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Thread: Motion Computing M1400 -- upgraded and updated!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Austin, TX
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    374

    Thumbs up Motion Computing M1400 -- upgraded and updated!

    Hello,

    My first foray into tablet PC computing. I don't even use/own a note/netbook. I purchased a working M1400 T003 that originally had XP Tablet, 768 RAM, 40GB Hitachi HDD, Firmware A05. Great cosmetic condition, beautiful wide-angle screen of the PVA or SIPS type. Brilliant color and brightness. Power supply included. 6-cell battery included. All for $399USD. The construction of the chassis and the quality of the LCD panel is what initially grabbed my attention. Could this old warrior be taught new tricks and reinvigorated -- a resounding "Yes!"

    Picture of M1400 with hard cover/keyboard and DVD/CD drive:



    HARDWARE:

    The hardware has now been updated with:

    ACCESSORIES:

    • Motion Computing 1394 DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive (requires external 5V DC adapter). Works well though outboard USB-only drives probably eclipse this one. Still, it's original! $49USD
    • Dell neoprene-like netbook case with proper dimensions. Keeps the M1400 nice and safe. Retailer provided it for free!
    • Motion Computing rubber edge cover (fits pretty well -- may have been intended for previous models?) the headphone and microphone jacks are covered as well as the USB ports. Pen and power can be accessed OK. $29USD
    • Motion Computing tripod / easel for setting the M1400 upright while not using the keyboard dock. It's a simple but cleverly designed piece of gray plastic with self setting notches to keep it in place. $5USD
    • Plextor PX-610U - USB powereed DVD/CD RW drive. Recognized in Vista and runs without issue. A good choice for those do not want to carry about another power supply.

    SOFTWARE:

    Windows Vista:


    Windows 7:
    • OS clean installed with Windows 7 build 7022 with all fixes and drivers.
    • Drive C: partitioned (30GB) for OS and programs and drive D: (the remainder) for data files. 7 takes up about 9GB of disk space.
    • The 82855 Video drivers will not successfully load and "stick". The driver will either uninstall on reboot or cause a "Blue Screen". Ususally the driver shows an "error 43" in the driver details before reboot. I tried many drivers and assorted techniques. No success. The default generic VGA driver will work and will allow for 1024x768 resolution but video memory is 8GB (instead of 64GB) so video performance suffers.
    • To further update the software (not automatically found through 7 install):


    IMPRESSIONS:

    Build:
    My use and configuration over the last couple of weeks is positive -- a fun experience. The tablet exceeds my expectations. The build quality is phenomenal -- an all magnesium case. In this day and age of plastic, what a deal! Internally the connectors are laid out well, easily accessible and naturally fall into place so no figuring out what connector goes where. I've had the two sections (LCD / Motherboard) completely separated and the motherboard completely removed, and completely reassembled. No missing/extra screws. No manual or instructions. No problems generated as a result. Not for the faint of heart but quite friendly to those who are well organized and have a knack for this sort of thing. Why do it? To install the third WiFi 802.11n antenna nice and neatly with proper wire routing. Ribbon cables are fragile and can tear easily if nicked. The experienced know this, the inexperienced need to be very aware of this situation. The point being that the M1400 can be serviced, to an extent, in the field.

    Ergonomics:
    The screen rotation works with nothing special to be done. The added functionality of Vista with the handwriting recognition cannot be over-emphasized. It is wonderful. No tapping away at a virtual keyboard -- just write and enter. Ocasionally the wrong letter is picked but no problem it is easily corrected and as I understand it the software learn the user's handwriting style so accuracy will improve. The pen works great and I have adapted to it nicely.

    I have the [] key set up to display the Vista Mobility center instead of the Motion dashboard. Vista does a good job and has much (but not all) of the Motion functionality.

