Kazilabar Hewlett Packard deserves a big pat on its corporate back. See each listing for international shipping options and costs. Beside that is the bay for the pen. In addition, it looks great and it works well, and it comes from one of the biggest computer companies in the world. So what is the TC?

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Unlike any other product previewed here, the TC is neither a "pure" slate nor a notebook convertible. It is something unique, closer to a slate than a notebook, but still offering more notebook functionality than any other slate with an add-on keyboard.

So what is the TC? It is a very compact slate computer with a keyboard that attaches to the slate to provide notebook functionality without actually making the TC a notebook. By itself, the TC has a footprint of just However, being a slate, the TC is thinner than the Acer by three tenths of an inch 0.

The big difference between the Compaq and any other product in this lineup is the keyboard and the way it is implemented. Having the exact same footprint as the slate part, the keyboard snaps onto the bottom edge of the TC It contains a swivel mechanism that lets you either lay the keyboard flat against the backside of the slate, or have the slate part be on top so that the combo can be used just like a notebook.

This means that the combo sits securely and is never in danger of tipping over, despite the light weight of the keyboard part. Very, very clever. The one thing I had to get used to is that I instinctively tried to twist the keyboard over the display side of the slate as if it were a standard notebook, when in fact it folds down over the backside.

I would have preferred that transformation actually, but it would have precluded the clever mid-mounting of the hinge, so it was a design decision I can live with. I also liked the fact that the keyboard securely fastens to the backside of the TC when you use it as a slate.

No rattling there. The keyboard itself has its pros and cons. On the plus side, apart from being an ingenious solution, it feels good and provides good tactile feedback. It also has a pointing stick navigation knob that I much prefer to any touchpad. And there are the traditional left and right mouse-click tabs. On the minus side, the design does not allow for a wrist rest and, as a non-touch typist who needs to look at the keyboard, I found the thick white numeric keypad markings too prominent, making the keys look cluttered.

Innovative overall design, however, is not the only area that separates the TC from the crowd. Transmeta and its supporters claim that this approach results in real world performance similar to that of Intel processors, but with significantly longer battery life. In our hands-on, the TC felt quick and definitely not slower than the Intel-powered competition. And Hewlett Packard does claim over five hours of typical use with wireless off. The second difference is the FinePoint digitizer instead of the Wacom system used by the others.

FinePoint supporters claim significantly less noise and more accurate cursor control, especially along the edge of the display. On the other hand, the FinePoint pen requires its own AAAA battery which lasts over a year even when the computer is used a full shift every day. Another neat thing is a sheet of tempered glass that covers both the digitizer and the bezel. On the connectivity and onboard peripheral front, HP managed to pack an amazing amount of functionality into a slate as small and light as this one.

Beside that is the bay for the pen. Along the bottom there is a microphone jack and both a stereo-out and a headphone jack. Absent are IR and Firewire. I should mention that HP also implemented three silk-screened touch areas that launch the Input Panel, Journal, and rotate the display.

For those who intend to use the TC as a desktop replacement at least part of the time, Compaq offers a heavy docking station that adds your choice of optical drive plus an additional three USB ports, and its own LAN, VGA and audio ports. The dock can accommodate the TC both with and without its keyboard attached to it. If the dock is too much and all you need is an optional external MultiBay that can accommodate a variety of drives.

For once, a big company went all out with a new design and different technologies instead of simply playing it safe. In addition, it looks great and it works well, and it comes from one of the biggest computer companies in the world. Hewlett Packard deserves a big pat on its corporate back.


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HP Compaq Tablet PC TC1000, TC1100


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