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8 Tablet PCs Ready For Enterprise

Apple's been grabbing the spotlight with its iPad, but it faces a challenge in the enterprise from these tough tablet computers from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Panasonic.

HP EliteBook 2730p Notebook
(click for image gallery)

Dell XT2 XFR
Price: $3,599 -- $3,935

Dell describes the XT2 XFR as the "first rugged tablet PC featuring capacitive multitouch technology." That means it has the same gee-whiz appeal of the iPhone, but in a form factor that's built to withstand the toughest working environments. On the toughness scale, it rates military standard MIL-STD 810G for three-foot drops, rain, blowing dust, vibration, shock, humidity, altitude, and temperature extremes. Its ingress protection rating is IP-54, meaning it offers protection against dust and splashing water (not submersion).

It comes with Windows XP Tablet Edition installed and refutes the active digitizer for the user's finger instead. This allows people to use natural gestures, such as pinches or taps for scrolling, panning, rotating, and zooming. For those who can't do without the digitizer, it will also work with a special capacitive-compatible pen. Dell notes that a version of the XT2 XFR with a resistive screen is in the works. This will allow it to be used while wearing gloves.

Under its tough-as-nails exterior hides a capable computer. It has a 12.1-inch WXGA DLV, outdoor-readable, 1280x800 display and a full-sized keyboard for typing. Powering the XT2 XFR is an Intel Core Duo ULV processor clocking in at 1.6 GHz. It comes with 1 GB of memory, and storage comes in three flavors: 64-GB SSD; 128-GB SSD with full encryption; and 160-GB 5400-rpm SATA.

On the connectivity side of things, it has an Ethernet port, a number of Wi-Fi options (including 802.11n), Bluetooth, and either a Sprint/Verizon-compatible or AT&T-compatible wireless modem inside. The XT2 XFR also has hot-swappable bays for a camera or GPS unit, external DVD drives, and so on.

It may not be pretty, but it's going to get the job done in hostile work environments.

HP EliteBook 2730p Notebook
Price: $1,549 -- $2,149

HP's lone enterprise tablet is a convertible that offers regular laptop functionality and a swivel screen that folds flat for clipboard-style use. HP was sure to talk up the 2730p's weight, which measures only 3.7 pounds. That's a very respectable weight for a semi-rugged convertible, considering such a device will often be held. The 2730p meets military standard MIL-STD 810F for altitude, high temperatures, and dust. It's not as tough as Dell's XT2 XFR, but using it in the desert isn't out of the question. HP calls the 2730p slim, and its dimensions measure 11.24 x 8.35 x 1.11 inches.

The 2730p has a 12.1-inch Illumi-Lite WXGA, ultra-wide viewing angle, anti-glare display. It uses the standard Windows XP Tablet Edition technology for input, completely eschewing any sort of whiz-bang features and instead favoring the system that HP knows works for enterprise users. The 2730p offers both a touchpad and pointstick, with scroll zone, jog dial, and touch-sensitive controls.

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