Gateway Joins Tablet PC Fray

Better late than never. Poway, Calif.-based Gateway, Inc. declared its stake Monday in the emerging tablet PC market by announcing a slate style notebook module in partnership with Texas-based Motion Computing, a mobile computing and communications company founded by Dell , Compaq, Apple , and Fujitsu executives.

The newly launched tablet PC will be co-branded by both companies.

The announcement comes a month after a cluster of companies like Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard went to market with similar tablet PC devices, all on the coattails of Microsoft’s release of the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system, which Gateway’s new tablet is based on.

The Gateway Tablet PC is reportedly one inch in thickness and weighs approximately three pounds, the company said, and it comes with a 12-inch screen.

Tablet PCs come in both slate or convertible designs. Slate resembles a legal-size notepad that accepts input from an electronic pen and functions like a portable writing tablet, or it can be docked and attached to a keyboard for a more PC-like experience.

The lightweight computing device runs on Intel Pentium III 866MHz mobile processor, with 256MB of memory, a 40GB hard drive, and Intel 830MG Graphics.

Motion Computing also markets a similar product called the Motion M1200 Tablet PC.

Gateway’s marketing edge is that the Tablet PC comes with all the supporting peripherals to make it a more complete mobile solution, like WiFi 802.11b wireless capability for remote Internet connections, and a 56K modem and 10/100 Ethernet for network connectivity.

According to Gateway, the tablet provides the full functionality of a notebook PC with multimedia and I/O ports for connecting to external devices for music playback, data downloads, and presentations.

The tablet also comes with a desktop docking station, a portable keyboard, two digitizer pens, and an external DVD/CD-RW combo drive for playing DVDs or burning CDs.

Mike Stinson, Gateway’s vice president of mobile solutions, describes the new Tablet PC as being “comparable to a pad of paper.”

The only aspect of Gateway’s Tablet PC offering that isn’t small is its price, which at $2,799 comes in higher than other tablets currently on the market.

Some analysts suggest that by pricing its tablet so high, Gateway is trying to aim for the high end of the consumer and business market in an effort to distinguish its product from the plethora of similar devices on the market.

On the heels of Microsoft’s Tablet PC Edition launch last month, Microsoft pronounced that the tablet PC market would someday overtake the traditional PC market.

“Within five years it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America,” Bill Gates was quoted as saying at Comdex, 2000.

Gateway representatives were not available for comment at press time.

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