Tablet PCs: a first look

Pen-based computing is set to make a comeback this autumn, if Microsoft and its hardware partners get their way. Here's a preview of what's in store.

Acer’s hybrid TravelMate 100 heralds a new wave of tablet PC hardware and software, due out in the autumn. We recently got our hands on a prototype of this system, which at first glance appears to be a standard 1.5kg ultraportable notebook. But surprises are in store when you open the TravelMate 100's lid. The display not only rotates 180 degrees on a central hinge, but also folds down to cover the keyboard, turning the device into a tablet PC.

But it's not just about the hardware. Microsoft has decided that the time is right for pen-based computing and will introduce an upgraded version of its flagship operating system, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, this autumn. Can the handwriting-recognition applications live up to the hype? Are tablets finally ready to break out of niche-market status? Check out our first impressions of the Acer TravelMate 100 and the beta version of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. ZDNet video: Gates pitches tablet PCs to top CEOs ZDNet video: Tablet takes on new tools ZDNet comment: Microsoft's Tablet PC -- cool, but who'll buy it?


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