Acer TravelMate C110: Centrino infused Tablet PCby Andrew Ku on September 19, 2003 2:15 PM EST
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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.