Lil’ Beastie: Motion Computing LS800 Tablet


 
Introducing the Motion Computing LS800 Tablet PC.  This little wonder is one of a number of new hardware oddities floating around at the moment in the "Ultra Mobile PC" (UMPC) category.
 
Now, there are far cheaper products in the market place, but this one has all-quality parts, and is probably the most stable Windows XP-based systems I’ve ever used.  It came ready out-of-the-box, and it’s sleep and hibernation works fine, no matter how much I’ve loaded into memory.
 
This isn’t a free advertisement though, there are some quibbles I have with it – but it exceeded my expectations enough to warrant a blog entry.
 
The Technical Overview
 
The screen is 800×600 native (SVGA) unlike many cheaper models (which only offer 800×600 through zoom techniques) and it has a pretty hungry 1.2 GHz CPU (making it faster than desktops I used prior to 2001).  I went all out on the hardware specs, maxing out all the options.  The standard battery lasts around two hours of solid use, and the extended battery which is a bit heavier and bulkier lasts over five hours.
 
The Specs
 
Intel Pentium M Ultra Low Voltage CPU, 1.2 GHz
8.4" SVGA LCD Display
+ View Anywhere Display(tm)
+1 GB RAM
+60 GB HDD
128 MB Video Card
2x USB 2.0 Ports
Built-in Bluetooth and 802.11g WLAN
*Integrated Ethernet 10/100
SD Card reader
Fingerprint Scanner
External Video (CRT) Adapter
Microphone/Audio Output Jack
Infared Port
 
The Optionals
 
Padded "Bump" Case with eisle
Extended Life Battery
External DVD+/-RW Drive
+ indicates custom (non-standard) spec
* supports 10/100/1000 in the [optional] docking station
 
The Good Things
 
This unit is exceptionally portable and light, it can easily be used in one hand (making it attractive to tradespeople and medical staff) and can easily replace a notepad or book.
 
The screen has been manufactured to replicate the same experience as writing on paper, so that handwriting appears natural.  This is an advantage to the exceptionally accurate handwriting recognition software which is pre loaded onto the Windows XP tablet OS.
 
The CPU has enough grunt to compile code and run things like SQL Server, so it’s great for presentations although it’s unlikely to unseat a proper development machine.  I’d recommend the largest possible memory expension (1 GB) though.
 
Full screen video is excellent with very few drawing issues.  I’ve viewed full screen MPEG and DivX compressed content with no hassles.  The screen resolution and brightness are configurable and can be changed to conserve battery power.
 
The Bad Things
 
This is a relatively short list, since the unit basically exceeded my fairly high expectations. 
 
Although the unit is the cream of its’ class on the market, it is a bit pricey – hopefully the cost/unit drops over the year to make it more available to end consumers and various industries (such as the medical and retail sectors).  The price is somewhat driven by the fact that the unit is comprised of quality parts.
 
Another point worthy of note is that the unit gets hot fairly quickly and can become uncomfortable if it is being held.  This is somewhat negated by the docking station (for continuous use) and the airflow friendly ‘bump’ bag.
 
There are a few bugs with the OS – sometimes after resuming from hibernation the unit keeps sending Ctrl+Alt+Delete messages to the OS, this is easily fixed by pressing the Ctrl+Alt+Delete button on the front of the unit.  Occasionally there are hiccups with the input integration, but only sometimes.
 
The CPU sometimes gets jammed, especially when creating debugging dump (memory dump) files to disk – so it’s recommended to disable generating these files if you intend on doing any kind of serious development work.
 
The fingerprint reader is hard to use in the ‘bump’ case without mapping a specific finger for authentication when the case is on.
 
The Summary
 
This unit, whilst somewhat pricey, is an excellent computer and can be used in a serious fashion by people of all trades – not just IT Pros and Programmers.
 
It is the ideal compliment to a desktop replacement laptop (as is my case), and can easily replace a PDA in your IT equipment arsenal.
 
There is the added advantage that the LS800 is Vista capable – and Motion offers a free upgrade if you purchase a unit before March 2007.
Enjoyable unit, a real conversation starter, as well. 
 
Should be of great use in travelling and when presenting.
 
Highly recommended.  Pictures of my unit are inline.

About Rob Sanders

IT Professional and TOGAF 9 certified architect with nearly two decades of industry experience, 18 years in commercial software development and 11 years in IT consulting. Check out the "About Rob" page for more information.

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