Stylus = Fail
How do you do multi-touch with a single stylus?
HP has finally launched the slate it demonstrated in January, bringing the weight of Windows 7 to the iPad fight. Not that Microsoft's OS was a certainty; since HP's slate appeared on stage with Steve Ballmer in January the company has acquired Palm, sparking much debate about how well Palm's WebOS would suit the demo'd hardware …
How do you do multi-touch with a single stylus?
It's a capacitive touchscreen with a Wacom digitizer, which is probably the best of both worlds if you want to provide the option of using a stylus (for eg for note-taking, sketching).
So if you want to do multitouch use your fingers.
I can't believe some things get out of the lab - they could at least have put a sensor in to disable skin contact while using the stylus.
I've a Cintiq and while I illustrate with my hand raised anyway (paper and pencil habit) I find i have to rest the back of my hand on the screen when doing mechanical "desktop" stuff, as it gets extremely tiring pretty quickly.
Stylus input on Win 7 is pretty unusable without palm rejection, and it's not even hard to do. In fact, it's not even hard to hack in later, provided that the hardware and driver for screen report contact point sizes. It's best done in the driver, or failing that at in the driver stack, but you can get medieval with a bit of global hooking if you can take the performance hit or aren't willing or able to bang out a quick filter driver.
This has been the single most requested feature on Win 7 touch screens since they started appearing, HP have seriously missed a trick here if they haven't implemented it.
Win 7 has surprisingly good handwriting recognition, albeit somewhat unwieldy as an input method, probably because MS tablet 'vision' has always been about pen computing. But pen computing doesn't work if you cant rest your hand as though you were working on paper. So well done HP for buttering up the single attractive feature of Win 7 on a tablet.
Did you miss the part about Wacom digitizer? This is what other devices you are referring to have missed.
Having the option of both touch and pen input makes this device a good upgrade for existing tablet PC users.
...about the reporter over at CNet having to avoid resting his hand/wrist on the screen while writing with the stylus?
"The use of pen and finger is unusual, and you can see the reporter taking care not to rest his hand against the screen when using the stylus, for obvious reasons."
If the Slate can't differentiate between a touch/gesture and a natural element of writing (hand/wrist wresting against the surface while writing) then that is a pretty annoying flaw.
Ahhhahhaaaaaaa, love it.
You must be new here
Apart from jumping on the Jobsian bandwagon, I still don't understand the point of tablets. This, then, isn't a dig at the iPhad or this Windows option, but perhaps it is at the people who buy them and their ilk.
Windows tablets were around years ago. I remember going to interview at one company circa 2004 where the technical interviewer had one. He spent so much time fiddling around, trying to get it to do whatever it was he was trying to do (look at a web-page, I think) that it put me off working for such a fadish company.
Now, clearly the latest generation will be better but apart from the consumer aspect ("look at my latest toy") I'm still utterly bemused by the business case for them.
But I await to be enlightened by the combined knowledge of El Reg's commentards...
Two in fact:
1) cooking from recipes (no keyboard to get grease and crumbs on)
2) settling dinner time arguments of the "Andorra is bigger than Luxembourg" variety without looking more than usually sad and geeky.
You'll just have to remain bemused. Consider yourself past it, in the long dark tea time of just not getting it any more.
Accept for high paid execs to do a "look at me" when they whip it out and do some mundane task that doesn't impress me. The mere fact that they have been around in Windows form forever at too high a price and took off like a rocket when Apple released one in it's content consumption/flashless form, show that the people that are buying them are either idol rich, Apple fanbois, or some of both. No expansion, HDMI ports, USB ports, Flash, or business apps, make it a toy for people with more money than sense. Apple sells hobbled toys to mass numbers of blind, coolaid drinking idiots who defend their fearless leader while bent over with pants around ankles. No thanks.
