July 2003

Study blames Microsoft for low European TPC sales
A number of European websites are using the results of a new UK study to blame Microsoft for the lower than expected sales of Tablet PCs. Those sites claim that less than 100,000 units have been shipped since the launch last November, and that warehouses are full of them. The sites assign the blame in part to hardware vendors and in part to Microsoft. They claim hardware vendors' emphasis on slates as opposed to convertibles has hurt sales in the European market. They also bemoan the fact that most vendors only have a single TPC model available, and that there is very little software specifically designed for TPCs.

Most of the blame is assigned to Microsoft. A report compiled by Canalysis, Ltd. of England urgently suggests Microsoft to a) subsidize the price of the XP Tablet PC Edition, b) establish dedicated marketing teams and fund advertising and exhibitions, c) provide marketing funds to OEMs, d) offer funds to OEMs to help them with developing additional proucts, and e) generate interest in planned improvements to the Tablet PC Edition later this year.

-- Posted Thursday, July 31, 2003 by chb

Dell exclusive government vendor of Xplore's iX104 rugged TPC.
Xplore Technologies Corp. announced that Dell is now the exclusive vendor of its GSA-listed rugged Tablet PC to the US Federal Government. Dell's name, clout, and channel expertise is certain to provide Xplore's innovative rugged pen tablet the best possible chance of being successfully deployed in one of the sectors that it was designed for. -- Posted Monday, July 28, 2003 by chb

TDV Vison Announces Fall Shipping of First Sub-$1000 Tablet PCs
Taiwanese TDV Vision announced the first sub-US$1,000 Tablet PC in its V800XPT tablet, a Transmeta powered (800MHz TM5800) slate with a 8.4-inch SVGA screen, an active digitizer, a 30GB hard disk, a built-in VGA digicam, a 4-in-1 card reader, integrated 802.11b wireless LAN, modem, 10/100 LAN, and two USB 2.0 ports. The device weighs 2.6 pounds and is less than an inch thick (both measures exceeding those of the NEC Tablet PC). A 2200 mAH Li-Ion battery is supposed to last up to 2.5 hours. And the whole thing is supposed to cost just US$799, including the XP Tablet PC Edition.

TDV also announced the VS1200XP notebook convertible with a 14-inch swivel screen. That model uses the 1. GHZ VIA Antar CPU and also has a built-in VGA camera, but its touch display means it'll only run XP Home or Professional. While interesting, especially at the projected US$999 price, it is not stricly a "Tablet PC." [see complete release]
-- Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2003 by chb

Lycoris unveils Linux OS for Tablet PC platform
Redmond-based Linux developer Lycoris unveiled its new OS for the Tablet PC, Desktop/LX Tablet Edition, into the hands of tablet manufacturers and resellers this week. The distribution seems based on keyboardless operation; digital ink and handwriting recognition will be available later as separate modules or upgrades. Lycoris will be marketing the $49.95 distribution directly to OEMs. The company claims that this will result in savings of about US$100 compared to the XP Tablet PC Edition. [see press release]

This is an interesting development as pen support under Linux is weak. Pen Computing Magazine investigated the use of Linux on Tablet PC hardware and found pen support to be experimental and inking/handwriting recognition to be non-existent. There are, however, ways of running Unix/Linux applications on Tablet PCs via X Server software and VNC (see comprehensive report in the july issue of Pen Computing Magazine). In addition, handwriting recognition into Linux apps is possible via PhatWare's PenOffice within an X Server or VNC client.
-- Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2003 by chb

Lower priced Tablet PCs on the horizon
One of our concerns has always been that customers will balk at the relatively high price of Tablet PCs. Though the price premium of $200 or so compared to a standard ultralite notebook is not out of line, those ultralites are expensive to begin with. Taiwan's Digitimes now reports that both Toshiba and IBM consider offering Taiwan-made value Tablet PCs in the US$1,299 range. Digitimes mentioned an upcoming release of both a new HP TPC and a 14.1-inch Acer TPC. Digitimes repeated earlier allegations that Microsoft has not provided the kind of marketing support companies expected. -- Posted Thursday, July 10, 2003 by chb