04:52 PM

A Look At The Latest In Mobile Technology From HP & Toshiba

Tablet PCs have been quietly incorporating new performance features, including the latest mobile processors and technology. Here the Test Center looks at two convertible tablets, Hewlett-Packard's tc4400 and Toshiba's Portege M400.

Tablet PCs have been quietly incorporating new performance features, including the latest mobile processors and technology. Here we look at two convertible tablets, Hewlett-Packard's tc4400 and Toshiba's Portege M400.

Hewlett-Packard recently updated its line of tablet PCs, including the HP Compaq tc4400, which now has an Intel Core Duo Processor T2500 that runs at 2GHz. Without adding any weight, that double shot of adrenaline makes an otherwise ordinary tablet PC run as fast as some workstations and servers.

The tc4400 is a convertible tablet and comes preloaded with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005. Other standard features include 512 Mbytes of DDR2 SDRAM and a 12.1-inch XGA display with a native resolution of 1,024 x 768. Storage space is provided by a 60-Gbyte hard drive.

Any convertible tablet will be larger and weigh more than a pure tablet PC (one without a keyboard). However, the tc4400 is fairly sleek and not too heavy, but it has no built-in optical drive. It does come with an external USB CD-RW drive that can be carried around as needed. The tc4400 convertible tablet measures 11.22 inches x 9.25 inches x 1.25 inches and it weighs 4.6 pounds. The unit has a suggested retail price of $2,299.

The tablets were tested for performance using PassMark's PerformanceTest software, which can be used for free by anyone for up to 30 days. The tc4400 tablet with its dual-core processor scored 427.6, which makes it as fast as some dual-core servers that have recently been tested. Its over-the-top performance earns it a technical rating of four stars.

The tc4400 is available to partners under HP's Partner-One program. Broken down into three tiers—Business Partner, Gold and Platinum—HP's program aims to give product access to solution providers of all sizes. The most basic, the Business level, is for those solely looking to resell HP's product line. Gold and Platinum partners have extended requirements and access to marketing funds. Gold-level partners are required to employ five certified staffers and have $10 million in HP product revenue annually. Platinum-level partners must have 15 certified staffers and $75 million in annual sales. Training is available at no charge and HP offers incentives for training and certification.

Toshiba's Portege M400 has recently been upgraded to feature a built-in optical drive, which adds some weight to the unit. In one mode, the unit is a fully functional notebook computer and in the other mode it's an easy-to-use tablet. Like the tc4400, the M400 runs Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005.

The Portege M400 incorporates Toshiba's EasyGuard technology, which is a series of hardware and software enhancements that improve security, connectivity and ease of use. Enhancements include hard disk protection, a spill-resistant keyboard and a biometric fingerprint scanner. A built-in accelerometer detects when the notebook is falling and temporarily parks the hard drive's head. Vibration-dampening materials further protect the hard drive against shock and impact.

The base model M400 features a 1.66GHz Intel T1300 Core Solo processor with a Mobile 945GM Express chipset, 512 Mbytes of memory, ABG wireless and gigabit wired NICs, and a 12.1-inch XGA (1,024 x 768) display. Other features include an 80-Gbyte SATA hard drive, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port, RGB and S-Video outputs, one PC Card slot, a 5-in-1 media card reader, a V.92 modem and stereo speakers. Bluetooth connectivity is optional. The Portg M400 tablet measures 11.6 inches x 9.8 inches x 1.53 inches and it weighs 4.5 pounds, which is about the same as the HP unit in every respect except that Toshiba squeezed in an optical drive. The unit starts at $1,799, yet only includes a single-core processor.

The M400 earned a PassMark score of 250.5, which is much slower than the HP but about average for notebooks with single-core processors. The M400 can be upgraded with a dual-core processor. The M400's functionality and integrated optical drive also earned it a technical score of four stars.

Toshiba's channel program has three tiers: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Silver resellers are required to sell up to $100,000 yearly in Toshiba products. Gold VARs must sell a minimum of $100,000 in Toshiba products during the vendor's fiscal half and are eligible to participate in the Monthly Reseller Rebate Program. The premium tier, Platinum, is for resellers that sell a minimum of $250,000 during the vendor's fiscal half and participate in the Monthly Reseller Rebate Program. Platinum partners are eligible to participate in the MDF program. Partners can realize margins as high as 40 percent on select products and receive significant discounts on demos.

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