Tablets offer the possibility of a fully configurable user interface that allows the elimination of a keyboard when you don't need it and the possibility of a much larger interface for a given weight. In theory, that makes then superior to the current way of doing things, where a large part of your hardware footprint is taken up by permanent buttons. In practice it means that you lose most of the functionality of the keyboard and don't get an adequate replacement for it.
The problem, of course, is that tablets are not pushing the user interface far enough away from traditional computer interfaces. Apple did manage to hit on a fairly decent solution with their iPoke but it still has the problem that I always face with these sorts of devices: tactile feedback. When I press a button I want to feel it, even if all I'm feeling is a little bit of vibration to know that the button has actually been activated. Even my n900 doesn't get that right (it vibrates every time you touch the screen, which isn't what I was after), but at least I get an actual keyboard for typing with. It seems ludicrous that we're creating devices for possibly the most sensitive part of the human body (yes, more sensitive than that other bit) and not attempting to take advantage of the huge amount of feedback possible there. Instead we just offer a blank slate and maybe make a clicking noise. It's a complete waste.
But in theory it's great. :)
Ideally some sort of system of creating raised areas where the buttons or other features appear would provide a solution, if they could also be depressed, and if they could then only function if they were pressed properly instead of poked accidentally. It's a nice dream but I don't think we'll be seeing that just yet.
"This, then, isn't a dig at the iPhad or this Windows option, but perhaps it is at the people who buy them and their ilk."
Why do you feel the need to have a dig?
Like you I was a complete skeptic until I used one for a few hours (not playing in a shop). Afterwards I was surprised to find that I really liked it, bought one and now prefer using an iPad rather than my laptop for almost everything except authoring something big. I don't regard it as a toy - unless you regard every consumer computer a toy.
I don't see an application for them in my business. But there are some organisations that have gone on record as finding them useful: http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/profiles/. In addition there are several articles in the press about organisations like Mercedes Benz, SAP and Wells Fargo rolling them out for various purposes. For most applications they it seems to be convenience of the form factor, mobility, instant on and long battery life that justified their use.
"No expansion, HDMI ports, USB ports, Flash, or business apps, make it a toy for people with more money than sense. Apple sells hobbled toys to mass numbers of blind, coolaid drinking idiots who defend their fearless leader while bent over with pants around ankles. No thanks."
I think you forgot to read the OP, because the mere mention of tablets sent you off into your hate place. Still, look at it this way, you read 'tablet', your brain thinks 'iPad'. Steve Jobs has pwned your brain.
Actually, I know someone who has developed a very compelling business case. He's married a rugged tablet from a major manufacturer with custom software to allow EMTs and first responders to record and share case detail without mucking about with paper and pencil. It interfaces with their medical equipment to store a record of a patient's vitals with the case report; it scans standard IDs to get patient info quickly, and it references a pharmacology database to help EMTs determine appropriate dosages. This simplifies and standardizes case reports, and improves patient care. Laptops are simply too cumbersome, and fixed systems are too inflexible, so a tablet is pretty much the only form factor which can do this.
Whenever I hear "no business case", it immediately makes me think "not enough imagination."
The reason I will be buying the HP Slate is simple: active digitizer. This is the first* slate form factor tablet with BOTH capacitive multitouch AND pressure-sensitive stylus input. This gives the user the choice of browsing the web with their fingers (a la iPad) or drawing in photoshop using proper pressure-sensitive shading (something the iPad can't come close to offering).
Incidentally, I still use an HP TC1100 on a daily basis, which is essentially the fat grandma of the Slate (minus the capacitive screen).
* (apart from the Motion j3500 which is "ruggedized", weighs like half a tonne and costs twice as much)
I quote Steven Knox "... rugged tablet from a major manufacturer with custom software"
I'd like to know what these tablets are, mate, if you can spill the beans. While I can't do without a keyboard, I can think of some applications where tablets could be useful but I have yet to see one resilient enough. Thanks.