    Boot timings:

    M1400 / 1.1GHz / 2GB 2700 RAM / 250GB WD Scorpio Blue IDE / Gigabye 802.11n mini pci / Vista Home Premium

    Vista:
    Vista ~1:00
    Desktop: ~0:40
    All programs loaded: ~0:45

    Total of ~2:25

    Windows 7:
    Boot times are comparitively fast:

    1. Background ~0:25
    2. Desktop ~0:10
    3. Programs ~0:08

    Total of ~0:43

    Other:
    Music sounds good. There is a momentary high pitched squeal when when plugging in headphones -- apparently it is caused by the SigmaTel jack detecting program. When only the SigmaTel driver is installed there is no squeal. The audio output is quite strong, in fact. I'm not sure of the SigmaTel chip ratings but this tablet plays loudly with low volume settings with 50ohm headphones. Not the intention of Motion Computing I'm sure but the M1400 would make a great music player. I like the little 1394 drive. The DVD/CD drive's guts is Sony and it's fast and matches the M1400 cosmetics. The wireless connection to my wireless Trednet 802.11n router is seamless and stable. Occasionally the speed and navigation isn't quite up to my desktop's (Q6600/8GB RAM/Velociraptor) but the M1400 seems to be quite fast taking into account the somewhat older hardware. Battery life seems to be about 3.5-4.0 hours. The USB connection is 2.0, fast and recognized a Lexar Lightning 4.0GB and a Patriot Razzo 32GB without issue.



    NOT TRIED YET:
    • Bluetooth. I have no Bluetooth devices and I wondering if I even want to use the resources to enable it. I don't miss not having it unless a comment provided can present good reason to enable it.
    • Dashboard. Not installed (original or the LE1700). Vista Mobility Center works pretty well. Maybe I don't need it unless I desire Bluetooth.
    • Wired LAN or modem connections. My residence is set up for wireless.

    QUESTIONS (with answers):
    1. Any suggestions or "gotchas" to increase battery life? I try to keep the screen as dim as necessary. Dimming the screen and turning off unnecessary processes (disable Vista sidebar, for example).
    2. Is 3.5-4.0 hours use considered good battery life? I think it is. Battery life is good.
    3. Has anyone installed Windows 7? Any significant improvement speed or battery-wise? Early reports seem to indicate screen driver/rotation problems, faster boot times, and perhaps decreased battery life.
    4. Is there anything special or unusual in the "care and feeding" of the M1400 that should be advised to prevent damage both cosmetically or electronically? I do have the owner's manual. Don't physically stress the power socket -- difficult to remove.
    5. Is there faster memory for the M1400 -- instead of 2700 use 3200, for example? No 2700 is the maximum.
    6. Can the CPU be upgraded? I'm good with assembly, disassembly and even SMD soldering (if nesscessary). Essentially no unless one is VERY good with soldering on multilayer boards.
    7. What is the typical lifespan of the battery and should I start making the effort now to find a spare for the future? I don't know if the battery is the M1400's original, factory-shipped one or not. If the battery has had regular use for a few years, start looking.

    RESOURCES:

    Motion M1400 drivers: http://www.motioncomputing.com/suppo...nload_1400.asp

    Manual XP SP2: http://www.motioncomputing.com/resou..._m1400_sp2.pdf

    M1400 Knowledge base: http://www.motioncomputing.com/kb/De...&pNodes=2P3P2T

    Reviews:

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1563076,00.asp

    http://www.ruggedpcreview.com/3_slat...ion_m1400.html

    http://washingtontimes.com/news/2004...-093613-6517r/


    FINALLY:

    I want to thank the writers of the "Mobile PC wiki". M1400 Vista page: http://mobilepcwiki.com/mpc/index.ph...allation_Notes

    The page is invaluable and certainly provided me with the comfort to go ahead and take the plunge for the Vista upgrade.

    And "thank you" to all those who answered the questions on this topic. I'll keep this page up to date as part of the learning curve and hopefully help others who may also be starting tablet PC from the ground up. And a final big thank you to John Hill.

    I'm sure I'll have more questions and impressions and features to add in the coming days. The M1400 is a joy to use.

    UPDATE:

    The sound chip on the M1400 became defective -- I guess the "squeal" was a clue. My retailer no longer has M1400 available -- just M1300. They did have a virtually mint LE1700 with View Anywhere screen at a very attractive price. I went with the LE1700. I will be updating on the LE1700 as soon as the battery gets a full charge. I no longer have an M1400.

