I recently found myself in the market for a new laptop, and decided to take the plunge into the world of TabletPCs. I shopped around a bit, read some reviews, and decided that I liked Gateway’s wide-screen form-factor. I wanted a well-powered laptop that was also a Tablet, and the Gateway fit the bill.
The configuration I wanted was falling in the $1300 to $1450 ballpark on the various Gateway portals (Home/Small Business), but I found that I could get a fair bit more hardware for a good price by buying the retail CX2620 from Circuit City or Best Buy. Circuit City had a couple of rebates so they got my business.
The machine came preloaded with a lot of software that I had no interest in. There was some expected players: BixFix, Quicktime, Realplayer, McAffee, etc. Plus some cryptic programs that sounded a bit nefarious like the Viewpoint Media Player and something that I seem to recall being called the Mistyped URL Redirector or something like that. I’m not going to make any claims as to whether these programs are good or bad, simply that I didn’t want them and I wish they hadn’t been included.
I was about halfway through the uninstall dance when I decided to just call it quits and install Vista. I was a bit hesitant since a new build is due within a couple weeks on MSDN, but I took the plunge just the same. I didn’t time it, but I think the install completed in about an hour. Several hardware items were not recognized. A few round-trips to Windows Update and through the “Set up devices” Wizard in the welcome center took care of all the driver issues except for the Finepoint digitizer (Kinda important for a Tablet) and the tablet-mode control buttons. I looked to the Gateway support site for XP drivers in hopes that they would work. The button driver was easy to find, but the driver for the digitizer was labeled: “D00368-002-001.exe – Gateway Digitizer Calibration Drivers”. After installing these two drivers, I had an almost fully functional glass-ified Tablet. I think the calibration program failed to load, but it’s close to calibrated anyway so it’s not bugging me yet. (I can’t find any way to start a cal routine, and I’ve tried reinstalling the calibration program and it errors and reports the problem to Microsoft.)
Overall impressions: The CX2620 is bigger than other tablets I’ve had a chance to heft. The additional features included make it worth it for me, but more mobile users might want to shy away.
100GB (~93GB really) HD, plenty of room to store music, movies, family photos, etc.
1.73GHz Pentium M – Seems pretty snappy.
1GB RAM – 2 DIMMs, so it’s not cheaply upgradeable, but 1GB should serve well for the near future.
DVD RW – I wanted this for backups, and to burn ISO’s from MSDN.
Tablet Digitizer – I was a bit worried about the fact that this isn’t a WACOM digitizer. Aside from a bit of difficulty finding the drivers to use with Vista, I’m totally happy with it. The pen tracks very well, and I haven’t notices any of the jittery behavior that some others have seen.
Tablet Pen – This was my one major disappointment with the purchase. It appears that the pen only comes with one tip, and the tip on my pen had a jagged edge that seems like it would do some serious damage to the screen if used extensively. At the very least, it isn’t at all smooth for writing. I managed to rub the point off on a sheet of mildly rough plastic, but until I get a replacement tip, I won’t be checking out the handwriting too much.
Latch – The latch that keeps the tablet closed is mildly annoying. There’s been a few cases where I couldn’t get it to latch or to open. These usually happen because the swivel-hinge isn’t quite set right so the screen is off-center. Whatever the case the tolerances on these two pieces are off somewhat so the latch and hinge just require a bit more attention than I would like.
Overall, I’m happy with the purchase. The laptop will get daily use as I go through my last semester of classes for my MBA. I’m glad I have the wide screen, since it’s nice to be able to have a research window open alongside a document, plus it works pretty well for occasional coding.
Blogging will continue to be light as I’m pretty busy with a 6-credit seminar, but if anyone has any specific questions on the CX2620, or on getting Vista up and running on any Gateway Tablet, I’ll be happy to field them.
Also, if there’s anyone on the Vista team that wants to send a Beta invite my way, I’ll be sure to put any new builds through the paces.