If you don't need the keyboard, you can also use the cover as a stand that holds the Scribbler at a 45 degree angle. The Scribbler also comes with a wire desktop stand. Users who spend a good deal of time at their desks will appreciate the sturdy stand as well as the ergonomics of the setup: you can change the Scribbler's angle to suit your viewing needs since the stand is adjustable and you can add your own USB keyboard if you like. Need a docking station? Electrovaya sells an optional docking station which works in both portrait and landscape orientations, has a DVD / CDRW drive and a full set of ports (3 USB 2.0, FireWire, Ethernet, audio in and out).
The Scribbler weighs 4.5 lbs with the hybrid cover/keyboard and 3.5 lbs. without. The unit is one of the larger tablets and the added size and weight allow the unit to have generous 12.1" display and an extremely large battery. When unplugged, the unit stays surprisingly cool and won't toast your arm. The unit has dual array microphones on the top corners (relative to portrait orientation), and stereo speakers surrounding the fingerprint scanner at the bottom.
As with most tablets, an array of buttons and controls surround the display. These include buttons to quick launch the tablet input panel (TIP), Windows Journal, open the Start Menu and send a Control-Alt-Del via a button. In addition you'll find the power button, screen rotation button (rotates the display in 90 degree increments), an escape button, Fn button and a small eraser stick for cursor up/down/left/right and enter on the front bezel. The Scribbler's four LEDs indicate charging status, battery, hard drive access and WiFi status.
Horsepower and What's Inside
The unit has a 1.4 GHz "Dothan" Centrino Pentium M processor with 2 megs of level 2 cache. The Dothan is the latest, greatest and fastest iteration of the Intel Centrino processor which runs at higher clock speeds than older "Banias" Centrinos and has a larger level 2 cache. Though it consumes no more power than its predecessor, Intel claims that Dothan is 5 to 10% faster than a Banias processor running at the same clock speed. The latest Centrino is also capable of running at higher clock speeds and we're seeing Centrinos hitting the 2GHz mark these days, while older models topped out at around 1.5GHz.
What is Centrino? It has become the standard for small notebooks in the past few years, consuming much less power than mobile Pentium 4 processors while still providing excellent performance that gives the P4 a run for its money and blows away the Pentium III used in first generation tablets. Centrino technology is more than the Pentium M processor, it includes Intel's motherboard design, integrated Wi-Fi and an Intel graphics processor that uses shared memory but gives relatively good 2D and 3D performance for an integrated solution.
The SC 2200 series is available in three configurations, the Premium, Standard and Base. All have a 1.4GHz Centrino processor, 12.1" display, and include the hybrid cover/keyboard (except the Base model), wire stand and a leatherette portfolio case. The models otherwise vary only in the amount of RAM and hard drive capacity. We received the Premium model which has 768 megs of RAM and a 60 gig hard drive. The Standard model has 512 megs of RAM and a 40 gig hard drive while the Base model has 256 megs of RAM and a 30 gig hard drive. All models use DDR RAM with 256 megs installed on the motherboard and one SODIMM slot for expansion. Maximum RAM is 1280 megs (256 megs on the motherboard plus a 1 gig DIMM), and the hard drive is an easily upgradeable standard 2.5" notebook drive. If you do opt for the Base model, upgrade the RAM to 512 megs yourself: Windows XP runs a bit slowly on 256 megs of RAM and runs best on 512 megs of RAM for business tasks. If you plan to use Photoshop or Painter with the tablet, go with even more RAM since both those apps are memory intensive.
Networking and Ports
WiFi is a must on today's notebooks and is a part of the Centrino architecture. Thus the Scribbler has Intel's Pro Wireless 2200 BG controller, which is compatible with 802.11a/b and g networks. Range and reliability were excellent in our tests connecting to a variety of access points. To turn WiFi on or off, simply press the wireless LAN button on the front bezel. An LED indicates when wireless is turned on. You can use Intel's full featured control panel to manage your wireless connections, or let Windows do the job. We recommend Intel's offering which provides a site survey feature that shows available access points and tells you if they're using encryption and what flavor of 801.11 they're running (a, b or g). It has provisions for 802.1x (LEAP, TTLS, PEAP and etc.), and Cisco compatible extensions.
In addition, the Scribbler has 10/100 Ethernet with a standard RJ45 port along with a modem. Need to use wide area wireless solutions? The Scribbler's PCMCIA slot allows you to use GSM/GPRS and CDMA wireless PC Cards. We tested the SC 2200 with Enfora's Compact Flash GSM/GPRS card and it worked flawlessly for voice and data.
