Surface Pro 2 type cover keyboard problem is fixed with the Alt key

Friday, July 11, 2014

For the past few months, I've been using a Surface Pro 2 and like some users out there, I've experienced a strange keyboard phenomenon. Call it a bug. Call it a glitch. It's not clear whether the problem is related to hardware, software, or both. I've experienced this on both the Type Cover 2 and the Power Cover, so I doubt that both keyboards are defective. The connectors on my Surface Pro 2 are clean.

Here's what happens:

The keys stop working. The mouse usually continues to work, but pressing the keys lead to unusual behavior. Pressing a key may delete sections of my work on Microsoft Word. Pressing a key may lead to a different website. Also, when clicking on a hyperlink, the Chrome browser downloads the link file and does not open the link. They keys may work on Internet Explorer, but then they don't work on Chrome. Strange. Also, if I try the virtual on-screen keyboard, I run into similar problems. The keys don't register on certain applications and they seem to work fine in other applications. Am I just going crazy here?

There is a solution: press the Alt key. You can also reboot, sleep/wake, or do some other things, but I've found that pressing the Alt key is the fastest (and easiest) solution so far. Detaching and reattaching the keyboard usually doesn't change anything.

So, why is this happening? It's annoying. People have reported this on the Microsoft forum "Surface Pro 2 Type keyboard randomly decides to quit working properly." Some claim that despite calls to technical support and replacing keyboards, they're still running into this issue.

I don't think I've run into this problem when I've been using the Surface Pro 2 in tablet-only mode (no attached keyboard). So, there's something to attaching a keyboard to the Surface Pro 2.

When will Microsoft release a permanent fix for this bug? Is everyone experiencing it, or just certain users? At first, I remember thinking that it may have been a glitch that would eventually go away, but the problem has persisted despite my efforts to Refresh and Reset Windows 8.

HP Pro x2 612 could be a promising combination

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Many of you have been waiting for the perfect combination of a Windows tablet PC that also converts to a laptop. People still love using iPads and Android tablets for information consumption, but nothing beats the accuracy and the usability of an active digitizer pen (such as the Wacom pen) when you're standing by the patient's bedside and jotting down notes in digital ink so that they can converted into type.

Older 1st and 2nd generation Atom-based tablet PCs have been very thin and light, but relatively slow and sluggish in their performance. Upgrading to a heavier tablet like the Surface Pro 2 provides ample horsepower at the expense of a very tired arm that's been holding a 2-pound tablet all day.

When's the winning combination going to arrive? For me, the winning combination would be 1 to 1.3 pounds for the tablet, 5+ hrs of real-world battery life, support a Wacom digitizer, and dock into a backlit keyboard that has adjustable viewing angles (not a fixed viewing angle keyboard dock). A power keyboard that includes an integrated battery is a plus, but not an essential feature.

Although the Lenovo ThinkPad 10 looks promising, it's still missing some critical features in my opinion: the keyboard dock is not backlit and it's a fixed angle keyboard. Otherwise, the ThinkPad 10 has almost everything else I'd be looking for in a light, thin tablet.

The Surface Pro 3 is another possible option if you're willing to use something a bit larger and heavier.


HP is releasing some new convertible tablet PCs this fall. They're adding to their HP Pro x2 lineup and the new model is the HP Pro x2 612. They currently sell the smaller HP Pro x2 410, so let's see what the new 612 brings to the table:

The 612 will have a 12.5" screen and weigh 2.22 pounds (tablet only). Thankfully, HP is going back to a Wacom-based digitizer on the 612. I suspect their experience with Atmel led them to return to Wacom. The 612 will dock into a backlit keyboard or a keyboard that includes an internal battery to extend overall battery life. The tablet + power keyboard will weigh 4.09 pounds.

The 410 has an 11.6" screen and weighs 1.8 pounds (tablet only). Unfortunately, the 410 does not include an active digitizer and it only comes with a standard keyboard dock (no backlit keys, no internal battery option). To me, the 410 sounds more like a consumer device and the 612 is a true business/professional device.

So, the 612 could be a real winner, but at 2.22 pounds for the tablet, that may just be an arm-buster for some. You can justify the heavier weight since you're getting 12.5" of screen space. By comparison, the Surface Pro 2 weighs 2 pounds but you're only getting 10.6" of screen space. The new Surface Pro 3 weighs 1.76 pounds and provides 12" of screen space. Microsoft was able to make a thinner, larger Surface Pro 3 and reduce the weight. Impressive.

I'm still waiting for that ideal combination of a thin, light (1 to 1.3 lbs) tablet that supports an active digitizer pen. The ThinkPad 10 may be the closest thing to that right now, but I'll continue to wait because I'm certain that someone will come out with one soon. Maybe it'll be a Windows 9 tablet.

Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1

Friday, June 13, 2014

Need a small rugged tablet running Windows 8? The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 is a 7" Windows 8 tablet that is powered by an Intel Core i5 vPro processor. You can also choose a Celeron processor option. That means it will provide very fast performance in a small, durable form factor. How durable? MIL-STD-810G, 5-foot drop and all-weather IP65 dust and water resistant design. The battery can be replaced by the user and Panasonic is offering several battery options including a standard battery (8 hrs) or a long-life extended battery (16 hrs). The 7" screen is 1280x800 and will have the ability to support normal multi-touch along with gloved touch.

Tablet computers used in the hospital environment are often dropped or mishandled (not intentionally, but emergencies do come up when patients fall or need something urgently). Having a rugged case may help protect some tablets, but using a tablet that's designed to be rugged is really the ideal.

A 7" tablet is a really nice size for pocketability. The FZ-M1 is only 1.2 lbs so it will fit right into a while coat pocket. If you're looking for a larger rugged tablet, the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 is a 10" rugged tablet running Windows 8, but that thing weighs 2.5 lbs (with a standard battery) and it's not going to fit in your white coat pocket.  

