LCD w/touch

Has anybody tried this?

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Reply to
Dave Houston
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No, but it looks pretty neat and not a back price. Kind of an unusual item for Smarthome to offer - not exactly a ready to use product.

Dave Houst> Has anybody tried this?

Reply to
John, SW Missouri

Yes, it looked like a nice, low price point for a more than adequate feature set. Obviously they're moving further into geek-like stuff which seems like a good idea to me. They can bring greater negotiating power to bear on suppliers because of their size compared to some other players. That might benefit us in the long run because as Joerg noted, they're aware that there are magic "low price points" where people are willing to get their feet wet and buy 10 or more pieces at the same time.

But AFAICT, it's neither color nor backlight, and that's going to really limit its overall usefulness. I'm using a Fujitsu 3400 Stylistic tablet PC for a test of a wall-mounted touch screen interface. The horsepower behind that display and built in networking (well, sort of) make it a far different animal, programming wise, from the new Smarthome screen but it costs twice as much to buy and must consume far more electricity that the new LCD.

On the other hand, the Stylistic is brightly backlit and full color and can be used to automate anything that presents a mouse-clickable button on the screen and as long as I don't bite my fingernails, I can use it quite easily without a stylus.

It's good that the Smarthome unit comes caseless because mounting the Fujitsu so that it's 1) easy to remove for servicing, 2) not an eyesore and

3) legible from both standing and sitting has been impossible. The 3400 does NOT get a pass in that department, but I've always been disappointed at the loss of angle of view that came with the shift from CRT's to LCD's. So it's not the tablet PC's fault as much as it is an issue with (in this case ten year old) LCD display technology.

The Smarthome LCD looks like it would be easy to flush mount and feather into wallboard if you decided to submerge it. I would never mount a tablet PC like that due to maintenance issues, but a simple display screen would look really cool well-blended into the surface of the wall. The ideal LCD touchscreen would be indistinguishable from painted wallboard or wallpaper when not in use. LCD touchscreens, at least in my house, appear to have a low spouse approval rating. My wife doesn't even like wall switches with tiny LEDs, whether they glow with or against the state of the controlled load.

The PDF file at:

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cautioned against exposure to direct sunlight, so there could be a serious placement issue in many homes. I hope someone gets their hands on one to describe the LCD's visual qualities. That's where the rubber meets the road. People have gotten used to highly saturated, low power, contrasty and bright LCD displays on their cell phones so anything less suffers by comparison.

I think most people are going to be looking for full-motion capable color video, though. I was pleasantly surprised the tablet PC (400MHz Pentium III) could present FMV with ease. When enough small consumer video devices hit the market, the prices for backlit color touch LCD screens should really drop. The "DVD 02" marking on the edge of the frame in the product photo makes me wonder if these screens aren't really overruns from some consumer device. I'll keep waiting for commercial LCD TV chip and screen developments to push the prices even further down.

-- Bobby G.

Reply to
Robert Green


I've looked at the 3400 several times on eBay. The only thing that held me back was I have no idea how to make it work with my HA system.

If the Smarthome has no backlight - no wonder it's so cheap - I wouldn't use it myself.

I don't know that I really need a touch screen, but it is nice to have an LCD display. Some months back I was using a 4x20 bright blue backlit serial LCD from Peter Anderson to display various messages from my Homevision controller. I have 5 Elk keypads in the house and I can send various text messages to them by the M1G which could be triggered by a serial message from HV. These are only 2 lines by maybe 23 characters.

I have a Universal Remote MX3000 which I "intend" to use for HA was well as as a TV remote once I get HV back in service. This can do all my lighting/security control and the wife has adapted to it - which isn't always easy to get her to do ;-(

I also have a ADI Leopard touchscreen which was in use prior to the storm. When I find the box it's in I think I'll give that another go as well. Obviously the 3400 can do everything a serial LCD and the Leopard can do, plus run software like Homeseer to boot.

Most of the 3400s I'm seeing on eBay come with no OS or Windows 2000. What option do you have to replace the OS if necessary - most do not include a cdr IIRC.


Robert Green wrote:

Reply to
John, SW Missouri

If you go to the manufacturer's web page, it says it is backlighted. It may be that Smarthome is selling an earlier model. Expecting color at this price is really reaching. The best price for a color touchscreen is the ezLCD-002 at a bit over $200.

Your MX3000 can send 418MHz RF. roZetta is socketed for an RF receiver module and Mouser sells a 418Mhz versi>Bob,

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Reply to
Dave Houston

Once you have one, you'll find a number of uses for it that weren't obvious at first. I think I'll finally have to break down and get a wireless LAN PC card for it. The charm of a tablet PC is that you can take it around with you around the house pretty easily. It's turned out to be useful to have a PDF reader I can set out next to the washing machine to look at the repair manual. It would be more useful if I didn't have to preload things from the server but a 2GB CF card inside a PCMCIA adapter makes it pretty easy to move stuff on and off the machine. Much faster than the USB 1.1 port. The place I bought them on Ebay has 4GB cards for $66 and they're next on the list.

