Acer TravelMate C200 review: Acer TravelMate C200

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The Good Small and extremely portable tablet PC. Good clear screen. Easy to convert. Integrated biometric security.

The Bad Poor battery life. Very ordinary speakers.

The Bottom Line Acer's C200 provides a decent tablet computing experience, but it is let down very badly by sub-par battery life.

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Acer's Travelmate C200 is a convertible tablet PC in a moderately sized casing with one interesting quirk. When you first unpack it, you'll notice the soft front flap that protects the screen and holds in place with a large elastic strap. Pop this off, and it folds neatly underneath the laptop, acting as a heat and shock buffer between your lap and the notebook itself.

As with most convertibles, it changes fairly easily from slate format to something that more closely resembles a classic notebook PC. In the C200's case, this is achieved by releasing a catch on the top of the screen and sliding up the screen on two support struts, which reveals the C200's smallish 85 key notebook keyboard. The display on the C200 is a 12.1" LCD TFT panel of quite good brighness and with decent viewing angles -- a must for a tablet when you consider that you're more than normally likely to hold it at a tilt when in slate mode.

The display bezel also hosts the main power switch and the necessary buttons for tablet functionality, including quick switching between landscape and portrait mode. Just underneath the power switch lies a biometric fingerprint sensor used to lock the tablet down for security purposes. The right hand side of the keyboard also hosts individual function buttons for quickly launching Web browsers, e-mail clients and other everyday tasks. The front of the keyboard has a tiny -- and almost useless -- scroll wheel, the unit's speakers, and buttons for enabling and disabling the inbuilt 802.11a/b/g wireless and Bluetooth modules.

The C200 unit we tested with came with an Intel Pentium M 760 processor (2.0GHz on a 533MHz FSB) and 512MB of memory. Video is driven by a NVIDIA GeForce Go 6200 and data is stored on a 100GB Ultra ATA/100 hard drive that's split into two equal partitions on initial bootup -- the suggestion given the partition names is that you store your data on the secondary partition. On the connectivity front, it bears a Centrino badge (it's running on the Intel 915 chipset) with 802.11b, a and g modes covered, as well as Bluetooth connectivity, and for the wired types, a single Gigabit LAN port on the left hand side of the tablet. There's not too much wasted space on the C200; the design considerations of the front and back mean that all the ports sit on the right or left hand sides, and Acer's managed to squeeze in the network port, as well as 3 USB 2.0 ports, a single PC card slot, a fax/modem and even an IR port.

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