Microsoft

Will 2011 be the year of the Windows 7 tablet PC?

For the last edition of the Windows Desktop Report for 2010, Greg Shultz did a little poking around on the Internet to see what I could learn about the new, as well as existing, Windows 7 Tablet PCs.

With the beginning of the New Year right around the corner, I am looking forward to another year of working with Windows 7. It is now running on every one of the main computers in my home. I even have it on my television after following Bill Detwiller's recent article, "Build a Living Room PC with the ZOTAC ZBOX HD-ID11."

I am also excited by the fact that because the Windows 7 operating system is one year old, the way is solidly paved for all sorts of new innovations in the coming year. The one that I am most excited about seeing is the advent of a solid, consumer-oriented tablet PC running Windows 7 that will give the Apple iPad a real run for its money.

Throughout 2010, we have heard about the possibility for great consumer-oriented Windows 7 tablet PCs. For instance, we heard a lot about the Microsoft Courier, but the company unexpectedly cancelled that project. We also heard a lot about the HP Slate until the company acquired Palm. The HP slate did reappear, but not at the level that it was originally hyped up to be.

However, it looks like tablet PCs running Windows 7 are definitely going to abound in 2011. In fact, at the Barclay's Capital Global Technology Conference, Intel announced that more that 35 tablet PCs will be based on its new Atom CPU technologies in 2011.

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As you can see from the conference slide shown in Figure A, at this time eight computer makers are slated to market new tablet PCs running Windows 7. (Keep in mind that this slide is intended to show only tablet PCs that will use the new Intel Atom CPU and that there are sure to be others out there using AMD chips or other existing Intel chips.) Rumors have it that we will see many of these new Windows 7 tablet PCs being introduced at CES 2011 in January.

Figure A

At the Barclay's Capital Global Technology Conference, Intel announced that more that 35 tablet PCs will be based on its new Atom CPU technologies in 2011.

For the last edition of the Windows Desktop Report for 2010, I did a little poking around on the Internet to see what I could learn about the new, as well as existing, Windows 7 tablet PCs.

Motion Computing

Specializing in tablet PCs for use in industries such as health care, government, and construction, Motion Computing already has a device running Windows 7. The Motion J3500, shown in Figure B, is a rugged device designed more for field professionals than for average consumers, but just taking a look at its configuration and features shows off the exciting possibilities that we could soon see in consumer-oriented tablet PCs.

Figure B

The Motion J3500 is a rugged device designed more for field professionals than for average consumers.

For example, the device is optimized to take advantage of the natural gesture navigation features built in to Windows 7 as well as standard digital pen and touch input. It is lightweight at 3.6 pounds, has great battery life, has a built-in 3MP camera, and can be connected to docking station stand and external keyboard for quick conversion to standard PC configuration.

See more images of the J3500 tablet PC in this Motion Computing Photo Gallery.

Samsung

Sites all over the net have been speculating that Samsung is planning to follow up on its successful Galaxy Tab, which runs Android, with a Windows 7 tablet PC called the Gloria, which is rumored be a 10-inch device with slide-out keyboard. Figure C shows a mock-up of the Samsung Gloria Tablet that I found on ZDNet.

Figure C

This is a mock-up of the Samsung Gloria Tablet.

Acer

Back in November 2010, Acer unveiled its plans for an as-of-yet unnamed Windows 7 tablet, as shown in Figure D. CNET attended the Acer press conference and posted pictures and a video.

Figure D

Acer hasn't named its Windows 7 tablet PC.

Lenovo

The current tablet PC offering from Lenovo is a netbook/tablet PC hybrid called the Ideapad S10-3t, which features a swiveling screen that allows it to easily convert into a 10.1-inch touch-screen tablet. This device weighs just 3 pounds and is only 1.5 inches thick, so when converted, it is a perfect-sized tablet.

CNET covered the Ideapad S10-3t in one of its First Look videos, which shows off its features. As you can see, the Ideapad S10-3t is a very neat little device, and if it is any indication of what we will see from Lenovo in the future, then we are in for some interesting tablet PC devices in 2011.

Asus

Like the Lenovo offering, the current Asus tablet PC offering is a netbook/tablet PC hybrid. The device is called the Eee PC T101MT and features a 10.1-inch touch screen display, a great touch-optimized software suite, and a battery life of up to six hours. I found a video on YouTube that does a great job of showing off the features of Eee PC T101MT.

Toshiba

Of all the tablet PC designs, the one that I like the best is the Toshiba Libretto W100, which also runs Windows 7. This one reminds me so much of the Microsoft Courier concept that I seriously wonder if Microsoft was going to OEM this device from Toshiba but gave up the idea. It doesn't matter, because the Libretto appears to be an awesome device.

Its clamshell case opens up to two 7-inch touch screens, which lends itself to all sorts of custom configurations. One screen can be configured as a virtual keyboard, both screens can be configured to work like one big screen, or each screen can be used to run different apps. The device also features an accelerometer, which will allow you to change the display from portrait to landscape by turning the unit.

The Libretto W100 was released in late summer for a limited time. Of course, it is now sold out. However, when and if the device or a revised version makes its reappearance in 2011, this Windows 7 tablet PC will definitely be on my wish list. Be sure and watch the video demonstration of the Libretto for more details.

What's your take?

Are you interested in a Windows 7 tablet PC? Have you heard of any other devices than the ones that I mentioned in this article? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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