Microsoft Promotes Dueling Tablets
NEW YORK -- PC users who'd like to trade keyboard for stylus--at least occasionally--will have plenty of choices this holiday season as Microsoft launches not one but two pen-based operating system variants.
Shoppers will see one set of tablets based on Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, and another called Windows Powered Smart Displays (previously code-named Mira). Both types of products are on display at PC Expo/TechXNY here this week.
Microsoft sees the Tablet PC,
Vendors here are offering several types of Tablet PCs. Viewsonic, for example, showed a prototype of its Tablet PC 1100, a Windows XP Tablet PC-based slate that will include many of the features in its existing ViewPod 1000. Based on a design by chip maker Via Technologies, the Tablet PC 1100 will have built-in 802.11b wireless connectivity and an optional keyboard.
Off the show floor, an Austin, Texas-based start-up called Motion Computing showed a prototype of its Tablet PC, which will also be a slate.
None of the vendors provided specific pricing, but many hinted at figures in the $2000 range. In other words, Tablet PCs may be priced about what you'd expect to pay for a full-featured subnotebook today.
Despite the technology's reliance on XP Professional, Microsoft sees these displays as best suited to homes where users might want to browse the Web or check and compose limited e-mail messages while seated in front of the TV.
The slate itself is basically a dumb terminal that runs the new Windows CE for Smart Display operating system. It connects to your existing PC over your 802.11b wireless network using the Remote Desktop feature of Windows XP Professional. What you see is a mirror of your PC's desktop; you run your applications remotely.
Microsoft at a press event several blocks from TechXNY showed 10.5-inch and 15-inch Windows Powered Smart Displays. Viewsonic will ship both, and Philips will offer a 15-inch unit in time for the holidays, Microsoft says. Pricing for the slates only will start around $500 for the smaller units and go up to about $1000.