Tide of tablet PCs rises at Comdex

By the evidence at Comdex this week, vendors are jumping onto the tablet PC wave to catch it at its peak.

A few examples at the Comdex show in Las Vegas this week include Casio Inc. and NEC Solutions Inc.'s first forays into the tablet market. In addition, Fujitsu PC Corp. is featuring its latest offering, and Motion Computing Inc. is showing off its 12.1-inch display.

Casio MPC-701

Casio's MPC-701 series comes in two versions, one best suited for outdoor use and the other best suited for indoors. The MPC-701M50E offers optimal visibility indoors, while the outdoor model, the MPC-701M30E, comes with a built-in backlight that uses a photo sensor to detect the amount of ambient light. If lighting conditions are low, the backlight will automatically activate. Also helpful is the tablet's splash resistance.

Interestingly, these tablets do not come with Microsoft Corp.'s tablet-optimized operating system, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Instead of a digitizer in the screen and a digital pen, they run Windows 2000 Professional and feature an analog touch panel and stylus.

The suggested list price is $3,600. Government customers can call Casio at (973)-361-5400 for General Services Administration pricing.

{bold} Fujitsu Stylistic ST4110 {end bold}

Fujitsu was one of the few vendors with a tablet PC at Comdex last year and its latest model, the ST4110, comes with all of the latest updates.

First and foremost, it runs the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system and comes with a digital pen. Inside the tablet is an 800 MHz Ultra Low Voltage Mobile Intel Corp. Pentium III processor, a 20G or 40G shock-mounted hard drive and 256M of memory, expandable to 768M.

International travelers will be interested to know that the AC adapter features auto-sensing dual voltage support for 100 to 240 volts.

For wireless communications, customers can opt for integrated 802.11b capability.

Base configurations featuring the 20G hard drive start at $2,199 for the tablet with a one-year warranty and $2,399 with a three-year warranty.

Motion M1200

A 12.1-inch display is the feature that sets the Motion Computing M1200 apart from the rest. According to the company, it's the largest display of any tablet PC on the market.

For durability, the chassis is made of magnesium alloy. Because this material is also lightweight, the M1200 tips the scale at less than 3 pounds. It measures 11.7 inches by 9.5 inches and is less than one inch thick.

The 866 MHz Ultra Low Voltage Mobile Pentium III processor runs the show along with 128M, 256M or 512M of base memory, expandable to 1G. Hard drives are available in 20G, 40G and 60G sizes.

Wireless 802.11b capability is optional via a Mini PCI interface with integrated antennas.

Until December, Motion is offering free keyboards and desktop stands with select configurations. Pricing starts at $2,099.

NEC Versa LitePad

Although product details have not yet been disclosed, NEC is announcing a forthcoming tablet PC with a target release date of February.

The Versa LitePad will feature an Intel processor and run Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. According to NEC, it will be one of the thinnest and lightest on the market.

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