Tablet PCs invade the market

DQW Bureau
New Update


With laptop

penetration in India maturing, there is a new gizmo on the block--Tablet PC.

Hailed as the latest IT pill, this gizmo is aimed at tapping the corporate,

field users and educational institutes. Tablet PC is a mix bag of an awkward

technology stage and it explains why all sorts of companies over the past decade

have tried--and failed--to make and market a tablet PC, a cross between a laptop

and a piece of paper. The latest in offer is Microsoft and partners including

HP, Toshiba and Acer.

There were six

Tablet PCs unveiled recently in the US.

The defining

feature of a Tablet PC is that one can write on it like paper. It has a

touch-sensitive screen and a pen-like stylus. What is written can be saved,

manipulated and sent around just like something that was typed. One could take a

Tablet PC to a meeting and write on it. You could be holidaying and editing a

letter. To be clear, these PCs are not Palm handhelds or Pocket PC computers.


The Tablet PC

software can do some interesting things. Users can write notes on it and the

software will recognize the words and keep track of them in digital format.

Later, one can create copies, search for it and edit it just like any other

digital file. The handwriting recognition software is supposed to be the best

yet, with an accuracy rate of 60 to 70 percent.


TravelMate C102TI

Protégé 3505

Tablet PC TC1000
800 MHz PIII-M processor

256 MB RAM


10.4-inch display

A pair of USB outlets

Modem, LAN, FireWire and external monitor ports

Type II PC Card slot

An external USB CD-ROM 

Windows XP Tablet Edition OS

Price: Rs 1.49 lakh

1.3 GHz PIII-M processor

512 MB RAM 

40 GB hard drive 

12.1-inch XGA screen

Trident CyberAlladdin-T graphics accelerator

Connections for audio, external monitor, a LAN and modem

USB 2.0 ports PC Card slot

Price: Rs 2.25 lakh (approx)

Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 

1.0-GHz processor 


60 GB SMART hard drives 

10.4-inch TFT 

NVIDIA GeForce2 Go 100 

high-resolution graphics

Built-in 802.11b wireless LAN capabilities

USB 2.0 connectivity

Price: Rs 1.6 lakh

Talking about

this new product, PK Roy, Group Editor, Dataquest Group of Magazines, was

puzzled about the positioning of the Tablet PCs. "These manufacturers can

take one of two roads to Tablet PC potential. One is to expand on the

always-at-move information worker who roams but needs access to the applications

and data usually found on the desktop.


The other is to

tap into specific vertical markets --sales, law, medicine--where a large

population of on-the-foot work a big part of the day away from the desk."

Tablet PCs have

two formats: the `convertible' model with an integrated keyboard and a display

that rotates 180 degrees and can be folded down over the keyboard, and the

`slate' style with a removable keyboard.


success barriers

PC adoption has various success barriers--clumsy hardware, price premiums,

and the lack of application support. Essentially, Tablet PC is pricey and

contains components that a mainstream mobile user would be less apt to

consider useful. To curb the price point, the true slate form factor might

be cheaper than a combination unit, but a cheap slate can never be a

replacement for a fully-functional notebook.

In the slate

format, there is an application that allows users to input information by

writing or drawing with a stylus directly on the screen, just like jotting down

notes. Write on the display and the text appears. Click on the eraser icon,

swipe, and text disappears. These notes can be sent by e-mail. The same stylus

used to enter text is also a control center when the Tablet PC is undocked from

its keyboard. Commands can be executed by tapping on program menus with the

stylus. Some models also provide stylus-controlled replacements for the

frequently used function keys with small recessed buttons on the front of the

case. When pressed with the tip of the stylus, the buttons can launch the

Journal application, quit any application, restart the computer or open the

Windows Menu. The Tablet PC operating system is a modified version of

Microsoft's Windows XP that has been altered for users to operate their machines

with a stylus instead of a mouse and keyboard.

Shweta Khanna

What resellers say about this gizmo


Ashok Grover of

Groovy Communications: It will be a corporate product. Price point is too high

to be used by an individual. The laptops are yet to penetrate the markets; this

product is a far-fetched game.

Bharat Bhushan of

RR Systems: Frankly, I am yet to know what exactly is a Tablet PC. I am yet to

get a first-hand feel of this product. I feel the laptop market still has a lot

of potential to grow as it is yet to percolate down to the users. Perhaps once

the maturity levels for laptop has set in, people might give this PC a try.

Sujeet Narula of

Associated Business Computers: It will have the same visibility as the palmtops,

in fact, most of the users would take this Tablet PC as a PDA rather than a

computing device or as a replacement for their laptops. It has unnecessarily

attracted a lot of hype as it is yet to come in the market. I feel, to start

with, this will be more of a status symbol device.


Vikram Gupta of

Leading Edge: When in India PDA sales are yet to take off, how can such a

product take-off in a price sensitive market. I don't think this product is

relevant to the Indian conditions, where people are still buying Casio digital


Saurabh Nagpal of

Multilink Computers: I feel to start with, Tablet PC will be a status symbol.

Few people know about this product. As the information will percolate down to

the masses, sales might pick up. I can see a lot of advertisement, but I am yet

to see an actual Tablet PC. Till the time people do not know what exactly is a

Tablet PC how can they predict the buying behavior.

Gurvinder Singh of Global Communications: People have been inquiring

about this product; as a matter of fact I have recently sold two Toshiba

Port‚g‚ 3505s. It is the ultra-rich people who are buying it. To start with,

I feel it will be a status symbol or will be used as an electronics notepad.