As of late, the Pentium-M mobile processor and Centrino technology have really begun to proliferate themselves into the marketplace in large numbers. Sales for both the slim/lightweight and desktop replacement notebooks have, for the large part, been successful as functions of multi-tasking and space-saving, respectively. However, this still leaves the matter of the ultraportable market. Previous mobile systems in this market have been met with mixed success because the limitations of weight and size have forced designers to compromise performance that even slim mobile systems could offer. Pentium-M and Centrino technology brings Intel to the forefront again with a tangible solution to bridge the limitations of weight and size with that of performance. Granted, a Centrino based system will not perform at the same level of their thin and light counterparts, but it is one step up the ladder.

Intel has already made a strong campaign to emphasize the benefits of Centrino technology on two main fronts: extended battery life and wireless connectivity. These two traits make Centrino an excellent choice around which to design an ultraportable system. Tablet PCs are intrinsically thought of as ultraportable, as they need to be light enough to be carried around long durations and versatile enough to perform general office functions on the go. They already have the benefit of wireless, but designers have had to scale back to lower voltage hungry processors, such as the Transmeta Crusoe. This has led to the lack of performance, even in simple functions like running animated Windows XP screens or watching visualizations in Windows Media Player. Even the few tablet PCs that used the low voltage Pentium III-M lagged a bit in performance. While this give-and-take scenario is understood, the market has been waiting for ultraportable mobile units, such as the tablet PC, to come to a point where performance, battery life, and form (dimensions and weight) reach an epicenter. Therefore, a Centrino based tablet PC will have the benefit of battery life and form, the likes of its predecessors, but will come with the additional benefit of performance.

So far, there are two main companies featuring convertible tablet PCs: Toshiba and Acer. Remember that convertible tablet PCs are crosses between a slim/lightweight notebook and a slate tablet PC, and previous models from either company have been based on a low voltage Pentium III-M in order to accommodate the functionality of a notebook. However, Acer is the first to the plate with a Centrino based tablet PC, which is supposed to bring some performance edge into the traditional tablet PC. Let’s take a look to see if Centrino is adding the performance kick into tablet PCs.

Tablet PCs - Where are we now?


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  • BlueFish - Wednesday, March 23, 2005 - link

    Oh, one more thing to add. I asked the guy why should I bring it in, given that they had replaced the card. His response: "Maybe they replaced the wireless card with a faulty wireless card" - this was the reason for bringing it in so they could test it further. This is incredible! Acer support staff can do that? I'm guessing that their quality assurance processes must be horrible and that they can't even guarantee the wireless card is not faulty BEFORE you put it into a notebook!!! Reply
  • BlueFish - Wednesday, March 23, 2005 - link

    I couldn't have made a bigger mistake. I was impressed by this unit. I totally bought the whole idea, tablet PC, small, light, tiny, hand recognition. What I got instead was wasted time, useless unit, horrible support and a real waste of money. Here goes a brief run down. If anybody from acer is reading this, you'd better get your act together, because stories like this only scare away consumers.

    1. Purchased the laptop in Jan (mid). Also purchased an external battery charger. Seemed like a good idea (given it came with 2).
    2. Noticed that the laptop didn't shutdown well. Everytime I booted into the unit, it would hang, windows would go into grief and you needed to do it a few times before it decided to be useful.
    3. Tried full system restore using Acer disks. Failed to be fixed.
    4. Brought it into Acer's repair center. Wow, they guarentee 2 hour turn around. Only problem is, they're not quite in a convenient location. So it'll take you like 2 hours to get there and back anyway. Add it all up, that's 4 hours of wasted time. To top it all off, they are only open from 9 - 5. So what do they expect? customers to take time off work just to fix a stupid PC problem?
    5. Got the unit back. Unit boots properly (yay).
    6. Noticed the unit's Wireless IP stack keeps dumping. I'd drop a wireless connection many times and often just 5 mtrs away from a Netgear G wireless router. Rang Acer support - put on hold for 20 mins. Finally got through. Reported it and brought it back to the Acer repair center (again). Wasted another 4 hours.
    7. Got a call to pick up the unit. Picked it up. The job form indicated they replaced the wireless card.
    8. Got it that night and tried out the wireless. Same problem. Noticed that the problem occured depending on what software was running (seems very strange). This was MSN i was attempting to run and it caused the IP stack to dump! Discovered others are having this problem! Why didn't Acer support tell me of this?? instead of wasting my time. I'm a consultant and I hate to have to do these things because I'll have to make the hrs up later. Will Acer pay for my wasted time?
    9. Called service support (again). Spoke to the support guy who wasn't very helpful, nor very sympathetic. Not even apologetic. He didn't even say sorry. What a bastard! I've had to waste almost 2 freekin working days and he didn't even have the courtesy to say sorry.
    10. Worst still. I've discovered that the second battery they provided - which use to work - now doesn't even charge. I think it's the external charger. It's a bit flimsy in construction and could cause damage to the battery unit. I just tried the primary battery (the one that was working) and now it doesn't work. Probably because I used the external battery charger. Now I have two dud batteries. And to top it all off, you can't even use direct AC power (ie. run the laptop without a working battery). So if one day, the battery dies, forget using the power adaptor cos the unit's dead.
    11. Service support said to bring it in again to the Acer support center to have a look again. I asked whether they were willing to replace the entire unit - no answer. The helpdesk guy IGNORED me. Asked if they were going to pickup and deliver they said no. So I have to waste another 4 hours to fix the unit, with no guarantees that after that it will be fixed. Asked for a total refund, they said no.

    Am I wrong to expect so much from Acer? I don't think so. If I pay peanuts for something, I would expect peanuts. I'd say, "fair enough, it was cheep anyway. I can get another one... easy no fuss". But I paid AUD $3,700 for this product - an easy price for a plasma TV or LCD TV and now have incurred the following charges:
    1. Transport charges to the service center (say 80 bucks)
    2. Wasted time waiting and travelling (Say 1000 a day as a consultant) - 16 hours.

    If you are looking for a good laptop - stay away from anybody who cannot deliver. Especially stay away unless they have the following:
    1. Pickup and delivery of the laptop.
    2. Willingness to stand behind their product
    3. Renown product support.

    Forget Acer's 2 hour guarantee. It's not much considering they don't pickup. You waste time doing all of that. And to sit there and wait 2 hours... forget it.

    Acer - fix your products and do some real testing of them. Until then, everybody else, stay away from this pathetic, useless, counter productive vendor - you'll be a happier man/woman.
  • tomaal - Sunday, December 12, 2004 - link

    so what are these rubber bits on the side of the monitor? I thought they might be some kind of speaker mounts, but I cant find any. Are they just bumpers to protect it? Reply
  • Andrew Ku - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    Nope it isn't bud. Check again. That isn't a true convertible notebook. It is just a slate with the ability to attach a keyboard. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    Umm, you are forgetting the Compaq Tablet PC which is also a convertible. Reply
  • Poopship - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - link

    Gross Reply

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