Tablet as primary PC

Since I sold Critical Domain to Market Matrix, I’ve been gradually increasing my private consulting business, which has meant more time on-site at customer locations… which, by extension, means more time away from my desktop PC, and more time with my Acer Travelmate C111Ti Tablet PC. When I got this tablet (my second– the first was a C100 that my wife uses now) I had assumed that I would upgrade the memory (it came with 512 meg) but never got around to it, since 512 really was enough for the way I used my tablet: Outlook 2003, OneNote 2003, and TabletPlanner running all the time, Excel and Word opened occasionally. However, doing more “real work” on-site means that the tablet needed more memory.

I picked up a couple of 512 meg sticks at Fry’s today, which gives me a total of 1024 meg on the machine, which should be enough to allow me to always run OneNote and Outlook, and still have enough horsepower to run Photoshop and VisualStudio.NET once in a while without a problem. I’m also hoping to run VirtualPC now and then to test software, but I’m not sure if the 1ghz Pentium M will have enough horsepower… we’ll see.

I’m plesently surprised at the performance in VS.NET now that I have the extra memory– it is never sluggish, and even compiles/builds quickly. For example, I tested doing a full “rebuild all” of MarketMatrix’s ContentController content management system, which is sitting in the 250,000 lines of code range, all C#… it took about 25 seconds on my tablet, which is exceptional. (By way of comparison, the same process takes about 18 seconds on my desktop PC, which is a 3.2 ghz Pentium 4 with 4 gigs of RAM.) However, the screen real estate is totally insufficient for software development: I’m used to a 18” LCD display @ 1600x1200 and a 15” auxillary display @ 1024x768 for development… getting used to the tiny 10” display at 1024x768 relegates the tablet to quick tweaks and bug fixes– I’ll never try to do real development with that little screen real estate.

Bottom line: my tablet isn’t going to completely take over the stuff I do on my desktop PC (for example, I wouldn’t try editing video on here because of the slow hard drive and processor) but for most of my work it is enough.

For a much more insightful look at doing development on a tablet, check out this post on Incremental Blogger.