Motion Computing LE1600 review

Price when reviewed

Tablet PC makers face a big challenge: making the unit light enough to be comfortable to hold, while keeping the performance and battery life of a regular notebook. The LE1600 is tablet specialist Motion Computing’s most determined attempt yet to crack this conundrum.

Motion Computing LE1600 review

At 1.5kg, the LE1600 may not be featherweight, but most people will have little issue holding this slate in the crook of an arm. Yet it’s a no-compromise machine, and Motion has tried hard to incorporate the performance and features you’d expect in a modern business notebook, including USB 2, 802.11b/g and Gigabit Ethernet.

The 1.5GHz Pentium M 758 low-voltage processor supplies a fair amount of processing power – certainly enough for a tablet PC. However, our real-world application benchmarks returned a disappointing 0.98 overall. It’s good to see Motion resisted the temptation to cram in an over-the-top CPU to boost power, but we expect to see better results from a 1.5GHz chip. Intel’s 915GMS Express chipset supplies a 400MHz FSB and supports DDR2 400 (PC3200) memory. On the motherboard, there’s 512MB of RAM, but our review sample had another 256MB (save £45 on the price quoted above without it) in the user-accessible slot – 1.5GB is the maximum total.

The primary lithium-ion battery clips on to become part of the top bezel. This offers reasonable stamina for its size, at three hours, 44 minutes with light use and a dimmed screen, although you’re likely to need more with a tablet. However, the LE1600 has a trick up its sleeve in the form of an optional clip-on extended battery (£129). A larger primary battery, as you find with notebooks, wouldn’t have worked because it would protrude from the case and alter the balance. Instead, the thin hot-swappable battery clips to the underside of the LE1600. It’s only 6.5mm thick and leaves the centre of gravity unaffected, although it does take the weight up to 1.9kg. However, the big news is that battery life is boosted to an amazing seven hours, 45 minutes under light use, so you can potentially run it a full day between charges.

The design elsewhere is equally well thought out. Highlighting this are the three microphones on the bezel, designed to collect your voice properly from landscape or portrait mode; it works well in practice too, with our recordings impressively clear. There’s also an ambient light sensor for adjusting display brightness, plus a fingerprint reader and a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip to boost security and help manage multiple users. There’s a great software interface too, called Motion Dashboard. It collects the main configuration options in one place, where you can alter display and power properties, calibrate the digitiser, adjust speaker and microphone settings, and control the wireless connections. The only grumble is that hardware buttons are poorly labelled, but as they’re programmable we can forgive them being generic.

When it comes to data input, the stylus is a delight to use. The 11mm-diameter rubberised grip is comfortable to hold, there’s a right-click button on the barrel and an eraser button at the back. It tucks away in a slot on the right of the machine, although left-handed users will find that awkward. As is so often the case with tablets, the screen itself lacks brightness and looks rather dull on bright days even at maximum, but viewing angles are good. However, our LE1600 included the optional View Anywhere display (worth £165; subtract this from our £1,509 price if you don’t require it) optimised for outdoor as well as indoor viewing. It isn’t transflective, so you still need the backlight, but it is readable in strong light.

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