    Best regards,

    Paul
    Last edited by PaulB; 04-04-2010 at 05:28 PM. Reason: Fix links

  2. #2
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    Paul,

    RAM tops out at PC2700. CPU is not easily upgraded, soldered ball socket. Disassembling a 1400 should be avoided if possible, the cable connectors are fragile (particularly), hard drive connector cable motherboard end fragile, frankly not nearly as robust as TC1100 taking apart department.

    Best advice is to be EXTREMELY gentle sliding the power switch, it's a bad design that fails by breaking up internally. I would always use taskbar to sleep, hibernate just to off-load cycling that power slider.

    Also, like most tablets, but particularly because plug angled, avoid stressing power socket. It's a bear to replace. The power brick is prone to dying, I would order a spare ($25 on eBay - get the neat AC power adapter socket with it).

    Because the 1400 has no fan, the CPU will cycle downwards under heat stress (just when you don't want slowdowns). When on AC, I always used a Targus Tornado 12" USB cooler pad ($20 on-line), it fits exactly dimensionally under 1400 and makes HUGE difference running high CPU tasks.

    Would you comment on your WD250 drive install, did you use their BIOS updater, partitioned?
    Last edited by bmhome1; 02-17-2009 at 12:28 AM.
    100% Old School tablet setup:

    Sahara i440D - 4GB/500GB/7200 - Vista screams!
    HP TC1100 1.2 - 2GB/160GB/5400 - Vista - portrait - primary computer.
    HP TC1100 1.2 - 2GB/160GB/5400 - Vista - primary work computer.
    HP TC1100 1.0 - 2GB/60GB/7200 - XP - laptop - partner's primary computer.
    Acer 303xmi 1.6 - 2GB/100GB/7200 - Vista - laptop - work computer.
    Motion M1300 1.0 - 2GB/60GB/7200 - Vista - semi-retired (needs repair).
    Motion M1300 - for parts.
    Motion M1400VA - awaiting resurrection.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I did nothing as far as the BIOS is concerned. I bought the tablet as used/reconditioned and used the BIOS that was already on it which turned out (I think) to be the latest (last?) 05. I installed Vista Home Premium straight off the Motion DVD ROM drive and did the partioning via the install. I used a new 250GB Western Digital Scorpio IDE with nothing on it -- a completely clean install. The BIOS screen reported the correct drive and size upon boot up (and no OS installed yet).

    It was noticed that the hard drive was connected via ribbon cable and that these can get hard and fragile with heat and time but was very careful and had no issues at all. For some reason (God-given talent) I'm just very good at this sort of thing and am not intimidated by tearing apart electronics down to the screws. I can visualize how things assemble and the order by which to disassemble and reassemble. On the other hand I can't play the piano yet my wife can play anything upon hearing it and she's had no training. Go figure.

  4. #4
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    PaulB,

    Great post! When people buy tablets they always ask - how long do these things last? I answer that, like any other computer, it will work forever - you might just want something faster and shinier.

    Of course, you totally updated your M1400 and now have a pretty beefy machine. It would be great if you would tell the cost of each item so that folks would get an idea of the total investment.

    The only other potential issue is "jumping cursor". Some early M1400s didn't have a protective shield over the hard drive and users experienced the cursor jumping down to the clock in the lower right hand corner. You might never have this problem but if you see it you'll know.
    John Hill
    TabletPCBuzz, Owner/Editor

    Allegiance Tablet PC Experts, CEO
    ALLTP Website
    ALLTP Tablet PC Store


  5. #5
    Join Date
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    OK will do,

    Prices:
    M1400 is $399 which included power supply and battery, 768GB RAM and the original Hitachi 40GB HDD with XP Tablet PC installed (no install DVD). 90-day warranty. Cosmetic condition is near perfect.

    Motion external firewire DVD/CD drive is $49.

