Looking for a reliable convertible for school.

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by imageryfriend, Jul 26, 2010.

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  1. imageryfriend

    imageryfriend Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I'm a dual lit & art major, so whatever computer I get will be used heavily for both drawing and word processing/notetaking. I'm looking for something that will last me till grad school.

    General Questions:

    1. What is your budget?
    Don’t have a fixed budget, I’d rather spend more now on a reliable computer that will last me 5+ years than get an inferior one at a lower price.
    2. Would you consider purchasing used/refurbished?
    3. Do you prefer a Slate, Convertible or Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC)?
    4. What size Tablet PC would you prefer?
    Small and light ~ 5" to 8.9"
    Compact ~ 10"
    Mainstream ~ 12.1"
    Large ~ 13.3"
    Mainstream or Large.
    5. Which country do you intent to purchase from?
    6. Do you have any preferences to brand loyalty or dislikes?
    7. How many hours battery life do you require?
    Preferably on the higher end; minimum 4 hrs.
    8. What will be the primary usage scenario of this tablet? (Email/Web Surfing/Drawing/Word Processing/Entertainment/Notetaking etc)
    Word Processing, Drawing, and Notetaking, in that order.
    9. Do you have an OS preference?
    Windows 7.
    10. What software and tasks do you intend to run? (Microsoft Office or other Word Processing Suite/Photoshop/3D Studio Max/Autocad etc)
    Microsoft Office, Photoshop, probably some additional drawing software.
    10. Do you intend on playing Games? If so please list.

    Screen Specifics

    1. What resolution do you prefer?
    XGA - 1024x768 ~ large and easy to read text and graphic icons but you fit less on the screen.
    SXGA - 1400x1050 ~ Small text and graphic icons which require good vision but the gain is a much larger screen. (no longer available new, must look for used or refurbished machines)
    WXGA - 1280x768 ~ has a wider usable area than XGA, ideal for viewing Spreadsheets and other programs that require desktop space. The mainly used resolution for new tablet PCs since 2008.
    2. Do you require the screen to be readable in sunlight?
    See the above linked FAQ for guidance
    3. Do you prefer your display to be glossy or matte?
    4. Do you require Touch? (without pressure sensitivity) (Which one: resistive or capacitive)
    See the above linked FAQ for guidance
    Yes, capacitive.
    5. Do you require a Pen? (with pressure sensitivity) (Which one: Wacom or N-Trig)
    See the above linked FAQ for guidance
    Yes, Wacom.

    Component Specifics

    1. What size Hard Drive and Memory do you require?
    200 GB+ Hard Drive and 2 GB+ Memory.
    2. Do you require an Optical (CD/DVD) Drive to be built in?
    It would be preferable, but an external drive would be fine as well.
    3. Do you require ability to add a second Battery or Hard Drive (Modular Bay technology)?

    1. Other non specific items ~ please add other items you require not covered above?
    Webcam (although that is pretty standard, nowadays) and HDMI.
    2. Additional requests ~ anything other you wish to take into consideration?
    As mentioned previously, I am most concerned with getting something that will be reliable; something that I can use for a good number of years without worrying about too much wear or needing frequent repairs.

    Thanks in advance for your help!
  2. Stan S.

    Stan S. Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Convertible tablets for artists are limited by a lack of depth levels and no tilt functions compared to a Intuos or newer Bamboo. It's like going back to a mid-90's tablet feature set except that are no batteries in the pen. That said your requirements are so non-specific that it's hard to pick something.

    Many people today, feel that cheaper is better, and don't worry if it breaks. Which can make sense, since hardware costs have over time declined even as computing power increased. So a $800 computer breaks after 2 years? So what, buy a $750 that is faster, better later. Just hope that the Xuan doesn't rise in value driving up the costs for electronics.:D

    So here's the problem. To future proof a laptop or any computer for 5 years of use means (to me) the following:

    1. Fastest CPU you can afford
    2. Most upgradable memory without tossing any away if possible
    3. Biggest fastest HD or fastest small HD now, and willing to upgrade later.
    4. If I'm non-technical, and have no geeky friends, a 3 or 4 year warranty that will at least get me parts if not someone to fix it.

