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Windows XP Tablet Notebook Reviews

Averatec C3500 Windows XP Tablet Edition Notebook

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Posted Nov. 9, 2004 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor

If you want to read an into to Windows XP Tablet Edition notebook features and specs, click here.

While other second generation convertible Windows XP Tablet PCs are priced at or over $2000, the Averatec C3500 sells for only $1350. What can you expect from a tablet that has such a low price? Quite a lot. The Averatec has an AMD 1.66GHz mobile Athlon XP-M 2200+ processor with a 60GB hard drive, 512MB memory, a bright and contrasty screen with a wide viewing angle, built-in 802.11g wireless and ample ports. It runs Windows XP Tablet Edition and on top of that, has an integrated DVD+CD-RW optical drive. All that is packed into a reasonably compact weighs 5.5 lb. package.

Averatec has really helped change the notebook market with their extremely low prices. Their non-tablet notebooks offer great value for the price as we discovered in their ultralight product line review here. Their XP Tablet PC continues this tradition and delivers good value and quality at an affordable price.


The Averatec C3500 series has a solid build with a silver metallic casing that houses a gray full notebook-size keyboard and a 12.1" display. The screen size is the same as the one found on the Toshiba Portégé M205 and the ViewSonic V1250, but smaller than the display on the Gateway M275XL and bigger than the one on the Acer C100. These are all convertible tablets. Like all these tablets except the Toshiba, it has an XGA display (the Toshiba is currently the only tablet with a higher resolution). As with other convertible tablet PCs, the Averatec has a swivel design that allows you to convert the notebook into tablet. The swivel hinge is sturdy and turns easily clockwise. There is a lock on the counterclockwise directly so that you don't accidentally turn the notebook in a wrong direction.


On the lower right side below the display panel, you will find three buttons that Averatec calls the "Tablet Buttons". The button on the left will rotate the screen orientation when pressed. It rotates the display 90 degrees clockwise each time you press it. This button and its function can be found on all XP Tablet PCs. The middle button functions like a Menu button that's conveniently located when you use the notebook in tablet mode. You can control the screen brightness, sound volume, rotate the screen orientation, access the Tablet PC Setup and Tutorial as well as set the system to hibernate or shut it down. To function together with the Menu button, Averatec placed an "Enter" button that has up/down rocker. You can use this button to select anything on the Menu and move your cursor up and down. These two buttons are a nice touch in the design and will give users who primarily use the notebook in tablet mode a convenient way to access these basic settings. There are three LED lights on the lower left below the display that indicate power on, WiFi and battery status. These LEDs wrap around the display panel at the bottom so that you can see them in both tablet mode and traditional laptop mode. The EMD (Electro-Magnetic Digitizer) stylus pen sits in the a silo along the left side of the screen. There is a panel latch on top of the display panel that can swing 180 degrees. It can lock the display panel in either convertible or traditional notebook mode.


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The Averatec C3500 has a standard QWERTY keyboard with dedicated number key and an Fn key row. Along with the touch pad and two mouse action keys, the Averatec adds a little extra: two touch directional areas on the touch pad. Moving your finger along these areas allows you to scroll page up/down and left/right. Above the keyboard, you'll find the power button, WLAN on/off slider and 5 LEDs indicating optical drive access, hard drive access, Num Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll Lock.

There are plenty ports on the C3500. You will find 4 USB 2.0 on the rear of the tablet along with a hole for locking down the notebook with a security cable. There is a monitor connection port to run an external monitor or projector. Next to the monitor port, there is an air vent. You can hear the fan turning on when the notebook runs hot, though this notebook runs hotter than any other we've tested. On the left side of the Averatec, you will find the air intake slots, a S-Video TV out, the DC power port, an internal 10Base-T/100Base-TX LAN port and a 56K modem port, a PCMCIA slot (supports Type II PC cards) and the left stereo speaker. On the right side, you will find the built-in DVD+CD-RW combo drive, volume control, mic out and a headphone jack along with the right stereo speaker.

top view

Top view.

bottom view

Bottom View.


The battery pack lives on the underside of the notebook at the front. There are two doors retained by screws on the underside. One is for the hard disk and the other for the two DIMM (RAM) slots and the 802.11g Mini-PCI wireless module.

The unit measures in at 11.6" x 9.8" x 1.6" and weighs 5.5 lbs. The size is very similar to the Toshiba M205 and a tad bigger than the ViewSonic V1250 convertible. The weight however tops all convertible XP Tablet PCs we've tested except the Gateway M275XL and is heavier than Averatec's ultra-light model 3200 series. The sturdy build and internal optical drive are good tradeoff for the extra weight. Averatec also included a customized soft shell case.

Horse Power and What's Inside

The Averatec is powered by AMD Mobile Athlon XP-M 2200+ 1.66 GHz processor with PowerNow! 2.0 Technology and QuantiSpeed Architecture. This 32-bit processor is AMD's first mobile solution for tablet PCs and Averatec is the first manufacturer to put this processor in a convertible tablet PC. It's designed to take up less space and consume less power than processors for full-size laptops and desktop-replacement notebooks. The Athlon XP-M processor has 640KB total cache (128KB Level 1 and 512MB of L2 cache) to enable improved multitasking and improved overall performance. Like all AMD mobile processors, the XP-M 2200+ includes AMD PowerNow! technology for longer battery life as well as a micro-PGA package design. PowerNow! Technology dynamically manages the power savings based on CPU demand dynamically.

Even though there is a fan with heat sink that comes on every few minutes under normal use, the Averatec runs quite hot when plugged into power. The bottom surface can get too hot to use the notebook on your lap without a notebook tray. However if you disconnect the power and run the tablet on battery power, the Averatec gets considerably cooler as the power management slows down the CPU which will in turn generates less heat. You can safely hold the tablet in your arm when using it on battery power.

The speed feels pretty zippy running most everyday tasks including accessing web sites, working on documents (including PDF), and playing movies and music. The graphics chipset used in this tablet is the SiSM741. Playing DVDs using PowerDVD bundled with the notebook feels very smooth. Gaming speed isn't stellar as in general many tablet PCs aren't built to play the latest graphically taxing games. That said, while the Toshiba Portégé M205 (it has a good dedicated graphics card) gets 30 fps playing Rise of Nations, the Averatec rams up only average 10 fps with a ceiling of 13 fps and tanking at 7 fps. So if you are primarily using this tablet for business or multimedia use, it will do just fine.

The C3500T60 model comes with 512 megs of DDR SDRAM expandable to 1 gig. The machine has two slots for installing 200-pin DDR SO-DIMMs up to 1024MB using two 512MB SO-DIMMs. The Averatec uses standard DDR 333 MHz/PC2700 SODIMMs and comes with a 60 gig, 9.5mm hard drive, built-in WiFi 802.11g, and a standard RJ45 Ethernet port along with a modem.

The integrated 54 Mbit 802.11g MiniPCI WiFi (Ralink Technology card) works well and has a good range. In addition to WiFi, you get a PCMCIA card slot, four USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet 10/100Base-T port and a 56K modem jack. The Averatec also comes with a built-in DVD+CD-RW combo drive.

Display and Sound

The Averatec C3500 has a 12.1" LCD that's capable of displaying up to 1024 x 768 resolution. Unlike some first generation tablets, the viewing angle on this tablet is very good. The screen won't disappear or black out when you view it at an off angle. The screen is pretty bright with a "glassy" look that's attractive but may cause glare from some angles. Averatec calls the screen high contract, and it indeed is contrasty and color saturated when viewing photos or watching DVDs. You will have much better experience with the screen indoors than in outside environment under direct sunlight. Writing on the screen with the included EMD Stylus pen feels very smooth. Make sure that you clean the screen before the first time you use the tablet because there's a coating on the screen which creates excessive drag and should be wiped off.

The digitizer technology on the Averatec is provided by UC-Logic instead of Wacom which found on most other XP Tablets. Note that the XP Tablet PCs will only work with these electro magnetic styli and won't respond to other styli or your finger. The Averatec stylus pen comes in the size of a regular pen and is made of plastic. There is a plastic pen tip and a button in the middle of the pen that acts like a right click button on your mouse. The digitizer does support pressure sensitivity however it doesn't feel as sensitive and well calibrated as the Wacom digitizer. The Averatec digitizer also doesn't have an eraser function while other Wacom digitizers can utilize the top of the stylus pen as an eraser. If you are a digital artist, you'll probably want to go with a Wacom-based tablet given the strong support Adobe Photoshop, Painter and other apps offer for the Wacom.

The Averatec has full-duplex 16-bit stereo audio system output and is Sound Blaster compatible. The notebook has integrated left and right mini stereo speakers that sound very good and have great volume. If you wish to hook up a pair of external speakers, there is a standard 3.5mm audio out jack for speakers or headphones. The thumb wheel for adjusting volume is very conveniently located next to the microphone jack.

Battery Life

The Averatec C3500 comes with a 4400 mA Lithium-Ion battery with Smart Battery function (the manual incorrectly states it's 2200 mA). The battery capacity is the same as the Toshiba Portégé M205, and larger than the Gateway M275 (3600 mA) and ViewSonic V1250's battery (1900 mA). The battery should last 3 hours per charge in theory, however the battery in our unit lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes with WiFi turned on at full screen brightness, accessing web sites and working on documents. If you want watch DVD, the battery life might run even shorter. One of the reasons why the battery life is shorter than the capacity should perform could be because the machine generally runs hot and Lithium Ion batteries are sensitive to the heat. The Averatec doesn't seem to have its own power management console, so you will need to use the Window's power management tool.


The Averatec comes with Microsoft Windows XP Tablet Edition which includes the Windows Journal application. Do download Windows XP Service Pack 2, which is free and will automatically upgrade your tablet to Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005. Also upgrade the digitizer driver via Windows Update for compatibility with 2005. There are some major improvements in the XP Tablet Edition 2005 vs. the original version introduced in November 2002. The new version adds a great number of security enhancements, including the Windows Firewall, which replaces the Internet Connection Firewall. You'll find the new firewall much more paranoid and powerful than ICF. The 2005 Edition also adds the ability to download windows updates from MS, but delay their installation until shutdown so that you don't have to reboot your computer for updates. The new version offers much better handwriting recognition and a more flexible input panel which we will cover more below in the Tablet features area. The new OS also includes updated support for Bluetooth which allows you to work with wireless keyboards, mice, printers and connect to cell phones and PDAs. The Averatec comes with the improved Microsoft Office OneNote 2003, a must-have tablet application that lets you take notes with the pen and organize your notes in highly customizable forms. For multimedia, the Averatec C3500 bundles Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator 6.0 for burning CDs and DVDs, and PowerDVD XP 5.0 for playing DVDs. Norton AntiVirus 2004 is included, as well as Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 and QuickTime 6.0. The Averatec also comes with Phoenix Insyde BIOS setup program that allows you to set several system configurations including systems time and date, disk drive configuration and password setup.

Windows XP Tablet Features

Handwriting recognition, digital ink technology, voice dictation and voice command are built into the operating system. One of the new features in the XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 is the In-place tablet input panel (TIP). Instead of using the input panel by clicking on the button next to the Start menu, the TIP can open anywhere on the screen when you tap in a document. A small icon will show up directly below the input area and can float around the screen under the area where you're writing. Another new feature in the 2005 Edition is the real-time recognition which converts handwritten words into text and lets you preview the conversion before it's inserted into the documents. The input panel will automatically add additional line when you approach the end of a text line. Very nice improvement! If you want to read more about the new features in the 2005 Edition, read our write up here.

