Tuesday, June 21, 2005


 

My Official LE1600 Tablet PC Review

I received the LE1600 last Friday. With everything that Motion has done innovation wise to this tablet, I was really excited about the possibilities. I’ve always liked the Motion tablets: I’ve owned 2 of them prior to this one – M1300 and M1400VA. Motion kept up with excellence in design and innovation and there is much to be impressed with in the LE1600.

What did I buy?
1.5 ghz, 60gb, 512mb of RAM.
View Anywhere
Motion pak software
Accessory cable
CD / DVD drive
Bump case
Convertible keyboard
Extended battery
USB keyboard and desktop stand

I purchased a 1gb stick of RAM from Crucial to max out at 1.5 gb of RAM.

Overall impression:
One of my first thoughts when I picked up the tablet was how much lighter and well balanced it felt. It felt very similar in weight to my TC1100. But its' a lot of faster than the TC1100.

I was a little disappointed in how the screen sits a little below the casing. I can’t understand why Motion continues to design their tablets that way. I’d love for the screen to sit flat with the casing. It provides a very smooth surface for your hand and wrist. The TC1100 and the Toshiba tablets are that way, and it makes a big difference in the overall experience.






Writing on the tablet
It has a glass like surface. Having used the M200 and its’ paper-like surface and the TC1100 and its’ glass-like surface, I’ve determined that I really don’t have a preference. For those of you who do, that might be an important factor. I’ve noticed no difference in writing quality.

Handling the tablet
The taper on the back of tablet provides a very nice grip. It never occurred to me when I bought it how much I would appreciate the taper. In addition, the battery has a nice rubberized grip to it. One thing I miss is the hardtop cover that protected the tablet when transporting it in a bag. These were standard with the M1x00 series. I don’t know why they left it out.

On several occasions, the vga port cover came off when I handling the tablet. I’ll likely just remove the cover. Its’ not designed very well to stay connected to the tablet.

The pc card slot has a dummy plastic card to sit in the slot. Its’ very loose and was one of the first things I noticed when I picked it up – it kind of rattles when the plastic card is in the slot. I’ll be putting in a different pc card so it won’t be an issues, but it really sends the wrong message when you first pickup the tablet and hear a rattling noise and feel something moving about. Put a dummy card in there that fits.

This is Motion’s first tablet with a fan. I have yet to hear it turn on. I do notice that it gets warm, but unlike the M1400VA, it does not get hot, even when plugged in to the power supply. Others on TabletPCBuzz.com have reported that it gets hot, though.

Although I prefer a very smooth back on the tablet, the rubber pads are very nice and much improved over the problematic rubber feet on the M1300 and M1400. They don’t interfere too much with the handling of the tablet. When you’ve used as many tablets as I have, you come to appreciate the finer details like a smooth back and a smooth front.

Simply put, the viewing angles on this tablet are simply amazing. Enough said. Look at the pictures.



Wireless
I’ve had periodic issues with my wireless. I switched from the windows client to the Intel Proset, adjusted the power options, and things settled down. It still goes off every now and then. I’m going to play with some different WAP’s and continue to work with tech support on this issue. As a point of reference, I had similar problems with my M1400VA staying connected to my LinkSys WAP and it used the same adapter. When I changed it over to the Dell mini pci card, it worked flawlessly.

There is a button on the side of the tablet that makes it easy to turn on / off wireless. I used it several times during church this past Sunday. Having that kind of accessibility to the wireless device is a productivity saver and saves a lot of mousing around.

Pen
I really like this pen. It feels good and is well balanced. Its’ very similar to the TC1100 pen, but not as heavy. Unlike the Cross pen, you don’t need to press down on the eraser tip in order to erase.



I like how they implemented a balance mechanism so that when the pen lays flat on the tablet or desk, it doesn’t roll away. I wish more OEM’s would implement that feature in their pens.

Fingerprint Reader
I’ve had mixed results with the fingerprint reader. It took me at least 30 minutes to get one finger verified. After doing two swipes with good reads, it consistently failed on the third attempt. I got the best results when swiping away from the tablet – unlike the animation sequence which demoed swiping toward the tablet. The integrated fingerprint reader will be very useful when logging in to websites.

One of the features I like best about the fingerprint reader is that it doubles as a verticle scroll when not being used for security purposes. It also adjusts the orientation depending on the orientation of your tablet. For example, If I’m in landscape mode, I swipe my finger vertically with the reader to go up and down the window. If I’m in portrait mode, I swipe my finger across the short width of the reader. So, you can now use either the finger printer reader or the larger scroll button for your browsing and reading.

One frustration with the fingerprint scrolling is that you have to click on the active window in order to start scrolling, whereas the larger scroll button automatically adjusts itself to the active window.


