For the last year or so I've been looking at Tablet PCs and alternating between thinking of them as "cool" and "stupidly expensive" (yeah, I'm a gadget junkie with at least some self-control). I finally had a chance to get rid of the "stupidly expensive" bit when I found Toshiba's auctions of refurbished laptops, and picked up a Portege M200 for AU$1650 (~US$1250):



Pentium-M 1.6, 512 MB RAM, 80 GB HDD, 1400x1050 12.1", GeForce FX5200.

Things learned so far:
  • Trying to install a clean copy of Windows without an optical drive isn't fun. Using the open source Unattended package to do a network boot and install completely over the network definitely is.
  • 1400x1050 on a 12" display is tiny. I finally understand why the option exists in Control Panel | Display | Settings | Advanced to go from 96dpi to 120dpi fonts.
  • Toshiba could learn a lot about driver/utility packaging from Dell. Some of them have a setup program. Some have a setup program that's not called setup. Some need to be installed through Device Manager. Some need you to right-click | Install on a .inf file. In one case I needed to take the setup program from the US drivers and then copy the AU files over the top to get them to install properly. None of this is documented. I just want to download a file and run it and have that component work.
  • Actually signing in to a laptop is a crowd pleaser. Especially when you don't have to actually sign; when training it you can just write your boss's name and cross it out or something.
  • The handwriting recognition on these things is really good.
  • Rearranged keyboards are annoying. Some sacrifices are needed on a laptop, but some are just mind-boggling. Windows key goes at the bottom, ~ key goes at the top -- how can you get this wrong, Toshiba?


I haven't had a chance to really use it yet; I've just finished playing with all the PowerToys and Toshiba-bundled stuff to work out exactly what's going on the final install. Should be fun to experiment with though.

And if nothing else, it's 1.5 kg lighter than the 15" brick I just sold.