I have been using the Fujitsu P1610 for a whole week since upgrading to Vista and by the number of questions I am getting via email a lot of P1610 owners are wondering how my use in the field is coming along. Here then is my state of the Vista Fuji address.
Handwriting on the TIP
I spent a few days adding software to the Fuji after upgrading to Vista, I needed to get my core applications installed and working and ready for the road. I have almost all of them installed and in daily usage and have no complaints on that front. My impressions of using Vista on the Tablet PC are mostly positive. I absolutely love the new Tablet bits, the TIP is much easier to use on the small Fuji screen and the handwriting recognition is more accurate than the old XP version. More than a few have called my handwriting “terrible” and “illegible”, I prefer to think of it as “unique”. The handwriting recognition engine in Vista apparently likes “unique” as it is so much more accurate for me that I am using it to input longer pieces of text than I would under XP. The TIP experience just feels more natural to me than the old version and I think Microsoft has hit a home run with this. I have only done a tiny bit of handwriting personalization and I saw an immediate improvement in accuracy after doing that. I’m going to set aside some time to go through a whole session of personalization to see what happens.
The Mobile Experience with Vista
Vista has been tweaked to provide a better experience on mobile devices than its predecessor and it shows in daily usage. The Mobility Center is a useful dashboard for interacting with key mobile settings like screen brightness, WiFi and the Sync Center. I have programmed one of the buttons on the side of the screen to pop the Mobility Center up when needed.
I am finding the fingerprint reader on the Fuji to be much more accurate than the XP version. I had several fingers that just could not be read under XP but the Vista version has no such problem. It works well and is accurate, and I am using it for both logging into the system (and the Exchange Server) and for scrolling while web surfing. This comes at a price over the XP version, however, as it takes a long time to launch the reader window (OmniPass). It can take up to 30 – 45 seconds to resume from Standby, most of which is launching the reader software. It’s not a deal breaker but is very annoying, especially considering it only took about 10 seconds under XP.
The undocking/ docking and screen rotation is now working very solidly on the Fuji once I discovered this trick. I had to go into the Fujitsu Tablet Controls utility (Fn-Fn) and save the three different video profiles that I use: docked notebook, undocked notebook, and undocked Tablet profile. Once I did that the undocking started working as intended and the auto-rotation of the screen works perfectly. Screen rotation(auto) is quite a bit slower than under XP, but it does work fine. Until I defined the different video profiles docking and undocking was a nightmare as I have an external monitor attached to the dock, and the Fuji did not handle that well at all. Now it works as it should, albeit slowly.
Performance while mobile is as fast as XP most of the time, and faster sometimes. I do occasionally see the hard disk indicator light go active with some sort of disk thrashing and the system does slow down at these times. This occurs very seldom and I can’t figure out why it’s occurring but when it does it’s annoying. I wonder if this happens when Vista is indexing the system for searching, I have heard some Vista users claim this is the case. I’ve also heard from users who state that indexing is shut off when on battery power, but I don’t think that’s the case. I’ve looked through the indexing options and there is no setting for this like in the XP version. There is a setting in the advanced power settings but it simply states “Power Saver” mode and I don’t think that’s the same as shutting it off totally under battery power. Perhaps someone who knows what’s going on can shed some light on this.
Speaking of battery power there is an ongoing conversation occurring in several places regarding battery life under Vista. The discussion centers around the belief that battery life under Vista is worse than under XP, even on the same device. I haven’t run any benchmarks but my impression is I am getting 15 – 20% less battery life since upgrading to Vista. This is not scientific but I am definitely not getting as much time out of my batteries as I did under XP. This is pretty significant since my extended battery was getting ~6 hours under Vista and around 5 hours under Vista. I hope someone can step in and explain to us why Vista battery life is worse than that of XP, as Vista is supposed to be tweaked for power management. Some users are reporting that battery life improved tremendously once they turned off Windows Sidebar, especially if they were running a lot of gadgets like CPU monitors. I turned off Sidebar on the Fuji but I don’t see any difference, but then I was only running a clock and calendar in mine. This is something that affects all mobile devices so I hope we get answers on this situation quickly.
Fuji specific Vista experience
The Vista drivers posted by Fujitsu have been working perfectly with one exception. The SigmaTel audio drivers have fallen woefully short as the internal microphone is all but useless under Vista. I can’t record under Vista at all using the internal microphone, which has ruled out using Skype one the go. I did this a lot under XP so I am finding this shortcoming to be affecting me tremendously. I have been checking daily to see if Fujitsu has updated this driver but no dice, they still show the original one which is too bad. The entire audio system is flaky where recording is concerned. I can’t even use my Plantronics USB headset on the Fuji as the audio cuts in and out, and it is virtually unusable. As a podcaster this is a huge problem for me, and in spite of the great Vista experience in general might force me to downgrade back to XP. I cannot go without the ability to record or use Skype. I am very interested to hear from other P1610 users who have updated to Vista about how well audio is working on your device. I am hoping it’s something specific to my installation.
All other aspects of running Vista on the Fujitsu P1610 are quite positive. I love the interface, love the way the UI makes it easy to use with the touch screen. Overall the performance is very snappy and pleasant to use. I don’t use the touch enhancements in Vista, these were enabled by default and lasted all of a minute on my Fuji. I find them difficult to use accurately and frankly just not necessary on touch screen devices when it’s simpler to just tap on the control on the screen to make something happen.
I still find the Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) to be a slow, buggy program and totally irritating to use. I had to manually open the OneCare firewall up to the WMDC to get it to work at all and in daily usage it is so slow. Syncing my Smartphone takes up to 30 minutes and always ends in an error message telling me that it was unable to reach the server. I don’t know what it means by that as it appears everything syncs fine. The sync process is so slow and the WMDC gives no detailed status information to inform you what is going on. This should work much better than this. For all its flaws ActiveSync would at least run fast.