Jewish World Review April 25, 2003 / 23 Nisan 5763

Gateway's Tablet a winner

By Mark Kellner | The Tablet PC, a Microsoft-inspired portable now available from several manufacturers, was off to a modest start: research firm International Data Corp. estimated only 72,000 units were sold in the product's debut quarter, the final one of 2002.

Gateway's Tablet PC, only recently available, could help change things. Of the units I've seen and tested so far, it's the best of the bunch, even with a nearly $2,800 price tag, when equipped with a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive and a docking station. The former is a more necessary option than the latter, but both are critical in my view.

But, first, the basics: the Gateway Tablet sports a 12.1-inch display, one of the larger among the new breed of Tablet PCs. Its colors are sharp and crisp, and its weight, about 3 pounds, is not too onerous for carrying around an office. There's a snap-off cover that protects the screen, while "backing up" the computer at other times: it clips to the unit's rear. The 40GB hard disk drive and 256 MB of RAM are enough for most business users; the RAM can be quadrupled, although there are no hard disk expansion options at present. There's a PC Card expansion slot, though it's necessity is lessened by the built-in modem, Ethernet port and 802.11b (WiFi) radio, all of which make network communications easier.

The computer is powered by an Intel Mobile Pentium III processor, running at 933 MHz, and designed to consume less power than some of its brother processors. This is another plus for the unit, since some competitors use non-Intel processors that may be considerably slower.

So you end up with the equivalent of a midrange notebook computer for nearly double the price. Is it worth it?

Yes, for the ability to carry just the tablet into a meeting, wirelessly check e-mail without attracting too much attention, show off presentations easily, and access files with a few moves of a stylus-cum-mouse on the display. Docked, the computer can handle a range of accessories and outputs, including an external monitor, the previously mentioned "media drive," and two USB devices, as well as external speakers and an external microphone.

The Gateway Tablet has, for a couple of weeks, been my primary home computer, as well as a traveling companion at a technical conference in Las Vegas. I expect to take it to another event in St. Louis where I'm due to walk around a large convention center, taking notes and making plans.

In these various situations, the unit performs well, and better than a regular desktop or notebook would. Carrying a desktop PC around an office or a meeting hall is, of course, absurd; that's why notebooks were invented. But the flip-up lid of the notebook "announces" your presence to the masses and is a bit obtrusive in some situations. It's also not meant for walking, per se.

The Gateway Tablet's size is large enough to write on, small enough to easily carry, and equipped with enough options and connectors to do the joh. A separate keyboard comes with the system, and is attached via a USB port. That keyboard includes a touchpad mouse, rather nice for the road warrior.

At home, or home-office, to be more precise, I've switched to a Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse, just because I prefer these; users may want to make a similar switch if the Gateway Tablet becomes their primary computer, since the supplied keyboard lacks a separate numeric keypad. This is, of course, a matter of personal taste. Hooking up a Creative Labs SoundWorks speaker system produced concert-hall quality sound, which tells me the audio output is solid as well.

Whether or not you need a Tablet PC will depend on your lifestyle and budget. If you see a Gateway Tablet somewhere, however, it's very likely that you'll want one, regardless of need. More information on the unit is available at

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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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