Price is a big issue that I see in every discussion, so I compared some of the more popular tablet PCs. I tried to be as accurate as possible, although finding info about pressure levels can be a little tricky.
I listed the retail price from the manufacturer’s site, even though a few of these are on sale right now. I don’t know how long the sale will last, so you can’t really compare the sale price of one computer when another computer isn’t on sale.
Some people have said they paid less for certain models, but again, I am going by the retail price that is listed on the manufacturer’s site. Yes the prices might be a bit more, but you can’t compare the price of something on Amazon, eBay, or Newegg against the price of something else from the manufacturer’s site. If you list all of the prices from the manufacturer’s site, you level the playing field…plus the Companion isn’t even out yet so the manufacturer’s price is the only price you can go by right now.
When I customized these, I only upgraded the options that are listed on the table. That means some of these computers can actually be more expensive if you upgrade other options like an extended warranty, docking station, different drives, etc.
Battery life is another huge factor when deciding which machine to buy, but so far I haven’t found a tablet PC with great battery life while running Photoshop. The Asus was definitely on the bottom. I would get maybe 2 hours running Photoshop…if I was lucky. The ST5112 boasted a 9 hour battery, but I only get around 3 while running Photoshop. I think when the battery was brand new I was getting around 4-5, although I never went from 100%-0, so I can’t say for certain.
Of course there are so many deciding factors when it comes to the battery life, so it is hard to give people actual numbers. I mean heck, the iPhone says it can get 8-10 hours of internet use, yet when it was brand new I could burn through my entire battery in 2-3. I figured it was defective, so I exchanged it. Same deal.
You also have to take into consideration when these computers were released. Take a look at the Fujitsu ST5112. I bought that computer 4 years ago, and I bought it used. It only shipped with 1GB of RAM, no SSD option, and it had a pretty hefty price tag.
I find it a little funny that people keep comparing the Companion to the Cintiq, or some other cheaper Cintiq analog like the Yiynova or Bosto Kingtee. They are completely different pieces of technology. The Companion is a standalone computer, the Cintiq is not. The Companion is meant to be portable, the Cintiq is not. Ok, the 13HD is pretty small, but you get the point.
As I’m sure most people already know, I own the Fujitsu ST5112 and the Asus EP121 (well, not anymore). I have also tried the Windows Surface Pro. I love the ST5112 and EP121. I still use the ST5112 to this day for all of my professional work. I wasn’t very impressed with the Windows Surface Pro. The screen is very small and the aspect ratio makes it even worse. Plus the stylus was pretty bad, which doesn’t mean much since I would use my Axiotron Studio Pen anyway.
I hope this helps and puts some things in perspective. I for one am very excited about the Companion and I think it will make a great replacement for my Asus EP121.
DIY – I forgot to mention this. Some people like to buy the min. specs and then upgrade individual parts themselves. I usually do this with the RAM and HDD.
The problem with this is that some of these tablets aren’t supposed to be opened, like the EP121. There are no screws because you aren’t really supposed to open it. You CAN open it if you pry it apart, but you always risk damaging the computer, plus you will void the warranty. Even if you upgrade the RAM and HDD, which most people do, you still can’t upgrade the screen resolution, pressure levels, and usually you can’t upgrade the processor either (heat problems, CPU soldered to the mo-bo, etc.).
Also, if you buy a used computer to upgrade, you still have to worry about the fact that the computer is used. It might not work very well, plus you won’t have a warranty. So you could spend $500 on a used tablet and then another $300 on more RAM and a bigger hard drive, but you run the risk of a used computer breaking with no warranty and you still have the problems of an older processor, a lower res screen, an old battery (add another $100-150 if you wanna buy a new one) and less pressure levels.
Some people might prefer this route, so it is up to you.