Toshiba Tecra M4 Tablet PC Review

Thanks to everyone on this site who have given so much advice regarding tablet PC’s. I finally made the plunge & opted for the Toshiba Tecra M4. I went for a 128Mb graphics card, 1.73Hz processor & 1Gb RAM. Here’s my experience so far:

Pros

  1. Seems a powerful & capable machine. I’m loading up medium sized Catia mechanical assemblies & Rhino renderings OK.
  2. Tablet performance is excellent in applications such as Alias Sketchbook Pro with very nice pressure sensitivity & responsiveness. It even seems better than previously experienced on Wacoms with Photoshop (which I may try sketching in again).
  3. Decent screen size (14”) with excellent sharp resolution (1400x1050).
  4. Some nice configurable buttons around the screen for keyboard shortcuts (although better positioned in portrait than in landscape).
  5. Built in DVD/RW drive – not seen on many tablets.

Cons

  1. This isn’t a light weight machine. To get performance & a built in drive your back pays.
  2. So far, I’ve not had great sketching performance in Corel Painter. Apparently there are some Wacom driver issues to be resolved – the pen responsiveness & accuracy is just not as good as Sketchbook.
  3. I’m a little disappointed with the screen viewing angles. It doesn’t claim wide viewing angles & I’ve not used the Wacom screen a lot before. It also seems biased to better viewing angles in portrait.

So IDUK, Now that the new car smell is gone & you’re all broken in, what are your feelings towards the tablet? I am agonizing about getting a new machine for work and am trying to collect some long term user’s opinions before deciding what to pursue.
Believe it or not, my current PC at the office is 7 years old! I still use Photoshop 5 (for the sake of an ‘obsolete’ plug-in)! I do a lot of hand drawing on paper, then color & shade in photoshop. So I guess I really just want to know how well this tablet works with photoshop. I think I could be more efficient if I could eliminate the need to scan drawings or use paths to make tweaks to my line drawings.

Overall I’m very positive about the switch to a tablet PC. The general laptop performance is good (especially if you spec it high) and having the tablet onboard really does make a mobile studio. There are some niggles (viewing angles, control locations, battery life, it can get hot for lap use) but I’m managing to exist without my previous desktop and Wacom.

Before you purchase I would make sure that digital sketching is for you. Even sketching directly on the screen (as opposed to on a Wacom) takes a while to get used to and an adjustment of drawing style. Sketchbook Pro works best in terms of responsiveness but it is a slippy surface. This is the feature that you’re paying the premium for so I’d try to get a little time on some form of digital sketcher before taking the plunge.

Thanks, thats very good to know.
I have a Wacom tablet at home & I have never become comfortable with it. I think it has more to do with the disconnect between hand & eye than the slippery surface. I usually draw with mechanical pencil on slightly slick laser printer paper. The hand-eye problem is pretty frustrating for me though. Its almost like drawing with the wrong hand.
My tablet was given to me as a gift. I would not have bought one because I never found a retailer willing to give me a demo. Anyone have any suggestions where I can log some practice on a decent tablet PC or Cintiq?

has anyone tried running alias studiotools v12/v11 on the tecra m4? does the GEforce 128 support hardware overlays?

this would be crucial in my decision to buy a the tecra m4 as compared to the alias reccomended dell m4 notebook… ( which incidentally is much more ezpensive ! )