    Any computer can last 4+ years if you handle it properly (I have some working 10 year old TPs), but familiarity breeds carelessness, and at some point you (or your friends) will drop, mishandle or otherwise damage a computer that you 'carry around with you.'

    Photoshop is memory hungry. It likes faster processors, and extra ram. This usually indicates that you would want a Win 7 64 bit OS so that you can put in up to 8GB of ram with the newer i-series CPUs. But you stated only 2Gb.

    Word Processing can be done by any configuration, and the same for generic drawing and notetaking.

    IMHO, the case/cage of the Lenovo Thinkpads such as the X201T are extremely well made, extremely light, have excellent legendary full sized keyboards for word processing and Lenovo does offer configurations that are warrantied for 4 years. They don't have any cheap i3 processors in the lineup like the HP Tm2, only i5 and i7 cpus but none are quad cored. The i5's should be better on power and should work better with the built-in graphics. The 4 processors they offer are close in power, and it may be sufficient to get the slightly faster i5 for $50 more instead of the more pricey i7's which are more power hungry to improve battery life.

    You can also order 2 or 4GB ram on a single memory card, leaving one card slot open for future upgrades without having toss any memory, but this is up to $235 extra cost for the 4GB) and 2GB is just not enough for Win7. IMHO, and you need 64bit Win7 to use more than a 3GB total, and the hardware will support up to 8GB so not having 64bit operating system will at some point force you to spend money to upgrade it in the future.

    Right now, at a minimum you can expect to spend around $1400 for this type of unit configuration, with only a 1 year warranty. The X200T build quality is really good, as witnessed by the possible warranty options in some pre-configured units. The X201T also has the widest ranging offering of wireless connection possibilities. Lenovo doesn't offer any glitzy user interfaces or Motion-Flow wannabes; their Thinkpad Toolbox offers easy ways to click through to features and functions that you want to customize and a one-button update for both Windows and Lenovo driver updates, along with some pretty good backup software, power and communications management software. There is a minimum of crap-ware, usually just MS Office, Norton/MacAfee trials if you buy direct from Lenovo.
  3. mazzarin

    mazzarin Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Great post, but I'd argue your ranking is incorrect, if they were ranked at all ;)

    1) Most memory
    2) 3-4yr NBD warranty. I don't know how folks here tolerate losing their laptop to warranty repair for 2-3 weeks, I'd be highly annoyed!
    3) Fastest HDD
    4) Fastest CPU

    People chasing the fastest cpu are missing the point. According to marketing, the new Core iX line is vastly superior than the old Core2s, but in reality the Core2s are still very capable and will be for the next 4-5 years. Heck, my old Toshiba M200 with a 1.6 Pentium M still runs great, and it's from... 2003? Can't really handle flash video anymore (not sure if it's lack of drivers for Vista/7 or just the CPU/GPU combo not delivering enough juice) but hey it's 7 years old

    Short story shorter: Forget cpu speed.
  4. Stan S.

    Stan S. Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Well you've summed up the problem you recognized, your 2003 processor isn't as capable 7 years on, web stuff has moved on and Flash or Javascripting or your old wifi card is too slow for the so-called advancements in web/computing. This is exactly why when buying to keep using a laptop for a while, it pays to get the best processor you can afford. Right now, I think the i5's are a better bet than dual-core i7 that everyone's putting in the units, they will turbo boost as high or higher than the i7 version. X201T only has i5 and i7 processor options, and from video reviews I've seen of the forum's fav HP Tm2, I wouldn't touch it with the i3 processor option, it can't even run the HP motion-flow wannabe software they put on it.

    As for the list, I didn't mean it in any particular order, but, I put memory further down, since it's one of the easiest things to change. You can never change the motherboard (technically you can, but it's very rare and expensive if the unit is young), so CPU is a factor that can't usually be changed later. HDD, wifi cards, etc, can all be upgraded if you're handy or have a few dollars.
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