If you want to read a brief intro to Windows XP
Tablet Edition notebook features and specs, click here. Note
this model is discontinued.
The Acer C100 is one of my favorite tablets.
It's an incredibly small and light convertible tablet, and can
be used as a tablet or standard notebook. Tablets come in two flavors:
pure tablet and convertible. Convertible tablet notebooks can double
as a standard notebook and a digital note and sketch pad.
We received the TMC102Ti model which has an 800
MHz Intel Mobile Pentium III processor, 256 megs of RAM, a 20 gig
ATA100 hard drive, and built in WiFi. All other models include
WiFi 802.11b, and the newer TMC104 models have a 900 MHz Mobile
Pentium III. Currently the C100 comes in 4 flavors: the TMC102T;
the TMC102Ti which has built-in WiFi, a 30 gig drive; the TMC104Ti
which has a 900 MHz Intel mobile Pentium III, WiFi and no CDROM
drive; and the top of the line TMC104CTi which as a 900 MHz Mobile
Pentium III, a 40 gig drive, WiFi and an external Firewire IEEE
1394 DVD/CDRW drive. Unfortunately, all the C100 models max out
at 256 megs of RAM, which is very low by today's standards, and
the absolute usable minimum for running Windows XP smoothly.
The unit is strikingly attractive and well put
together. It's sturdy and it looks like a quality notebook. It's
truly a subnoteook, weighing 3.1 pounds, and the keyboard is comfy
despite the unit's small size thanks to its curved design that
allows you to place your hands at a comfortable spread over the
keyboard. When opened in traditional notebook mode, there's a rubberized
grab area at the back of the unit behind the keyboard which makes
it very easy to carry around while using it.
The battery has lasted about 3 hours per charge so
far with WiFi turned on. The battery has a relatively small capacity,
so these runtimes were better than expected. Of the four current configurations,
only the TMC102Ti comes with a second battery in the box.
The screen is capable of displaying 16 million colors
at 1024 x 768 resolution. The surface seems durable and flexible and
is designed to allow you to rest your hand on the screen without showing
How does the screen look compared to non-tablet PCs?
It is not as bright or sharp, and the viewing angle is limited. That
isn't to say the display isn't acceptable, it's perfectly usable, but
don't expect it to be as bright as a traditional notebook. This is true
of all current tablets, thanks to the limitations in digitizer technology
and cost, so don't blame it on the Acer. How does the Acer compare to
other tablet displays? It's second behind the Gateway tablet
in sharpness and brightness.
Just as Microsoft promised, every commercial software
package we've installed has worked fine. I installed and used Office
2000 Pro, Adobe Photoshop 7, Dreamweaver MX and several other apps without
a problem. Graphics programs like Photoshop are wonderful to use on the
tablet: you can draw directly on the screen and precisely outline objects
for cutting/pasting and masking.
The Pen and Voice Experience: Trying Out Those Tablet
Since handwriting recognition, digital ink technology,
voice dictation and voice command are built into the operating system,
don't expect much variation between competing brands and models. Surprisingly,
machines with faster processors, such as the Toshiba Portege 3505 tablet
don't seem to translate handwriting into text much more quickly, nor
do they do a better job of voice recognition. A better built-in mic can
help improve voice recognition, but you're really going to need a good
quality headset mic if you want to successfully use voice dictation.
Why? A good headset mic is always going to be of better quality compared
to a built-in mic, and you won't have to worry as much about ambient
noise. Windows Journal, included with all XP Tablets, is the heart and
soul of pen input. Think of it as a digital 8.5" x 11" pad
of digital paper, complete with a variety of templates for notes, outlines,
stationary and even sheet music. You can write in digital ink using Windows
Journal while in a meeting, then later lasso the text and have the Acer
translate your writing into text so that you can mail your meeting notes
to others. You can also draw diagrams and whatever else you wish. Very
cool! Microsoft has a Windows Journal reader available for free download,
so you can share your ink notes and drawings with non-tablet users.
As with all Windows XP Tablets, when you boot up your
Acer C100, you'll be greeted by an excellent tutorial that will walk
you through using digital ink, handwriting recognition, voice commands
and voice dictation. It really does tell you everything you need to know
in a succinct manner. You'll even watch a few Windows Media Player movies
in the process of learning about the Tablet PC features. And for us lefties
out there, you'll be happy to know that you can tell it whether you're
a southpaw or rightie. You can flip the screen in 90 degree increments
so that lefties and righties can comfortably use the tablet in either
portrait or landscape mode.
