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Thread: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

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    Studmuffin Flibb's Avatar
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    Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    This little journey started with a conversation in a pub, combined with a post pub ebay session. Not usually a good combo. The end result was selling my netbook, and moving over to a tablet PC for day to day non intensive stuff. The main criteria for my choice of tablet was portability, adaptability, win7 compatability, price, and a healthy user community. After a bit of hunting around I settled on a rather old model, that requires pen input, but had some rather nifty features, and can be picked up cheap. So the new rig is
    Hp TC1100, 2004 vintage running xp tablet edition

    combined with the keyboard and docking station



    Quiet a few units appear on ebay, and there seems to be a supply of spares (old units being broken for spares). I chose an auction for a full setup comprising of the unit, detachable keyboard and docking station (with DvD), put in a tentative offer, which was accepted True to the auction description the TC1100 I received was in extremly good condition, with few signs of use. Next step was a RAM and hard drive upgrade, so its now running with 1.5 Gb of RAM and a 160 Gb hard drive. I used some of the guides on tablet pc buzz and tablet pc review for info on what to buy and how to instal. The HD was a bit of a sod, the TC1100 is old and isnt happy with larger HDs, bit of fiddling with drive overlay software sorted this.

    After a week of using the tablet I am more than happy with its performance, but being a bit of a fiddler I decided it was time to try win7 on this 6 year old beasty. Not wanting to remove my perfectly working xp tablet instal I dropped the old 40 Gb hard drive back in, formatted it and installed win7 as a trial with suprisingly few problems. The wiki guide I followed LINKY
    combined with some tweaks on forums has left me with a rather nice little tablet running win7, and doing this in a perfectly usable maner. Obviosuly running win7 or xp gives the ability to do things in a very PC way, use a wide range of software, wide range of peripherals, view just about any website even flash ones The wifi seems pretty good, and the unit is happy playing youtube, havent tried iplayer yet.

    Would I advise an old tablet over a cheap netbook? If you enjoy playing with computers, and want a unit with lots of flexibility, then yes. I run a lot of mapping apps, and using them on a tablet adds to the experience, I can see many advantages of tablets over netbooks, especially when then can be picked up for £100-150. The TC1100 seems to have most things I want in a tablet, and offers plenty of expansion for anything thats missing. So far the only thing that doesent work is the sd card reader, apparently nothing over 1Gb can be used, and its not a sdhc specific problem. But card readers are cheap so thats not the end of the world. I am really looking at going out in the land rover with this at some point, its an excellent and cheap option for off road navigation.

  2. #2
    Editable... jimbouk's Avatar
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    Interesting. I sometimes browse the old Sony Picturebooks wondering if I could downsize to A5 from an A4 laptop. Battery life would be my biggest worry, how much time do you get between charges? I'm wondering whether an Android tablet would be a good option for something to have lying around the house, but something like this could be a better alternative.

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    Does he need a reason? Funkstar's Avatar
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    Nice write up Flibb

    I really like the look of the dock with keyboard, looks very Star Trek to me

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    Administrator Moby-Dick's Avatar
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    I've tried the other end of tablets too - got hold of an android one from the for sale section. I have to say I'm a little disappointed with it ( not eh sale which was fine ) - my HD2 running froyo has the same res screen and a more powerful CPU. lack of capacative screen really put me off - wanted it as a live blogging tool for some tech conferences I'm off to in october and it wouldn't have been much good
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    AKA Chrispynutt Gunbuster's Avatar
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    Body-Dick: you've hit on one of the key probs with Android tablets at the moment. The OS isn't designed for tablets so the max res for the Android Store is set to 800x480, which at a stretch is ok for 7" tablets.

    Flibb: thats a really nice old tablet. I wonder if it would run MeeGo?

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    Nice write-up Flibb - I bought one of these off the Hexus FS Forum a couple of months ago and it really came into its own when we went on holiday - much easier to carry around than a 15" laptop and the tablet input works really nicely for web browsing. I bought it for taking to business meetings and making notes. The only issue with mine is the lack of battery life - what's yours like? I was thinking about getting a new battery for it - reckon it's be worth it? I'd like a bit more than 1 hour really...

