Since then I saw a couple of reviews that simply copied parts of the press release, even using some strange (if not incorrect) names for some technologies used on this new tablet PC, without the correct information being passed on.
I will try bringing some light to this. And it's all very simple, but I haven't seen it explained anywhere before, so let's go...
The Portégé R400 tablet PC comes with an external display based on Windows Vista SideShow technology, that enables laptop manufacturers to include a secondary or auxiliary display in their designs:
This display can be used to easily view the critical information you need, whether the laptop is on, off, or in sleep mode. The convenience provided by these auxiliary displays will save time and battery life by allowing you to quickly view meeting schedules, phone numbers, addresses, and recent e-mail messages without having to start up your laptop.
Toshiba's Personal Information Assistant is the SideShow display. The Personal Information Assistant can display information from your e-mail store, Microsoft Outlook for example. But now comes the interesting part: how the e-mail gets there in first place.
Even though the official press releases (and the "reviews") call the process Microsoft’s Active Notifications, it is actually the good old Microsoft Direct Push system, based on Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 with Service Pack 2. The same system used to push e-mail to Windows Mobile devices.
But the folks at Toshiba did really well and there are actually three ways of getting your e-mail information out on the SideShow display. Two modes require the laptop to be active and running, while the third mode does not require the laptop to be on at all.
To start with it works because the Portégé R400 tablet PC comes with a built-in CDMA EVDO data adapter, connected through Verizon Wireless. Remember, ActiveSync with Direct Push on Windows Mobile devices works only over cellular data connections, but not over Wi-Fi, and it is the same on this tablet PC.
How these three modes work?
The first mode is called Poll Mode and it will actually query the Exchange Server at set intervals for new e-mails and download any new messages. The number of new items will be shown on the SideShow display.
In the Direct Push Mode the laptop will establish a connection to the server, and any new e-mails will be sent down through this path, exactly like on Windows Mobile 5.0 with Direct Push technology (MSFP).
Both these modes require the laptop to "wake-up" or stay on to work.
The third mode is more interesting. Called Direct Push No Wake Mode, it will not require the laptop to wake up, but only the e-mail subjects will be downloaded and shown directly on the SideShow, er, Personal Information Assistant display.
Interesting how those reviews didn't bother explaining this...
Other related posts:
Windows 8 Mail app not hyperlinking emails
Are we seeing the death of Windows RT?
Windows 8 Consumer Preview
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