Product Review: Tablet PC

11 Mar 2008

It occurred to me when the PC industry came out with a new type of computer that it was no small irony it had been called the ‘tablet’. My first thought when I got to hold one about six years ago was it probably weighed no less than the granite slabs Moses hefted down from the mountain back in the day.

My first feelings about the tablet computer were the idea was nice but the reality meant having biceps like BA Baracus. It was flash, I could handwrite all over it … but it was bulky and pricey too.

Tablet computers are meant to be used by the kind of people who take notes a lot, like doctors and students. But the very people who could afford to pay the kind of money required for the devices tended to live in the land of spreadsheets and would possibly find the idea of scribbling across the screen alien.

The Tablet PC never emerged as the revolutionary ‘form factor’ originally envisaged. But it may be that history will have the last laugh because the PC industry has never given up on these devices.

The reason for my reticence about the Tablet PC is largely because I believe in word of mouth when it comes to the success of gadgets. If people aren’t raving about them or you don’t see many people using them, they may be a flop.

Nobody has regaled me about the benefits of the Tablet PC. At least not for years. Nobody!

Recently, when it was suggested I take the HP 2710p business Tablet PC for a test drive, I accepted on the novelty factor alone.

My first impression was the size and weight of the device. Compared with its earlier brethren, this was a joy to carry around, weighing only 1.65kg and boasting a 12.1-inch screen.

An outdoor display function meant I could easily use it in the sunlight and the handwriting recognition was easy to get used to.

The device also comes with an (optional) integrated two-megapixel camera for capturing images but also for engaging in videoconferencing.

To really get to know the device, I brought it with me on a gruelling business trip and found the size to be convenient for just slipping into your laptop bag at a moment’s notice and not too taxing to carry.

Another bonus is the quick way it boots up. There’s no waiting and you can be writing, scribbling, doodling or whatever you do in seconds.

In terms of connectivity, it worked perfectly with most Wi-Fi connections, instantly locating nearby public networks.

It’s a good thing Tablet PC manufacturers give users the option to use the devices like the bog-standard notebook, allowing you to swivel around the keyboard. I realised I’m not really a tablet man and prefer to type rather than scribble.

Over the course of my travels, I rarely used the tablet as a tablet but rather as a traditional business road warrior. Again, it really depends on your environment. This device is well suited for under-the-arm roles and I don’t mean rugby players. Basically, people who walk around a lot and don’t sit at desks or in airport lounges.

Another cool trick in the device is a business card reader, so you can photograph business cards and get the information sent straight into your contacts book.

The device has little or no drawbacks. It is quite rugged in its way and perfect for the power user. My only gripe is I felt the screen resolution was a little fuzzy.

The HP 2710p Notebook is now available for €1,778.


Pros: Light and rugged

Cons: Screen resolution a little fuzzy

Price: €1,778

By John Kennedy