Comics are starting again. I’ll be trying to draw a ton over the break.
It’s been a year (and, ok, this is really obvious, but 250 – 52 = 198 was how I found this original post) since I bought my HP TC4200, so we’re taking a little bit of time to reflect. You’ll notice that the date on my camera is exactly a year behind. I have no clue how to change it.
There are some new pictures. It looks more or less the same as it did a year ago; despite the relatively heavy use, I think I’ve taken pretty good care of it. It never ceases to suprise me that the plastic trim on the thing is dark blue. Even outdoors, you just never get enough light such that it shows up the way it does with the camera flash. Overall, I don’t think I commented on this before, it’s not what I’d call pretty, but it certainly ain’t ugly like HP’s consumer tablets.
Yes, that’s a Strike Pantsu wallpaper. A dark background saves you a miniscule amount of battery life (unless, for some reason, you spend a lot of battery time idling at your desktop with your screen on; mine’s set to turn off after 2 minutes). Battery life and endurance has been nothing short of phenominal. I was getting somewhere over four hours when this thing was “new”; I am STILL getting just under four hours a year down the line. I run down that battery past 50% every weekday of the academic year.
Of course, I went solid-state sometime in fall of last year which may have helped stave off battery run-down by a bit, but nonetheless, something like 90% of battery capacity in the third year is insane. Maybe the original owner didn’t run down the battery at all, but even with my own usage this batter has been through at least 300 full to half cycles.
Drawing performance, after the initial “learning curve” which was more like “figure out which Windows Tablet features to turn off curve” has been very good. I’ve actually completely given up on using scratch paper internally (ie on homework) and just using this thing instead. I hate dealing with eraser scraps more and more, especially in my dorm as I don’t vacuum on a normal basis. Windows Journal is pretty handy in general.
It’s a little bit underpowered in general… the Pentium M 740 can barely playback 720p and there’s no GPU acceleration or anything fancy like that. The CF-SSD is moderately fast for sequential reads and writes, random reads, but pretty appalling with random writes. OpenCanvas will lag occasionally (whether it’s due to HDD or CPU cap, I wouldn’t know), but I’m hesitant to upgrade the CPU due to power consumption and hesitant to buy a real SSD… as it will be worthless when I upgrade tablets (because the next tablet won’t use a 2.5″ PATA SSD; I’m absolutely certain).
It’s noise where this thing has really spoiled me, though. My 500M ran its fan once in a while; my D830 ran its fan close to 24/7… and these machines had hard drives too. So they were always making noise. The TC4200, after undervolting, never spins up its fan under day-to-day workloads (Internet, word processing, etc). 720p and some youtube videos seem to stress it enough to get that thing to spin up. My E6400 runs its fan maybe 10% of the time. And this is already pushing it for me now.
The point is, with the CF-SSD, the TC4200 is absolutely silent. Almost always. It is amazing.
There are two qualms I have with the TC4200. I’m absolutely serious. Only two. One is minor, one is becoming really, really annoying. The minor element is that it’s kinda chunky and kinda heavy. You look at it compared to the E6400; it’s basically of the same height and depth, just not as wide. But it’s thicker when closed and weighs all of 4.5lbs (I measured this on an accurate cooking scale). The E6400 weights exactly 5lbs.
The other thing is that the damn power supply is different. Different from what? Different from the boatload of Dell PA-10 and PA-12 power supplies that I have. I can take my E6400 to my dorm, to my room, to wherever and I’ll have a power supply there, or an extra one lying around such that I don’t need to pull one out of wherever. With the TC4200 I have one. It’s extremely annoying having to take it everywhere. This is one reason I’ve always bought Dell ’til now. Power fuckin supplies.
I wanted a Dell XT. I really did. I bought one on a whim when Microsoft/eBay was doing their 30% cashback program (which, from a business standpoint, is the dumbest thing I think MS has done for a long time) and I really wanted to like it. It solved both the form factor and power supply issues, but the power consumption was just ridiculous. The TC4200 pulls like 9W at idle and light load; the XT did like 13W at idle. That’s kind of ridiculous.
Needless to say, that made it noisy and have a crappy battery life. Unacceptable given my experience with the TC4200, so I sold it back on eBay. Made a little money too. The problem really stems from the fact that Intel doesn’t let you really undervolt their processors anymore. It’s really, really frustrating. Even with the E6400, I think that would completely eliminate that last 10% of fan on-time.
At any rate, that’s it for now. Go buy a tablet and an anime mousepad.