ThinkPad 730T

2009-October-06

Yesterday my ThinkPad 730T arrived in the mail, and right after my shift at work I rushed on over to the NAU postal services office to grab it.

The machine is really interesting. It's a slate-only tablet PC with about a 10-inch LCD screen running at 640x480. With it I received a docking station, two of the PCMCIA disks, and four batteries. It also has its original stylus and an adorable little IBM sleeve.

The machine shipped to me with Windows 95 installed, which I intend to preserve on at least one piece of bootable media, but I do also want to get a better OS/2 or Windows 3.1-based setup going to see if I can get something that will perform better for actual tablet use.

Windows 95 can indeed work with almost no ram, however notepad.exe isn't the best of programs to use with tablet input, except for Windows 95's tablet PC services, which do make a fairly big difference.

One of the things I'm hoping to find is some software that would make it useful as a notepad, or as a simple drawing tablet. Another concern is how easily data can be transferred back and forth from the 730T to one of my more modern computers, but it shouldn't be too big of a problem, given that pmcia to compact flash adapters and the included pcmcia spinning disks are working, I can just slide one of them into either The T400 or The T42p.

So far, the unit has received the name SlabPad which is representative of the fact that its even more of a slab than the T400 is, and that it's a ThinkPad. I am still going to be working on coming up with names for it, "SlatePad" or simply "730T" are name candidates for it, however the name isn't the most important thing ever purely because the system may never even touch a network. Not only do I really not care if it does, I don't think it's really very feasible.

After having played with it a litle bit, it's worthwhile to note that Windows 95 does work better than I had originally thought it would. There is indeed WordPad with handwriting recognition and a few other HWR services built in. I haven't had a very significant time with Windows 95 on the machine yet, but based on what I saw last night, it's not all bad.

Pen Services includes a handwriting trainer, which I keep trying to work on, however there seems to be a certain point each time I try to use it that it ups and dies for no apparent reason. I don't know if Windows 95 simply runs out of memory, if my handwriting is too complicated, or if I should be doing the training in smaller increments. In either case, it's really cool to see something so old (introduced May 1994) running something as cool as handwriting recognition, and in general not doing a bad job of it.

I really do need to get a PS/2 keyboard for the machine, and I need to see about getting the thing booting off of a compact flash card, or even getting a CF card recognized with it booted into 95, so I can transfer data and apps back and forth.

Another thing I may try out is OS/2. With some googling I have found some pen services for OS/2, however I'm not sure which version of OS/2 the pen services are for, but I do feel still, as though the machine would be best served with an older operating system that'll leave more headroom for apps and/or special pen-related services.

It'll be a few weeks before I make any big moves with it, but when I do, it'll be on SlabPad's wiki page, and I will probably mention it on my twitter feed, and right here on the blog.