Thursday, September 2, 2010

I would like to buy a Tablet PC

I write this as a broken man.  My laptop after several faithful years has passed on.  It was the victim of my 7 year old's Wii habit and was too close as he was jumping turtles on Super Mario.  First there was a rattle in it (never good to have loose metal inside a laptop), but before I could open it and remove the presumably worthless metal it shorted out something and the whole laptop will not boot at all.

It was a Toshiba A135-S7404.  I had lovingly upgraded the RAM and put a Google Chrome decal on it.  I suppose it was dying anyhow, I bought it years ago as Best Buy was trying to get rid of them (they were too underpowered for Vista without extensive tweaking and the necessary RAM upgrade) and I had already taken a soldering iron to the power supply more than once.  Maybe it is good, maybe I need a new one.

Here is the problem, I have made $6.83 in ads on my various blogs and that is not quite enough for even the best laptop deals to be had.  It would be cool to run out and buy something, but I don't have it in the budget.  So I will sit and research.  But this does not mean you will not see a benefit, I will post my research here!

Here is what I am looking for in a laptop (in short, the impossible):

1. Processing Power: I am a graphics nerd.  I use Photoshop, Flash, Blender and Gimp.  I am also a computer networking/security nerd so running virtual machines in VirtualBox is also important.  I need something with some kick.  Will an Atom-based system be enough?

2. Tablet Power:  I had a Fujitsu Lifebook T3010 for work a long time ago.  It had no CD Drive and maxed out with 1GB of RAM.  It ran Windows XP Tablet PC edition and was a total dog in Photoshop.  MAN I LOVED THAT LAPTOP!  The digitizer was made by Wacom, who are the only people who should be making such things as they rock so hard 8 days a week.  I later got a HP/Compaq tablet which had much more processing power and RAM, but the tablet digitizer was awful and more designed for an executive with large hands to draw organizational charts than for graphic arts.  Using it was like using a large sharpie on a napkin or toilet paper.

Can I even get something which is both powerful and a tablet?  It seems either it is a good tablet with no power or a high powered computer with crappy tablet abilities.

I think the central problem is that the market is not for graphic artists who want to use tablets.  Artists make do with what they have at hand and the executives in marketing run out and buy things, offering important opinions on tablet/laptop desires such as:

- Powerful, multiple 64bit processor cores running at top speed AND
- Huge hard drive (either SSD or SATA with at least several hundred Gigs of storage)
- Large, bright screen 
- Endless battery life (at least 12 hours)
- Light weight
- Solid

The laptop manufacturers are left with to either defy the market or the laws of physics.  The laws of physics are not often broken, so we are left buying laptops and tablets designed for idiots who don't know what they want designed by people who are attempting to please everyone (poorly).

So the laptop reality is:

- Powerful
- Big storage
- Big Screen
- Short Battery life
- HOT (legs get sweaty)

- Underpowered
- Small Storage
- Small Screen
- Long battery life

What is the best balance?  What are you willing to trade and compromise to get?

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