As in previous years, the desktop & handheld hardware category this time around included a diverse group of product contenders, ranging from low-profile desktop systems and LCD displays to wireless communicators and Tablet PC systems. Mobility was the common thread among the products that made it to the final rounds of judging.
TravelMate C100 Tablet PC
The Acer America Corp. TravelMate C100 does a good job of providing mobile users with access to new pen- and slate-based features while still serving as an effective notebook computer. The C100s screen flips around and folds down flat over the keyboard to become a pen tablet. This makes the unit thicker in tablet form than some of the other Tablet PC entries but leaves users with the most options for their money—a key differentiator because notebooks in general, and Tablet PC systems in particular, cost considerably more than their desktop-bound brethren.
Described by one of the Excellence Awards judges as an "amazing little device," Fujitsu PC Corp.s LifeBook P2120 impresses with its small size (3.4 pounds), long battery life (from more than 4 hours to nearly 12 with the extended battery) and reasonable price (starting at about $1,500). These are qualities that mobile computer users value in their machines but that sometimes seem overlooked as desktop replacement "mobiles" grow larger and more muscled—with price tags to match. Built-in 802.11b wireless is an option with the LifeBook P2120, which also includes a neat scroll button on its pointing device.
Two years ago, Research In Motion Ltd. won an eWeek Excellence Award for its BlackBerry 957 wireless messaging device—a product that, as one of our judges put it, "single-handedly made wireless e-mail possible for the corporate masses." The BlackBerry 6710, a unit thats two versions removed from that 957 model, hangs onto what worked but has undergone a complete upgrade under the covers. Powered by an ARM processor and featuring a Java 2 Micro Edition-based software platform, the BlackBerry 6710 is a more viable target for mobile application development than its predecessor. Add to this a move to GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) for network connectivity and phone functionality, and the 6710 is a device that promises to foster RIMs leadership role in the wireless messaging space.
Excellence Awards Winners and Finalists: