Tablet PC launch offers user freedom

This week sees the launch of the Microsoft-based Tablet PC. A host of models from various manufacturers will be available by the...

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This week sees the launch of the Microsoft-based Tablet PC. A host of models from various manufacturers will be available by the end of this month.

Although the initial reaction is positive, battery life, the wireless capabilities of the Tablet PC, its ruggedness and the easy-to-lose but essential pen are all factors that will affect sales.

David Followell, head of business futures and usability at Nationwide Building Society, expressed concern at the six hours of battery life quoted by Hewlett-Packard for its Compaq CT1000 tablet. "I would really want to have eight hours minimum to cover a full working day," he said.

Steve Gales, senior category manager at HP, said that this could be overcome by keeping a spare battery handy.

Neil Laver, Windows product marketing manger, echoed the concern but added that future chips from Intel and Transmeta will require lower power.

The Compaq tablet is a "slate", which exposes the screen to knocks. HP has tackled this by using a harder material giving similar resilience to the plastic casing on a notebook PC.

Wireless Lan standard 802.11 is becoming the popular choice for these mobile devices but this may worry users where security is important.

Gales said there is improved security in Windows XP for Tablet PCs and managers working in these environments have learned a lot about securing their networks.

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