need to find 2 Tablet PC to replace Fujitsu T5010 for special use case

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by LROBBINS, Aug 4, 2016.

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  1. LROBBINS

    LROBBINS Scribbler - Standard Member

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    General Questions.
    Before answering the form questions, I think it important to outline the particular use case involved. One of these machines will be mounted on my tetraplegic daughter's wheelchair where, using either head-operated switches and/or (her on-the-fly choice) a gaze tracker it serves as her voice-output communications device and general purpose computer. The software was developed by me, with some major help from my master-of-C friend Mike Stewart, and is the only software for people with severe motor disabilities that I know of that is truly multi-lingual (Rachele is fluent in English and Italian and speaks high-school level French and German). Some key players integrated into the "VOCA for WordPerfect" package are WordPerfect/PerfectScript that provides the core visual and control functions, the Loquendo TTS engine in 4 languages, a C-programmed interface called SAFE that connects "VOCA for WordPerfect" to "standard" Windows programs (Paint, Firefox, Winamp, Girder).

    The second machine will be my development workhorse. It should have the same architecture and OS as Rachi's machine, because every hardware or OS difference can require some coding differences that makes maintenance and development more difficult, but it can be a bit less powerful as it needn't have real time output. While "VOCA for WordPerfect" is a mature entity, this machine will also be used for continued C/C++ development of an open-source, open-hardware CANbus wheelchair control system now at its "second prototype" stage, and for that has to run compiler(s), and circuit design/PCB layout software, and some lightweight mechanical design/general drawing software. This second machine has another important use -- it serves as an emergency standby for my daughter's unit in case of a breakdown! An important use in the past, but of less importance now that I've retired, was processor-heavy statistical analysis of genetic data - e.g. intense number crunching for Maximum Likelihood estimation.

    Critical considerations, outlined in more detail below, are suitability for wheelchair mounting and connectivity.

    1. What is your budget?
    As little as I can get away with, but up to 2-3k$ each. Talking "business class" so I don't expect it to be cheap.

    2. Would you consider purchasing used/refurbished?
    Yes, if like new or refurbished.

    3. Do you prefer a media/mobile tablet like the iPad, Windows tablet PC, or notebook convertible?

    Notebook convertible or, possibly, 2-in-1. The classical flip-and-rotate convertible layout (as used in the T5010 and the tablet PC's that preceded it over the years) is ideal for wheelchair mounting on a simple swing-arm that lets the PC sit in front of my daughter, or swung to the side, and be switched easily from power chair to manual wheelchair. In fact, before tablet PCs had existed, I had re-worked an HP business-class laptop so that it had a rotatable screen. (Before that, I separated base and screen, mounted the base behind the chair, and the screen to the front with a multi-wire cable.) So far, however, I haven't found current offerings with flip-and-rotate hinging. The flip-over or flip-under keyboard layout, as attractive as it is for other uses, will be difficult or impossible to wheelchair mount.

    A 2-in-1, that is with a removable keyboard or a bluetooth keyboard, might be a good alternative IF I can find one, or adapt one, to have the connectivity needed (see below).

    Here's a photo of how the T5010 is mounted (the gaze tracker is not present in this pic): T5010 mounting.jpg

    4. What size Tablet PC would you prefer?
    • at least 12" if 3:2 (even better if someone still made 4:3), at least 13" if wider aspect ratio.

    5. Which country do you intent to purchase from [where do you live]?
    We live in Italy, but can buy in the U.S. or Italy. It must, however, if new or refurbished, have a guarantee valid in Italy. If used, there would most likely be no guarantee anyway, a lack hopefully compensated by a low price.

    6. Do you have any preferences to brand loyalty or dislikes?
    I prefer brands that make serviceable devices, but they are getting hard to find. The first T5010 I bought would erratically crap out. Eventually, the fault was traced to one, and just one, bad address on each of its two 2G memory sticks. It was easy enough to pop a spare stick in while waiting for the warranty replacements to arrive, but with glued in place everything any failure could mean that my daughter would be "gagged" during the wait. We've also been through 4 fans and repaired 2 latches on these machines. Ideal would be machines that not only have replaceable components, but that provide a technical manual. Are Lenovo and HP the only brands that still do?

    7. How many hours battery life do you require?
    At least 4 real-world hours when using its internal batteries on the manual wheelchair.
    Will be powered from the wheelchair's 24V system on the power chair.

