PC Expo: Day 2

Aron Schatz
June 26, 2002
Tablet PCs and Serial ATA are the topics for today

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<B>Day 2</B>:
Before I start, Thank you to all who emailed me to inform me of who Eizo is. I now know Smile. <a href="http://www.eizo.com/">Here is their website</a>.

No intro is need for today. What I did today (For the 3 hours that I went) was check out the new tablet PCs due out on the 7th of November. These things use a modified version of Windows XP dubbed 'Tablet PC edition'. I'll also cover Serial ATA today as well.

<B>The Tablet PC</B>:
Microsoft does something right for a change. The Tablet PC to me is the best thing to happen since the portable computer. The concept of a Tablet PC is to have the power of a full function computer and make it so easy and seemless that you wouldn't need to know about it at all. These devices are so ahead that I was amazed (rarely happens). I also got to try it for a few minutes and boy was it easy as cake to use.

There are some differences between the pocket pcs of today and the tablets of tomorrow. First is the sheer processing power. The tablet PC is a PC, with an x86 cpu and normal ram and a hard drive. The second is input. The tablet pc has a MUCH better input schema than does the pocket pc, and I hope that all of it filters into the pocket pc system. My handwriting is terrible, but the unit missed only one letter in a whole sentence that I type just like on paper. Which brings me to the third point, ease of use. You have all the functions of your PC in your hands, and more. You physically can write on the screen and transfer the type into text. What is also equally cool is that many tablet PCs are already laptops! Let me show you.

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/tbclosed.jpg">
This just one of the many I saw, but this one stood out to me the most.</center>

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/tbside.jpg">
Here is the guy presenting it.</center>

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/tbdrawing1.jpg">
An example of the GUI with writing.</center>

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/tbdrawing2.jpg">
An example of the GUI with writing number 2.</center>

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/tbopen.jpg">
A laptop? Would you guess this is the same unit, just opened up and the screen flipped.</center>

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/tbwriting.jpg">
Here is the guy writing on it.</center>

This is the best thing to happen to a laptop in years. Now, let me inform you of something different with the pen. Instead of being just a touch based device, it is also a motion sensing device as well. The unit will know when the pen is close to the unit and will act as a mouse and won't click until you touch the screen, it follows the pen above the screen. You indeed have a mouse that means. And since it is also a normal laptop, you can use the keyboard and mouse if you like.

There will be versions of the tablet pc that is only the tablet itself, but I still like the hybrid tablet/laptop unit the best. The unit was very light in my hands and I could comfortably write on it, just as I would paper. After all, the goal of the unit is to replace paper and I think it will do a good job of doing that. This will be a great thing for someone like me in college will all the notetaking I need to do.

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/vstabletnew.jpg">
This is ViewSonic's tablet only PC, very small form factor and very portable.</center>
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<B>Serial ATA</B>:
When I walked over to the Intel booth, which was one of the biggest ones at the show and right in the center as well, they were showing off alot of nice stuff ranging from their new 2Ghz mobile Pentium 4s to working serial ATA cards and drives. The Serial ATA spec as of now calls for 150MB/s of data transfer. What also was interesting to note is that Serial ATA is point to point meaning that you can only hook up one drive per connector, which is probably for the best because there is no need for jumpers or anything.

There are many benefits to Serial ATA over Parallel ATA. The first one being the cable. The 40/80 pin parallel is huge compared to the tiny 7 wire serial ATA wire. The second is performance. The Standard now is set at 150MB/s, by mid 2004 it'll be upgraded to 300MB/s and by mid 2007, up to 600MB/s and more. All will be backwards compatible of course. The third is longevity. Parallel ATA has run its course and all major hard drive manufactures will be producing Serial ATA compliant drives. Seagate already has a native Serial ATA drive. Serial ATA will be here within fall of this year and will be placed on most motherboards by mid 2003. This is the interface for the future.

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/satacompare.jpg">
If you can't tell, the red wire is SATA and the big grey one is PATA.</center>

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/sataconn.jpg">
Here is a working system with two drives installed through a PCI card Right above the connection to the hard drive is a new power connector as well.</center>

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/sataconn2.jpg">
This is another working system.</center>

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/satahdd.jpg">
Here is a SATA hard drive.</center>

<center><img src="http://www.aselabs.com/images/articles/june02/pcexpo2/satastream.jpg">
Here is a computer streaming 4 large movie files >200MBs each, no caching going on there. All are being played very smoothly so SATA is doing its job nicely.</center>

I was going to show you some more stuff but this is the better stuff of the day. Tomorrow I'll do a wrap up with all the other things that I saw. Please give me some feedback on the coverage that I'm doing as it helps me alot.


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