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There have been some game-changing devices, and some that should have changed the game but came out too soon. The OmniBook 300 was the first netbook, back in about 1994 - booted in seconds from flash (ROM), ran Windows, had a pop-out mouse on a stick and I used to connect a Motorola StarTac and go online on the train to get email. HP's TC1000 and TC1100 convertible slate/tablets - with a proper notebook-style clip on keyboard but everything in the screen - were wonderful machines, but a little too pricey and a little too underpowered (the TC100 designer once apologised to me for believe what Transmeta promised about their chip and the Celeron TC1100 improved performance without adding extra battery life). HP canned it, which frustrated the head of marketing at HP when he arrived from Apple ready to promote the heck out of a product so iconic that everyone thought mine was designed by Apple and for years I asked if it would return, until I was politely requested to STOP ASKING ABOUT THE TABLET, MKAY?

Then, of his own accord, at CES last week, while we were reminiscing about HP's touch heritage all the way back to the OmniGo PDA, Phil McKinney said, as he always used to when I asked, that the TC1100 was the machine everyone asked for. But this time he didn't say that it was too complicated or too expensive or addressed a niche market. Instead he said "The TC1100 and the OmniBook 300 are the most popular products we get requests for. And we listen to our customers". So, watch this space!

It makes me want to dig out my TC1000 and see if it will run Windows 7; now that would be compatibility!


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
12th Jan, 2010 10:24 (UTC)
Well, they got the Omnibook 300 back about 18 months ago, in the shape of the HP mini netbooks, didn't they?

12th Jan, 2010 17:29 (UTC)
not quite; they don't boot in seconds, run on AAs or have the mouse onna stick and they're heavier. plus if he was claiming mini = omnibook, he'd have said that. he might be saying slate = TC and smartbook = omnibook - which would be good for the slate as it would mean great keyboard ;-)
12th Jan, 2010 23:00 (UTC)
The mouse onna stick was evil: I always used the keyboard for navigation, or an external mouse ... being left-handed. The boot in seconds thing is do-able, with an SSD and an OS that's a bit nimbler than anything Microsoft has released since 2003. The running on AAs I'll grant you, but I never got my Omni300 to boot on them -- probably lacked some kind of battery condom or something (it was second-hand).

NB: Typing this on a Macbook Air; lighterweight option for total mobility is a Vaio P running Ubuntu.
13th Jan, 2010 08:36 (UTC)
I *loved* the mouse onna stick, but it wouldn't work for lefties. I used 6 duracells about half the time I used the Omnibook; didn't need a condom, just to be full charge and the right way round ;-)

Boots in seconds; my Windows 7 Asus S101 boots from cold in 13 seconds to a working desktop on a very fast flash - HP says the Android boots in 3 seconds.

Sony is doing *very* well on the ultralight front; the P, the X that's so light you think local gravity has failed, the new Z stuffed with features and still very light. Then the Dell Adamo XPS is more like a sheet of cardboard than a PC - 9.9mm. But I can't do without a tablet for notes at events and I haven't found anything but Windows with good handwriting recognition, so I have hopes of the HP slate, or whatever else the TC redux might be.
14th Jan, 2010 17:27 (UTC)
I just wish that Apple's (or anyone's) tablet PC would have a physical keyboard option for those (increasingly frequent) days when my vision is dodgy. Accessibility, yanno.

That is the only thing I regret about the iPhone, as well - that I would need to jailbreak it to be able to use a bluetooth keyboard with it and that there is no pukka-from-Apple plug-in-able or bluetooth keyboard peripheral for it. That would be the only reason I would ever consider moving back to a non-Apple phone so that I could find a touch-screen phone with stylus and slide-out keyboard.

edited for typos

Edited at 2010-01-14 17:31 (UTC)
15th Jan, 2010 06:26 (UTC)
judging from the way McKinney refused to answer my question about a clip-on keyboard - and because the TC1100 had exactly that - I predict a Windows slate from HP with at least an optional keyboard. Motion Computing still makes one. these are 12" screens though - not phone size.

And for Apple? Don't hold your breath expecting Apple to allow iPhone keyboards; it's not an open ecosystem the way the PC is and with Apple you only get what Steve wants you to have. There are over a dozen keyboard slider phones for Win Mo, Android, Palm Pre and other non iPhones on the market; none with a capacitive screen yet because capacitive styluses are expensive (though the new 12" HP tablet with permanent keyboard has one).
25th Jan, 2010 16:57 (UTC)
The TC1100 is still part of my everyday life. Runs Windows 7 perfectly (I am using the 1.2Ghz w\ 2GB RAM). I hope they bring it back in some form. The TC1100 is still ahead of its time today.
25th May, 2010 16:47 (UTC)
TC1100 on Big Bang Theory last night
I own a TC1100 and love it - I totally agree that it was way ahead of its time. Many TV shows have featured characters using it or shown it sitting on a desk, etc. because it still looks very futuristic (Smallville, Dollhouse) - well, add Big Bang Theory to the list. Last night Sheldon walked around onscreen for about 5 minutes with a TC1100 in slate form, supposedly taking notes on an experiment they were doing. I got mine 2 or 3 years ago when it still had some factory warranty time left, upgraded it to 2GB and love it. I'm going to make an image and install Windows 7 today. Very excited about news from HP that they will release a slate running WebOS from newly-acquired Palm, to be released in October of this year. I love my iPhone, but I will not buy an iPad. I really hope HP has listened to us and makes a worthy successor to the TC1100!
25th May, 2010 18:48 (UTC)
Re: TC1100 on Big Bang Theory last night
I was actually talking to Phil on Saturday and all he could say due to the acquisition and the come of silence was "don't believe everything you read in the press". So maybe webos, maybe not. More details on our ZDNet 500 words blog today.
23rd Aug, 2010 15:22 (UTC)
Loved my office tc1100 enough to buy one for home too. Both are now 2GB, both running Win 7. Win 7 is solid, but still a bit to beefy to make this device feel like it isn't 5 years old.

Really wish manufacturers would replicate the strengths of the tc1100. Looks like Asus is the only one to pickup on the 'tablet with attachable keyboard' (Eee Pad 12.1) so far... just not sure if it has a digitizer.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


full steam ahead
Mary Branscombe
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