Few weeks back, win I was browsing the net when I saw an interesting offer for a TC1100 tablet. I always have a great interest in having a tablet and the TC1000/TC1100 were the best form factors around. Only the price was so high and keep me away from buying. This time the price was really quite low…
I spend 1 night convincing myself that I need to buy it :)) Anyway, I bought it! Of course, second hand condition, some scratches there and there, normal wear and tears.
I upgraded the HDD to 120 Gb, change the internal SODIMM to a 1Gb one and now is running Windows 7 Ultimate and Ubuntu 9.04 in a dual boot setup.
Everything is very snappy and I am actually quite happy with it. Even the battery is holding pretty well, I can squeeze up to 3 hours from it browsing the net all the time but with the backlight dimmed and the CPU undervolted. The form factor is great, is quite light and everything feel so sturdy.
The only issue I had with it so far is the infamous “garbled screen” you may get when you restart the machine. It happen usually when the system is warm and the only way is to wait to cool down and pray will work. There are many threads on forums about this common issue and all point to a design flaw. Basically, the way the system connects to the keyboard. This will tension the borad and the fact that the GPU is next to the respective connector will also not help. In time this issue will affect the soldering and the chip may not communicate properly with the board, which creates the “garbled screen” effect.
There are 3 options: replace the board (which is not possible unless you have lots of money to throw away), re-solder the GPU (quite risky) or just fold a piece of paper and put it on top of the GPU to press on it when you assemble your tablet back (not too thick or else will press on your LCD too much, not to thin or else will not help at all). Well, I discover this myself after reading about a similar issue on G5 MacBooks with exact the same issue.
I tried installing MAC OS but since the digitizer can not be enabled (using serial interface while MAC OS is supporting only USB interfaces) I give up. Instead, I did installed Ubuntu Desktop 9.04 and using a tutorial from the net (thank you so much Google) I managed to make everything work properly.
I am still using Windows 7, as the hand recognition software is great! With a bit of training, my tablet is able to recognize my hand write and using it become really fun. Of course can not use it for typing long mails but is pretty much usable for almost anything else once you get used with the hand write input.
Overall, is a nice piece of hardware and even after so many years can still do a good job. It feels very fast and responsive, almost faster then Windows XP and the form factor make it a great companion when you wanna read, browse web, do research, etc. The only thing that is missing is a multi touch screen (as of now, you’ll need the special pen to be able to use the digitizer).