ultralight tablet for engineering?

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by P8RSON, Dec 19, 2006.

  1. skisteven1

    skisteven1 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi all,
    (long I know, summary at bottom)

    I hate to be that one guy who asks the same question for the millionth time, but I haven't seen anyone ask specifically about the size of the various tablets...

    I'm an engineering student whose 1.4Ghz Banias laptop just died (ie. I'm not used to top of the line). While it's too late to worry about getting a new one for this semester, I think I'd really like to get a tablet to last the next year and a half. I also do a lot of part time work as a systems consultant and sysadmin. Most of the time it would be used for taking notes in class, or working in MS Word, or Mathematica.

    I have a couple of deciding factors though. I will NOT put up with XGA res. I absolutely hate it. I had 1280x800 on my last laptop and that was barely acceptable. I really love the SXGA+ or 1440x900 that toshiba does.

    My last laptop was kind of heavy (~6lbs), and for that reason I wouldn't always carry it when I should have been. I've decided that I REALLY want something small and light for my new one. Other computers I've looked at include the little dell xps machine, or the tiny sony machines (those are both less than 3lb). Obviously I'm not going to find a tablet of this size, but I really do want something small.

    The other requirement is that it has to have a great battery life. I'm ok with extra weight due to a secondary battery -- but I have to be able to use it all day without a charge -- at LEAST 4 hours. MINIMUM. 5 would be great.

    So near as I can tell, the X60 seems to be the forerunner due to the small screen and large battery life, though the T4215 also seems pretty good. Price isn't a non-issue, but I'm willing to spend to get the right computer. Just not 500 more than the next competitor, lol.

    I kind of like having a cdrom, but I have a desktop too, so I should be able to get by.

    cliffs:
    + engineering student
    + want small size, lightweight, easy to carry
    + solid construction (not going to break or fall apart from heavy use)
    + HIGHER than XGA resolution
    + more than 4hr battery, pref 5-6 (with secondary battery if necessary)
    + want to run vista

    +One last thing -- I tend to have bad luck with computer hardware (even though I can usually build/fix it) so it ABSOLUTELY MUST have a good warrantee and good support (hardware/dealing with the company, don't need tech support, lol). I don't want company that's going to try and screw me.

    So guys? what have you got for me? I've currently come up with the X60, the M400 (seems like low battery life) or the T4215 (seems too expensive).
     
  2. ryanmartini

    ryanmartini Pen Pal - Newbie

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    keep in mind that the sxga res on a 12.1" screen is alot differet than say a 15" model. I think you would be surprised to see just how decent the res of a XGA is on such a small screen.

    There are two-three threads on engineering students looking for tablets right below you.

    Im not sure what to recommend you as I just dont want super resolution on such a small display. But I can say stay away from Toshiba. I have heard nothing but horror stories from their customer support.
     
  3. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Yes.. absolutely nothing wrong with XGA on a lot of the 12" tablets but that's only personal choice of the many here who use them. :)
     
  4. Dark_Wolf

    Dark_Wolf Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Well, I can only recommend Toshiba, I've had no trouble with it at all, and I love the high resolution (yes, even on the 12.1" screen).
    However, for small and light, I think the old Lenovo X41 still holds the medal, though you probably won't be running Vista on it.
    Personally I haven't found the weight of the Toshiba M400 to be a problem at all, but then again I haven't been in a situation where I needed to use it standing.

    (And no, I am not associated with Toshiba in any way :p I just like my M400)
     
  5. skisteven1

    skisteven1 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    really, two of my biggest concerns are battery life and size -- I haven't heard particularly good things about the M400's battery life (from reviews), and nobody seems to be talking about it here.

    Has anyone used it? What should I expect? about 3.5hrs? does anyone have the "slice" battery? it sounds kind of crappy....
     
  6. Dark_Wolf

    Dark_Wolf Pen Pal - Newbie

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    The M400 easily gives me 4 hours of notetaking time in the normal mode, longer in the super duper power saver mode (which I usually can't be bothered with).

    The slice rather defeats the purpose of using a table however.....
     