Surface Pro 3 vs. ThinkPad Tablet 10

Thursday, May 22, 2014

By now, you've heard of the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3 that's replacing the current Surface Pro 2. The Surface Pro 3 is larger, thinner, and lighter than the Pro 2. It even has a redesigned hinge that makes the tablet much more functional and 9 hrs of battery life sounds very compelling given that this device is powered by an Intel Haswell processor. However, the switch away from Wacom and to an N-Trig pen has me wondering if the new tablet will suffer from digitizer and inking issues. I'm sure that N-Trig has come a long way since their earlier generation pens and technology, but I do not like the fact that the pen requires batteries (especially since AAAA batteries don't last very long and can be a bit more difficult to find).

Although the Surface Pro 3 is improved in so many ways, the main drawbacks for me are: the N-Trig pen and the larger size. If they had stayed with Wacom, then I think it would have been a true winner. But, I don't know that they would have been able to keep the device so think and light if they had stayed with Wacom digitizer technology. The larger size is great if you need a laptop, but if you plan to carry this device around all day and use it while you're standing, then a 10" screen is sufficient and a 12" screen is too much.

One of the other newly announced Windows 8 tablet PCs is the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 10. This is the successor to the thin, light ThinkPad Tablet 2. This time, Lenovo has created what they're calling an "Ultrabook Keyboard" that will deliver a true laptop-like experience when you're typing. One of the major drawbacks of this keyboard: the tablet sits at a single, fixed angle. At least the angle is steeper (and more functional) than the keyboard angle that we saw with its successor: the ThinkPad Tablet 2 and its Bluetooth keyboard. Lenovo has decided to stay with a 3rd generation, low-power Intel Atom processor that delivers plenty of processing capabilities while keeping the device thin and light. Lenovo has stayed with a Wacom pen for this new ThinkPad.

There's no doubt that the ThinkPad Tablet 10 has major improvements over the ThinkPad Tablet 2. However, the major drawbacks for me include: the keyboard is not backlit and the tablet only sits on the keyboard at a fixed angle.

Both the Surface Pro 3 and the ThinkPad Tablet 10 offer major upgrades from previous versions. Let's see what types of "real world" reviews start showing up over the next few months. By then, I'm sure that Dell, HP, Asus, and others will have some new models as well.



After 12 years, farewell Windows XP

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It's hard to believe that Windows XP has been a dominant computer operating system for 12 years. Well, it's time to close that chapter, so Microsoft is announcing today (April 8, 2014) that they are ending support for Windows XP.

They have said:

Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But now the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.

As a result, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date. (If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time, but this does not mean that your PC will be secure because Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates to help protect your PC.)

If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter greater numbers of apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP.


AirStrip Acquires Sense4Baby

Thursday, March 27, 2014

AirStrip today announced that it is acquiring Sense4Baby, the developer of a wireless fetal and maternal monitoring system. Through this acquisition, AirStrip will enable women to undergo non-stress testing to monitor fetal and maternal heart rate and contraction patterns using non-invasive sensors at physicians’ offices, clinics and ambulances. The full press release is below:

AIRSTRIP ACQUIRES SENSE4BABY, INC. ASSETS, INCLUDING WIRELESS FETAL/MATERNAL MONITORING SYSTEM

Mobile healthcare leader achieves another first: mobilizing waveform data from non-invasive sensors operating outside hospital walls for high-risk pregnancies

SAN ANTONIO – March 27, 2014 – AirStrip, the leading provider of mobile healthcare solutions that drive clinical transformation, has acquired the assets of Sense4Baby, Inc., the developer of a wireless fetal/maternal monitoring system to perform non-stress testing (NST) for high-risk pregnancies, and licensed the associated technology from the Gary and Mary West Health Institute. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sense4Baby received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a CE mark from the European Commission in 2013 to commercialize its medical device in clinical settings. The acquisition by AirStrip will initially allow women to undergo non-stress testing to monitor fetal and maternal heart rate and contraction patterns using non-invasive sensors at physicians’ offices, clinics and ambulances. AirStrip’s future plans for the Sense4Baby technology include seeking FDA clearance for home-based monitoring.

The patient data from the Sense4Baby system will be mobilized using AirStrip ONE® – the industry’s first enterprise-wide interoperable mobility solution. AirStrip ONE delivers vendor- and data source-agnostic information from multiple sources and care settings to support multiple caregivers and mobile device form factors.

Microsoft OneNote now free and available across multiple platforms

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Microsoft has released a free version of OneNote to compete against the free version of Evernote. You can learn more by going to http://www.onenote.com

You can install OneNote for:
  • Windows
  • Mac
  • iOS
  • Android
For those who prefer "inking" with an active stylus, OneNote is a better app that provides more features and functionality over Evernote if you're using a Windows tablet. Now you can access those hand-written notes across all your mobile devices and on the web on OneNote.com.

The free version of OneNote doesn't offer all the features/functions as the paid version of OneNote

About Dr. Joseph Kim

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Dr. Joseph Kim is the founder of MobileHealthComputing.com, an independent website owned and operated by Dr. Kim. He is also the President of MCM Education, a professional medical education and publishing company that develops continuing medical education (CME) activities in joint sponsorship with medical universities, hospitals, and medical associations. Dr. Kim is a digital entrepreneur and technologist who has a passion for health information technology, mobile health, and social media. He frequently speaks at conferences about non-clinical careers for physicians, continuing medical education, mobile health technology, and social media in medicine. Dr. Kim holds a bachelor of science in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a doctorate of medicine from the University of Arkansas College of Medicine, and a master of public health from the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health.
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