I searched the ad and the PDF file for "color" and "back" and "light" without much success. I was kind of surprised since I didn't think there was much demand for non-backlit LCD's. Someone's whose actually got one should confirm this.

It's a beautifully sharp display - the angle's just a little too restrictive for my taste, but as I've said, most LCD's are. I've loaded up some of the sample JPG's I got from the Charmed Quark site and they really look nice. You can design some pretty nice, personalized status displays using it and some of the other tools available. Display screen real estate is like closet space or hard drive space. There's never *really* a problem in finding things to fill them all up! I may end up buying CQ because I like the look of what some people have done with it so much.

I'm married to the X-10 8-in-1's for the same reason although it's really not as workable as it used to be with all the new keys appearing on DVD players and satellite and cable boxes. I've bought a URC-9910 from OFA for $30 that controls 8 devices, has learning, macros, RF, X-10 via IR and comes with a combo RF receiver and IR blaster WITH a little IR stick on emitter. Upgradeable over the phone, too, but ONLY via a corded, landline phone with long distance access. With everyone INLCUDING ME (!!) switching to cellphones as the main line, no wonder it was on sale.

And the 3400 costs a boatload less! It actually boots pretty quickly compared to a lot of other machines I own and goes in and out of the hibernation state without the truckload of issues slightly older PC's faced.

I was lucky enough to buy from a guy (Tim Coeling) who had configured all the handwriting recognition and touch drive software on the W2KPro that came pre-installed. At first I thought it was broken because I was too chicken to press hard enough with my finger or fingernail to get a response. Once you get the hang of it, it's really quite easy to use for both taps, double taps and even triple taps. I have pretty stubby fingers yet I can pretty reliably pick songs out from the Winamp list, close windows, operate program menus, etc. without problems. I think W2KP is your best bet with the machine. It seems to be the OS it was born and bred under.

I read somewhere in my continuing search for more data about the 3400 that Fujitsu has over a 50% market share for tablet PC's and it shows. It's a very well though out machine from what I have seen, so far.

As for backups, there are a number of ways. First, you need to buy a special floppy drive (got mine for $20 but the prices vary) so you can boot something like Ghost independently of the HD. The 3400 supports only floppy, HD and network booting, and the network booting I believe requires a port replicator or a cradle.

Then, the bootable hard disk needs to have a logical drive or partition created that you can place a compressed image of the C: drive backup on. After that, you can plug in a USB DVD writer and burn that Ghost image to DVD. At least that's the theory. What I will probably end up doing when the FD disk arrives is to take the 6GB drive out of the machine, mount it in a 2.5 to 3.5" adapter and clone it on my desktop machine so that I can repartition the drive into two volumes and the reload the OS to the first partition, saving the second one for temporary storage of the boot image. There are a number of other options.

The 3400 takes a PCMCIA adapter with a 2GB CF card (and maybe even a 4GB card - haven't tried one yet), so I could also write the boot image to that device. The real way to go is via the desktop cradle but I've not seen too many of them come up for sale on Ebay. I also have a PCMCIA card with SCSI and an old HP 4GB tape drive that supports complete backups from a C: drive without having to partition it into two volumes.

Needless to say, it's been a lot trickier than I expected, and my heart nearly stopped when the machine recently booted to the infamous BSOD with the nasty "Inaccessible_Boot_Drive" message. That occurred just after I had plugged in an 80GB shirtpocket drive that someone on Ebay had thrown in with an old digital camera thinking it was a CF card reader. (Boy oh boy was that the deal of the week!) Anyway, after searching and searching the web for clues, I finally decided I would unplug the CF/PCMCIA card I had been using and it booted up just fine. That's when I decided I had better leave it alone until the floppy arrives and I can Ghost the HD to preserve all the effort Tim went through in setting up the machine for me.

Anyway, when I open the machine, I'm going to ID the HD and try to buy some backup 6GB HD's that I can keep preloaded with a clone of the primary drive. I'm a little rusty on the IDE boundaries of that era, but IIRC 400MHz Pentiums often supported up to 32GB drives.

If anyone's running a hard drive greater than 6GB in their 3400, I'd like to know the make and model.

It would be nice to replace the little 6GB with a 32GB HD. Being able to buy WD250GB HD's with 8MB caches for $50 after rebate has spoiled me, I'm afraid. (-: 6GB is just too damn little space! Hard to believe my first (and at the time so seemingly capacious) HD was a 20MB CMI with 100 millisecond seek times.

-- Bobby

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