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.
The F5's display is made from Gorilla Glass and is hella tough. It'll survive serious impacts and is highly resistant to scratches. It also comes with Motion's ViewAnywhere LED technology. It rates MIL-STD 810F and IP-54 on the toughness scale, and it weighs 3.0 pounds. The C5 has the same features, but adds options for medical professionals such as a digital camera, scanner, RFID reader, and barcode reader.

Another option is the ultra-rugged iX104C4 from Xplore Technologies. This device is housed in an extremely durable casing that meets MIL-STD 810F and IP-65 ratings for abuse. It has a 10.4-inch screen that comes in several options, including dual-mode finger- or pen-based input or better performance in sunlight. It is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and has a range of options for connectivity.

While we'll have to wait a bit longer to see what (if anything) Apple has up its sleeve, Dell has introduced a concept for tablet PCs of the future. The device was shown at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, and features a five-inch screen. Dell calls it a companion device to a full PC. Pricing and availability weren't provided.

Lenovo also showed off an interesting hybrid device called the IdeaPad U1. It combines both a standard laptop and a touch-based tablet. It has an 11.6-inch display and weighs in at about 3.8 pounds. The display is removable, which lets it act like a normal laptop when attached to the keyboard or a true tablet when detached. It will be available in June and will cost about $999.

HP garnered some of the spotlight during CES, with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talking up HP's latest tablet idea. The HP TouchSmart 2 will let users interact with their computer directly on the screen in ways that it calls "intuitive" and "fun." Pricing and availability weren't announced, and other details were slim.

Finally, there's Apple's iPad. Shipments are slated to begin in late March.

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Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer