Tablet PC buying guide

In this guide, we show you what's available in Australia.

A Tablet PC is a cross between a notebook and PDA. Designed for truly mobile computing, there are two types -- convertible and slate.

Convertible tablets, such as the Toshiba Portege M400, look like traditional notebooks but have displays that swivel and fold flat facing outward.

Slate tablets, like the Fujitsu Stylistic ST5031, have no attached keyboard and are basically all screen.

Both types use a special version of Windows XP that makes it possible to navigate and enter data using a stylus -- no keyboard necessary.

Tablets account for only a small percentage of overall notebook sales in Australia, mainly because they cost significantly more than traditional laptops, and they usually offer inferior performance and battery life.

The questions to ask to determine whether you should consider a tablet are:

  • Do you regularly use a clipboard?
  • Is the ability to take signatures important to you?

If so, the tablet form factor and handwriting-recognition software offer a nice way to digitise your notes and files on the fly. Otherwise, you're probably better off with a more traditional ultraportable laptop.

In this guide, we show you what's available in Australia, whitepapers for making a business case to purchase Tablet PCs, and popular Tablet PC forums, blogs and resources.

Tablet PCs: What's on the market in Australia
Model CPU RAM Weight Display Price First look
Acer TravelMate C200 Series Pentium M 760 2GHz
512MB 2kg 12.1" $3,499
Pioneer DreamBook Tablet 200C Pentium M 1.3GHz 256MB 2.6kg 14.1" $1,655
Fujitsu Stylistic ST5031 Pentium M 1.2GHz 512MB 1.55kg 10.4" $4,199
Hewlett-Packard Compaq tc4200 Pentium M 1.73GHz
512MB 2.1kg 12.1" $3,599
Lenovo ThinkPad X41 Tablet Pentium M 1.5GHz
512MB 2.1kg 12.1" $3,749
Motion Computing LE1600 Pentium M 1.5GHz 512MB 1.4kg 12.1" TBA
Toshiba Portege M400 Intel Core Solo T1300 1.66GHz
512MB 2kg 12.1" $3,190
Source: Compiled from individual vendor Web sites, 2 June, 2006.

Business case for purchasing Tablet PCs
Title Description Format
Maximising ROI with Tablet PCs While tablet PC prices are dropping, the devices still cost more than the average laptop. How do you justify the extra expense? Webcast
Enterprise Mobility by Forrester Research How does mobile and wireless technologies affect businesses, their employees, and customers? Whitepaper (PDF)
Tablet PC technologies in Microsoft Windows Vista In Windows Vista, Tablet PC shifts into the mainstream. Ink becomes more ubiquitous, integrating directly into the presentation subsystem in Windows Presentation Foundation. Whitepaper (PDF)
The case for Tablet PCs in healthcare The Tablet PC, with its versatile form that supports pen navigation, makes it easy for mobile healthcare workers to capture, access, and use information wherever the job takes them. Whitepaper (PDF)
Registration is required to access the free resources above.

Tablet PC forums, blogs and podcasts
Site Description URL
Uber Tablet Sydney's Hugo Ortega has single-mindedly begun preaching to anyone, willing or unwilling to listen about the merits of Tablet PCs. ubertablet.blogspot.com
Tablet PC Talk Tablet PC FAQs, newsgroups and comparison tables. www.tabletpctalk.com
Craig Pringle Spreading the mobility message in New Zealand, Pringle offers his thoughts on Tablet PCs and other mobility issues. www.pringle.net.nz/blog
The Tablet PC show Perry Reed provides news, reviews and interviews about the Tablet PC and related devices via podcast. tabletpc.thepodcastnetwork.com
Windows XP Tablet PC homepage This Microsoft Web page aims to provide essential Tablet PC information for end users, IT professionals, and developers. www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/tabletpc
Microsoft Tablet PC Community Tablet PC discussions, articles, blogs and downloads hosted by Microsoft. www.zdnet.com.au/0,139034872,7442,00.htm
ZDNet Australia does not endorse the content on these sites.
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