  7. skisteven1

    skisteven1 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks darkwolf -- Does anyone else have any information about battery life? Or any other recommendations at all? Is the lenovo or the fujitsu worth the very large price premium?

    Of the 12" tablets -- which do you recommend in general? I'm finding it somewhat difficult to find a reliable way to compare battery information...
     
  8. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Re battery life, both ASUS with the R1F and Fujitsu, with many laptops & tablets including the T4210 & T4215 use a 'modular bay battery'.
    In that you simply remove the DVD Optical drive and replace it with a second battery.
    As examples with this combination I achieve the following:-
    Fujitsu Siemens P7010 8 to 10hrs max
    Fujitsu Siemens T4210 6 to 6hrs max

    Bear in mind to achieve anything close to these times is dependant upon how you use the machine.
    Further, I find Fujitsu's & FS laptops/tablets will operate quite well at the lowest brilliance setting during dull lighting conditions, which add to battery life.
     
  9. skisteven1

    skisteven1 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    OK, so here's what I've got so far.

    The top 3 12.1"-ish tablets seem to be:
    Lenovo x60, Fujitsu T4215, or Toshiba M400.

    Configured similarly, the lenovo and fujitsu are running about $2200-$2300, and the Toshiba about $2050.

    Realistically, if I'm going to be spending this much on a computer, 2-3 hundred bucks doesn't bother me -- I'd rather get it right.

    Now, here's the pros and cons:
    toshiba: SXGA+, cdrom bay, XXXXXXXXXXX, touchpad, 4.5hrs,
    fujitsu: SXGA+, cdrom bay, modular battery, touchpad, 6.0hrs,
    lenovo: SXGA+, XXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXX, 7.5hrs,

    So then it seems that fujitsu is pretty clearly the winner. However, there's some more information that I'd like to find:

    how long does each notebook REALLY go on primary battery alone?

    Also, has anyone delt with any of the companies very much? I tend to have a lot of hardware problems, and I want a company who is willing to stand by their product. Also, are all the notebooks solid? Nothing is likely to break on any of them?

    All else equal, right now it looks like i'm leaning towards the fujitsu. While I *might* need the modular power bay in a year or two -- it's basically the same price just to replace the primary battery, so I don't think that matters very much.

    Any input? any answers to my questions?

    Thanks a lot guys, you've all been great -- i'll be sure to stick around after my purchase.
     
  10. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    The T4215 should give you 3 to 3.5hrs max.
    I achieve this on my T4210 when I use the DVD Optical drive bay.

    However, once you have a modular bay battery, you will find you will use this configuration 90% of the time.

    Fujitsu are renowned for the excellent customer and tech supp service.
    It's been mentioned by many (inc myself) many times in the forum.
    Whereas on the other hand Toshiba's support are seen at the other end of the scale.

    Oh yes it does matter and matters quite a lot in a positive way.
    Once you take out that DVD Optical drive (which most hardly use for the majority of the time) and replace it with a second battery, your mobility really opens up.
    Now, compare this to having a second main battery and it's simply not the same.
    With a second main battery you will either have to plug the tablet into the mains to keep power going whilst you change the main battery or switch off the tablet again whilst you change the main battery.

    So... no, having a second main battery is no where near the same as having a modular bay battery :)
     
  11. skisteven1

    skisteven1 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Really? I can't believe that the T4215 would only have a 3-3.5hr battery when they quote 6hrs on their webpage. WoW -- that's a HUGE difference. Do you happen to know how the lenovo battery compares with the expectations (7.5hrs) laid out on its website? I'm looking at the higher capacity battery for both companies.

    I'm glad to hear this -- if that lack of support on Toshiba's part is correct, then that essentially takes them out of the running as far as I'm concerned. Do you know anything about the support available from lenovo in their post-ibm incarnation?

    As for the second battery, you're right -- I would love the secondary battery. The only instance in which I think it wouldn't matter is if the battery life of the fujitsu really is ~6hrs with just the primary battery. 6hrs is plenty for me, and in that case, I wouldn't need the modular battery. If it's truly around 3-3.5 though, then I would definitely need it.