<vitriol snipped for brevity> "idol [sic] rich, Apple fanbois, or some of both. No expansion, HDMI ports, USB ports, Flash, or business apps, make it a toy for people with more money than sense. Apple sells hobbled toys to mass numbers of blind, coolaid [sic] drinking idiots who defend their fearless leader while bent over with pants around ankles. No thanks."
It's so sad to see such blind hatred against something so mundane as a computer. Add to that one you haven't even used and by your own admission will never use, you come across as a very bitter person. Sad really. I mean, no business apps? It's not meant to be a business device (despite businesses snapping them up).
And you spelled idle wrongly. An iPad would have corrected you.
I bought an iPad because I have a computer repair business and I got tired of saying "I don't know" when everybody asked me what I thought of the iPad. I like to be objective, I'm crazy like that. Now that I have it, I would say that 95% of the people in this world should not buy an iPad. I had the hardest time getting my movies to be compatible with it.
Having said all that, I am putting mine to good use. I bought an app that has a calendar on it, so now my appointments are on it. It syncs with Google calendar, so I can enter an appointment on my home computer and have it ready on my iPad. I have collected a lot of notes, which I put in a PDF file. Now I use my iPad for my repair notes. If I can get an app that integrates with my Quickbooks without a monthly fee, that would make the iPad worth my money by itself.
There is a market for tablet computers. But for most people it is a novelty and not a good idea.
I bought an HP TC1100 tablet many moons ago, and loved it. The ability to use Office OneNote to take hand written notes, draw diagrams, sketches, etc, - with a stylus - and then to be able to free text search those notes was incredibly useful for me in my job (and still would be today).
It was only its collapsing under the weight of Windows updates and the ever increasing load on the CPU that meant I had to abandon it, by which time similar form factors weren't available (only convertible, twisty screen laptops).
The current crop of tablets, that give you a virtual keyboard rather than accepting handwriting, seem completely pointless to me. If I've got to tap away at an onscreen keyboard, I'd rather just use a physical keyboard so I can type properly.
Although not an iPad fan, I think they are doing one thing right that nobody else is, including HP here.
Why does everyone but Apple feel that these things need to be 16:9/10 format? Although fine for watching film and TV, the widescreen format is not optimal for everything else. Web pages, documents, books etc are all better in the 4:3 ratio. And when you use them in portrait mode they look even more ridiculous.
Of course this follows on from the current trend for laptops/netbooks to sport widescreen format as well, despite it being particularly inappropriate but don't get me started on that!
16:9 is great for document writing; I have it on my work PC and much prefer it than 4:3 - especially in portrait form (my screen rotates).
That's fair enough but what is the vertical resolution of your PC screen? More than 600 pixels I reckon.
With you completely, this fad of everything being widescreen is a damned nuisance. Just try buying a laptop with over 1000 pixels vertical, there's a few but they really are rare. Dell for example have one model out of their range, Acer also have one (rather old, probably not actually obtainable any more) model. 16:9 is fine for media players and phones and it works on a desktop where you have room for a monster screen or rotating stand but on a laptop it is just dumb. Low vertical resolution makes a laptop into an entertainment device on which you might be able to get some work done. That is the reverse of what a business user* needs. Every bit as bad as the shiney shiney screens that two years ago it was damned hard to avoid. Great for watching a DVD or using as a mirror but feck all use for getting work done.
*Apart from managers and sales twunts of course as they don't actually do anything that constitutes 'work'. Watching a film on their flights and pron in their hotel rooms is the number one use.
but I'm not sure if thats how they will generally be used...
I used to work for a large network provider, they provided all the techs with laptops. There were maybe 200 of these guys in high vis vests and white vans. They had to stand in the street logging in using a 3G (GPRS then I guess) signal to access the fault management system, then they could update and close the jobs in real time. They all complained how big and bulky the latops were. Maybe you could get the job done with a smartphone these days. I doubt you'd get a good "user experiance" though. A netbook or tablet would be ideal for this.
Another example is those Gallup poll people who come knock on your door, they have tablet type devices.
