Laptops may fall into the passé pile this fall when early adopters hit class sporting notepad computers with write-on touch screens. Pushed hard by Microsoft, developer of the Tablet PC Windows operating system due out in early November, a slew of the biggest computer makers plan to debut hardware in the next few months. Education is a key target, but be forewarned: Sony recently shelved its Vaio Slimtop Pen Tablet PC — similar to the new breed except for its lack of handwriting recognition — La
Stylistic ST4000 Tablet PC by Fujitsu, coming 4th quarter, not yet priced
PRO: A longtime leader in the pen-tablet market, Fujitsu showed off a sleek prototype Tablet PC at PC Expo in June.
CON: Possible competition or pricing issues with its already existing line.
BOTTOM LINE: Expect Fujitsu’s years of experience in developing and marketing similar products to yield a top-of-the-line unit.
PaceBook by PaceBlade Technology, $1,995
PRO: Display and keyboard are separate pieces held together by the case and connected via infra-red. Runs Windows 2000 or XP Home.
CON: Some users have complained about an ineffective infrared connection to the keyboard.
BOTTOM LINE: PaceBlade didn’t wait for Microsoft’s OS, so users can buy it now. Maybe a risk, but positive reviews so far support the early launch.
Motion Computing Tablet PC to be released in November, around $2,000
PRO: One-piece design (a keyboard can be plugged in) eliminates hinge problems. Large, 12.1-inch screen and a slim, clipboard-like profile.
CON: First product from a new company.
BOTTOM LINE: A group of ex-Dell notebook execs founded Motion based on Tablet PC. Add great experience to that, and its version should impress.