In the world of pure-slate tablet PCs, the Motion M1400 has long been the model to beat. Enter the new Motion LE1600, which builds upon its older sibling with a faster processor, more RAM, and double the L2 cache--all in a lighter package. The LE1600's carbon-fiber chassis is as corporate as a gray flannel suit, but its sleek design and the powerful performance woven inside make for a sexy fashion statement. If you're sold on slate tablets and can stomach paying more than $2,000 for a computer without a keyboard, this is the machine for you.
The Motion LE1600 shares roughly the same dimensions as the M1400, measuring 11.6 inches long, 9.5 inches wide, and 0.7 inch thick. The 3.3-pound LE1600 weighs 0.1 pound less than the Fujitsu Stylistic ST5000, and it feels well balanced in the hand; you can easily hold the tablet in one hand while writing with the other, using the rubberized main battery as a grip. The thin extended battery adds little to the form factor. The tablet's AC adapter brings the travel weight to a portable 3.9 pounds--a full pound lighter than the Fujitsu Stylistic ST5000's travel weight.
The buttons and the ports on the Motion LE1600 are easily accessed and thoughtfully laid out. Buttons alongside the screen let you close windows, rotate the screen, or launch the Motion Dashboard to manage system settings. Conveniently, you have two options for scrolling: use the five-way directional joystick or glide your finger over the fingerprint sensor, which doubles as a scroll button. A handy dedicated Wi-Fi on/off switch lets you kill the wireless to extend battery life.
Like its competitors, the Motion LE1600 features a 12.1-inch, 1,024x768 native resolution TFT display. If you need to take your computing outdoors, you'll likely want to add Motion's $299 View Anywhere technology, which lets you see the screen from a variety of angles and under different light conditions. On our View Anywhere-equipped review unit, we were able to surf the Web in direct noonday sun without a problem (except for sunburn).
Writing on the LE1600's screen feels almost like writing with pen and paper, thanks to the rubberized digitizer stylus, which has the contours and easy grip of a Cross pen. The stylus has better form and heft than those on the M1400 and the HP Compaq TC1000. Unlike on the TC1000, the lone button on the Motion LE1600's stylus is recessed, ensuring you won't trigger it by accident. The stylus's top acts as an eraser, like on a pencil. An included tether lets you attach the stylus to the tablet so that you won't lose it, but the tether string frequently got caught in the zipper of our laptop case. It's a small gripe, but we'd love to see someone come up with a retractable tether.
True to its pure-slate roots, the LE1600 ships without a keyboard, though you can purchase a USB or Bluetooth keyboard from Motion's Web site. Though the handwriting recognition in Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 is excellent (even with our serial-killer scribbles), hunting and stabbing the onscreen keyboard was suitable for only the most basic computing. If you want a tablet with an attached keyboard and are willing to lug around an extra pound, check out the convertible ThinkPad X41 Tablet.