Two weeks ago, Microsoft launched the Tablet PC at an event in New York City. As I write, the first devices are in stores: Over the weekend, CompUSA advertised Toshiba and ViewSonic units here in Modesto, California. As I anticipated, vendors priced the devices similarly to conventional high-end notebook PCs. Lower-priced units (e.g., the ViewSonic Tablet PC V1100) sell for less than $2000, and higher-end units (e.g., Toshiba's Portege 3500) sell for about $500 more.

The devices vary in design. The Portege is a convertible unit that resembles Acer's TravelMate 100. (For information about the TravelMate, see my Windows & .NET Magazine article "Acer TravelMate 100," http://www.winnetmag.com, InstantDoc ID 26688.) You can use the Portege as you would a conventional notebook PC, or you can fold down the screen to cover the keyboard and use it with the stylus as a tablet device. Fujitsu, Motion Computing, and ViewSonic have produced a "pure tablet" form-factor, although all three vendors provide base stations and wireless keyboards for their Tablet PCs. Hewlett-Packard (HP) has taken the middle ground with its Compaq Tablet PC TC1000. (Interestingly, HP is continuing to use the Compaq name for this device.) The TC1000 is convertible, but you can also completely remove the keyboard from the unit. The TC1000 is also the least expensive Tablet PC, with prices starting at $1699.

For more information about the Tablet PC and the above-mentioned models, see the following URLs.

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/tabletpc/default.asp

http://www.acersupport.com/notebook/html/tabletpc.html

http://www.compaq.com/products/tabletpc

http://www.motioncomputing.com

http://63.220.28.252/weber/toshiba/tabletpc.html

http://www.viewsonic.com/products/tablet_pc_tabletpcv1100.htm

http://www.fujitsupc.com/www/products_pentablets.shtml?products/pentablets/st4000a

Next time, I'll tell you about the Tablet PCs I saw at COMDEX Fall 2002. I'll also talk about the other new devices I saw there, such as the Dell Axim X5 Pocket PC, which is setting a new price point for Pocket PCs (the low-cost 32MB version of the Dell Axim X5 sells for just $199 after rebate) and comes with new Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 Premium software that includes Microsoft Pocket PowerPoint.