Acer Blurs the Line With New Tablet PC

TravelMate 250P has the look and cost of a notebook.

Acer America Corp. last week introduced a new computer that runs Microsoft Corp.s Tablet PC operating system but looks and costs more like a notebook than a Tablet PC.

"Its our first step at commoditizing Tablet [PC] functionality," said Jeffrey Friederichs, vice president of Acers Notebook Business Unit, in San Jose, Calif.

Other than the operating system, the TravelMate 250P is very much a traditional high-end notebook computer. It features an Intel Corp. Pentium 4 processor, a 14.1-inch display, 256MB of synchronous dynamic RAM, WLAN (wireless LAN) and Bluetooth connectivity, and a 56K-bps modem.

The Tablet PC operating system and Acers Electromagnetic Resonance pen let users annotate documents directly on the screen. While the display can be angled to make writing easier, it cannot be removed or swiveled away from the keyboard. To that end, users can lock the keyboard so as not to type by mistake while theyre trying to write. Otherwise, the keyboard works as a regular keyboard.

In addition to the operating system, the TravelMate 250P comes preloaded with Franklin Covey Co.s TabletPlanner, Zinio Systems Inc.s Reader, Symantec Corp.s Norton AntiVirus, Alias Systems SketchBook Pro and other applications.

Pricing starts at $1,499.

Meanwhile, Fujitsu PC Corp. has a Tablet PC-cum-notebook of its own. The Santa Clara, Calif., computer maker last week introduced the LifeBook T3000 Tablet PC series, which is a cross between the companys LifeBook notebook and Stylistic Tablet PC lines. Unlike Acers TravelMate, the T3000 features a screen that can swivel and lie flat against the keyboard so that it feels like a writing tablet.

All notebooks in the LifeBook T3000 series feature a 12.1-inch screen. There are two basic models, which come with a variety of memory options. The T3000 comes with Intels Centrino chip set, which includes 802.11b connectivity. The T3000D comes with an Intel Pentium M processor and either a separate 802.11b/g radio or no WLAN radio. Intel has yet to offer a Centrino chip set that supports 802.11g.

The LifeBook T3000 Tablet PC is available now. Pricing starts at $1,799.