Another example is insurance assessors, building inspectors and other such professionals who have to make notes and enter details on site.
Outreach workers, social workers generally carry laptops which just cry out "steal me" so many of them don't bother and leave them in the office meaning they arn't updating records and having access to the info they need... a smaller lighter easier to hide device would work for them.
However I suspect most are destined to be executive toys.
From the CNET video it appears that this tablet is using bog standard Win 7, so why on Earth has it taken HP the best part of a year to get this thing to market?
Ans: for most part of "the best part of a year", things were under Mark Hurd. Haven't changed much yet..
Indiscriminate cost cutting has seriously limited HP's ability to execute large scale new development. Things might improve now, one would hope.
@AC 12:25 GMT : bog standard Win7
Not really. Much of the stuff in Win7 has been ripped out. I can't say where I read this, but it was in the documentation somewhere. Also, there's a 7GB recovery partition on the SSD.
It's HP's fault really. It's not like they had an official release party or anything.
Yep, your right, tablets are useless for any productive work. Any employee who claims they can do their work on a iPad or other tablet must be doing such remedial work that they may be better off with a mop and bucket
Tablets are toys and any company trying to go up against apple will find out that their toy isn't nearly as shiny as the iPad
Using the iPad's built-in VPN connectivity and a suitable RDP client (of which there are many) I can connect to my desktop at work. With 3G I can connect from anywhere. Please tell me how you think this is unproductive.
He can't tell you how this is unproductive, because the anti-apple-tards don't need to justify their bile with facts. The actual reality of the iPad isn't part of their argument, hence their ability to deride a device they've never even seen, let alone used.
I can do this with my Nokia E52 but it's not the right interface to run a PC screen easily either.
Then I'll be interested.
At least it's a tablet that I can buy with money rather than selling my soul to targeted advertisement or any particular cult. And that's a first.
What is Bing if it is not a targeted advertisement platform a la Google? MS are hardly warm and fuzzy angels of the tech world you know, so you are still selling our soul to someone regardless of whether or not it is coming from Google or Apple.
You select your tablet based on corporate ethics and you chose.... Microsoft?!
I can understand Andy S's reasoning here.
I myself chose the Hanvon B10 because it used Windows 7. While I'm not really a fan of Microsoft, my reasoning is - the Windows 7 tablet is the ONLY tablet with an OS that *doesn't* allow its vendor to reach into the device and remove/secretly install/ pps and covertly monitor your app usage. The control-freakery present in modern mobile OSes is absolutely unbelievable, and they've ALL done it. Even Windows Phone 7 has it, so yes, Microsoft has now gone the same controlling route as Apple with iOS, Google with Android, and very likely HP with WebOS as well. At least Windows 7 wasn't built with remote control in mind.
That's why I chose a Windows 7 tablet. I will NOT allow my computers to be remotely controlled/monitored by some greedy fecking corporation.
Andorra or Luxembourg ?
Luxembourg -10 letters, Andorra is 7
Windows 7 is not and never will be a slate OS.
People like HP and MS really just don't get it. Cascaing menus and a start button are never going to work on slate!
Even Windows Mobile 7 is a non starter - it is so obvioulsy, and intrusively, designed to promote MS and their products first, and work as an OS second. Until people at the top of MS and HP realise that if they give the user what they want, and do it in an unobtrusive way their products will always be a big fail.
"Windows 7 is not and never will be a slate OS...." What I think you meant is that it couldn't be for someone with nothing more to do all day than swap approving looks with other fanbois. For those of us with jobs that actually require carrying around a laptop, a tablet with Windoze of one version or another is a very useful tool. I used one of the old TC1100s with WinXP for ages, it was awesome because I could use it as a desktop with the keyboard or pick it up and take it into a meeting and use it to record notes, check email or even display presentation material. I have sysadmin colleagues that still use theirs, one with Linux installed. In fact, I'm seriously tempted to dig it out and see if it will run the tablet version of Win7.
