Tablet PC Presentation Woes

In the July 30 edition of Networking UPDATE: Mobile & Wireless Edition (, I mentioned that I would be taking my Motion Computing M1200 Tablet PC with me on my annual excursion to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for the Experimental Aviation Association's AirVenture show. While I was there, I used the M1200 to give two presentations, and unfortunately I ran into problems. Like most notebook computers, Tablet PCs provide VGA connectors for an external video display. On the two "convertible" notebook/tablet units I've tested (Acer's Travelmate C-102 and Toshiba's Protege 3500), the external video worked just as I expected, duplicating the built-in LCD's image. I had used the Acer device in this manner a few months ago, so I anticipated no problems with the M1200. Wrong! Using a feature called Dual-View, which is similar to the multi-monitor feature on desktop computers that have multiple display adapters, pure-slate Tablet PCs such as the M1200 treat external video as a completely separate display surface. In some respects, this feature is beneficial: For example, using Microsoft PowerPoint XP, you can simultaneously view your speaker's notes on the built-in LCD and your slides on the external video. Unfortunately, I wasn't using PowerPoint. For one presentation, I wanted to use the Slide Show feature that Microsoft Office XP adds to Windows Explorer to simply show a collection of pictures. For the other presentation, I needed to demonstrate some aviation software running on the Tablet PC. When I realized that I had two completely separate display surfaces, I was briefly stumped. However, after some experimentation, I found that I could drag a window from the LCD display to the external display (which Windows XP for Tablet PC treats as an extended desktop). However, the Tablet PC stylus worked only on the built-in LCD display. One workaround for the stylus glitch is to plug in a USB mouse (or the M1200's external keyboard, which includes a touchpad). By pushing the mouse to the right, you can roll the pointer off the built-in display and onto the external display. Unfortunately, I didn't have a mouse or external keyboard with me in Oshkosh. The crowd was small, so I simply had people gather around the M1200 while I performed the demonstration. When I returned home, I began searching for a better solution, and I found one, although it's not perfect: Microsoft has developed the Extended Desktop for Tablet PC PowerToy. The tool places a window, initially containing a grid, on the LCD. When you move the stylus over the grid, you get a mouse pointer on the external display. Any application that's using the external display interprets stylus taps within the grid as mouse clicks. You can also configure the tool to show a scaled version of the external display's image on the built-in LCD, although this functionality noticeably slows performance. The Extended Desktop for Tablet PC PowerToy is a step in the right direction, and I'll use it the next time I use the M1200 for a presentation. However, what I really want is a way to display the same image simultaneously on both the internal and external display. If any readers know a solution, please write and let me know. In the meantime, if you've experienced similar frustrations, go to to download the Extended Desktop for Tablet PC PowerToy (as well as other PowerToys, including one that lets you modify the Tablet PC's built-in handwriting-recognition dictionary).

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