Enjoying my Tablet PC – Motion LE1600 and the New Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 Software

I finally took the leap… it’s been a couple of weeks now and I’ve been so busy that I haven’t really given my new little guy much undivided attention, but I must say, I’m enjoying the new addition… a Motion Computing Tablet PC – LE1600.

As I’ve said before, I don’t think the UMPC’s are quite ready for the workout I give my equipment. I know that the battery life on those machines is sub-standard, whereas the battery life on this little guy has been great so far. Depending on my use (heavy hard drive use and music/video use shortens life somewhat), my tablet runs 2-3 hours on the standard battery. That’s actual time, not “manufacturer expectation talk” (which is, in my experience, considerably less battery time than advertised on most models.)

There is an extended battery available for this little guy that’s supposed to bump breathing time for it up to the 7-9 hour range. I’ll get one of those soon, but for now, I’m so busy with clients that I’ve not had time to properly play and determine if I’ll need it.

I’m using the tablet for work this week, just because I don’t have the ability to “work in” test time without doing so. I’m also testing some of the Beta 2 versions of the new office suite on the little guy. I must say, I’m liking most of those too. It’s frustrating trying to find some of the functions I use all the time, though. It took me about 12 minutes to locate the “word count” function, for instance, in the new Word.

The new OneNote looks great (sure wish THAT had a word count option) and the integration between OneNote and the other office products has become more reasonable. If you want to download and play with Office 2007 (on a non–production machine) you can do so by visiting the Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 Site. I repeat… do not download any beta programs for “mission critical” work. I’m using mine now in tandem (on my tablet pc) to test it, but I have the desktop still running my standard stuff.

The coolest stuff about the Tablet PC? Fun stuff! It does a great job of basic business functions. And, even though the little guy is a lightweight traveler, I can plug in my 500 gig external drive with all my files, and have the same access with the tablet that I have with my desktop. I will have to be careful not to overload the tablet, though. I find the 30 gig drive a bit depressing — but it’s supposed to be a bit more “jar resistant” technology than it’s 60 gig big brother. I opted not to get the View Anywhere screen. I also didn’t get alot of bonus accessories and good. The reason? I found a killer deal on ebay. I got my little guy at auction, six weeks old, barely used and with a professional looking folio cover (with strap) for between 1/2 and 2/3 retail price. I will warn anyone planning to do this that it’s an iffy proposition. eBay is full of scam artists on some of the high-demand, high-ticket items like this. Check out the buyer (don’t go with a johnny-come-lately) be sure you have reviewed the feedback score and comments, beware of some sellers overseas that do not accept protected payment methods, beware “second chance” offers which may be bogus. I experienced second chance offers and reported one “seller” that demanded wire transfers to a place I can’t pronounce. Be careful out there!

Now, the cool stuff… It’s cool to be able to actually use the inking technology, but the “fun stuff” blows me out of the water. For instance… the ebook format and the ability to have the ebook READ (voice technology) my ebook to me while I’m driving down the road. I like it — even if I wish that MS would get a less robotic sounding voice. I just looked at this once, but plan to go back to it. Sticky notes — which allow me to keep a yellow sticky on my desktop to jot those number I need to jot that I never have paper to jot down quickly — or use the voice option and simply record myself repeating the number back to the caller “That’s 1-800-942-5338? for WickedWordCraft.com? Got it! thank you.” and click the recorder off. As simple as two taps!

I picked up a wireless keyboard and mouse combo at Wally-world for under $30 that plugs into one of the USB ports when I’m at a desk to give me full-sized options on typing and mousing options, so my little table turns into a full-fledged computer without the expense of the “tablet specific” hardware that costs MUCH, MUCH more! I can even adjust my folio to serve as an easel, so I don’t have to buy the expensive tablet “holder” hardware either. I may get a lock-in holder later, when I set up my new office… but this works great for now.

The painting program is amazing… the colors on the paints mix when you drag them through other colors, there are even brushstrokes when you use the paintbrush tool. My son (the eldest) went nuts with the art program. I’ll probably be designing my next logo using this cool little tool. The screen is pressure sensitive, which means I get a broader line when I press harder, and a lighter line when I give the screen a softer stroke.

I created my own font — using a font tool for the Tablet — so now there is a true type font named “Angela Parker Script” so that I can use a keyboard on any computer to “recreate” my own handwriting. Pretty cool, huh? The inking allows a flexibility and a “real world” approach to computer applications and I can’t wait to have enough time to play with it a bit more. Right now, I’m testing it out — as a full computer — to see if my next extended trip away will be properly served with the tablet. So far, I think it will.

As I learn more, I’ll share it with you, for now… I need to get back to work.

Loving the Tablet….