Battery
As I stated above, the battery has a nice rubberized grip on it. Taking the battery out and putting it back in takes a little bit of practice, however. There are two latches on the back. Figuring which one does what and coordinating your hands / fingers takes a bit of practice. I consistently have gotten about 3 hours of use out of the battery: wireless on, and display on set on dynamic, using Motion optimized power settings.

In order to view the battery charge level, you have to remove the battery – not good.




Convertible Keyboard
The main item that kept me going back to the TC1100 and the M200 was Motion’s hardtop keyboard. To put it plainly – it stunk. I hated typing on it and it was pain to setup. In addition, if I needed to use one of the other USB ports, I had to remember to bring the extention cable with me so I could rotate it around.

This is not the case with their new Convertible Keyboard. For the short time I had it, I found it to be a delight to type on. If I had to, I could type on it all day if I were mobile. The keys were silent, the mouse buttons were silent, and everything was where my fingers expected them to be.

It had great tilt levels and was very balanced when used on my lap – a common practice in my house as I move from room to room to work. In addition. I could carry the tablet around and the keyboard would still be attached – something you could not do with the hardtop keyboard.

The convertible keyboard doubles as a screen protector or attaches to the back of the tablet – whichever is your preference. I found it a little difficult to remove the keyboard from the back / front of the tablet using the latches. I had to really get my fingers between the latch and the tablet in order to get them separated. Again – could be an early prototype issue.

The prototype I had was very difficult to remove once it was attached to the tablet – it took a lot of strength and grunting to separate the tablet from the keyboard.. I’m attributing that to having a very early prototype. I’ll post an update when I receive a replacement prototype.















Bump Case
I love this bump case. Its’ the first one I’ve owned. Its’ very light and all of the ports, microphones and buttons are still accessible when its’ in the case. The fingerprint reader is little difficult to use when the tablet is in the case, and the upper part of the pen garage is covered up by the leather.

They also include a pad filler for when you are using the tablet without the extended battery. It fills the tapered space in the back of the tablet where the extended battery sits. It helps to provide a snug fit. When you have the extended battery, you don’t need the pad filler.






Overall Recommendation

Based on my initial impressions with the convertible keyboard (not including the struggle to remove the keyboard which I chalk up to being a prototype), I can recommend that this tablet and the convertible keyboard as a good improvement over the TC1100 and also be a good hybrid solution for those convertible users looking for something more mobile.

The 12” screen is really nice and at times I forgot that I was working with 1024 x 768, particularly when using it in landscape mode. The viewing angles on this tablet are amazing. View Anywhere should be standard.

I’m a little disappointed in the fingerprint struggles. Once I got my finger verified, though, it worked great. The scrolling option is a huge plus.

They improved the speed and kept the fan noise level almost to nothing. Its’ thinner and lighter. Couple those improvements with the ability to add in the extended battery and not affect the dimensions of the tablet in any noticeable way, and you've got yourself a top-of-the-line tablet and the new standard in slate tablet pcs. Other OEMs should now be on notice.
Comments:
Great Review! Good job Rob.
 
A couple of questions...

Is the keyboard sturdy enough to be able to use it on someone's lap rather than a desk?

What happens when the fingerprint reader fails? Is one locked out from their PC?

Thanks for the great review. Seems like this Tablet will make diehard convertible fans think twice before buying their next Tablet.
 
The keyboard is more than sturdy for use on lap. I used for about 30 minutes on my lap and I never had it tip over, nor did it act like it wanted to tip over. It honestly felt like typing on a nice laptop keyboard.

as long as you don't implement Strong Security (which is not on by default anyway), you can still use your traditional passwords to login, login to websites, etc.

If my replacement prototype is much easier to remove, which I can't imagine them coming to market with something so difficult to remove from the tablet, then yes, it will and should make any diehard convertible fan think twice before buying their next tablet.
 
Nice article, Rob, and very much in tune with the one I did.

I didn't have the problems with the keyboard that you did, so hopefully you won't either with the replacement.

One of the folks at Motion gave me a tip on the fingerprint reader. I was having the same problems you did. She suggested that I start at the joint, then roll up toward the nail rather than swipe straight across. It made a big difference.
 
Great tip, Terri. I'll give that a try on my other fingers.

The finger print stuff is my biggest issue with the tablet. It seems like they would have learned alot of lessons from the M1400, but didn't.
 
good review, but the only question I have is...was it good enough to use to write the review on...or did you fall back to the Powerbook? That to me is telling on how useful the item is...
 
The keyboard was definitely good enough to write the review. I wrote about 90% of it using the USB keyboard, because I was writing the review throughout the weekend in spurts, prior to getting the convertible keyboard.