Handwriting and voice recognition are integrated extremely
well into both Microsoft's and other companies' applications. I used
voice and handwriting input to enter text into Dreamweaver, Photoshop
and Office. Excellent!
How well does it work? Pretty well, and I'm a
lefty with poor handwriting. You can use handwriting recognition
(HWR) with most any application. It's built into the OS, as is
the on-demand on screen keyboard and voice command/ voice dictation
app. You can write in either print or cursive, and specify the
delay before your writing is translated. As previously mentioned,
Windows Journal, included with Windows XP Tablet Edition, allows
you to doodle, draw and write free-form and later select handwriting
to be translated into text. It is a very useful and neat app! I
can't imagine using this as a keyboard replacement, but for short
emails and note taking while walking or standing it's great.
Speech recognition isn't really ready for Prime
Time yet. This is true of all 1st generation tablets, not just
the Acer. Before you use speech, you must spend approximately 10
minutes doing an initial voice training exercise with the machine.
After that, you can choose to read aloud excerpts from classic
works to put in more training time, which is supposed to improve
accuracy. I did 4 training sessions, since the initial one yielded
comic results. Things didn't get much better after the forth training,
but it did generate some really humorous sentences. I have a deep
female voice that's reasonably clear, and I don't have an accent.
Starting again from scratch, I had a colleague try, but things
2 Different Card Slots and Plenty of Ports
The Acer C100 series comes with a CompactFlash
type II slot, and a CardBus PCMCIA type II slot. You'll also get
two USB 1.1 ports, Firewire, VGA out and a 56k modem. See the specs
for all ports. The 102 models come with a USB CDROM drive, and
the current top of the line TMC104CTi comes with a Firewire DVD/CDRW
drive. All units have 10/100 Ethernet and WiFi models use an internal
Orinoco card that has very good range. The unit comes with a mini-pen
that fits into a slot above the screen, and a full sized pen. You'll
also get a nice slim black case with padding so you can carry it
safely inside a briefcase or travel bag.
Sheer cool factor (OK, that's not enough reason to spend this
much money, but man it is cool!). Truly a subnotebook at 3.1
lbs. Good quality construction and attractive design. Great integration
of handwriting recognition and voice recognition into most all
applications from MS and 3rd parties. Most configurations include
a CDROM drive. Con: The C100 can't use more than 256 megs of
RAM-- yeegads! In this day and age, that's quite poor. As can
be said of all XP tablets, the screen isn't as bright or sharp
as a normal high end laptop's, and voice recognition doesn't
price $1799 to $2,199 depending
Display: 10.4" TFT
LCD, 1024 x 768 pixel resolution, 16 million colors.
SMI Lynx 3DM+ graphics chipset with 8MB of VRAM.
Simultaneous LCD and CRT display.
Ion rechargeable. 1600 Milliamps/hour.
and Memory: 800
(TMC102) or 900MHz (TMC104)Mobile Pentium III,
Intel® 440MX chipset. 256 MB RAM maximum. Uses PC133 SODIMMs, 1 slot for
or 40 gig ATA 100 2.5" hard disk, depending
on model. External USB CDROM drive included with
the TMC102 and TMC102Timodels, no optical drive for
TMC104Ti, external Firewire IEE1394 DVD/CDRW with
Size: 9.9" (W)
x 8.2" (D) x 1.0/1.16" (H). Weight 3.1
in speaker, mic and stereo headphone jack. Voice
Recorder and command included in the operating
system. SoundBlaster Pro compatible chipset.
XP Tablet Edition operating system. Microsoft Journal
application for word processing and support for ink
notes and drawings. Voice Recorder, voice command
and handwriting recognition built into the OS.
and Ports: Two
USB ports, Type II PCMCIA CardBus slot, RJ-11 jack
for 56Kbps fax/modem, RJ-45 jack for Ethernet,
Line-in (external microphone), Line-out (headphone/external
speakers), VGA, IEEE 1394 Firewire port, Infrared
and a SmartCard slot. WiFi on all models except