HP Compaq TC1100 Review

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Normally I don't take a Tablet or anything else computer related when I am skiing, but knowing the warm weather would mean I would be off the mountain early in the day I made an exception and brought a couple of Tablets along for the trip. With clear blue sky's and temperatures in the high 50's and low 60's the skiing was great until about 1:30 when then mountain became a giant snow cone. Forced off the mountain early I had time to put the New and Improved HP TC1100 through its paces. When I came home I installed Windows XP SP2-RC1 which includes the much anticipated Lonestar upgrade without a problem.

Weighing in at 4.0lb/1.8kg with the keyboard and 3.1 lb/1.4 kg pounds keyboard, the tc1100 is in a class by itself, known as a a hybrid tablet pc. Meaning that the screen swivels and folds flat against the keyboard for use as a slate or at the touch of a button it can be detached from the keyboard altogether. Another nice feature are the small fold out clips that allow you to angle the tablet on the desk for a more comfortable writing experience on a flat surface. There is no question that HP paid attention to the details when designing this machine.

Cleverly placed buttons and a jog dial on the side of the Tablet allow you to enter, tab, escape, and open a "Q" menu of items that emulate tasks quickly and easily. First time users would find the out of box experience more enjoyable and much less threatening if these features were pointed out on the startup sheet or even the front of the manuel rather than having them hidden in in chapter 5.

The Display: 10.4" XGA (1024x768) display is clear, the 1/4 inch black border around the viewable portion of the screen eliminates the problem of trying to close an app from a non responsive corner of the screen. I did not find the screen to be as responsive as other tablet pc's which was a problem for me. It was interesting to note there was a significant increase in the screen sensitivity after Windows XP-SP2 RC1 was installed. The screen orientation changes automatically on the TC1100, which is a very nice feature. Also worth noting, if its slightly overcast outside I can see the screen well enough to work from the upstairs outside balcony so I am not trapped in the house for lack of an indoor outdoor screen. (Thank you HP! )

Battery Life: Between 2 hours and 36 minutes and 2 hours and 43 minutes under normal use with with the backlighting and Wi FI on.

Heat: As I have said in the past, I am not in the habit of working with the Tablet PC in my lap, but I frequently do use the tablet with my hand behind it. The TC1100 does get warm but not overly so.

WiFi: the HP Wlan 802.11a/b/g in the TC1100 literally amazed me. My router is a older Dlink Di-713P and I'm able to connect with with excellent signal strength not only from second and third floors of my home and both outside balcony's, but from the basement, the pool and all the way to the outside mailbox's, which is not something any of my other Tablets Pc's can do.

Notable Features: Q menu, and external pen activated buttons on the tablet allow you do do anything you need quickly and easily.

The Pros:

  • The optional HP W500 802.11a/b/g WLAN is the best Wireless I have used to date
  • Light weight and compact, the TC1100 is great for travel
  • External pen activated icons and programmable"Q" Menu give you instant access to everything you need
  • Hybrid model gives you the option using it as a slate or a convertible
  • Quickly and easily detaches from the case and the keyboard for use as a Slate
  • fold out feet that allow you to angle the tablet on the desk for a more comfortable writing experience
  • Screen orientation changes automatically
  • 3 Year worldwide limited warranty

The Cons:

  • Optical drive must be purchased separately.
  • Unlike a convertible when the tc1100 is closed the face of the tablet is exposed and not protected so a case is a must.
  • For the first time user of a tablet pc the hardware information is in section 5 of the startup guide rather than in the front. If you a new user and don't know where any of the buttons are or what they are for this is a problem
  • Keyboard too close to the screen for comfort

In Conclusion:

Without question The TC1100 is the most improved Tablet PC on I have come across and all of the implemented improvements are for the better. The pen no longer's requires a battery, the Nvida Geforce4 give you excellent graphics and the The HP W500 802.11a/b/g WLAN was far and away the most impressive wireless I have used. Easy to take apart and put back together this Hybrid Tablet PC is a great choice for the road warrior or anyone who move around a lot.

The Averatec C3500 Review

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Averatec is offering a shining gem of a mobile computer at an unprecedented price. The Averatec C3500 Convertible Tablet PC carries the promise of outstanding portability at a palatable suggested retail price of $1349. With its solid construction, stylish protective magnesium alloy case and a tolerable 5.5 lbs. of weight, all designed to fit inside a compact 11.6" x 9.8" x 1.57" package, the C3500 exemplifies roadworthiness to the max.

At First Glance

In first powering up the C3500, one is struck by its exceptionally bright and clear display. Despite the limited space available in the design, the keyboard is substantially functional and the thoughtfully rounded edge on the lower half of this model offers extreme comfort for typing even over extended periods of time. Style is integrated inside and out. The C3500 is sure to grab the attention of technophiles who happen upon it. In taking this unit out into the world, I have drawn much attention from onlookers in Starbucks, at the bookstore and have experienced envy from coworkers and clients. Even more fascinating for most folks is to watch me pop out the pen, rotate the display and proceed to write directly on the screen. If you get a C3500, be prepared because everyone will want to "just try it"!

Basic Specs:

Mobile AMD Athlon XP-M 2200+

Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition

LCD Size High Contrast 12.1'' XGA

Optical Drive DVD+CD-RW

Hard Drive 60GB

Memory 512MB DDR

Wireless LAN 802.11g

Wired LAN 10/100 LAN

Modem 56k

USB (4x) 2.0

DimensionsWxDxH) 11.6" x 9.8" x 1.6"

Weight (lbs.) 5.5 lbs.


So let's just dive right in and get down to the features, usability and overall impressions that the many features incorporated into the C3500 offer for the $1349 price tag.


CPU Performance

Like most of the Averatec computer products, the C3500 is powered by the AMD Athlon XP Mobile chip. Specifically, the XP-M 2200+ which operates at a respectable 1.8 GHz. Tests using SiSoft Sandra on the C3500 showed that this CPU can hold its own against Intel processors. The Athlon meets or beats the Intel Pentium M at 1.6GHz and Pentium 4 at 2.0GHz in both arithmetic and multimedia benchmarks.

Drives

The C3500 includes an integrated DVD+CD-RW drive. One hard drive with a 60GB capacity provides plenty of storage. Hard drive performance is speedy and quiet.


Final Notes/Comments

Overall, I have found the C3500 to be a pleasure to use. The Screen swivels on a sturdy hinge keeping the display firm at any angle. The fan is noticeably quieter than those found on the Averatec 3200 series notebooks. I should mention however, that this machine definitely gets hot! The vent that releases heat is located on the top left underside of the unit, and can quickly become uncomfortable to your left leg when using it on your lap. I suggest a cooling pad accessory for anybody wishing to use the C3500 on there laps for extended periods of time. The unique flipping latch on the lid is sturdy and well-designed. There are nice additional hardware controls built right into the edge of the display to rotate the screen, scroll and to invoke menus, saving time and frustration while the unit is folded over into "slate" mode. One minor gripe is that the Power Switch becomes inaccessible once the unit is folded over. You can shut down Windows via software while the display is folded down, but oddly enough, you are stuck opening up the unit to power on while in this mode. It would be a plus to see the Power Switch relocated in subsequent models.

The bottom line: If you are looking for excellent quality in a Convertible Tablet PC without emptying your savings account, the Averatec C3500 should be at the top of your list. As I send our review unit back to Averatec, I will surely miss it and might just add it to my Christmas Wish List!


PROS & CONS


Pros:

-Outstanding Display
-Sturdy magnesium alloy case
-Excellent features and value
-Great porability
-Cost

Cons:
-Weak battery life