IBM ThinkPad TransNote Portfolio Notebook

Best of all, with IBM's Ink Manager Pro software you can use the features of the ThinkScribe digital notepad to save notes written on a standard pad of paper by transferring them digitally to the computer. Underneath the paper pad is mounted what is essentially a graphics tablet. 2MB of flash memory can be used to save up to 50 pages of notes even when the computer is turned off. The data can then be transferred when the computer is on. IBM supplies a digital pen which doubles as stylus and ballpoint pen.

Featuring a 600MHz Pentium III processor with SpeedStep technology, 64MB of SDRAM (with a maximum capacity for 320MB), a 10GB hard disk and a 4MB ATI Mobility graphics controller, the emphasis on this unit is functionality. The pivoting 10.4in, 800x600 resolution TFT FlipTouch screen can be controlled with a finger or the included stylus. It can be left flat, covering the keyboard, or lifted at an angle. You can even flip the screen upside down so it can be viewed by someone sitting opposite you.

The keyboard itself is slightly small and includes an integrated pointing device with mouse-like selection buttons and Internet scrolling.

In the right circumstances the TransNote would shine, perfect for times where note-taking is a must. It can collate and store such notes using the Ink Manager Pro software. The software allows you to save notes and find them again with little effort, and even place them into e-mail, presentations and word processing documents. It did take me a little while to understand Ink Manager Pro, but the in-program help is excellent, as is IBM's ThinkPad help button. I was disappointed not to see more emphasis on character recognition, considering the ability to take handwritten notes. This is only a "minor gripe, however, and such a feature will most likely be added in the future.

Running Windows 2000, the unit I reviewed shipped with a 10/100 Ethernet adapter, 56Kbps modem, support for one Type II PC card and one Type II CompactFlash card, external monitor port (VGA-out), two USB ports and audio connectors.

Options for the TransNote include a port extender, USB hub, 340MB Microdrive and a CD-RW or DVD drive, as well as Bluetooth and Wireless LAN networking cards. The stated battery life is 2.5 hours, so watching DVDs would require plugging in the supplied AC adapter.

Weighing less than 2.5kg, including the digital pen and a pad of paper, the TransNote might become a common sight in boardrooms and lecture halls.

IBM ThinkPad TransNote Portfolio Notebook

Price: $TBA

Supplier: IBM Australia

Phone: 13 2426


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Danny Allen

PC World
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