Tablets take off at Comdex

Mobility is the name of the game at this year's Comdex trade show in Las Vegas. Vendors are responding to the demand for devices that are as mobile as a personal digital assistant but as functional as a notebook.

Their answer to this dilemma: the tablet computer.

Like PDAs, tablets can be used anywhere, including while standing or walking. But tablets can incorporate a lot more features than PDAs thanks to their larger size; some even offer full PC functionality. However, they still are much lighter than most notebook computers.

Vendors are jumping on the tablet bandwagon, with a few introducing new devices at the show.

Fujitsu PC Corp. unveiled its Stylistic LT P-600 tablet, a follow-up to last year's Stylistic LT C-500. It weighs 2.65 pounds and measures 9.6 inches wide by 6.3 inches deep by 1.1 inch high.

For its small size, the device packs in a lot of power and features. It's powered by an ultra-low voltage mobile Intel Corp. Pentium III 600 MHz processor supporting Intel's SpeedStep technology for lower power consumption. Fujitsu claims about 4.5 hours to 6.5 hours of battery life, depending on use.

The tablet is available with Microsoft Corp. Windows 98 Special Edition or Windows 2000 Professional and Microsoft's Pen Services 2.0. It also includes a software recovery tool that provides a secure area directly on the tablet's hard drive, where data can be backed up and later used to restore the system in the event of a failure.

Other features include a built-in smart card reader and an optional wireless module.

The tablet comes standard with a built-in 56 kilobits/sec modem and an integrated 10/100 Base-TX Ethernet connection.

Prices for the Stylistic LT P-600 start at $3,599.

ViewSonic Corp. also is showcasing tablet devices. In addition to its ViewPad 1000 that offers full PC functionality, the company is offering a smaller version that it calls a "super PDA" -- the ViewPad 100.

This device expands the capabilities of a traditional PDA by supporting personal information management; wireless e-mail and Web access; and server-based enterprise applications.

It weighs less than 2.5 pounds and features a 10-inch touch screen that works in both portrait and landscape orientations. The tablet measures 8.4 inches by 11.3 inches by 0.9 inches.

The ViewPad 100 runs Windows CE 3.0 and features a 206 MHz Intel StrongARM processor, 32M of Flash memory and 128M of SDRAM.

The estimated street price of the ViewPad 100 is $1,239.

AirSpeak Inc. is introducing a tablet with a twist: It's essentially a thin client that accesses a user's desktop PC.

Named Flair, this "PC access device" uses 802.11b wireless connectivity and operates over a combination of a wired and wireless local-area network. It uses proprietary technology called FlairView to provide a mirror image of a user's desktop computer.

The Flair operates the desktop PC without actually transferring files. The document image is transferred to the Flair much like a fax transmission. All changes are saved on the desktop PC.

For additional security, customers can use third-party virtual private network and encryption software.

This product targets the "near mobile" workforce, defined as workers who spend 80 percent of their time at their workplace but up to three hours a day away from their desktop PCs.

The Flair weighs 3 pounds and features a 12-inch touch screen. It measures 9.4 inches by 11.7 inches by 1.2 inches.

The Flair sells for $1,985.

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