Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

Summary: We are already seeing tablets with keyboard docks, but none as practical as the HP tc1100 hybrid design from years past. Let's bring it back with Windows 8.

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Tablets are here to stay no matter how you feel about them, and Windows 8 tablets will be appearing en masse later this year. We're already starting to see the return of the convertible notebook, with several models displayed at the CES that have the tablet screen slip down on top of the keyboard for dual duty as both a tablet and a laptop. Rather than revisit the convertible notebook that yields a heavy, thick tablet, I'd like to see the rebirth of the hybrid HP tc1100 with the detachable keyboard.

I used a tc1100 for several years as my Tablet PC, and the detachable screen let me use the tablet in as light a form as possible for the time. The keyboard with its innovative hinge let me have a laptop equivalent as needed, without adding excessive weight to the gear bag. It wasn't a thin and light solution as the tablet was thick and heavy by today's standards.

A hybrid design using today's hardware would be outstanding, and I believe it would be a popular for those needing a Windows tablet. Imagine a thin, one pound slate like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, with a light keyboard that could be attached when needed. The whole enchilada would be less than half an inch thick with the keyboard attached, and weigh maybe two pounds. This is entering the territory where you could leave the keyboard attached even while using it as a tablet with little penalty.

Look at the photo of the tc1100, and you can't help but appreciate the design of the keyboard unit. The screen of the tc1100 was a bit smaller than the widescreen display of today's 10.1-inch tablets, so the keyboard unit could be a little wider for an even more comfortable typing experience. Note the keys on the keyboard and you appreciate how thin it is while remaining as good as those bulky laptop docks.

The tc1100 tablet was thick and heavy (over 3 pounds), and this created an engineering challenge for the hybrid design. The keyboard needed to be thin and light, yet it needed to support the bulk and weight of the tablet in a variety of configurations. This challenge largely goes away with a tablet as light as the Galaxy Tab, so I believe HP or another OEM could make this design pretty easily.

Tablets available today are using a full keyboard dock, complete with second battery, and while that turns the tablet into more of a laptop than the hybrid solution I want it comes with a penalty in weight and bulk.

I have no problem carrying an iPad 2 with a light keyboard case, and this hybrid would weigh about the same and take up the same space in the bag. It would turn the Windows 8 tablet into a real laptop running Windows, and that would be appealing to both the enterprise and consumers.

HP could produce my hybrid using the same technology from the tc1100. It could use either an Intel tablet, or better an ARM-based tablet to keep the battery life and weight down. The lack of a battery in the keyboard unit would prohibit using a trackpad, but that should be OK with the touch screen tablet. It's just as precise to manipulate the screen directly, and the arrow keys on the keyboard add precision when needed. The trackstick on the tc1100 keyboard functioned flawlessly, and would work just fine.

I would buy one of these hybrid tablets and keyboards in a heartbeat. How about you?

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Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Tablets, Windows

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  • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

    Couldn't agree more. I also had a tc1100 and loved it!
    alecfoundry
    • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

      @James Kendrick: You use an iPad, don't you? what do you care about tablet designs for Windows 8?
      markbn
    • There great

      I use mine with Win 7 as a Jukebox/media player next to my pc.
      n.gurr@...
  • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

    Please don't ressurect those abominations! I had to support some of those for years. Finally got rid of them and don't want to see those ever again.
    Jean-Pierre-
  • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

    I loved my TC1100 with Windows XP Tablet Edition. I even bought one on eBay in 2010 to try installing Windows 7 on it. The OS worked like a charm but the five year old battery wasn't up to it. I'd love a similar form-factor for my Win8 tablet.
    CRMAddict
  • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

    Still got one and still use it occasionally! Best designed tablet pc ever, IMO. Keep the screen format too; not widescreen, which I find odd for writing on in OneNote.
    JonWilkinson
  • Better than the Compaq TC1000

    I had the earlier version of the laptop with the Transmeta Crusoe Processor which did everything but run applications. The laptop design itself wasn't without a few flaws. A weak power connector which would give out over time. Then you have a few other bugs, but over all a design refresh with a tablet OS or even a new Windows 8 version would likely result in a very successful device. We can lighten the design of the laptop with newer hardware such as SSDs, run lower power processors, and reduce the need for the stylus. Combine this with a single sealed battery design bumping the laptop life to six or seven hours and you might just have an iPad killer laptop.
    nucrash
    • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

      @nucrash LOL, I had the same tablet and you're right. The machine featured one of those third party low-power 1GHz wonderchips that performed like a 233 Mhz Pentium II in real world usage.

