At 1.7 by 12.8 by 10.7 inches, the Acer TravelMate C301XCi dwarfs the latest round of tablets, with their 10.4-inch or 12.1-inch screens. Weighing in at an unwieldy 6.7 pounds, it's nearly a pound heavier than Gateway's M275 convertible tablet, the only other tablet with a 14.1-inch screen. Add in Acer's 10-ounce AC adapter for a hefty travel weight of 7.3 pounds. Although you can travel a little lighter by trading the optical drive for a plastic bay, the C301XCi is still a lot to lug between gates at the airport.
The Acer TravelMate C301XCi's display is crisp and bright, and we really like its handy automatic light sensor, which takes about 5 seconds to adjust the screen in ambient conditions. To go from a traditional notebook design to a tablet system, twist the screen around and fold it flat. Unfortunately, there are no buttons on the side of the tablet to release the screen or hold it steady, and the screen wobbles a bit when upright.
Part of the trade-off for giant size is the TravelMate C301XCi's good assortment of ports, including two USB ports, a PC Card slot, FireWire, S-Video, VGA, audio, and a four-in-one flash-memory card reader. The rest of the hardware also impresses us, including its 1.5GHz Pentium M processor, a 40GB hard drive, a CD-RW/DVD combo drive, and a smart-card reader.
The machine's novel, slightly curved keyboard takes a while to get used to, but its big keys are firm and responsive. The TravelMate C301XCi also comes with a more comfortable writing stylus than the one with the Acer TravelMate C110.
Flying through our benchmarks, the TravelMate C301XCi showed itself to be the fastest tablet ever tested in CNET Labs, hitting 159 on our MobileMark 2002 benchmark and outpacing the Fujitsu LifeBook T3000's 152 score. The modest 4,400mAh battery also cranked, lasting 5 hours, 5 minutes.
As with its other systems, Acer backs the TravelMate C301XCi with a one-year warranty; adding two years costs a reasonable $190. The company has one of the most thorough and complete Web sites anywhere, with driver and manual downloads, operating system updates, articles, and tips. The toll-free, 24-hour help line is supplemented by the ability to e-mail Acer technicians for tech support, although it took a day and a half for our question to be answered.
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating|
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes|
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- Release date11/1/03
- Processor Intel Pentium M 1.5 GHz
- RAM installed size 512.0 MB
- Hard Drive 40.0 GB
- Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
- Display Type 14.1 in TFT active matrix
- Max Resolution 1024 x 768 ( XGA )
- Graphics Processor Intel Extreme Graphics 2 Shared video memory (UMA)
- Optical Drive CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo - Plug-in module