The following would have been a rant targeted at Fujitsu, but then I realized my problems are endemic to all tablet-PC users. I'm not going to buy a CF-18 to fix this, because it's quite likely going to experience the same (software-related) problems.
Let's get right down to it - setting up an OS (WinXP or Linux) on a tablet is a pain in the ass.
The problem is that you can tear your freaking hair out trying to make the tablet features work. I own a Lifebook T4020 (as well as a Toshiba Portege M205 that has since died), and I've done plenty of Linux/tablet experimentation. The non-tablet aspects of the OS have been great, just like I'd expect from it, but the digitizer/screen rotation features have yet to work properly. The pen itself works as a pointer, but that's really not a useful feature if you can't get screen rotation to work. That whole pen-tablet-in-portrait-mode feature is the only reason I would use a tablet over my other hardware, because all my other stuff is otherwise superior.
Not that it's too surprising - do-it-yourself Linux software developers have to reverse-engineer everything, since the manufacturer rarely provides any non-Windows resources - but it's still really annoying for the open-source fanatic and the techie-on-the-cheap alike.
Fast-forward to this week. I finally give Windows XP (Tablet Ed. 2005) a try. It's the dark side, to be sure, but hey - at least it's tested and supported by the manufacturer. In short, everything just works... oh wait, it doesn't. Dammit. Again, working OS (almost... more on that in a minute), with non-working tablet features. I know for a fact the digitizer screen is working hardware-wise, because it worked in Linux (Ubuntu at least). Now, the OS that was supposed to run on there can't even get it's act together? Completely broken drivers derailed the whole experience.
Not to worry, though - the train cars were already tipping, since Microsoft has made it so much fun to get a generic OEM version of XP Tablet 2005, and any info on Fujitsu-specific reinstall disks is nowhere to be found. Here in Proprietary-OS Hell(tm), your genuine Microsoft CoA key is no good, and nobody seems to know which keys work with which copies of XP Tablet. So far, I've had to pirate a copy of software I'm legitimately licensed for. I deem that impractical, if not downright infuriating. Is Fujitsu any different from other manufacturers in these regards? I wish I knew. I'm down to a single tablet PC that I can experiment with, so I cannot substantively compare. Though, I sure have heard a lot of similar random complaints from tablet users on other manufacturers' hardware.
At least if I had a CF-18, I know some good people with proven-working restore disks. :D
Now that the fumes have subsided, let me tell you why this is a neat computer (in all seriousness)
Pentium M "Dothan" 1.73GHz
Two DDR2-533 slots (eat that, CF-18)
SATA hard drive (yes!)
Intel PRO/Wireless 2915ABG card
Easy availability of a model-specific bump-case, screen protector sheets, and keyboard covers (I'm basically making my own wanna-be semi-rugged tablet, that I can't drop safely...)
Detailed status LCD panel by the screen
There's a good picture of the status LCD panel for a very similar model (the later T4220) here: [http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=3912]
It's neat, because you can see the battery status (way beyond "good", "charging", and "emergency! plug me in now") without the OS needing to tell you. You can also see the hard drive/optical drive status independently, which is pretty rare on laptops. It has a different indicator for 1) external power, 2) on/off status, and 3) battery status, which my beloved Thinkpad T43p can only display with a single dual-colored LED in the shape of a battery. It's not backlit, which can make it less useful than a set of LEDs, but it's still nice.
Overall - a great system if only the bleeping software would do its job. This really isn't the place for Fujitsu Tablet support, I just wanted to get my frustration off my chest. Though, if one of you happens to be a Lifebook genius, then by all means let me know. :)
- Andy -
Panasonic Toughbook CF-18 Mk2 - Fully-rugged, Win7
HP EliteBook 2530p - 1.86GHz C2D, 4GB RAM, Win7
Panasonic Toughbook CF-28 Mk3 - Rubber backlit keyboard, WinXP/Debian