N10 Touchscreen Modification by Darkjeric Edit
Allright, so today is the long awaited day (and yet it will be delayed some more, but do read on ). My touchscreen kit arrived at my door, and it appears to be a beauty. The box itself was very light, to the point I almost thought it was empty. Luckily, I was wrong.
The box includes:
- 10.2" touch glass-plate
- Cool pen (more on that later)
- Controller Board + USB2.0 Hub AiO
- Some USB cables
- Driver disc
- Double-sided tape
- Some flyers and sheets explaining some stuff
So, that's quite a lot for the price, don't you think? I got it from the manufacturers themselves for $96 (about €65) on http://www.fidohub.com, but I'm sure you can find the same kit at deal-prices from eBay. Just look for Hoda Technologies (it uses an Eeti touch panel) and you should be good to go. What's special about this kit is that they included a USB2.0 hub on the controller board, so you attach this IC to the webcam cable, and the touch panel and webcam to the USB-ports of the IC. It even comes with 2 other spare ports for future expansion. For example, if I find enough space, I'm thinking of adding a GPS module. Most other kits do not include this Hub, so you cannot connect the webcam to anything, and it will not work anymore!
Now, on the pen: When you first hold it, it feels a little cheap and 'plasticy' and you hear something rolling around, but it's actually quite an ingenious design. That clicking sound even is a consequence of the feature this pen has. It is a hybrid pen, it has a real ballpoint tip AND a stylus tip inside of it! The way it works is quite convenient, there are two labels at either side of the top of the pen, one with the color of the ballpoint tip and one with a PC-icon. When you hold the pen with the ballpoint color facing upwards and click (like any normal ballpoint), the normal ballpoint will come out. But when you hold the pen the other way around, with the PC icon facing upwards, by some magical wonders the stylus top will come out. It might not be much, but I find this quite amazing.
So, here are my impressions after taking apart the N10. The machine itself is quite tightly fit together, but not impossible to take apart. It's design is quite ingenious, with no more screws than necessary. I do advise the use of a fine guitar plectrum or old credit card to click apart the plastic parts, so you don't break any of the click mechanisms. If you do, the plastic plates won't fit together as nicely as before again!
The problem with the Wifi-switch is also kind of solved. The switch itself is still broken, but I can now switch it on or off software-wise. The switch itself is quite cheap, just two pieces of plastic attached to the switch-button that enclose a black piece of plastic that attaches to the hardware switch on the motherboard. So in my case, one of the plastic bits attached to the switch-button has broken off, meaning I cannot move the black switch from outside. So I've now put it permanently on (it beats having no WiFi at all) and I've also noticed that turning it off software-wise almost reduces the power-draw by the same amount as turning it off by the hardware switch.
So here's my report of the Hoda Technologies Easy and Fun TouchKit. First off, I'd like to thank Hoda for their great service. The first panel I'm pretty sure was dead-on-arrival, but they didn't make any fuss about it and sent a replacement panel without any questioning. That's something unheard of here in Europe, but I really appreciated it.
So now for the big moment: Do I like the N10J with a touch screen? The short and plain answer: HELL YEAH! The touch-panel is very smooth and responds as well as you can expect from a resistive touch screen. Working in Windows now is a breeze, as you don't lose all that time moving around the cursor. You just click what you want to click and be done with it.
As said before, the pen is a work of genious. You're working with the touch-tip, and suddenly someone says you need to write down something on a piece of plain-old analog paper. Normally, you'd have to go searching for another pen, but not with this one. You just close it up, turn it the other way around and click it again, and out comes a regular ballpoint you can write with (see the video for a small and very blurry presentation)!
The drivers are very clear, and come with loads of features. You can set the mode to any of 6 different types, but the Default one is the one I guess most users will be content with (as am I). The auto right-click is also something really user friendly, and you can set the time it waits to register a right-click. For example, I've set it to 750ms, so when I click and hold on the exact same spot for 750ms, it doesn't register a normal left-click but a right-click.
As said before, the touchscreen is very smooth to touch and responds very well. It does work a lot better with the pen, because it's resistive. With your normal finger tip, you do have to press it a little harder than would be considered comfortable, but the Windows buttons are too small anyway. So using the pen is very much advised. What can be done however is what I do: Sitting on a comfy couch, scrolling through Google Reader with the pen, and selecting different feeds on the left with your left hand fingers. Really easy to do now.
Another positive note is that the touch-panel itself turns the screen a bit less mirror-like. Don't get me wrong, it still is bright enough (I still never turn it above 20%), but the mirror you were looking at before when reading in sun-light now shows a clearly readable screen!
One thing I noticed is it does eat up some considerable power. I've got the bigger 7200mAh battery, and before I got between 6-8hrs. Now, BattStat reports about 3hrs30-4hrs working time, which I found to be quite exact. I'm looking for an even bigger battery now (heard there's a 7800mAh somewhere ), but I don't see this as a big obstacle either way. When Windows 7 comes it will boot more quickly, so swapping batteries won't be as tough to do during lessons as it is now.
Overall, I think this is one of the best mods you can do to your N10. It doesn't destroy anything when you do it properly, and hardly requires any soldering. The only thing I had to do was solder the two provided extension cables together and lengthen the connector for the touch-panel a bit. The copper cable attached to the panel is really weak, so I made the connection inside the screen case instead of in the bottom case (the copper cable wouldn't survive the route through the little side wholes above the two screen hinges I presume).
As said before, the N10 doesn't use any USB-connectors on the motherboard, so it isn't as easy to pull off as in the EeePC's. But I found a very convenient way: route the cable externally and hook it up to a USB-port. That way, when you don't want the touch-functionality, you can just unplug the cable and get 3 extra hours of battery life.
Another great thing about this set is the included USB2.0 hub on the controller board. I'm thinking of getting some sort of GPS-module to attach to it, wouldn't that be great? Only problem is I'll soon need a 10800mAh battery, or I'll suffer some 20 minutes of power.
Overview of the box and its contents (I put it alongside the N10 so you can see how big/small it is).
I apoligize for the pretty lame and boring video. I was planning to do a full video review of the N10 with the touchscreen, but turns out the only cameras that do video are a cheap Panasoninc one (that doesn't record the sound properly except some really annoying background noise) and the N10 webcam (which would be pretty hard to record the screen with ). So it's just a silent video showing of the use of the touchscreen for now, if I ever get a better camera I'll redo the whole thing.
It does show a great demo of playing Solitaire on the N10, which is what I'll be playing the entire year as of now. The touch just makes it a whole lot more fun. You can watch the movie here.