Friday, February 11, 2011

Motion LE1600 in the studio

I almost loved this tablet.  I got it all set up to work in the studio – synced over my teaching notebooks, installed SmartMusic, and downloaded the music I would need for the day.  Since SmartMusic runs just fine on the TC1100, I took it for granted that it would run equally fine on the slightly faster processor of the LE1600.  What I failed to take into account was that XP might lack some of the audio tools of Windows 7 and that the audio chip in the LE1600 is different. 

SmartMusic is dependent on the audio card’s ability to fully duplex – processing the playback while listening at the same time.  The SigmaTel audio on the LE1600 under windows xp doesn’t like to do that.  Playback ran at less than half speed.  I’m not sure if it’s a hardware or software issue.  I’m installing Windows 7 now to see if the updated OS will help.  I’m not terribly optimistic though, as there is no Windows 7 driver for the audio, meaning that even with Windows 7, you still have to use the XP driver.  It’s been my experience that Windows 7 has a better audio processing system, running SmartMusic better on the same hardware, so we’ll see.  I was really liking this machine, but unusable SmartMusic playback is a deal breaker for a work machine for me. 

The thing is, I’m sold on the 12” 4:3 form factor for reading music (comparison photos to come).  So now I’m looking at the possibility of trying an LE1700, which is the same basic shell with better guts, including Intel HDA audio.  The biggest drawback being the higher price and shorter battery life due to the stronger processor.  Another huge plus with the LE1700 is a higher resolution screen (1400x1050) which would also help music display more clearly.  As it is, the PDF music printed into Journal on the LE1600 end up looking like bad photocopies.  Still readable, but it could be better.  Windows 7 is also better supported on the LE1700.  It may be the best screen on the market for reading sheet music off a slate tablet. 

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