    The secondary battery is the same milliwatt-hours as the primary, right? So it should exactly double the effective life, right?

    Thanks again for everything -- Now I just need to find out how the lenovo support compares, and how the battery on the lenovo compares as well. Any ideas of where to look?
     
  12. ryanmartini

    ryanmartini Pen Pal - Newbie

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    also what kind of engineering are you doing? i doubt the intel 950 will be able to display any kin of complexity when it comes to cad.. I just dont see the use of a tablet for engineering if you cant even bring your work with you.
     
  13. skisteven1

    skisteven1 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I work in a combination of Civil, Mechanical, and general optimization. The official title is Industrial Systems and Enterprise Engineering.

    I'm not really concerned about the abilities of the tablet to do CAD. I've never had a problem using integrated graphics in the past, and while the performance isn't great for CAD, I use a workstation when I have a lot of design stuff to do anyway.

    Really, I need to find out how long the fujitsu and the lenovo will each realistically last on one battery for use such as taking notes and surfing the web. I understand that the lenovo is a really solid computer in laptop "mode", which is how I will primarily be using it. I haven't heard anything contrary about the fujitsu -- but then again, I've barely been able to find any reviews on either of them (more on the x60 than the fujitsu though).

    I know that both machines are easily powerful enough for everything I'll need. But I could still use any help that anybody can offer in deciding between the two.
     
  14. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    The T4210/T4215 will last between 2.5 to 4hrs on the single battery doing the tasks you mention.

    On the contrary, there has been quite a lot mentioned on the T4210/T4215 in the various parts of the forum and on the web.
    Like the lenovo, the Fujitsu & Fujitsu Siemens are equally built exceptionally well and perform excellently.
     
  15. Goorgoor

    Goorgoor Pen Pal - Newbie

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    what about vista? i also need a laptop like skisteven1, but wanted to know if i will lose with buying it before the T4210/T4215 with vista is out...
     
  16. skisteven1

    skisteven1 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I believe there is an upgrade from fujitsu for getting vista if you purchase a T4210/15 before it's out.


    My greatest difficulty in ascertaining the battery information has been that I get conflicting reports.

    For one battery on the fujitsu, I have heard 2.5-4hrs, I have heard "6 hours easily" (which was probably referring to 2 batteries), I have heard that I'd be lucky to get 3.

    With the lenovo, I've heard anywhere from 3 to 6 hours.

    I understand that it's kind of hard to judge battery life, but that's one of my most important issues when buying a tablet. I know when I got my current laptop, the battery would go 4-4.5 hours with general use, with wifi enabled. I wonder if I will see that from one of these models...
     
  17. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    You will always have conflicting reports in battery times as each person uses their tablets/laptops within a particular pattern.

    The figures I mentioned were from running the tablet with just the main battery.
    The first time of 2.5hrs is based on internet and other programs (i.e. graphics) that use around 50% processor time.
    The second figure of 4hrs is based on wifi & bluetooth off and doing light casual work (i.e. word processing/reading) that use around 15% processor time.

    Once you add a second modular battery, times can quite easily be anything from 4 to 7hrs (I have achieved 8 but that was with everything running at minimum). :)
     
  18. Goorgoor

    Goorgoor Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I'm confused... there are so many tablet pcz...do you think that this T4210/15 will be around for like 2-3 years?

    about buying it...should i wait until next year and then buy it with vista or?
     
  19. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Both tablets will still be around but I doubt either will be the leading tablet at that time.
    Fujitsu & Fujitsu Siemens, like all other tablet makers bring out new machines each year.
    You may have interim modifications where they change the model number very slightly (i.e. they may have the newer processor & other tweaks but sell it as the T4215A).
    Regardless, the T4210/T4215 will still be able to hold it's own in 2 - 3 years time.

    As to waiting; unless you need the tablet immediately & are happy to install Vista yourself with the free upgrade offer, I personally would probably wait until the newer processors are released... You just never know what Fujitsu & FSC will do to keep on top of the market. :)
     
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