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My Tablet PC: A Precision 650

I’m typing this entry on the same PC I use for my day-to-day work. It’s a Dell Precision 650 workstation, a full-tower system.

Ever since I was small*, I’ve wanted a graphics tablet for a PC. Finally, the other day, I bought one: a Wacom Intuos3, small size.

Now, I should add, I don’t actually have any particular reason for getting or using a graphics tablet: my drawing and design skills roughly resemble those of a crazed, wood-alcohol-blinded impressionist whose arms are missing and draws with his teeth, while tripping on some particularly nasty mushrooms. To put it another way: I cannae draw, Captain. There’s nooo more talent.

So what inspired me to try it out? Well, my childhood dream.

So, I hooked up the tablet, installed the drivers, and I’m done. Everything works nicely. But there’s something missing – it’s as if Windows didn’t really expect me to use a non-mouse for input. It seemed consistently surprised and upset. Mopey.

My girlfriend loves her Tablet PC. I don’t love “real” Tablet PCs (sorry Scoble), as it always seems like exactly the wrong combination. When it’s in tablet mode, I want a keyboard because I can type faster than I write. When it’s in laptop mode, I want to draw network diagrams or other squiggles flat on the screen.

I just don’t know what I really want. So I thought I’d give the Desktop Tablet a try.


  • One graphics tablet with Tablet PC compatible drivers.

  • One copy of Windows XP, Tablet PC Edition.

And that’s pretty much it. I installed a copy of Tablet PC over my existing Windows XP installation (which was pretty new, and pretty fresh, and pretty well untouched), WindowsUpdated everything just to be sure, and I’m now scrawling and scribbing in OneNote with something approaching precision.

Once TabletPC was installed, I found that the Wacom’s out-of-box drivers didn’t actually do the full Tablet Stylus thing, but there are updates on the Wacom site that add that capability.

As soon as the new driver was installed, I was able to do that “squiggle the pen left to right above the panel” thing that pops up the handwriting input box, and I get the little input icon whenever I “pen over” a text box.

Acrylic worked really well before the upgrade, but afterwards I was having pressure sensitivity issues with short strokes – turning off the “hold to right click” option in the Tablet control panel sorted that out nicely. Now I just get general pressure sensitivity issues because I don’t know how it’s meant to work, which is much better by comparison.

So, all fun!