Motion Computing LE1700

The Motion Computing LE1700, a tablet computer from 2007.
The Motion Computing LE1700, a tablet computer from 2007.

At the beginning of the year, I was in the habit of drawing and sketching on a regular basis. But in the last few months, I haven’t drawn anything. After reading Pi Visuals’ post about getting a stylus for his iPad for drawing and animation, I started thinking about getting that stylus, too.

But then I remembered that I already have a tablet computer with a stylus, the Motion Computing LE1700. My wife originally used it at work, but she preferred a laptop so eventually this came home and ended up in my closet.

So this week, I looked into the details of the the LE1700 and found out that the stylus technology is from Wacom, maker of probably the best stylus and tablet hardware. The LE1700 includes pressure sensitive input, which is an amazing feature to use for drawing. This particular model does not have touch input, but for my purposes that is actually better: I can rest my hand on the screen and it will not affect the drawing. And it runs a full version of Windows (Vista, unfortunately), so I can install full applications like Photoshop or GIMP.

The downside to the machine is that it has a very short battery life, is very heavy compared to an iPad, and it tends to get pretty warm. But, considering that I already own it, I cannot complain too much.

Unfortunately, the pressure sensitivity on my machine is not working. I have spent a lot of time this week trying to figure out the problem, hoping that it was just a software or driver issue. The device was also exhibiting some strange behavior in Internet Explorer (probably caused by its tour of duty at my wife’s work), so I ended up doing a full restore from the initial factory image. Actually, due to some bizarre patch problem that completely broke Windows, I had to rebuild it twice, which cost me about a day. And after all that, the pressure sensitivity is still not working.

I read online that the stylus itself can lose pressure sensitivity. So, I am buying a replacement stylus from Motion Computing and hoping that fixes the problem. It would be great to have a full Wacom slate computer with pressure sensitive stylus for drawing. But, if the pressure sensitivity is still broken with the new stylus, at least I can use it in the same manner as an iPad, but with a more full-featured OS and applications.