Fall 2005 Tablet PC Buyer’s Guide

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It is exciting to see that this year we have more Tablet PC choices than ever! There are so many in fact that it can be downright frustrating for the consumer to find the right model to fit his or her individual needs. We will try to cut the clutter and marketing hype out of the equation in this guide and focus on the overall specific features and benefits that define the various models – and hopefully provide you, the consumer the direction you need to make a great choice in your Tablet PC!

So just how many big name brands are offering Tablet PC’s currently? Probably more than you would think. Just look at this list:

  • Acer
  • Averatec
  • Compaq & HP Compaq
  • Electrovaya
  • Fujitsu
  • Gateway
  • IBM (Lenovo)
  • Motion Computing
  • Panasonic
  • Sharp
  • Toshiba
  • Viewsonic

  • To make this guide easy to follow, we have created three categories of “Tablet PC users” and organized the various models accordingly. Please note that we have placed the models under certain categories based on our (humble) opinion.


    1. “The Student/Home User”

    This group can best be described as being budget-conscious and in need of a reliable, versitile Tablet that can handle everything from common daily computer tasks to essential communications and entertainment-oriented computing. If you are a note-taker who wants to connect to the web, write papers, do some occassional photo editing and listen to mp3’s – this is YOU!
     
    OUR RECOMMENDEND MODELS:

     Toshiba Toshiba Satellite R15-S822

    The Toshiba Satellite R15 
    This model offers a competitive price and will provide the overall basic computing power necessary for a student or home user who needs to perform essential computing tasks. The large 14.1″ display is easy on the eyes and this model has built-in wireless which no student can be without! Read our review of the R15 here.



     Acer Acer TravelMate C312XCi - Pentium M 740 1.73 GHz - 14.1

    The Acer TravelMate C312
    The Acer C312 is a bit scaled down in overall power from the popular C314 model. The good news is that the price is scaled down along with it. A student or home user who has a bigger budget might wish to get this model which features include a dedicated graphics solution.



     Gateway Gateway CX2610 - Pentium M 740 1.73 GHz - 14

    The Gateway CX2610
    Although we have not yet reviewed this model, we can’t help but add it as a consideration to users in this student/home category. With it’s 14″ widescreen display and ample power under the hood, this could be a great option especially for uses who plan to watch DVD’s on their Tablet PC.

     


    2. “The Mobile Professional/Field Academic”

    This group are the business users who travel often and the researchers who need to carry their Tablet PC’s around constantly. This group is looking for a lightweight, compact device that has long battery life. Cost is not a big factor here, this machine will be a “tax-deductable” purchase. Note that unless otherwise stated, the models listed in this group do not include a built-in optical drive, but that is a reasonable compromise to keep size and weight to a minimum.

    OUR RECOMMENDEND MODELS:

     IBM (Lenovo) ThinkPad X41 Tablet 1866 - Pentium M 758 1.5 GHz - 12.1

    The IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad X41
    The ThinkPad name is certainly familiar to the traveling business professional. At just 3.5 pounds, and with its ultra compact design this model is the “most portable” of all of the convertibles on the market today. With added security features and a durable housing, the ThinkPad X41 makes a perfect companion to take on the road. Our review of the coveted X41 is available here.



     Fujitsu Fujitsu Stylistic ST5031D Tablet PC - Pentium M 753 1.2 GHz - 12.1

    The Fujitsu ST5000
    The  Fujitsu ST5000 slate model offers indoor/outdoor screen options, excellent security and incredibly long battery life. The slate form factor can’t be beat for size and weight. As always, consumers can expect outstanding customer service from Fujitsu to take care of their needs both “on” and “off” the road. Check out our review of the ST5000 here.





    The Fujitsu LifeBook T4000
    The T4000 convertible is a perfect compromise between weight, size performance and offers an integrated optical drive. For road warriors who just can’t do without a built-in CD and/or DVD burner, this is the model for you. Besides who doesn’t want to sneak a movie in on that long flight to NYC anyway? We have a review of the T4000 on our notebook site here.



     Compaq & HP Compaq HP Compaq tc4200
    The HP Compaq TC4200 (convertible Tablet PC)
    This business class model from HP features a solid and sturdy build, quite good battery life and a compact size for a competitive price. This model feels just as solid as the ThinkPad X41 from IBM for hundreds less, however it is a bit larger and a couple of pounds heavier. Read up on our review of the TC4200 here.



    Fujitsu Fujitsu LifeBook P1510D Notebook

    The Fujitsu Lifebook P1500
    The P1500 is an interesting breed of its own. There has been a debate as to whether this tiny machine is truly a “Tablet PC”. However the most recent update from Fujitsu insures that it can wear the label since it now runs on Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Keep in mind that the P1500 has a fairly small 8.9″ wide format display, but weighs only 2.1 lbs. This may not be a practical full time computing solution, but when it comes to portability, this model can’t be beat.


     Electrovaya Electrovaya Scribbler SC 3000 

    The Electrovaya Scribbler SC 3000
    A nice lightweight and popular slate model from the Canadian Electrovaya. Electrovaya offers a very nice dock and innovative extended power supply solutions. This slate is yet another nice option for users seeking the slate form factor in a Tablet PC. Read our review of the Scribbler SC 3000 here.

     


    3. “The Power User/Uber Techie”

    This group are the users who want a solid desktop replacement that will glide through the most CPU demanding tasks with ease. From 3D rendering to hardcore gaming and movie editing – these users want a machine that will handle anything you can throw at it. However this kind of power will come at the cost of limited battery life and more size and weight.

    OUR RECOMMENDEND MODELS:

     Toshiba Toshiba Tecra M4-S435

    The Toshiba Tecra M4
    The Tecra M4 is the most feature packed and powerful Tablet PC on the market today. With the highest native screen resolution of all Tablet models – powered by NVIDIA PCI Express dedicated graphics this machine is a top choice for animators and gamers alike. The M4 weighs in at over 6 lbs., but again we are recommending the models in this category as desktop replacements. The compromise for this kind of power is a large and heavy machine – but in the Tablet PC and Notebook industry it’s all a game of give and take. Read further about the M4 in our review here.




     Acer Acer TravelMate C312XCi - Pentium M 740 1.73 GHz - 14.1

    The Acer TravelMate C314
    The Acer C314 is the “big brother” to the more economical C312. This machine offers essentially the same firepower as the Toshiba Tecra M4, however the native screen resolution is limited to 1024 x 768 pixels. The benefit to going with the Acer vs. Toshiba however is more bang for the buck since 1GB of RAM standard and higher CPU speeds are common on most preconfigured units priced around the same mark as the Toshiba M4. Our review of the Acer C314 is here.



    We wish you the best of luck in your Tablet PC shopping quest!

    Barry

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