    Oh, and I've watched iPlayer on mine - works fine as long as you don't ask it to do full screen

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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    My one came with a spare of battery, ones an original HP, other is a copy. The HP one is good for at least 2 hours, the copy about 1 hour, thats wifi on and web browsing. Having looked around the forums the most people get is 4 hours (no wifi), and 3 with wifi. Thats after some fiddling, one odd thing is the wireless control turns wifi and bluetooth on, so I disable the bluetooth until I need it, also been told that disabling the pcmcia slot at the driver level saves some juice. There are quiet a lot of posts out there about underclocking , might look in to that later. Iplayer wise I can get it to work full screen in win7 by disabling hardware accelaration, doesnt seem as smooth though, have seen hacked drivers mentioned to sort this.

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    Administrator Moby-Dick's Avatar
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunbuster View Post
    Body-Dick: you've hit on one of the key probs with Android tablets at the moment. The OS isn't designed for tablets so the max res for the Android Store is set to 800x480, which at a stretch is ok for 7" tablets.
    its a real shame - the apad didn't have bluetooth either , I did try out some ebook stuff on it , which wasn't too bad , but otherwise I'm really struggling to find a niche for it that my phone can't satisfy ( even battery life )
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    I had a play with one of these for a few days when they first came out, it wasa bit slow and I spent most of my time playing some came where you have to draw lines to get balls in holes

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    Studmuffin Flibb's Avatar
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    Just found another nifty little feature, the batterys have 3 leds and a little button. Push the button and it indicates how much charge is in the battery.

    ALso just twigged that they made a series of these, all with the same model number, but different amounts of instaleld RAM, and different speed CPUs. Might keep my eyes peeled for one of the faster ones. Having said that this one is plenty quick enough with 1.5 Gb of RAM and a modernish HD.

  11. #11
    DDY
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    was thinking about getting a new battery for it
    As a former owner of a TC1100 , I advise against buying cheap "compatible" batteries from the usual places such as eBay.

    I did, twice. First time, battery didn't fit too well, it was poorly built, I had to file down the side of the battery and even then there was a bulge on the bottom and the battery wouldn't fit flush, returned and refunded. Second time, the battery fit with a little persuasion but after a day it refused to charge, returned and refunded.

    I'm sure you don't need me to tell you; eBay can be a nightmare at times. I guess I got lucky and got off lightly.

    Try some of the more reputable shops that give you a fair warranty because it seems like there are a few duff TC1100 batteries out there.

    EDIT: @scaryjim, did you manage to get the WiFi to work?

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    Quote Originally Posted by DDY View Post
    @scaryjim, did you manage to get the WiFi to work?
    I didn't - as you said, it just wouldn't connect. I had planned to get a new mini-PCI card, but then I did a bit of research and found out that while Vodafone don't "support" tethering phones, they do allow it. A little bit more research got me tethering apps and drivers for my HTC Magic, and a little bit more playing got me a fully functional, self-switching wifi *and* 3G data connection It was much easier to take on holiday then one of our 14" / 15" laptops (incidentally, the Aspire 5050's working beautifully: so much better than my old HP ).

    I'll probably remove the wifi card anyway, to see if that prolongs the battery at all, and I'll see about disabling the PCMCIA slot too (although I think that's combined with the SD card reader, which I do use, so maybe not...). I'm not too fussed about the wifi for general use because I mainly picked it for note taking in meetings. First proper outing on Tuesday...

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    Bump / update : I got the wireless working in the end; updated to XP SP3!! No idea why that worked, but it did! Writing this update on the TC11OO : love using it

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    Studmuffin Flibb's Avatar
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    Re: Hmmm tablet computing. On the cheap

    Hit my first problem with the TC1100, it revolves around installing win7 and a larger hard drive. As its an old rig I had to use drive overlay software to get xP working with a 160 gb HD, but 7 does not want to play ball. Looks like I need to get a 120 gb drive instead. Apart from that 7 works really well on a smaller HD, being able to install it as a demo is handy.

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