User experience and recommendations

By Rob Enderle  |  Posted 2004-03-11 Print this article Print

User Experience: In use, I found I really missed having an optical drive in the Toshiba but, strangely enough, not with the HP. The Toshiba is a little larger and weighed about a pound more than the IBM X40 that leads in the Ultra-Light category. However, I actually prefer the ultra light Sony 505 because I can watch movies with the integrated DVD drive. Thats not possible with either the Toshiba, IBM or HP. I continue to use the Toshiba more as a laptop than as a tablet and almost never flip the screen except to show it off. Initially I was aggravated by the HPs tendency to force me to use the tablet features. Over time, though, I found I was using and liking them more and more often. Eventually I started leaving the keyboard behind entirely--and I loved the carry weight. In short, for tablet specific features this is the better box. If you want to watch movies fly Jet Blue. One thing that stood out between the products was the display. The Toshibas appeared more colorful (though in a kind of washed out way) and it was larger (12" vs. 10") while the HP was almost black and white but very crisp. Taking the Toshiba outside rendered it near useless, although better than many, it wasnt good enough for me. While the HP wasnt as good outside as the black and white transflective screens Ive seen, it remained useful outside. Trade offs were certainly made for the two products. Toshibas favor the laptop mode, while the HP is more tablet-oriented. Finally, to me the little things make a big difference. Consider the stylus. The Toshiba one looks like a cheap ball point, made of hard plastic and clearly intended for occasional use The HP pen is larger, padded and more robust. Its clearly something you could live with for a long time.
Bottom Line: The HP design is better as a pure tablet. It will force users to actually use the tablet features and, with the exception of the anemic battery life, sets the standard against which all tablets should be measured.
The Toshiba delivers the best Clam Shell tablet experience, but I am increasingly questioning this form until the market transitions. It is too easy to use it just as a laptop, and while the Toshiba design may be closer to what well have in a few years, its not right if you want to embrace new tablet features. I personally prefer a number of the other small laptops, including Toshibas own Protégé M100, as a general use laptop. Of course I continue to think the Apple PowerBook with the 15.4" wide screen comes the closest to my ideal (no one has effectively matched the way Apple mounts the screen to create an acceptable height for airplane use). Unfortunately I have yet to see a 15.4" laptop computer touch screen. Rob Enderle is the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a company specializing in emerging personal technology.

Rob Enderle Rob Enderle Enderle Group 389 Photinia Lane San Jose, CA 95127

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