    8. What will be the primary usage scenario of this tablet? (Email/Web Surfing/Drawing/Word Processing/Entertainment/Notetaking etc)
    See introduction above.

    9. Do you have an OS preference? For example, do you own an iPhone and a Mac, or are you a Windows fan? Do you own an Android device and use Google services frequently?
    I have no choice in the matter: WordPerfect and PerfectScript are Windows only.

    10. What software and tasks do you intend to run? (Microsoft Office or other Word Processing Suite/Photoshop/3D Studio Max/Autocad etc)
    WordPerfect
    CorelDraw
    Roboteq's Roborun+
    DesignSpark
    Girder
    Winamp or other audio player
    Arduino
    VisualC++
    FreePascalCompiler
    Firefox
    various other programs with less frequency

    11. Do you intend on playing Games? If so please list.
    None that tax performance. My daughter does play Bejewelled3 using her head switches (and I've become addicted to it too.) Definitely don't need, and don't want, a dedicated GPU.

    12. Would you like to stream content through your home theater system?
    Not at this time. For one thing, we don't have a home theater system.

    Screen Specifics

    1. Any preference on screen resolution?
    All current screens have ample resolution for our needs. The 1280 x 800 of the T5010 is adequate, and I assume that anything on the market in 2016 will have higher resolution than that. Viewing angle, brightness, contrast and color range are more important.

    2. Will you be using the tablet outdoors? Do you need to be able to see it through glare from the sun?
    See the above linked FAQ for guidance
    YES. My daughter uses her computer inside and outside all day long. The T5010 with "outdoor" spec screen was barely adequate when new, but not really after several years' use. Not an important issue for my mule.

    3. Do you require a pen? With or without pressure sensitivity? Do you prefer Wacom or N-trig?
    See the above linked FAQ for guidance
    A pen is needed, but any active pen will do as it will not be used for drawing, but for OSK or other touch-and-click tasks.

    Component Specifics

    1. What size Hard Drive and Memory do you require? Would you like expandable memory?
    SSD, 128 GB min, 256 GB preferred.
    8G RAM, 16G preferred. Need not be expandable, but I would prefer that it be field replaceable.

    2. What sort of inputs do you require, if any? Would you like full-sized USB and SD card slots? Are microUSB and microSD ok? Do you require HDMI inputs?
    This is a sticking point with many current offerings. For example, the SurfacePro4 is very attractive, except for this. There are three USB devices permanently connected my daughter's computer: a keyboard chip used as interface for head and foot-operated switches, an IR transceiver used for environmental control, and a gaze tracker. The tracker in particular is fairly power hungry. Moreover, the three USB ports need to be usable while the computer is being powered externally or being re-charged. A port extender/dock would be a possibility, but it must be powered from the PC or its own battery pack when on the manual chair and still allow connecting DC in from the power chair or for charging.
    My computer has less fussy needs, but I still often have things connected to 3 USB ports: two connected to MCU boards, and one connected to an RS232 adapter. A simple hub would probably work OK for this one.

    We will need an SD-card slot, but full-sized or micro are both OK, as are full, mini or micro USB. Don't expect to need HDMI, DisplayPort etc.

    Misc
    1. Other non specific items ~ please add other items you require not covered above?
    An appropriate processor would be a recent-generation i5. Less would probably be frustrating even now, and more would be overkill even for the next several years.

    2. Additional requests ~ anything other you wish to take into consideration?
    It is ABSOLUTELY necessary that we be able to turn off touch! My daughter's arms and hands fly about unpredictably and must not interfere with her computer. Moreover, she is in contact with many people throughout the day who will inevitably be touching her screen - we must make sure that this does not "mute" her.
     
  2. Azzart

    Azzart Late night illustrator Senior Member

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    as incredible as it sounds, the only recent one I can think of that has 3 usb ports right now is the Cintiq Companion 2.
    But I'm not sure how much outdoor proof it is. The need to be readable outdoor is probably the harder requirement you have in your description.
    One pro for it would be the warranty would be available in Italy.

    The vaio z canvas has only 2 usb ports instead but plenty of power for your personal computational tasks.
    I think it would be more reliable than the cintiq companion hardware wise. Warranty though would be more problematic: you can find it on amazon italy sold by an UK shop, so you would have to deal with them in case of a defective unit.

    Both battery life could be extended with an external and adequate battery pack since they use a pretty standard plug.
     
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