Well, I’m trying out my new tablet PC in the field. Actually, it’s not new at all. It’s a four year old Mitsubishi Amity VP that I found in a computer junk shop for the unbelievably low price of JPY 1980. I went through the tray of parts until I found one that was in good condition and, using some battery packs that still held charge, checked that it would boot. It did, so I bought it.

I had a couple of problems, though. The shop wanted JPY 2480 for the mains adapter to charge it. I thought that was a waste of time, so I just soldered in a new socket with the standard laptop power supply dimensions to enable me to use one of the adapters I already have. I guessed that it wouldn’t do any harm to run it on 19V instead of 15V. These things all have internal regulators anyway. I was right, apparently.

Getting the operating system installed was a challenge with no disk drives. I swapped the hard drive into another machine to get the Windows 98 files off the CD. Apart from that, the installation was straightforward. In order to be able to use the pen input (useful, because there is no built in keyboard or mouse), I had to track down the appropriate Pen Services. After looking on many Japanese websites, I found a link to the necessary files on the website of a Chinese distributor, and got it all working.

It’s slow, but it is very small and light, and it’s a proper computer, so I can do things like this—updating my website from the sofa during my lunchbreak. I’ve written this all with the onscreen keyboard, which is slow but not too painful. I might try to make a T9 clone to use with the number pad on the chassis.

The battery life is very respectable, too, even after I’ve been using a power hungry wireless internet card. The suspend to disk feature helps to stretch it out further.

It gives me something to do at break times, anyway.