Things I Like In a Tablet PC

It doesn’t take me long to figure out whether I’ll like a particular tablet pc or mobile pc. I’ve developed this mental list of things that are personal to me, and when an OEM hits them, I’ll usually reciprocate by using their product:

  • I like track sticks, but I don’t like them to stick too high above the keyboard. I find it easier to type and navigate the mouse, rather than having to go back and forth between a trackpad and the keyboard.  Lenovo’s Thinkpad track sticks are the best I’ve ever used.
  • I like quiet mouse buttons. There are too many mobile pcs and tablet pcs out nowadays with loud clickity-clackity buttons. What’s up with that?
  • I like screens that are flush with the bezel. This is a small detail that means so much to a tablet pc user
  • I like multi-card reader slots. I hate messing with cables when moving pictures from my camera to the tablet pc
  • I like manual volume controls that are accessible when in tablet mode, like those featured on Toshiba’s M200 / M700 Tablet PC
  • I like extended batteries that can be charged in the docking station – kudos to HP and their 2710p / 2730p design, and to Lenovo and their X61. I’m frustrated that Dell’s Latitude XT extended battery can’t be charged while docked.
  • I like fingerprint readers that are on the screen rather than on the palm rest
  • I like scroll buttons that reside on the side of tablet because they are natural to use when in portrait mode. I was very pleased to see HP add the side scroll button to the new 2730p Tablet PC, a much requested improvement from the 2710p. Dell’s Latitude XT has one on the side. Lenovo X61 is on the bezel of the screen, which is better than none at all, but not as easy to use as one on the side. What I do like about the X61 scroll button is that it is a four way scroll, where as the ones on the side of the screen are only vertical scrolls.
  • I like tablets that go in to and come out of stand-by quickly. Unfortunately, the best experience I’ve had with stand-by is not a tablet pc – it is a MacBook
  • I like lots of programmable hardware buttons – the more the better
  • I like lots of USB ports spread around all the sides of the tablet. Because a tablet can be used in various configurations, I’ve found myself plugging my EVDO modem in to different ports depending on whether I’m in tablet mode or laptop mode, portrait mode or landscape mode.
  • I like the pen garage located on the back left of the tablet. That location makes it easier for me to grab the pen with my right hand when in portrait mode. I’ve grown to really appreciate how Dell designed the Latitude XT in this regard.
  • I like clear screens, but I don’t like them glossy. I’m testing a tablet right now with a grainy screen and it really bothers my eyes
  • I like quiet tablets. I’m testing a tablet right now with a loud fan and it is amazing how distracting a fan can be to those sitting around you.
  • I like really good keyboards. Lenovo’s keyboards are the best around, in my opinion.
  • I like the page up / page down keys on the right side of the keyboard, not on the top of the keyboard. I like Dell’s keyboard in this regard. As good as Lenovo’s keyboard is, I hate where they have placed the page up / page down keys
  • I like the power supply located on the back of the tablet. This location keeps the plug out of your lap when using the tablet in portrait mode
  • I like latch-less screens, preferring those with magnetic type closures.
  • I like 1280 x 800 WXGA screens
  • I like touch, but I prefer using the active digitizer most of the time. Therefore, I like systems that allow me to easily turn touch on only when I want to use it. TabletKiosk offered the first Tablet PC, the Sahara slate, to feature that capability. They do it through a hardware button. I also like how Dell does it with their Latitude XT: turning touch on by double-tapping, turning it off by bringing the active digitizer pen to the screen.
  • I like power adapters to be as thin and light as possible. Dell, Motion Computing, Lenovo, and HP have all done a great job in this regard.

That’s my list – what does yours look like?