Tablet PCs

March 4th , 2004

Introduction

Tablet PCs are an alternative to laptops for those requiring more flexibility inputting data. Two designs are prominent. The convertible is useable as a laptop and typically has a screen that flips around exposing the screen on what would otherwise be the outside of the device. The slate-type of tablet is a more compact, lightweight version which does not typically come with a keyboard at all, except if docked in an optional docking station. 

 

Tablets otherwise are fully functional computers running a special version of Windows XP designed just for them. Microsoft Office version 2003 also has tablet extensions that take advantage of handwritten and recorded audio inputs and makes those part of the document. One optionally can choose to have Optical character recognition (OCR) software interpret your handwriting and turn it into typewritten text. All of these features make tablets an interesting alternative to laptops.

 

General

Tablet PCs were announced late in the year 2002. By the end of 2003 about 500,000 units were sold. It started out mostly a Microsoft initiative and is still driven mostly by the tablet edition of Windows XP and limited tablet applications.  By November 2003 twenty six companies were offering Table PCs.

User experiences seem favourable although many expressed concerns about the perceived flimsiness and change in work habits. Problems have been cited with fingerprints visible on the screen, glare in certain lighting conditions, hardware problems to do with the pivoting of the screen and heat, not just with the unit on your lap but with your hand resting on it. The optical character recognition seems to be pretty good, out-of-the-box, but comments were made that owners feel they are more efficient typing. Electronic ink, as its called, seems to be a hit with presenters.

Classes of Tablets Available

Convertible

Description

Display rotates so you can use the tablet as a standard notebook if desired.

Models Available (March 2004)

Model

Size (in)

Weight (lbs)

Memory

CPU

Docking Station Option

Removable Slate

Built in CD or DVD

Price (List) (Provided only as a ball-park)

Acer TravelMate C110

10.4

3.2

512MB

1GHz M

No

No

No

$1679 US

Acer TravelMate C250PE

14.1

8.4

512MB

2.6GH

No

No

Yes

$1399 US

Acer TravelMate C300

14

6.2

512MB

1.5GHz+ M

Yes

No

Yes

$1879 US

Electovaya Scribbler 2010

12.1

3

512MB

1.2GHz+ M

Included

Yes

No

$2599 US

Fujitsu LifeBook T3010D

12.1

4.18

512MB

1.4GHz M

Yes

No

No

$2049 US

Gateway M275XL

14.1

5.7

512MB

1.6GHz M

?

No

Yes

$2335 US

HP Compaq TC1100

10.4

4

512MB

1GHz

Yes

Yes

No

$2299 US

Sharp Actius TN10W

12.1

4.2

512MB

1.1GHz M

No

No

No

$1999 US

Toshiba Portege M200

12.1

4.4

512MB

1.5GHz M

Yes

No

No

$2299 US

Viewsonic V1250

12

3.9

256MB

1GHz M

Yes

No

No

$1859 US

 

Slate

Description

Primarily use the display as the input method. Some have the option of a docking station to add additional functionality. These are very light (2.2lbs to 3.2lbs).

Models Available

Model

Size (in)

Weight (lbs)

Memory

CPU

Docking Station Option

Optional Keyboard

Price (List)

FIC SlateVision

10.4

3.08

Up to 512

800MHz Crusoe

Yes

Yes

 

Gateway Tablet PC D

12.1

3

256MB

1GHz M

No

Yes

$2356 US

NEC Versa Litepad

10.4

2.2

Up to 512

933MHz M

Yes

Yes (included)(USB)

$2399 US

Fujitzu ST5010D

12.1

3.4

Up to 512

1GHz M

Yes

Yes (also wireless)

$2449 US

Motion Computing M1300

12.1

3

512MB

1GHz M

Yes

Yes

$2271 US

Viewsonic V1100

10.4

3.4

Up to 512

866MHz M

Yes

Yes

$1999 US

 

Preferred Features

After some evaluation those of us looking into tablets zeroed in on the features we appreciated the most and identified the following as preferable.

Experiences

Just a few comments from user experiences on the internet as well as my own:

Some of the problems that became apparent include:

Pluses of tablets over laptops include:

References

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/tabletpc/evaluation/toptenbenefits.asp : Top 10 Benefits of a Tablet PC

http://www.tabletpctalk.com/faqs/hwcomparison2004.shtml : Great comparison table of newest models from 10 vendors

http://www.tabletpcs.net/modules.php?name=Hardware_comparision : Another good hardware comparison table

http://www.escstore.com/dept.asp?dept_id=26 is a good link showing the more popular models, general features and their price.

http://global.acer.com/products/tablet_pc/index.htm : Acer Tablet PCs

http://www.gateway.com/home/products/hm_ptb_catalog.shtml?cmlid=consumer*Corp_Home*Banner_FreeshipNTB*HOMEPage : Gateway

http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/tabletpc/ : HP Compaq

http://www.shoptoshiba.ca/webapp/commerce/command/CategoryDisplay?cgmenbr=2071&cgrfnbr=87435 : Toshiba

http://www.viewsonic.com/products/tablet_pc.htm : Viewsonic

http://www.fmworld.net/globalpc/products/tablet.html : Fujitsu

http://www.electrovaya.com : Electrovaya home

http://www.geek.com/hwswrev/hardware/electrotab/index.htm : Electrovaya Scribbler Review

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/tabletpc/evaluation/tours/default.asp : Windows XP Tablet PC Edition Demos

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/tabletpc/howtobuy/default.asp : How to Buy a Tablet PC

 

 


Created by: Manfred Grisebach, IST – Systems, Last modified March 8th, 2004