I did finish up writing the review on the convertible keyboard, though: did clean up work, wrote the convertible keyboard piece, bump case piece, etc.
 
Hi Rob,
As everyone else has already stated, great job! I do have a couple of questions: Will you use the 1600 instead of your TC1100, and how heavy is it with the extended battery and bump case?

I have a TC1000 and a TC1100, and enjoy both of them, but I'm sad that Compaq/HP decided to drop the slate line for a convertible(after they had taken care of the pen issues with the 1000). Right after I ordered my 1100 (the day it was released) I came across the Motion website and received some of their print material. Oh how I wish I had waited! The LE 1200 was just what I wanted. With each subsequent update, they continue to amaze me.

I use the rubberized case for both of my tablets (mostly for a better grip during classes) and the Motion bump case looks like a great add-on. Did you write that it was leather?

Maybe this fall I can justify the expense to my wife...
 
TECHNICAL SUPPORT, PURCHASE PLACE & RAM
Very informative review Rob. With your years for experience with Motion tablets, have you ever had to call for software or hardware problems especially with third party programs? Do you recommend insurance? Can you please tell us where you bought the LE1600 and which RAM DDR2-533 / PC2-4200 DDR2 or the DDR2-400 / PC2-3200 DDR2?
Thanks for being one of the very first to report.
panicpilot
 
Jason:

I sold my tc1100, so I will use the LE1600 instead. I looked on the tag, and I can't tell if its' leather or not. I don't think it is.

Others:
I do recommend insurance. I purchased my tablet directly from Motion.

I've only had to call into tech support at motion for wireless issues, which seem to be an incompatibility between my wap and the intel card. The other minor issue I had with the M1400VA was a problem with the bezel that the fixed right away - fantastic tech support by the way.

Here is the ram I bought:
http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.asp?Mfr%2BProductline=Motion+Computing%2B&mfr=Motion+Computing&tabid=CR&model=LE1600+%60Centrino%60+Base&submit=Go
 
I'll try that link again to the memory

Memory
 
Rob, I am a long time Mac user and artist but I can't wait for apple to make a Tablet PC. After reading your review I decided to purchase the LE1600 Tablet PC and can not wait to play with it. Now, I am going to be a truly straving artist...but a happy one with a Tablet PC!

Thanks for such a great blog and review.

WhimsyArt
 
Is it worth the $99 to buy the write shield? I have never had much luck with screen protectors.
 
How did you enable the intel driver for the wifi? My LE1600 cannot hold a stable connection (even with PS off) and when bluetooth is on, it just drops right off.

Also, I noticed on the back of mine that the sticker says Pro/Wireless 2915ABG...however, everything else says that is not what is inside my tablet.
 
Anon:

I believe it is worth it $99 is for a two piece pack. Every slate / hyrid I've owned as always gotten a small scratch.

I downloaed the Intel Proset drivers from the Motion site and installed them.
 
Rob-

Couple of questions:

Do you know how much the unit weighs with the keyboard and an extended battery?

If you had an extended battery, do you know the battery life of it?

Is it possible to get a DVD-Recordable drive?
 
Rob,

I'm an artist and I would like to find a slip case for the LE1600 Tablet PC that will allow me to hold it from the back for sketching. I ordered the "Bump Case" that you purchased but I also would like the feeling of a sketch pad with my Tablet PC.

Thanks for any advice or links.

Artistically,
WhimsyArt Guy
 
I don't have the extended battery yet and I already sent the initial prototype keyboard back. I'm sure a quick call to Motion can get you that info, though. The extended battery, coupled with the standard gets about 7 - 8 hours, according to Motion.

You can get a DVD recordable drive, but it will need to be a 3rd party usb drive, like a Lacie.

Whimsy Art Guy:
The only case I know that comes close, besides the Bump Case, is the SlateGlove. I reviewed it for the Motion M1400, but I don't know if they make one for the LE1600.
 
Thanks for the review Rob. Having used my M1200 as both a slate and as my main desktop system for over two years, it's finially time for an upgrade. When I look at the features and capabilities, it's hard to pass up.
 
Rob, in the top pictures it looks like you're using some sort of stand. Where did you get that? I need one for my tc1100.
 
Thanks for the review. Howver due to my tight budget, I am thinking of buying a used TC1100 for notes and watching some videos/ listening to music on the move. You think I should save up for another product as good as good looking as the TC1100 but as fuctional as the LE1600.
 
Thanks for the review. Howver due to my tight budget, I am thinking of buying a used TC1100 for notes and watching some videos/ listening to music on the move. You think I should save up for another product as good as good looking as the TC1100 but as fuctional as the LE1600.
 
I have been looking for sites like this for a long time. Thank you!
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