The handwriting recognition has been dramatically improved from the original version. You can use one of the three input methods including writing pad, character pad and on screen keyboard. The 2005 Edition has put magic into handwriting recognition and made it pretty much bullet proof. Even if you don't have clear handwriting or are a leftie, the notebook should have no problem recognize your handwriting.

The lack of accuracy in the first generation voice command and voice recognition software left these features less than desirable. With the improved 2005 Edition, the voice features have taken a leap forward as well. The voice recognition in the Averatec can indeed be a very powerful tool for you to dictate notes by speech instead of writing. With just a short 10-minute initial voice training, I was able to dictate voice notes at 90% accuracy. The Averatec has a very nice built-in microphone that functioned well in our voice tests and no doubt helps accuracy greatly. If you use an external mic and put in more training sessions, you might get an even higher success rate. However, you do need to speak clearly and not too fast during voice dictation. If your voice is too soft, the input panel will tell you so and you will need to speak louder. The library of the vocabulary seems to be very large. We tried some obscure words, and as long as we spoke clearly, the Averatec had no trouble recognizing them.


A very nice tablet in a reasonably compact package at a very affordable price. For shoppers on tight budget and students who want to get into XP Tablets, the Averatec offers the lowest price.

Pro: Nicely built machine that feels solid and can take some bumps in the backpack. A nice display that has a wide viewing angle by tablet standards and contrasty screen. Convenient Tablet buttons on the display panel will likely please those who use this machine in tablet mode. Reasonably speedy and should handle web, email, DVD playback and Office applications well. Very health number of ports including 4 USB 2.0 port and all the major ports for communications, multimedia and external display. Integrated optical drive. Software bundle includes full versions of OneNote 2003, Norton AntiVirus 2004 and Easy CD and DVD Creator 6.

Con: The machine runs unusually hot. The battery life is short compared to other tablets even though battery capacity is good. The digitizer isn't the Wacom technology found on most other tablets and you'll find less application support for pressure sensitivity. The stylus pen is a bit off in calibration. If you are looking for a tablet that doubles as a gaming machine, then you should consider the Toshiba Portégé M205 or non-tablet machine with more power.

One year warranty on the machine and 6 months warranty on the battery

List Price: $1350

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Display: 12.1'' TFT XGA Screen, 32-bit true color, 1024x768 resolution. SiS M741 video card with 32MB shared memory.

Battery: 4400 mA Lithium-Ion Battery.

Performance: 1.66 GHz AMD mobile Athlon XP-M 2200+ processor. 640KB high speed cache memory. Two memory slots for installing 200-pin DDR SO-DIMMs up to 1024MB using two 512MB SO-DIMMs.

Drives: 60GB hard drive. Built-in DVD+CD-RW drive.

Size: 11.6" x 9.8" x 1.57", weighs 5.5 lbs.

Audio: Full-duplex 16-bit stereo audio system output. Sound Blaster compatible. Standard 3.5mm headphone jack and built-in stereo speakers.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11g, wired 10/100 Ethernet and 56k modem.

Ports: 4 USB (2.0), 15-pin VGA, RJ-11 56k modem, 1 PCMCIA type II CardBus slot, 1 RJ45 Ethernet port (10Base-T/100Base-T), S-Video and Audio Out and a microphone jack.

Software: Windows XP Tablet Edition operating system. Microsoft Journal for word processing and support for ink notes and drawings. Voice Recorder, voice command and handwriting recognition built into the OS. Full versions of MS OneNote 2003, Norton AntiVirus 2004 and Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator 6 are included. Discount on GoBinder software.

In the Box : The C3500 Convertible Tablet PC with stylus pen, a nice padded custom case, AC adapter and AC power cord, Li-Ion Batter Pack and recovery CDs.


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