October 22, 2003

First Linux-Based Tablet PC Needs Work

PCWorld has a short review on the first Linux-based tablet PC, Desktop Evolution's $1900 De-Tablet. According to the review, Desktop Evolution took a 1.33-GHz mobile Pentium III-driven Toshiba Portégé 3500 and added Lycoris' Linux distribution, Lycoris Desktop/LX Tablet Edition.

While it sports some nice features (integrated Wi-Fi, ethernet, V.92 modem, and SD and CompactFlash memory card slots), I was amazed to read that this tablet PC couldn't do handwriting recognition nor portrait mode. Considering that one of the major uses, if not the top use, of a tablet PC is to take notes, these are glaring omissions. The review states they are expected in the next release, but I have to question a company's "got it" savvy when they release a $1900 model that can't do what most people want a tablet PC to do. I applaud the next evolution of mobile computing with Linux, but I have to agree with the reviewer's appraisal that it isn't yet ready for prime time in this incarnation.

Overall, it will be interesting to see if Linux-based tablets fare any better than the Linux-based PDA's, such as the Sharp Zaurus. While the Zaurus received many accolades upon its release due to its innovative design, it hasn't exactly soared in market share. I like the open source approach, but mainstream business users are going to need seamless integration with their everyday business apps for it to fly.

Topic(s):   Mobile Tech & Gadgets
Posted by Jeff Beard