It’s Written on the Tablets!

It’s practically an eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt have a Tablet PC. But which one?

Ever since Moses came down from Mount Sinai with version 1.0, tablets have been a big deal. They got bigger last November, when Bill Gates announced the Tablet PC platform. Computer-industry types rushed to embrace tablets as if the original Ten Commandments were written on them: the perfect marriaége of pen and machine! The handwriting recognition is amazing! This will revolutionize the lives of sales forces and road warriors everywhere! In the four months since that launch, hardware manufacturers have jockeyed to position their own version of the Tablet PC. To be sure, these are still first drafts — and both the operating system and the devices themselves have the bugs to prove it. Still, on the whole, these are seriously slick machines. How do you separate the leaders from the rest of the pack? This month, we’re showcasing four of the best tablets on the market. What follows is Fast Company’s take on the good, the bad, and the bottom line for each.


Compaq Tablet PC TC1000

(Visit List price: $1,699.)

The Good This machine is, in a word, incredible: It’s a laptop; it’s a slate-style tablet; it’s a desktop. The clarity and sharpness of the TC1000’s screen is best in class, and the pen writes smoothly. You get five hours of battery life — and style too. This baby will make you look very, very cool.
The Bad With the slate alone weighing in at more than 3 pounds and the laptop config-uration nearly 4 pounds, the TC1000 is heavy.
The Bottom Line For this price? With these features? It’s a steal.

Motion Computing M1200

(Visit www.motioncomputing. com. List price: $2,249.)

The Good The generous 12.1-inch screen is a standout among slates and even beats most laptop-style tablets (the screen is matched only by Toshiba’s Portégé).
The Bad Frequent travelers will be frustrated by the slate-only configuration and will wish for an attachable laptop-style keyboard (the optional desktop docking station is an expensive add-on). And that price: Ouch!
The Bottom Line Simplicity is the order of the day for this tablet — but it may not be worth the price.

Toshiba Portégé 3505

(Visit List price: $2,499.)

The Good Like all Portégés, the 3505 sports Toshiba’s acclaimed soft-touch keyboard and a large 12.1-inch screen, making the laptop configuration as desirable as the tablet. It also boasts far and away the best performance, running applications quicker and with fewer snags than other tablets, and it supplies 3.5 hours of battery life.
The Bad The overall design is bulky, especially for those who are used to the Portégé 2010.
The Bottom Line It ain’t pretty, but it works like a charm.


Acer TravelMate C102Ti

(Visit List price: $2,199.)

The Good The C102Ti offers eye-catching design along with competitive performance (which may explain why it’s usually Gates’s machine of choice for Tablet PC platform publicity events). It includes multiple power converters, and it weighs a full pound less than Toshiba’s Portégé 3505.
The Bad With only a 10.4-inch screen, your eyes will suffer.
The Bottom Line Save your eyes or ease your back? That’s the question if you’re choosing between an Acer (lighter) and a Toshiba (bigger screen).

Tablet Capsules

Screen Size (diagonal): 10.4 inches
Weight: 4 lbs
Configurations*: Slate, laptop, and desktop
Specs: 1 GHz Crusoe, 256 MB RAM, 30-GB hard drive, 5 hours battery life
Screen Size (diagonal): 12.1 inches
Weight: 3.3 lbs
Configurations*: Slate, desktop
Specs: 866 MHz Pentium III, 256 MB RAM, 20-GB hard drive, 3 hours battery life
Screen Size (diagonal): 12.1 inches
Weight: 4.1 lbs
Configurations*: Laptop
Specs: 1.33 GHz Pentium III, 512 MB RAM, 40-GB hard drive, 3.5 hours battery life
Screen Size (diagonal): 10.4 inches
Weight: 3.1 lbs
Configurations*: Laptop
Specs: 800 MHz Pentium III, 256 MB RAM, 30-GB hard drive, 3.5 hours battery life

*Note on configurations: All computers running Microsoft’s Tablet PC platform can be used as a “tablet,” where the user writes directly on the screen with a stylus; written text can then be converted directly into Word documents or other digital formats. With laptop-style tablets, this is done by swiveling the screen and folding it down over the keyboard. Desktop configurations require the additional purchase of an optional docking station. The slate configuration refers to tablets that are used like a pad of paper, with no keyboard of any kind.