Compaq Computer has showcased a prototype Tablet PC during this weeks Comdex trade show in Las Vegas, NV.
Comparable in size to a standard sheet of paper, the Compaq Tablet PC prototype is a Microsoft Windows XP Pro-based PC that complements the functionality of a notebook with the addition of pen and speech input.
Compaq expects to ship its Tablet PC when Windows XP Tablet PC Edition is released in 2002.
Hard on Compaq’s heels, Acer is developing a laptop/Tablet PC hybrid that, it feels, will ease people into the Tablet concept.
While the Acer device is similar to a laptop in that it has a fold-up screen and keyboard, the screen also rotates horizontally around a central axis where it meets the keyboard panel. When the device is closed screen side up, it can be used as a Tablet PC.
‘Instead of a pure Tablet only, it can convert between a notebook and a Tablet PC,’ said Jim Wong, president of the IT Products Business group at Acer.
‘Users can get used to the writing behaviour by sometimes writing, sometimes typing. And it helps notebook users to get rid of their paper notebooks. It’s an evolution to a more instinctive way to use a PC.’
According to Microsoft, Tablet PCs are expected to come in a variety of sizes and form factors, from clamshell laptops whose screens can pivot and lay flat to create a writing surface, to slim, slate-like devices that can use detachable or desktop keyboards and mice.