Care and Feeding, Tablet PC Style
You have a $2,000-plus baby on your hands and the last thing you want to do is abuse it or lose it (or drop it on its head). Tablet PCs typically have one-year warranties, but those often don't cover certain components, such as the all-important touch screen. So the best solution is to stop stuff from happening to your Tablet PC in the first place.
Tablet PCs are pretty neat little things, and some people (not the nice ones) may want to steal yours. There are a few ways to prevent that — or at least make the thing useless to others if they do make off with yours.
Keeping your Tablet PC in good condition
Deep, deep inside your user's guide is a section telling you what you should and shouldn't do to keep your Tablet PC in good condition — but if you're like everybody else in the world, you never read that stuff. So, in a nutshell, here's how to take care of your model:
- Don't use a pen stylus that's not approved by your manufacturer. Doing so could hurt your screen and void your warranty. In addition, don't use a non-Tablet PC type of pen on your screen — ever.
- Use only recommended screen-cleaning cloths. Most units come with one. If yours didn't (or you lose it), go for a 3M Scotch-Brite High-Performance Cloth, which you'll find in your office or computer supply store. Also, because you may use a slightly damp cleaning cloth to clean your screen, it's a good idea to turn the power off and disconnect the power source if you don't want to become toast.
- Keep water away from your Tablet PC. Think of it as a cat that would get really, really mad if you put it in a bathtub. Also, you might get yourself electrocuted if you drop the Tablet PC into that same bathtub with the power cord plugged in, and you don't want that to happen.
- Don't use a power cord that didn't come with your unit. Again, this could void your warranty — besides blowing up your computer.
- Be careful about the computer screen. You can buy screen protectors, a carrying case, or wrap your screen in a blanket, but don't just leave it lying around with no protection.
- Don't leave the computer in direct sunlight, or put it near something really hot like a radiator or heat vent. Don't ask what happens, just don't do it — it's not a pretty picture!
- Conversely (there's always a "conversely"), don't leave your computer in the Artic Circle or your refrigerator. Temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit can also do damage. If you do expose your computer to extreme changes in temperature or humidity — and condensation forms on or inside the screen — let it evaporate before you turn the computer on.
- Here's a two-parter: a) Don't rest your Tablet PC on an uneven surface, and b) don't drop it. When you're working, keep the Tablet PC on a flat surface so you don't end up dealing with a or b. Also, don't place anything heavy on it (like the dog or a Hyundai).
- Don't put it somewhere really dusty or dirty.
So what about that trek down the Grand Canyon? Carry your Tablet PC in a case or leave it home (unless your home is really dusty or dirty).
On the road . . . again
Basically this whole article consists of warnings, so here are some special ones for travelers:
- Don't check your Tablet PC as baggage and don't let it go through the now ubiquitous metal detector. Security scans are fine, but metal detectors do weird and wonderful magnetic tricks that — well, let's just say your Tablet PC wouldn't like it.
- Protect your pen when you travel. If your unit provides a slot for your pen, keep it in the slot while you travel.
- Have a charged battery with you in case the airport security folks ask you to start up your Tablet PC. If you can't start it up, they may dump it in a bucket of water to defuse it, and that's a really bad thing.
- Don't use the wireless operation while on a plane. It makes pilots really mad.
- If you're going out of the country, bring adapters with you.
Keeping thieves at bay
Everybody is going to want your Tablet PC. Unfortunately, some people will act on the impulse (or at least try to). You can, of course, set up your Windows user password to keep information on the Tablet PC safe if someone manages to walk away with it.
Naturally, you'd rather not have anyone take your Tablet PC in the first place. Certainly, if someone does manage to take it, do your best to keep Mr. or Ms. Sticky Fingers from getting anywhere near the Windows operating system. (Accessing the operating system brings a criminally minded individual one step closer to cracking your password.)
To stop theft from happening, follow this ridiculously obvious rule: Don't leave your Tablet PC unguarded.
But wait, there's more:
- Consider getting a computer security lock. One end of this lock fits into a slot in your computer, with the other end wrapped around a table leg or your wrist to keep it secure. Only the key that you have can unlock the cable from your computer and enable you to walk away with your computer.
- Use a Smart Card. Your Tablet PC may have come with a Smart Card, or you can buy one that fits into a card slot. Smart Card technology ensures that if somebody tries to turn on your Tablet PC and doesn't insert the card, the Tablet PC won't complete the boot sequence. The downside is that you're not likely to get back the data you lost (and you can forget about seeing the Tablet PC again), but the good news is that no one else will be able to use information stored on it.
If you just can't get comfortable with the idea of having your Tablet PC stolen and taking the financial hit of that loss, get insurance so you can buy another one (and sleep nights).