    1GB 2700 DDR memory sticks are $44 each x 2

    Western Digital 250GB Scorpio IDE is $85.

    EDUP PCMCIA memory card reader is $15.

    The retailer threw in the Dell case for free!

    So the total is $399 (base) + $218 (upgrades).

    Mine does have a protective shield over the hard drive -- the enclosing gray thin metal covering I'm assuming. No problems with "jumping" cursors at all. The screen is geogeous -- I'm assuming it's a VA-type and assume it's the "View Anywhere" version. . Viewing angles are extreme and from any direction. Is there a definitive way to determine the "View Anywhere"?

    The total price for everything may seem high for such an old machine (is it?) but I really liked it while trying it out and just decided to try to make it as nice as possible.

    Any more questions? I'll try to answer them.

    Paul

  6. #6
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    Austin, TX
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    Two more things to update with:

    I did get a hard cover/keyboard from my seller, near flawless condtion -- all the little rubber bumpers and complete Motion Computing logo silkscreen -- $49. It looks and works great. No bump cases unfortunately. They had no spare batteries, either. However it seems they can still be had elsewhere. I can still get the docking stand, if needed.

    I also am getting a Gigabyte 802.11n mini PCI -- $27. Should have it in a few days.

    Less than a week a go the tablet PC world was virtually unknown to me. This is really so much fun. What a useful and fun computer!
    Last edited by PaulB; 02-18-2009 at 05:35 AM. Reason: Change and correction

  7. #7
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    In case those who might be interested, I've installed the Foobar2000 (freeware) media player. It has a small footprint, can display album art and run without any windows registry updates so can be run in what they call "portable" mode. Music files can by synced by using Microsoft's (freeware) Sync Toy 2.0. AVG 8.0 Anit-Virus (freeware) seems to work well. I've installed the "Adobe Trio": Reader, Flash, Shokwave and all seem to work OK.

    The hardcover/keyboard is so nice. Motion was clever enough to make it so that it could be flipped over and attached to the back so there isn't a spare cover laying around.

  8. #8
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    Have received the Gigabyte GN-WI03N-RH 80211.n draft mini PCI. Installation was no problem. The mini PCI card is a bit larger than the Intel mini PCI it replaced so routing the antenna wires was a bit cramped but still no problem -- just be careful with the small connectors.

    Drivers located here: http://www.gigabyte.ph/Support/Commu...ProductID=2648

    It all installed without issue and connected to Trendnet 802.11n router. It's nice to see whole web pages just display completely without assembling pieces. The Gigabyte seems to run quite fast.

    Excepting the processor, video memory, and RAM (which cannot be changed or as in the case of the RAM -- maxed out), I think this is about as far as M1400 upgrades can be done at this time.

    Would love to see a 500GB PATA/IDE 2.5" drive.

    Any further suggestions?

  9. #9
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    The 802.11n wireless card is working well. There is a physical set up issue that will result in better performance (seeing more wifi spots). The original Intel wifi has connections for two antennas and the Motion M1400 provides two connections for the that card. The Gigabyte has three connections. Which to choose?

    Through trial and error the best connections I have found are connecting the black wire to "0" (the left side jack) and the gray wire to "2" (the right-most jack). I see plenty of wifi spots with this set up. I tried for awhile yesterday to find a plug and wire for jack "1" with no luck. I went to various computer surplus stores, Fry's repair, Goodwill (what they call "scraptops") and had no luck in finding a third antenna plug. I will try a used Notebook store tomorrow and see if they have any. In any event the connections as described should be good enough for most (all?) users, providing that they're not doing hot spot DX work!

    I picked up a Motion M-Series rubber edge protector bumper from ebay for $25 and should have it in a few days. I'm thinking it might help delay damage from light bumps and knocks. It does seem to cover most jacks and connections (except for the pen).
    Last edited by PaulB; 02-22-2009 at 12:53 PM. Reason: typo

  10. #10
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    I've seen antenna wire sets with antenna pad on one end and standard snap-on caps for notebooks shipped without wi-fi on eBay inexpensive items. My link to one such is long dead, try a search on eBay.

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