Hardware: Bad things & good things

Recently, my Dell C840 stopped working with a hardware failure (Stop Error d0000144:
Unknown Hard Error). Didn't find anything about this through Google ... looks like
the main board or the disk controller are into serious trouble 🙁 I miss this device
a lot, esp. the great display (1600x1200!). Well, maybe I should be happy that it
worked until recently since I dropped it to the floor about a year ago - it survived
quite some time afterwards 😉

The good news is that I got my new Tablet PC, a Toshiba Portege 3500. It'll replace
my Acer TravelMate C100 which served me very well since Sep. 2002, but has one serious
disadvantage: 256 MB of RAM, and no way to get more.

The Toshiba is a nice thing, and here is my list of pros and cons in comparison with
the Acer:

Pro: 1 GB of RAM (vs 256 MB); faster CPU (1.33 GHz vs 800 MHz); better graphics capabilities
(16 MB vs 2 MB video RAM); USB 2.0; Bluetooth; Compact Flash & SD Card Reader;
40 GB hard disk (vs 20 GB); external DVD/CD-R combo drive; better pen.

Con: bigger :); noisy CPU fan (!); no integrated Smart Card reader (I miss that one!);
no FireWire; no manual switching between portrait/landscape display mode.

So what is my advice? If you can live with 256 MB of RAM, the Acer gives you a better
feeling of mobility. I'd be happy with it if I could upgrade the RAM. But if you need
to use Visual Studio .NET or other memory-hungry apps, you will soon feel the Acer's
limits. (I once had to interrupt a demo and reboot the Acer in front of the audience
because it had become totally unresponsive - all I had done was opening a VS solution
with five or six projects, and launching the Pocket PC emulator ...) So, for the serious
developer, the Toshiba is the only sensible choice.

Just my $.02.

Comments (4)

  1. Acer has a C110 now, with up to 2GB of memory.

    Out of curiosity, do you find convertible tablets to be more useful than regular PCs? I’m intrigued by them, but the roughly $1000 price differential is scaring me…

  2. FrankPr says:


    thanks for the C110 info, sounds like the perfect device.

    Regarding your question: it depends what you want. Yes, the price tag is pretty scary, so you should try and borrow one for a week and try it out…

    What counts most for me is the following:
    – The pen and digitizer make for the perfect mouse replacement for mobile work (I don’t like touchpads, btw. 🙂
    – Tablets are usually pretty small and lightweight.
    – Reading eBooks on them is fun because you can change the screen orientation, and make hand-written annotations.
    – OneNote 2003 is a great all-purpose tool for hand-written notes and other documents.
    – Etc. …

  3. TVL says:


    what happened with your Stop Error d0000144: Unknown Hard Error. i got a dell inspiron since jan 04 an this happans 3 or 4 times a week. dell coudn’t help.



  4. FrankPr says:

    TVL: Consider getting a new hard disk – that’s what helped in my case. My HD was damaged to the point that not even FDISK did recognize it any more in the end.

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