The Tablet PC: An in depth look with the FIC SlateVisionby Matthew Witheiler on December 12, 2002 7:43 AM EST
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Now that we have had some hands-on time with a Tablet PC, what are our impressions of the operating system and hardware solutions? We are very pleased. A Tablet PC will never replace our desktop, like some of the new high-end notebooks are beginning to do, but that is OK because the Tablet is not trying to replace a desktop; it is trying to complement it.
By far the most useful application of the Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition involves those who take notes on a regular basis. This could be anyone from a student to a manager to a doctor. These individuals will benefit from moving to a paperless note taking solution as notes can be translated into text, manipulated later, and even exported to other programs. Right now you are somewhat limited due to the lack of formatting in the existing recognition software solutions but with upcoming note taking solutions such as Microsoft OneNote things are only going to get better. Artists also stand to benefit from using a Tablet PC. As Gabe from Penny Arcade demonstrated, it is possible to draw some realistic pictures using free 3rd party solutions.
Microsoft has done a good job making Windows XP Tablet PC Edition fairly full featured right out of the box. With the bundled software applications, it is possible to use Tablet PCs without even owning a keyboard. The handwriting recognition had no problem deciphering our less than stellar handwriting the vast majority of time time, although typing is still faster for us. All in all it does not look like the Tablet PC will go the way of the eBook reader; it is far too full featured and productive to completely fail.
As for our impressions on Tablet PC hardware, if the FIC SlateVision is a sign of things to come we could not be more happy. We were extremely pleased with the size and functionality of the SlateVision slate Tablet PC. We found ourselves opting to take the SlateVision to meetings and using the system to outline notes for reviews. FIC has done a very good job making the SlateVision a worthy competitor. Plus at a price of less than $1500 the FIC SlateVision looks to be an extremely attractive system (other Tablet PC units out there now go for $2000+). We will have to wait a few more days before we get our hands on the final version of the SlateVision and come to a decision on the system's value but if the engineering sample we got our hands on is any indication, the SlateVision could be the budget Tablet PC to own.
The only problem we see for the SlateVision comes from the marketing end of things. FIC is very excited at the prospect of bringing the SlateVision to US shelves but unless the unit is picked up by large retail chains such as Best Buy, CompUSA, and Frys the unit will only experience limited success in the US market. We suspect that given the system's price and features, many users will opt for the SlateVision if the get the chance to use and try the unit in store running side by side comparable tablets from HP, Acer, and Toshiba. FIC promises they have big retail plans for the SlateVision and let's hope that everything goes as planned on their end.
Be sure to check back in the next two weeks or so for our final SlateVision review. In the mean time think about what a Tablet PC can do for you and which form factor is more fitting for your needs.