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HardwareTablet PCDeleveloping on a Tablet PC

Deleveloping on a Tablet PC

http://www.tabletpcreview.com/default.asp?newsID=905TabletPCReview takes a look at the HP Compaq 2710p.

It looks nice, although as with many of the latest Tablets to be hitting the streets, so many of them are too underpowered for my development needs. I want to develop on a Tablet. While I code I want to keep thinking about the platform issues and experience the app as enduser will. All the time.

However, as Visual Studio keeps (VS) progressing, the processing demands get bigger and bigger and unfortunately right now the disparity between what VS needs and what Tablet PCs offers keeps growing. For awhile, after the Centrino first came out it looked like the opposite trend line was under way. That doesn’t appear to be the situation now, and as a result I’m left thinking about switching to a desktop to do my development work.

It’s not just VS, which suggests a minimum of a 1.6GHz machine. It’s Vista. It’s the various betas I typically have to run which are going to be sluggish anyway. What does a Tablet developer do?

So far, I’ve given up performance and development time for the Tablet experience. However, as I see the divide between desktop and notebook (it’s not just Tablets) I’m getting concerned.

The good news here is that there’s lots of consumer demand for notebooks right now. That’s helping to drive down prices, encourage more innovation in the notebook space, and increase the availability of notebook choices in the marketplace. That’s all good.

However, on the processor side, it looks like we’re back to about where we were when Tablet PCs first came out–that there’s a performance hit you’ll have to take when going Tablet. Now the experience isn’t terrible on a Tablet PC. I can develop fine. The editor works fine. The debugger is steps right along. I have enough screen real-estate, however, I simple want more speed. And, of course, I want my cake too. I still want good battery life and Tablets that are cool enough to carry around or fold into Tablet mode. The way OEMs and Intel are achieving this right now is to select slower more energy efficient processors. That’s nice, in general. However as a developer it’s not so hot.

For now I’m holding out hope and doing what I can. It’s not terrible. It’s just noticeable.

Loren Heiny (1961 - 2010) was a software developer and author of several computer language textbooks. He graduated from Arizona State University in computer science. His first love was robotics.

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