The Scribbler has plenty of ports: two USB 2.0, one 4 pin unpowered FireWire, a type II CardBus PCMCIA slot, 10/100 Ethernet RJ45, RJ11 modem, standard VGA, 3.5mm audio in and audio out jacks and IR. The Scribbler doesn't come with an optical drive or docking station, but those are available separately. The $390 docking station has a DVD/CDRW Combo drive, 1 audio line-out; 1 audio mic line-in, a 10/100 Ethernet port, and 3 USB 2.0 ports. If you don't need a docking station, Electrovaya sells a $250 compact USB 2.0 CDRW-DVD drive separately.
Display and Sound
The SC2200 has a 12.1" XGA color display running at 1024 x 768. As with all XP tablets, it comes with an electromagnetic pen which has a "pen" tip and an eraser (you must use the pen, fingers or PDA styli won't work). Graphics artists will be happy to hear that, like most top tier tablets, the Scribbler has a Wacom digitizer which guarantees support for pressure sensitivity and the eraser function in professional graphics applications. Like the older Scribbler SC 2010 and the ViewSonic V1250, it has an auto brightness feature that does an excellent job of setting the screen's brightness relative to ambient lighting. The Scribbler has a very good display by XP Tablet standards. While tablet displays aren't as bright, contrasty and sharp as better notebook LCDs, the Scribbler won't send you running back to your traditional notebook. The screen has very good color saturation, sharpness and contrast. Why don't tablets look as good? Because they must have a tough layer on top that can take repeated contact with the pen, and they have a digitizer layer which works in conjunction with the electromagnetic pen. With the proliferation of tablets, technology has improved in leaps and bounds in the past two years, and now we have displays that don't make big concessions. If you'll be using your tablet outdoors, do consider the $289 outdoor viewable screen option as the Scribbler, like all notebooks fades out in direct sunlight.
The SC 2200 uses the Intel 8285X GME Graphics Controller with 32 megs of shared memory, which is a part of the standard Centrino chipset. This graphics card is a part of the Mobile Intel 855 GM family, though non-tablet Centrino notebooks usually have 64 megs of shared memory. Performance was adequate in Photoshop and alias Sketchbook Pro and more than adequate for work with MS Office, web browsing and email. While tablets and particularly notebooks using shared memory architecture aren't a gamer's dream, both Empires: Dawn of the Modern World and Rise of Nations ran just fine. Unreal Tournament's installer hung, so we are unable to provide Unreal benchmarks.
Sound is quite good from the stereo speakers and is easy to hear even in somewhat noisy environments. It's certainly good enough for video conferencing and watching web-based movies. Of course, you'll want to use headphones when listening to music or watching DVDs. The Scribbler has dual mics, called a "Dual Array Microphone System" which improves voice recognition. How does it do this? Dual mics allow the SC 2200 to discern your location and isolate your voice from background noise and other people's voices. Using the unit's control panel, you can adjust the mics' directional sensitivity and fine tune the system.
Needless to say, the Scribbler will outlast any other consumer tablet. The unit comes with Electrovaya's own 10,200 mAh SuperPolymer Lithium Ion battery which has mind-boggling capacity and runtimes. The unit consistently lasted through an eight hour workday (with WiFi on), while most notebooks will have you reaching for the charger after three hours of use. If you need a tablet for field or vertical use far from outlets, this is your machine! Despite the large capacity, the battery charges in 3 hours when turned off and 4 hours when running. Excellent!
Biometric Fingerprint Scanner
If security is your thing (and isn't it always a good idea when using portable computing devices that house sensitive data), you'll be happy to know that the Scribbler has a biometric fingerprint scanner located on the front bezel. If you're familiar with the HP iPAQ 5555 or hx2750 Pocket PCs, then you'll feel right at home with the Scribbler's system. If you choose to use biometric security, you'll enroll your fingers (more than one person can be enrolled). You'll swipe your finger across the biometric scanner several times so that the 2200 can recognize and record your fingerprint. You can then designate which finger will be used to authenticate yourself so you can log onto Windows. The biometric system is indeed very secure and unauthorized users won't be able to access your computer and its files.
The unit comes with Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005, which includes MS Journal, a great virtual pad of paper application. Electrovaya includes a full version of Corel Grafigo and trial versions of Alias SketchBook Pro and Franklin Covey TabletPlanner. In addition you get Farstone Virtual Drive which creates a virtual CD drive so you need not always carry an external optical drive with you. Electrovaya includes recovery CDs should you need to re-install the OS and applications. They also provide the bundled 3rd party applications on another CD.