on the TC1100 is set by default to go into standby mode. I ve had many laptops over the years, from all the big names (Sony, Apple, Toshiba, Dell) and some of the small ones too, and never have I had one that ‘does the right thing’ so quickly. For example, I suddenly hear “Would you like some dinner?” and I m right in the middle of some serious editing but no problem: hit the button, flip closed the screen, put the TC1100 on my lap or in the back of the seat in front of me, and the entire operation is as quick as putting away a magazine. And on resume, I’m right back where I left off. Yes, I know, this is exactly how it is supposed to be, but trust me, not all machines go into standby mode so quickly, without a lot of prior disk thrashing, or restore so quickly and reliably without leaving some apps in a freaky state. Nice one!
  3. The one battery plus one spare was enough to see me through my 10-hour flight. Not that I got a full 10 hours of battery life! From prior experience, I know that a little judicious handling was the order of the day: reduce the brightness to about halfway, don t play too much multimedia, set the power conservation features to the max, and take advantage of meal times and other natural breaks, including take-off and landing, by which time there were only about 8 of hours of usage really possible, requiring 4 hours per battery. I d rate each battery at 4 hours of ‘fanatically-careful’ use, 3 hours for normal-but-judicious use, 2 hours carefree use with multimedia activity, and about 1.5 hours of ‘Caf ‘ use with WiFi enabled. But the point of this commentary is that 2 batteries + careful usage is good enough for a 10-hour flight, and that s fine by me.
  4. The reduced-size keyboard, and it’s close-to-screen positioning (disliked by some, but in fact preferred by bifocal wearers like me), were a real blessing in these conditions. I didn t need to do much typing on this flight, but when I did, it fit the bill very nicely, in a way which many other laptops would have not been able to do in such cramped quarters…

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