In fact, if vritualised desktops really are the way of the future as all the vendors keep telling me, hp could be on to a winner if they make a convertible version of the new tablet and hook it into a VDI bundle - ultra-slim and portable desktops, matched up with maybe some blades in a C7000 as the virtualising servers..... nice!
They could run a Linux version and save the cost of W7 !
"......They could run a Linux version and save the cost of W7 !" Yes, and the hassle of constant Windows patch updates, etc, etc. But every time we look at moving any of our desktops to Linux we get the business getting cold feet over leaving the comforting deathgrip of M$. I'm not saying we could or would want to replace 100% of our Win desktops, but we probably could replace 80% with almost zero impact after a bit of user education (and a few cattleprods).
Yep, I agree. The amount of time I whip out my iphone to look something up at dinner table or in front the telly - a table (whoevers)t is the perfect tool for this.
The business use for it on vertical markets are clear, for general use I dont know.
Nice toy to have around.
This may go on my want list. But its processing power apparently is comparable to current netbooks, and that may not be enough for SATISFACTORY speech recognition (standard withiWindows since Vista, otherwise optional). It's demanding. I think the Atom processor also may be limited to 2 GB RAM, which seems to be absolute minimum for a tolerable Windows 7 experience.
Due to disability, I use a touchscreen keyboard program called Fitaly, with a novel layout, about the same learning curve as ordinary touch-typing, and, for me, about half of ordinary keyboard speed (the problem is that typing makes my hands very sore quite quickly). A Wacom stylus digitiser screen has a benefit here that you can just gesture at letters on Fitaly while with the other hand clicking the mouse or trackball.
But since this thing's screen is about the size of an ordinary paperback book page (the whole, the size of an oversized paperback), it's probably easier to dictate speech into it, IF that's acceptable. Bluetooth stereo headset (Maplin £15, if compatible)? I don't mind if I do.
In which case, the touchscreen quality is less critical, and I should look at the likes of CTL's 2go Pad - similar specification on paper, but with LAN, two USB, price $599 - and out of stock till end November.
I've also been lookIng at HP's TouchSmart tm2, with 4 GB RAM and maybe about three times the processing power. £630 in Comet. And ITS processor is mentioned in "not fast enough" comments online - but for gaming.
I have a tm2. I don't play games on it and it is a lot heavier than an ipad but it is running Windows 7 and office 2010 (including Visio) without any trouble.
I don't know about the Slate but when I use the tm2 stylus the digitizer is active and the touchscreen is ignored - I rest my hand on the screen all the time to mark up word docs or do some drawing. If I don't use the stylus then it uses the multitouch touchscreen.
I chose it over the iPad as it came with 320gb of storage, a grown up operating system and the ability to create as well as consume - it's a real copmuter not a shiny toy. And In case anybody thinks I am anti (or pro) Apple (or Microsoft) I also have an iPhone 4, iMac, MacBook and another Windows 7 desktop replacement machine. It's about the best solution to various requirements, there all good at what they're for. The iPad just doesn't do anything that the tm2 or iPhone (or a netbook) doesn't do as well or better for less.
Windows Phone 7 finally showed that the penny dropped about mobile phone usability at Microsoft. But it seems the people at Microsoft who are pushing the use of full size desktop OSes at OEMs just haven't realised what a disaster that is.
It's been 9 years since Microsoft started the whole tablet PC running Windows exercise and they're just not selling. It's hard to get figures, but 1-4 million since 2001 is the range quoted. The iPad has sold 3 million in April - June 2010.
Another vote for the HP TCxxxx series here.
Running a HP TC4200, with extended battery, the tablet form factor is very useful when scanning asset tags & serial numbers using a barcode reader or inflight entertainment without getting annoyed by the keyboard.
Its probably the best all round laptop I have owned & has actually become my main machine at home.
This might be a slate that I would spend money on (not straight off).