Vendors like the taste of Tablet PC, sign on

Calling Microsoft's Tablet PC an "evolution of the portable PC form factor," Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, Bill Gates, has announced partnerships with Compaq, Acer, Fujitsu, Sony, and Toshiba. The company will also work with both Intel and Transmeta. to develop low-power, battery-friendly processors for the devices.

Though the tablets will vary according to manufacturer, initial models should be thin, probably 1.5 inches or less; weigh 2 to 3 pounds, and have 10-inch displays in a roughly 11.5- by-8.5-inch form factor. Expect wireless connectivity as well.

Each tablet will run the upcoming Microsoft XP operating system, and will be compatible with existing applications, Gates said, calling the device revolutionary.

Gates first introduced Microsoft's Tablet PC concept at last year's Comdex. He said today he expects the first products to start arriving from vendors sometime in 2002.

But Microsoft is hardly the first to conceive of tablet computers. Fujitsu and other vendors have been selling tablet computers for years, but the format was basically confined to vertical markets, such as the UPS delivery service.

That has begun to change recently with products such as the Qbe Vivo from Aqcess Technologies, which supports both Windows Me and Windows 2000. Companies such as Siemens and Sharp are also planning to introduce systems, but these will run on Windows CE.

It's in the Ink

"It (Microsoft's Tablet PC) combines the simplicity of paper and the power of a PC," Microsoft's Charlton Lui said during his keynote demonstration of the tablet. He noted that the tablet PC isn't an Internet appliance, but a full-fledged PC that will come equipped with all the power and storage of a notebook computer.

Making that power work for users means combining a touchscreen interface, a special hardware pen, and new software from Microsoft to make it all work together. That software lets you save your scribbles as is, translate them into actual text, and even edit within a handwritten document.

By using a display that samples many times faster than a standard mouse, Microsoft can make writing on the tablet effortless, like ink flowing from a pen, Lui said.

Phoenix technologies president and chief executive officer Al Sisto also noted that the handwriting recognition features should make the device popular in countries where language is character-driven, which can make it difficult to use a keyboard.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Mainelli

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?