If you want to read a brief intro to Windows XP
Tablet Edition notebook features and specs, click here.
Tablet PCs running Windows XP Tablet Edition
come in two flavors: standard notebook designs with keyboards and
true tablets. The Gateway Tablet PC is among the latter. At first
glance, you might mistake it for an LCD display, minus the stand.
Place it in its included docking station and you've got a keyboard
with integrated touch pad and a CDRW/DVD drive, giving you the
key creature comforts a desktop offers. It weighs a modest 3 lbs
The Gateway Tablet PC comes
with a docking station, USB keyboard with integrated trackpad
and a Firewire (IEE 1394) External 8x/8x/24x CDRW/8X DVD Combo
Gateway now offers a convertible design tablet
as well, the M275XL, which is reviewed here. It's a six pound notebook
that looks like a normal laptop until you whip out the pen!
Out of the box, the Gateway looks and feels
sturdy, and is quite attractive. It's got a tasteful silver finish
and a snap-on hard cover that speak of high-tech chic and quality.
The case is made of magnesium alloy, which means it's as durable
as it looks and feels. You'll notice the unit bears both the Gateway
and Motion Computing logos on the front. Motion Computing, a Texas
company devoted to making cutting edge mobile products, designed
The docking station is made of plastic, and has
a ratchet design that allows you to adjust the angle of the display
when the computer is docked. It's well equiped with a wide selection
of ports and a power connector.
The unit has a Mobile Pentium III running at 866 MHz,
a pretty common speed and processor for current Tablets. It comes with
256 megs of SDRAM expandable to 768 megs (using PC133 SODIMMs), a 40
gig hard drive (supporting UDMA 66/100, connected to an Intel Ultra ATA
controller), built-in WiFi 802.11b using a PCI interface made by Broadcom,
and a standard RJ45 Ethernet port.
You'll find a good range of ports on the computer,
including 2 USB 1.1 ports, Firewire (4 pin non-powered), VGA, audio in
and out, a 56k modem and the Ethernet port.
Battery Life, Screen, Sound, Software
The battery has lasted about 4 hours per charge so
far with WiFi turned on. It charges rather quickly, taking about 1.5
hours from empty to full charge. For a notebook of this size and speed,
the battery life is good.
The screen is capable of displaying 16 million
colors at 1024 x 768 resolution. Its 12.1" display is the
largest available on current XP tablets. As with all XP tablets,
the surface seems durable and flexible and is designed to allow
you to rest your hand on the screen without showing grease marks.
Tablet PC displays can't compare to traditional notebook LCDs when
it comes to sharpness, brightness and viewing angle. But hey, the
LCD also doubles as a digitizer, and making these things look as
good as a traditional notebook display would likely move these
out of most folks' price range. That said, the Gateway has the
best tablet display and looks (relatively) great. It is equally
as sharp as the ViewSonic XP Tablet, and is brighter than the 3
other brands we've tested.
Just as Microsoft promised, every commercial
software package we've installed has worked fine. As part of my
standard set of test applications, I installed and used Office
2000 Pro, Adobe Photoshop 7, Dreamweaver MX and several other apps
without a problem. Using Photoshop and Fractal Painter is a dream
on this machine, drawing and making lasso selections is a dream
when you're using a pen directly on the screen rather than an accessory
digitizer. I can't say enough about how wonderfully it works. You
can even select the text tool in Photoshop, then use voice dictation
to speak your text! If you're a serious designer working with print
media files, keep in mind that the processor isn't fast compared
to standard notebooks and desktops. Photoshop files that are 40
megs and larger mean your filters won't fly.
Docking Station and Included Peripherals
The Docking Station is made of plastic, and like
most tablet PC docking stations, it looks plasticy. It is heavy
and sturdy, even if it doesn't look a piece of expensive computer
kit. It has 1 USB up front, and 2 USB ports on the rear along with
power, audio in and out, 1 RJ45 Ethernet port, a VGA out and a
Firewire (IEE 1394) port for the included CDRW/DVD drive. The Firewire
port may be used with other Firewire peripherals when you don't
need access to the CD drive. You get a second charger, so that
you can leave one plugged into the docking station and take the
other with you on the road.
The CDRW/DVD drive is a standalone unit which
comes with its own power adapter and can read CDs at 24x, write
them at 8x and play DVDs at 8x. It worked flawlessly for us, and
played DVDs well. It comes with Nero CD burning software and interVideo
WinDVD 4 for DVD playback.
