Toshiba tablet PC gets facelift

The notebook maker is looking to improve the fortunes of the nascent tablet PC market with the M200, which includes a performance boost and a number of other tweaks

Toshiba has launched its second-generation tablet PC, which boasts a faster processor and tweaks aimed at addressing some of the shortcomings of its predecessor.

The Portege M200, launched on Monday, is the latest product based on Microsoft's vision of a pen-based, notebook-like portable, which has so far failed to elicit much interest from buyers, despite the best efforts of manufacturers such as Toshiba and HP.

The Intel Centrino-based unit has a 1.6GHz Pentium M processor, up from 1.33GHz in the earlier Portege 3500 (see full review here), and includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as standard. It includes 256MB of RAM, expandable to 2GB, a 60GB hard drive, two USB 2.0 ports, Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system, and a Nvidia GeForce FX Go5200 graphics controller. The system retails for £1,699 (ex. VAT) in the UK.

Like the 3500, the M200 has a 12.1-inch swivel-screen that can flip around, converting the unit from notebook to tablet format.

Toshiba has added some new twists to lure users, such as a dual-axis accelerometer designed to detect which way the user is holding the device and adjust the screen orientation accordingly (the 3500 required users to change the screen orientation manually). It uses a redesigned interface with a zoom function -- addressing a complaint by some users that screen objects such as buttons were too small to use.

A new dock allows users to adjust the height of the unit and write on the screen while sitting at the desk. The dock includes a slot for an additional hard disk or optical disk drive.

The M200 also has some of the limitations noted by ZDNet UK reviewers in the 3500, such as a lack of legacy ports -- part of Microsoft's Tablet PC specification. Reviewers found the previous unit was a bit heavy at 1.85kg, and the new unit does not improve matters, weighing in at 2.1kg.