Since announcing DaVinci, we're often asked for recommendations on what mobile hardware is best and what DaVinci runs on. Here are some things to consider when looking for a tablet or ultra mobile PC to use in the field.
DaVinci is specifically designed for tablet or ultra mobile PCs running Windows XPTM or Windows VistaTM. Prices vary depending on the options you get and the manufacturer. Also, look for a retailer in your area with demo units. Resellers like Allegiance Technology Partners (www.alltp.com) have "48 hour test drive" programs. They'll send you a device for 48 hours so you can try it on an inspection, see how it works for you, and if it has the options you want.
Tablet PCs typically have what's called an "active" screen, which uses an "active" stylus. Simply touching the screen with your hand won't do anything. You have to use the stylus. A "touch" screen, on the other hand, reacts to anything touching the screen. Most UMPCs are touch screen, and most tablets are active screen devices. The most obvious benefit of the active screen is you can rest your hand on it without worrying about your fingers or palms interfering with your sketching or anything else you're doing on the tablet.
A slate tablet most closely resembles an electronic clipboard. It doesn't have a keyboard and doesn't have a screen that lays or folds down. They usually come with a docking station where you can connect a mouse and keyboard, and while on the go you can typically attach a USB or wireless keyboard. Also, slate tablets are usually smaller and lighter than their convertible tablet cousins.
Convertible tablets "convert" from a laptop to a tablet via a swivel hinge at the base of the screen. The hinge lets you flip the screen around and lay it flat against the keyboard. They're usually active screen devices, just like a slate. Many appraisers prefer the convertibles because they can double as a laptop when out of the office. And because they can run WinTOTAL in laptop mode and DaVinci Mobile Pro in tablet mode, it's a very efficient way to write reports.
Ultra mobile PC (UMPC)
UMPCs are usually cheaper and smaller than tablet PCs. They typically have a touch screen interface, as opposed to a tablet PC's active screen, and have a considerably lower screen resolution (800x480) than laptops or tablet PC's. That said, we've made sure all of the screens in DaVinci fit this lower resolution. UMPCs are typically more lightweight than tablet PCs as well. An average UMPC is usually 8-10 inches long and about 5-6 inches tall.
Before you buy a tablet or UMPC, decide how you plan to use it. Is it going to replace a laptop or desktop PC, or will it be an additional piece of gear you take "on the go"? Are you going to be carrying it around in your hand a lot? Weight will be a factor. Is the screen viewable outdoors or in direct sunlight? (Sometimes you'll see this described as being "transflexive".) Do you prefer the active or touch screen unit? You may want to try both.
Whichever route you go, make sure to spend the time and energy to fully research what you want. While they're not exactly inexpensive, you'll be pleased once this new device is integrated into your workflow and increasing your day to day efficiency.
For more information about tablet PCs and UMPCs, including hardware reviews from real appraisers, click here.