Book N Tech

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The return of the digitizer (UPDATED)

UPDATE: I had to add a lot more devices to the list because this was written before a lot of the devices were put on display in trade shows.  

    When people think of a stylus most think of a resistive screen tablet or a really old smart phone. Most think that the capacitive stylus is a good equal to the active digitizer or the N-trig system. It is very hard to explain the accuracy of the digitizer system. There are two major ones that power different variations of tablets and "phablets." In the tablet section the first digitized tablet was the HTC Flyer with the Scribe pen. It was all around a great tablet, but not marketed very good. The scribe pen was based on a N-Trig system which is a lot better that the capacitive for sure, but is slower than the WACOM system. The next major device that was not a WACOM made tablet like the boogie board (these are tabs without real OSes) was the Samsung Series 7 slate which was the official Windows 8 DP tablet that was huge and featured a WACOM active digitizer and horrible battery life and a overall forgettable experience. Combined with a really bad rear 3.2 mp camera and a huge unwieldy 1366x768 it was nothing to write home about. Of course do you think that artists want to carry a 12.1 inch tablet (Samsung Series 7 or Asus Ep/Bp 121) with paltry screen resolution and bad rear cameras which force them to use a dSLR or comparable mega zoom which makes them carry a lot of stuff. Or do you think with new advancements in active digitizer design's since then will they go for a 10.6 inch or even a large but super thin 11.6 inch design that offers better rear camera's and Super IPS + displays with full HD displays that also cost less?  Some trade offs are power in some like the Asus tablet 810 others are size like the Asus transformer book. The best solution is another Windows 8 official tablet the Surface Pro. Even though it is coming out a full 3 months later than the Surface RT it will be powered by an Intel core i5 Ivy Bridge and will start with a 64GB SSD. It will be a pretty svelte device at only 13.6mm which is a tad bit thicker than the MBA, but consider having a 10 finger multi touch screen and an active digitizer layer that features some pretty nice stuff like an eraser, or when you are writing and you put your finger on the screen it will stop writing and move the page or zoom in and out with your finger. Now we know a lot of the answers about the Surface pro because it is available. With a starting price of $999 it is not very cheap but packing an intel core i5 ivy bridge throttled CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 5 hours of battery life it makes up for the price.

      Another potential in the high powered, large, WACOM packing tablet sector is the Asus Transformer book series. This one is very diverse in options with a 11.6, 13, and 14 inch variations all with 4GB RAM and a front 2MP Full HD webcam and a rear 5MP camera which is good for taking concept pictures, but with a 14 inch it might be a bit hard to steady it. These unlike the Surface Pro like the Android Transformer series have a detachable keyboard, but unknown to us if it adds extra battery life or not. What is very unique in an ultrabook is the 14 inch will come with an optical drive for making DVDs and Cd's or just watching a movie. The thin factor is hard to beat and intel core innards (some report all three ivy bridge 3,5,7 will be available) is very powerful for Photoshop, Autodesk, and other tasks. Also a Full HD screen is a big plus with a Super IPS + panel too it makes for some stiff competition. 

     Another Asus make is the middle of the road priced Asus tablet 810 from the Eee PC family. There are a couple of things that make it a budget tablet that still feels like a premium device. The first is the Intel Atom processor. Even though they have come very far in producing an overall better product it is still a budget processor. The tablet runs on a Clover field chip 1.86 GHz dual core CPU with 4 hyper threads. It does come with a Super IPS + panel to help with glare issues, but that budget price makes it a 1366x768 lack luster screen resolution. After that the budget seams stop and the beauty of a premium product shows. An 8.7 mm thin design is thinner than the Ipad 2 or 3 and it still manages to fit in a mini HDMI port, headphone, and docking ports in the tablet itself. Like it's more expensive brothers and sisters it has a removable docking station that boosts the battery life from 8 hours to 16+ hours. Also a separate charging port and 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports abide in the rear of the dock. The WACOM digitizer and docking station come included which really makes this a steal if it is $599  but sadly they priced it at a whopping $799 without the dock.

      All in all the active digitizer market is not dead it is still alive among professional people like photographers and artists. I think the digitizer is a great addition to the Windows Journal since digitizers have palm rejection built in. The Android tablet space does have some N-trig friends from Samsung like the Galaxy Note "phablet" and the Galaxy Note 10.1 inch tablet that both feature the S-Pen.