The USB keyboard has an integrated trackpad with
two clickers. It's a notebook-sized keyboard with an embedded numeric
keypad that has good key travel and tactile feedback. Though it
lacks dedicated number keys, it does have page up/down and 4 arrow
keys for navigating documents. The keyboard is remarkably light,
weighing in at about 19 ounces.
The Pen and Voice Experience: Trying Out Those
Tablet PC Features!
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. Machines with faster processors will translate handwriting
into text more quickly, and might also do a better job of voice
recognition. Many of the first generation machines share the same
Mobile Pentium III running at 866 MHz used in the Gateway Tablet
PC. The Toshiba Tablet is
one of the few exceptions, running at 1.3 GHz. Also, 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.
When you boot up your Gateway,
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 portrait mode so that the handgrip
and button strip are on the left rather than the right. The tutorial
and lefty-friendly features are part of the Windows XP Tablet
OS feature set.
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. If you're a Pocket PC
user, you can also use character recognizer found on Pocket PCs.
Oddly, I found that writing in cursive using the standard input
mode worked as well as character recognizer. Cursive writing in
standard mode should be more demanding than character recognizer.
Windows Journal, included with Windows XP Tablet Edition, allows
you to doodle, draw, 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 it's great.
Windows XP tablets do not have good voice recognition
capabilities. Perhaps in a few years, we'll see truly usable voice
recognition on this platform. 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 2 training sessions, since the initial
one yielded poor results. Additional training didn't improve recogntion,
but just as with other tablets we've tested, it did generate some
really humorous sentences. My voice is female, fairly deep, and
clear except for some hissing on "s" sounds and I do
not have any accent. While processing power should improve recognition,
I can't say that the 866 MHz Gateway is any worse than the 1.3
GHz Toshiba tablet also reviewed on
It's cool, of course! It's also light, relatively
compact and is built to last. The screen is excellent by XP tablet
PC standards. The processing power, hard drive and memory are more
than adequate for web surfing, email and working with MS Office
documents. Great integration of handwriting recognition and voice
recognition into most all applications from MS and 3rd parties.
Should you buy one? If you want to use the special features of
the Tablet OS, then yes. If you don't intend to use these features,
then you can find a faster notebook with a CD burner, firewire
and a brighter sharper screen for the same money. How does the
Gateway compare to the Toshiba, Acer and ViewSonic XP tablets?
It has one of the best displays and is well-built. It is the most
expensive tablet, however.
Sheer cool factor. Sturdy design and construction. Attractive
machines that exudes quality. Brightest screen for a tablet PC,
and it's also top of the line in sharpness. Docking station with
good selection of ports, keyboard and CDRQW/DVD included. Con:
Price-- this is the most expensive Tablet PC. As can be said
of all current XP tablets, screen isn't on par with traditional
notebooks and voice recognition doesn't work well.
price for Gateway Tablet PC: $2,799
color active matrix LCD, 16 million colors, Screen
Size Diag: 12.1", Resolution: 1024 x 768. Intel® 830MG
Integrated UMA Graphics (Intel 82830M Chip). 48 megs
RAM assigned to graphics chip.
Ion smart rechargeable. 3600 Milliamps/hour.
and Memory: 866
MHz Intel Mobile Pentium III. 256 MB SDRAM, upgradeable
to 768 megs. Uses standard PC133 SODIMMs, 2 slots
gig ATA 100 2.5" removable hard disk. Supports
Ultra DMA 66/100. External 8x/8x/24x CDRW / 8X DVD
Combo driver (Firewire/ IEE 1394 connector).
Size: 11.65" x
9.45" x .87". Weight 3 lbs.
in speaker, mic and stereo headphone jack. Voice
Recorder and command included in the operating
system. Uses AC 97 audio codec.
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. WinDVD
4 and Nero CD burning software included.
and Ports: On
computer: 2 USB, 1 Firewire, VGA, audio in and
out, V.92 modem, 1PCMCIA type II slot, 1 RJ45 Ethernet
port, docking port and built-in WiFi. On docking
station: VGA monitor port, mic in (mono, 3.5mm),
and stereo headphone jack- 3.5mm, 3 USB ports,
RJ45 Ethernet, 1 Firewire (IEE 1394) port.