CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
One of my favorite Tablet PC vendors, Motion Computing announced the smallest, lightest PC with Microsoft's Windows Tablet PC 2005 yesterday (thanks Engadget). The company's home page does a nice job of comparing this newest gizmo to their flagship LE1600 in terms of size and specs. I have the earlier version of the flagship model, so I'm already sold on Tablet PCs. The New York Times also had a small piece on the announcement.
I use it not so much for notes and hand-writing recognition, which I know it can do and is the main way the device is marketed. Instead, I find it's a great thing to have around the house for casual, impromptu web-surfing and web-reading. The latter is increasingly important as over half of what I read comes through the web. The device allows reading documents in portrait style rather than the usual landscape mode on a laptop or a desktop.
As readers of this site may know, I've been waiting some time for a device the size of a paperback (a la the new LS800) that allows web-reading AND wireless Internet telephony on the go. I've posted in the past on devices that go in that direction, from companies like Audiovox, Samsung, Nokia, Palm, and others. Much of this discussion has been in the emerging category of "handtop" PCs. Bill Gates has been a big proponent of Tablet PCs, especially in the smaller form factors.
So it was with some sense of anticipation that I read up on Motion's LS 800. On the plus side, the device has the following going for it:
- Size of a paperback
- Weight around 2.2 pounds
- 8.4" screen.
- Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
On the negative side, the device has:
- NO PC card slot...as a result, no possibility of running the only high-speed wireless network in the country, which is Verizon's EV-DO network. I know battery power is probably the reason for leaving it out, but I'd lose the fingerprint reader and/or the SD card slot for a PC card slot.
- No mention of the resolution of the screen anywhere in the specs or on Motion Computing's web-site that I could find.
- When you finish adding up relatively necessary options like a 60GB hard drive, extra memory, dock, case, bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse, external CD-ROM/DVD drive, etc., the price jumps from the teaser price of $1800 to over $4000. Come on guys, even bleeding-edge early adopters have their limits.
- The "View Anywhere" screen won't be available until September! By then there should be other options from other folks.
So until there is a hands-on review or two of the LS800 raving about its positives and utility, I'm likely staying put.
In the meantime, if you're in the market for a tablet PC, and don't mind a convertible (built-in keyboard) rather than a slate (detached keyboard) model, take a look at the PC Magazine's review of the Thinkpad/Lenovo X41 (formerly known as the IBM Thinkpad). TabletPCreviewSpot also has a good review on it (courtesy jkontherun). JK also points to a lukewarm review by PC Magazine of Motion's LS800, citing the weak battery life and excessive heat as additional issues. They like Motion's LE1600 better in the slate Tablet PC category.
Back to the drawing board, guys.