      Still, i'd much rather have an ASUS Transformer prime than something with a complex a swiveling hinge system as the TC1000. The TC1000 was designed the way it was because the screen was about 10 times as heavy as the keyboard. By placing a batter in the keyboard ASUS have managed to overcome the top-heavy issues that forced te TC1000 to use such a complicated hinge.
      dsf3g
      • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

        @dsf3g The problem with the Transformer Prime is that the distance from the keys to the screen is too large. With the design of the tc1100 you do not need to lift your hand from the keyboard in order to use the touch screen.
        reidar76
      • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

        @reidar76 Kind of the point in laptop mode is to actually use it like a laptop via the trackpad. If you're typing on the keyboard it is inconvenient to touch the screen and return to typing regardless of distance. Plus it puts the screen right in your face. A little distance is a good thing, and you still need room for a trackpad.

        The HP design has been updated with the Acer W500. And personally, both designs suck. I don't want a two piece design I have to assemble every time I want to use it as a laptop. I also want flexibility in screen angles as well. Sometimes others might be viewing the screen when in laptop mode or it'll be in my lap or the height of my seat in relation to the table might not be optimal for a fixed angled screen. So the TF system is the one that makes more sense, especially for a Windows machine that will have Win7 mode on it so it can be used just like a normal laptop. That's kinda the point of it. The best of both worlds.
        crogs
  • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

    Well a more elegant docking solution would be nice, and a LOT less weight in the slab would also be nice, and hell, while we're at it a supplementary battery in the keyboard section would also be nice. However, you're right, it was the most elegant of the TabletPCs. I'd also lose the little flap that covered the ports. However the clip-on screen protector was brilliant, and the little zip-folio. I also liked the desk-dock.

    You know, this would be a very nice option. So yes, instead of slavishly ripping off Apple's designs, looking into it's back catalogue of design might be a good idea for HP.

    Now, the price - that'll need to change pretty radically - these things cost a fortune, when they were new.
    jeremychappell
    • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

      @jeremychappell Oh, and I don't think I want this with an ARM processor. Isn't the point to run "traditional" Windows apps (x86)? And I'd like the option to put Linux on it ;-)
      jeremychappell
      • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

        @jeremychappell

        Will current Intel x86 chip designs support a thin tablet profile currently used by Apple and Android tablets?
        kenosha77a
      • you can install Linux everywhere. the list of processors it can be install-

        @jeremychappell

        ed on is impressive.
        it's the DRM-laden greedy media software bottleneck that is preventing migration from Windows.
        the reason Android and iOS is so popular is that it is not crippled by the lack of media codecs.
        the media companies and Microslut seem to be satisfied with the tax they have been able to receive from the sale of each unit.
        but they get no such revenue from Linux installs.
        so we have to put up with Microshoot and crApple.
        that and Cisco refuses to support Linux makes life difficult.
        well, so much for my ranting.
        continue on.

        :)
        .
        wessonjoe
    • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

      @jeremychappell And you needed to mention Apple, why? Their current Windows slates don't hint of Apple in any way, shape or form. So please refrain from using the word unless they plan on coming out with an OSX tablet that warrants comparison.

      And no offense, but do you live under a rock? There are quite a few windows tablets out there currently (MSI, Acer, HP to name a few not to mention the plethora of Asian wholesaler crap). They're not ipad2/galaxy tab thin, but still relatively thin and light considering you have actual SSD's, SODIMMS and the like in there. Definitely thinner than the HP above.
      crogs
      • A little testy?

        @crogs Lighten up dude. jeremychappell wasn't shilling for Apple, he was merely making a point for HP's past designs.
        GeoffMichael
  • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

    I bet you could pull it off with one of the new AMD E series chips and keep X86 support. I have the EEE with the E-350 and it gets 6 hours playing 720p and only weighs 3 pounds so I'd say its doable.
    PC builder
    • Isn't 3 pounds HEAVY for a tablet?

      @PC builder

      Pagan jim
      anonymous
      • RE: Killer Windows 8 tablet design: Bring back the HP tc1100

        @James Quinn - Not for a tablet made in the early 2000's. Part of the weight was the digitizer and pen, which was much more accurate than today's touchscreens.
        terry flores
      • Do you think they could make a new one less heavy?

        @terry flores

        Pagan jim
        anonymous