Fujitsu adds convertible Centrino Tablet PC

Fujitsu PC expanded its lineup of Tablet PC products with the launch of the LifeBook T3000 convertible device Monday. The unit is also Fujitsu's first Tablet PC to use Intel's Centrino technology.

After an initial flurry following the release of Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, new Tablet PC introductions have slowed. But Fujitsu, which already sells a slate Tablet PC, has become, with Monday's announcement, one of the few vendors to offer both types of Tablet PCs.

Tablet PCs have thus far been released in two shapes. The LifeBook T3000 is a convertible device that looks like an ordinary notebook, but with a screen that swivels to cover the keyboard when used in Tablet PC mode. Fujitsu's other Tablet PC, the Stylistic ST4000, is a slate device that can be placed in a docking station when a user wants to enter information with a keyboard.

The new T3000 is based on Intel's Centrino package of chips that, in this model, includes a 1.4GHz Pentium M processor, the Intel 855GM chipset, and an 802.11b Intel Pro/Wireless chip. It comes with a 12.1-inch display, a 40G-byte hard drive, 256M bytes of DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), and two USB (universal serial bus) 2.0 ports for a base price of US$1,799.

Another configuration, the T3000D, is available with either a wireless chip for connecting to 802.11g networks, or without a wireless chip. Both models measure 11.5 inches wide by 9.3 inches deep by 1.4 inches high at their highest point (29.1 cm by 23.6 cm by 3.6cm) and weigh about 4.18 pounds (1.9 kg) with a standard battery.

The T3000D has the same price as the Centrino Tablet PC, US$1,799, with the 802.11g wireless chip from Broadcom Corp. A version of the T3000D without any wireless connectivity costs US$1,749.

The T3000 models come with a bridge battery, that allows the user to swap batteries without losing any data while the device is placed in standby mode. The standard lithium-ion battery lasts about 4.5 hours, depending on usage.

Sales of Tablet PCs have exceeded vendor expectations, but the devices aren't exactly flying off store shelves. Around 70,000 units were shipped in the first six weeks after the November launch of the operating system, but only 85,671 units were shipped worldwide in the entire second quarter, according to research from IDC.

Toshiba's convertible Portege Tablet PC led the market in the second quarter, followed by Hewlett-Packard's Compaq TC1000 and Fujitsu's ST4000 device.

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