RIP my Tablet PC

It’s been a while since my trusty work-issue Compaq Tablet PC gave up the ghost, and I’m finally getting around to writing about it. We’d been together more than three years, the TC1000 and I, and the day the man from IT pronounced it dead (a motherboard issue, apparently) it felt like a bereavement. A pet bereavement, admittedly. Well more a small pet, say a goldfish or a gerbil, rather than a cat or dog kind of pet. But a loss all the same.

The Compaq Tablet PC was possibly the world’s slowest laptop. Even after the Service Pack 2 update fixed some of the obvious user interface problems with XP Tablet Edition, windows still opened and closed and switched from landscape to portrait and back again in slow-motion, like the flight of the bumblebee reduced to one frame per second to expose every tiny flap of its wings.

But it had an organic quality that made these things so easy to forgive. Let me count the ways.

  1. The smooth rounded edges made it a joy to handle
  2. The whole unit was warm to the touch, about a warm as my newborn baby sons, but without the nappies
  3. It breathed. The internal fan pushed out warm air – essential for long meetings in my director ‘s office, where the ice-cold aircon posed a risk of frostbite
  4. It was polite. In meetings, it lay flat on the table, not raised between me and the rest of the room like the Berlin Wall of regular laptops.
  5. It could read my writing, a feat beyond most humans. Reeves and Nass should study this feature as a driver of their “media equation”
  6. The gratuitous swivel action to reveal the keyboard – more reminiscent of quirky French design – an old Citroen car, Terminal 1 at Charles De Gaulle Airport, a font by Porchez

Fortunately, my Tablet PC’s twin is still going strong – I bought another for my personal use and am typing this post on it right now. But for work use, it seems the Tablet PC just hasn’t got the traction to be worth the trouble for cookie cutter corporate IT. That’s a shame, because I really believe Tablets can improve productivity and make the workplace move human. No one ever got fired for buying a Dell, but no matter how much more practical I can’t imagine holding a wake for a D420.

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