Electrovaya Scribbler SC500 Tablet PCby Matthew Witheiler on March 18, 2003 2:25 AM EST
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It has been a little over four months since Microsoft released its latest operating system, Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, and to date the software has been met with mixed success. Unlike previous versions of Microsoft's operating systems, sales of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition are directly tied to sales of tablet PC hardware. This is because in order to purchase and use the latest and greatest from Microsoft you must be a tablet PC certified OEM; for every tablet PC sold, one copy of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition is sold, no more, no less. If tablet PCs are not selling, the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system is not selling.
This is not to say that Microsoft does not play a role in determining how many copies of the operating system are sold. In order to sell a tablet PC with the Microsoft operating system on it, Microsoft requires that you gain tablet PC certification. This is the same stipulation that accompanies the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system and prevents the OS from getting a bad name due to low quality hardware.
As far as we can tell Microsoft is currently offering tablet PC certification to 27 manufacturers (a complete list of which can be found on Microsoft's website). Only a few of these manufacturers are currently offering systems in the US retail market and users have been a bit cautious to adopt the new technology. From our perspective it appears that Tablet PC is not selling in as large of quantities as Microsoft would have wanted. Perhaps the concern is justified: Microsoft is currently working on a revision of the Tablet PC Edition operating system which should make the tablet experience more productive and tablet PC's flagship application, Microsoft Office OneNote, is still nowhere to be found. Why buy now if systems a few months down the road will be less expensive and more productive?
While there are a good number of users waiting to invest in a tablet PC, some are buying now to take advantage of the functionality that tablet solutions offer currently. As we detailed in our in depth look at the tablet PC revolution, tablet PC solutions in their current incarnation do bring to the table many desirable features. With the current generation of tablets one can take digital notes in digital ink, convert digital ink to typed characters, and produce digital paintings right on the screen. Students, business users, and artists all have a right to be excited about the tablet PC. Considering that operating system upgrades can almost certainly be downloaded when released and applications can always be installed at a later date, there are some markets where investing in a tablet PC now is not such a bad idea.
In an attempt to aid those in the market for a tablet PC today, as well as give some insight to those who are considering making the transition to a tablet PC sometime in the future, we will be looking at a few tablet PCs in the coming weeks. Today's review covers one of the more unique tablets on the market. Produced by a Canadian based company named Electrovaya , the Scribbler SC500 is a slate tablet PC that is supposed to usher in a new era of mobile computing thanks to a battery life of "up to 16 hours." Does the Scribbler SC500 deliver as promised? Let's find out.