Laptops

3 Convertible Tablets That Mean Business

Conclusions

Because of its small size and low price, the HP EliteBook 2740p is the tablet that I'd get for myself. When it comes down to it, I really don't use a DVD drive all that often on the road. I really like its flush screen, its performance and, especially, its three-year warranty. My only qualm is its disappointing battery life, but you can address that by using some aggressive power management settings and by packing a second battery.

The LifeBook T900 and Portege M780 are both fine systems, but they are much bigger and heavier. If you absolutely have to have an optical drive, either of these two would be a great addition to your mobile fleet.

How we tested

I used each system for two to three weeks, evaluated them side by side and used both their keyboards and pens in a work environment. I took each one with me on a short business trip, using it as my primary computer on the road.

After weighing and measuring each in tablet mode, I loaded the PassMark PerformanceTest 7.0 benchmark test suite, ran it three times and averaged the results. The software tests the major components of the system -- including processor, hard drive, 2D and 3D graphics and memory -- and compiles the results into a single score that represents each tablet's performance potential. (See chart below for Convertible Tablet: Performances )

To see how precise and responsive the pens and digitizers are, I drew a simple map on the screen of each using the Paint program. Then, I tried out several two-finger gestures and handwrote 10 Web addresses into the input window and recorded how many worked.

I tested each machine's battery life by setting the system up on my Wi-Fi network, tuning in an Internet radio station and adjusting the volume and screen brightness to three quarters. With PassMark's Battery Monitor software running, I then unplugged the system and let it run down.

Finally, I rated the Wi-Fi range of each by walking away from the router with an Internet radio station playing. I marked the distance at which the system lost its connection with the server and recorded that as the unit's Wi-Fi range.

Brian Nadel is a freelance writer based near New York and is the former editor in chief of Mobile Computing & Communications magazine.

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