Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Acer Tablet Not in Perfect Condition; But No Complaints

As you can imagine, my Acer C110 is not in perfect condition I bought it in August 2004 and at that time it was even a refurbished unit. One of the reported weak spots is the swivel and latching mechanisms. Mine is holding up strong. However the tip of the latch that latches the screen to the base when in the traditional closed laptop position broke off right before I switched over to the Samsung Q1 in February. Also, the rubber protectors for the port replicator and USB ports have separated from the device. In both cases I think crazy glue will do the trick. Or I can order replacements at this site I found.

The most annoying problem is a recent one. I recently removed the keyboard to clean it and now, everyone once and a while a key will stick, usually the own arrow and the delete buttons. Physically they look fine and don’t appear stuck and the only way to clear the problem is to hit another key. So perhaps there is an electrical connection problem or software issue. I will post in one of the forum and see if anyone else has had this problem and knows of a fix.

Overall, not too bad for a 3+ year old device!

BTW, I am typing this on the train something I couldn’t have done with the Q1P since it doesn’t have the attached keyboard and inking is almost impossible with all of the movement on the train.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Extending Battery Life - Power Banks

Its been a week since I switched back to the Acer and I am truly enjoying the larger screen and attached keyboard. Battery life has been better then expected, about 2 hours. This is working well for my daily commute. In the morning I sometimes will read the NY Times via their reader for about 15 minutes at Starbucks and then an hour on the train for a total of 75 minutes. At that point I usually have the battery indicator at 33%. However, I'm sure there will be times when I will need more power. These two power banks may do the trick when I need that extra juice. Here are links to reviews of each:


Battery Geek Portable Power Station

I'm going to dig deeper into each as well as possible other contenders and let you know what I decide.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Uninstalled New Wacom Driver

I uninstalled the new driver from Wacom that I had installed Monday. Whenever I hovered over a button, say the minimize button, the button would activate even though I did not tap on the screen. This problem went away after uninstalling the driver. Here is the description on the Wacom site.

Enhanced graphics driver Expand the capabilities of your Tablet PC with the enhanced graphics driver for Tablet PCs that use Wacom Penabled® technology! Please check with the manufacturer of your specific Tablet PC model to confirm that it was built using Wacom Penabled technology or read our FAQ to learn how you can check your Tablet PC yourself. Installing this driver will ensure that the same advanced pressure-sensitive features enjoyed by Wacom pen tablet users will also be fully supported on your Penabled Tablet PC.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

First Day Using the Improved Acer

Tuesday was the first day I only used my improved Acer C110. I did power up the Q1P but only to get a file that I needed to transfer to the Acer. Overall it went well. The biggest plus is the larger screen. Compared to the 7" screen of the Q1P, the 10" screen is huge. I can easily work in all my applications, never having to go to full screen mode. While the screen quality and brightness are not even in the same league as the Q1P, it worked fine. I was actually impressed using it this morning to read the New York Times via their reader software. With the brightness set at only 17 (on a scale of 20) and sitting right next to a window the viewing experience was quite pleasant. I even read in portrait mode which I never used to do as the view tended to bother my eyes. While it initially did bother me I decided to try it for the duration of the train ride and apparently I got used to it. This is good news for me as its much easier to hold the Acer in one hand in portrait mode rather than landscape mode.

Battery life is decent at about 1 hour and 45 minutes with screen brightness set at 17 and WIFI on. However, this morning I used the device on the train with WIFI off and had 29% battery capacity left after using it for at least an 1 1/2 hours.

At the desktop I am using the same setup as I used for the Q1P. I do have the Acer port replicator but now that I only have three hookups (power, USB and external monitor) the desk just seems less cluttered without the replicator. However that may change if I connect external speakers. The Acer speaker is no where near the quality of the Q1P. However, since I don't listen to audio much at my desktop I will probably keep the desk less cluttered without the speakers.

As for using the Tablet screen as opposed to the Q1Ps touch screen, I think it will take some time to get used to. Its strange to see the cursor move all over the place as I move the pen across the screen. It also seems a bit sensitive since if I leave the pen hovering above an object such as the minimize or close buttons it will engage them after just a few seconds without my even touching the screen.

I also updated two drivers, the Wacom driver and Intel graphics driver. Lastly, I went to the advanced controls for the microphone and enabled "microphone boost' which improved the performance of the microphone.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Acer C110 Upgrade Status

I installed the Samsung 160GB hard drive and the Intel 2915 wireless network adaptor which now gives me rev G wireless. Using the service manual I was able to make these upgrades easily. After installing the new hard drive I did a clean reinstall of windows XP tablet edition as well as all of the programs I use so the process took some time but overall it was quite easy.

Having rev G wireless is very nice compared to the native rev B the Acer C110 came with and the new hard drive is very quiet. The original hard drive was quite noisy mainly due to it taking a 6 mile trip on the roof of my car a few years back. It was at least in a protective case, but nothing very sturdy. Fortunately it didn't fall off the car thanks to the roof rack but I was still very surprised it actually survived. With the noisy hard drive gone and since the Acer doesn't have a fan (the Q1P does) the whole tablet is very quiet.

As for processing speed, the Acer never really seemed that slow but now with a clean install and faster hard drive (5400 v. 4200 rpm) the overall response seems faster.

With the clean install using the Acer recovery disks there were many Microsoft updates including XP SP2. However, after installing all of the updates the floating tip didn't appear. That was easily resolved by downloading the program floatingtip.exe. Also, specific to the Acer C110, I downloaded and installed a utility (wchange) that allows you to turn on and off the wireless card. This is nice to have when in tablet mode as the hardware button is hidden. I also changed the drive format from FAT to NTFS. This was easily done using this guide.

Improvements I would still like to make are to battery life and screen quality. The battery life ranges from 1.5 hours to 2 hours depending on screen brightness and power status of the wireless card. The screen quality really pales compared to the Q1P. Not sure if there is anything I can do about the screen quality but I have some ideas about battery life. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Upgrading the Acer C110

I decided to upgrade the Acer C110 Tablet. As I wrote before, I would like the Acer to have a longer life battery, a screen as good as the Samsung Q1P, and rev G wireless. Another item I hadn't mentioned before is a larger hard drive size. The current hard drive is only 40 Gb.

So I did a Google search to see what others may have done to improve their Acer C11x series of tablets and found a posting by Michael Cuthbert which had some great suggestions two of which I have already taken action on by purchasing the devices, the Samsung 160GB hard drive and the Intel 2915 wireless network adaptor which will give me rev G wireless. I am very excited about the 160 GB of storage. No more having to move videos to my external USB drive.

I still would like to have battery life similar to the Q1P (+4 hours) but it appears there is no extended battery available for the Acer. So perhaps I will get a power bank so at least I will not have to rely on access to an electrical outlet.

As for the screen, I don't think I will have the quality of the Q1P, but there has been talk in various forums that the C111s had a better screen, so perhaps I can find one of those and replace the screen on my C110.

I'll keep you posted on how things go.

Monday, October 15, 2007

UMPC Not for Me!

After having the Q1P for almost 10 months I have come to the conclusion that the UMPC (at least in the form of the Q1P) is not ideal for me. Most of the features I like about the Q1P are not UMPC specific: incredible screen, great sound, wonderful 4+ hour of battery life with the extended battery, bluetooth, and wireless rev G.

In fact if Acer still made the C110 tablet series (my old tablet) I'm sure most if not all of these features would have been added or upgraded. Plus Acer C110 already had the key features I most need, a keyboard, a workable 10" screen and a smallish form factor that converts to a slate. For my daily use, the Q1 screen at the native resolution of 800 x 400 is just too small for many web sites and programs I use and as a very decent typer, having to use the TIP is a let down for me.

So I am now considering going back to the Acer with some upgrades, buying a used C110 with bluetooth and a later wireless rev, or perhaps looking for a device similar to the Acer that would fit my needs. I'll keep you posted.