HP lifts lid on new Compaq tc4000 Tablet PC

Delegates of HP’s Mobility Conference in San Jose were given a rare chance to examine the tc4000, the company’s new Tablet PC.

HP lifts lid on new Compaq tc4000 Tablet PC

Unlike HP’s previous Tablet, the tc4000 is a convertible. This means it can be used as a conventional notebook, or the screen can be swivelled around and folded back upon itself to create a slate. HP has clearly learned from other manufacturers’ mistakes when it comes to the hinge mechanism, as the tc4000 is easy to convert from one form to another with no annoying catches that could potentially break.

More importantly, it doesn’t feel too heavy in the hands when used in

slate form. Though we wouldn’t suggest anyone holds the 2kg tc4000 in the crook of their arm for more than a few minutes at a time, it’s fine for making a few notes if you happen to bump into someone in the corridor.

Another plus is its battery life: HP claims it lasted four hours and 45 minutes in its tests, and you can double this if you buy the optional extended battery – as used by HP’s other newly announced laptops. Business buyers will also be pleased that the tc4000 fits the same docking station as the rest of HP’s new selection of business laptops.

In day-to-day use, perhaps the most important improvement over HP’s other Tablet PC – the tc1100 – is its speed. Gone is the lowly Transmeta processor, to be replaced by an Intel Pentium M. Even the basic model in the tc4000 range will include a 1.6GHz chip, and we found the tc4000 to be very responsive when we put it to the test.

Another positive is the screen. With a 12.1in diagonal and 1,024 x 768 resolution, it’s easy to read, helped by far superior viewing angles to the tc1100; this suffered from a mottled effect that doesn’t plague the tc4000. The screen’s nice and bright too.

Prices for the tc4000 will start from $1,599 in the US, which will buy you a 40GB hard disk and 256MB of RAM (the optical drive is external and optional). Unfortunately, the product is likely to stay in the US: currently, HP has no plans to launch the tc4000 in Europe.

This is a shame. If even HP is unwilling to launch its flagship Tablet PC in Europe as it doesn’t feel it can justify the cost, it’s very hard to see a long-term future for this much-abused but innovative form factor.

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