HP Compaq TC1100 Review

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Normally I don't take a Tablet or anything else computer related when I am skiing, but knowing the warm weather would mean I would be off the mountain early in the day I made an exception and brought a couple of Tablets along for the trip. With clear blue sky's and temperatures in the high 50's and low 60's the skiing was great until about 1:30 when then mountain became a giant snow cone. Forced off the mountain early I had time to put the New and Improved HP TC1100 through its paces. When I came home I installed Windows XP SP2-RC1 which includes the much anticipated Lonestar upgrade without a problem.

Weighing in at 4.0lb/1.8kg with the keyboard and 3.1 lb/1.4 kg pounds keyboard, the tc1100 is in a class by itself, known as a a hybrid tablet pc. Meaning that the screen swivels and folds flat against the keyboard for use as a slate or at the touch of a button it can be detached from the keyboard altogether. Another nice feature are the small fold out clips that allow you to angle the tablet on the desk for a more comfortable writing experience on a flat surface. There is no question that HP paid attention to the details when designing this machine.

Cleverly placed buttons and a jog dial on the side of the Tablet allow you to enter, tab, escape, and open a "Q" menu of items that emulate tasks quickly and easily. First time users would find the out of box experience more enjoyable and much less threatening if these features were pointed out on the startup sheet or even the front of the manuel rather than having them hidden in in chapter 5.

The Display: 10.4" XGA (1024x768) display is clear, the 1/4 inch black border around the viewable portion of the screen eliminates the problem of trying to close an app from a non responsive corner of the screen. I did not find the screen to be as responsive as other tablet pc's which was a problem for me. It was interesting to note there was a significant increase in the screen sensitivity after Windows XP-SP2 RC1 was installed. The screen orientation changes automatically on the TC1100, which is a very nice feature. Also worth noting, if its slightly overcast outside I can see the screen well enough to work from the upstairs outside balcony so I am not trapped in the house for lack of an indoor outdoor screen. (Thank you HP! )

Battery Life: Between 2 hours and 36 minutes and 2 hours and 43 minutes under normal use with with the backlighting and Wi FI on.

Heat: As I have said in the past, I am not in the habit of working with the Tablet PC in my lap, but I frequently do use the tablet with my hand behind it. The TC1100 does get warm but not overly so.

WiFi: the HP Wlan 802.11a/b/g in the TC1100 literally amazed me. My router is a older Dlink Di-713P and I'm able to connect with with excellent signal strength not only from second and third floors of my home and both outside balcony's, but from the basement, the pool and all the way to the outside mailbox's, which is not something any of my other Tablets Pc's can do.

Notable Features: Q menu, and external pen activated buttons on the tablet allow you do do anything you need quickly and easily.

The Pros:

  • The optional HP W500 802.11a/b/g WLAN is the best Wireless I have used to date
  • Light weight and compact, the TC1100 is great for travel
  • External pen activated icons and programmable"Q" Menu give you instant access to everything you need
  • Hybrid model gives you the option using it as a slate or a convertible
  • Quickly and easily detaches from the case and the keyboard for use as a Slate
  • fold out feet that allow you to angle the tablet on the desk for a more comfortable writing experience
  • Screen orientation changes automatically
  • 3 Year worldwide limited warranty

The Cons:

  • Optical drive must be purchased separately.
  • Unlike a convertible when the tc1100 is closed the face of the tablet is exposed and not protected so a case is a must.
  • For the first time user of a tablet pc the hardware information is in section 5 of the startup guide rather than in the front. If you a new user and don't know where any of the buttons are or what they are for this is a problem
  • Keyboard too close to the screen for comfort

In Conclusion:

Without question The TC1100 is the most improved Tablet PC on I have come across and all of the implemented improvements are for the better. The pen no longer's requires a battery, the Nvida Geforce4 give you excellent graphics and the The HP W500 802.11a/b/g WLAN was far and away the most impressive wireless I have used. Easy to take apart and put back together this Hybrid Tablet PC is a great choice for the road warrior or anyone who move around a lot.