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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.
For such a light machine, the Motion LE1600 doesn't skimp on features. The audio array has three microphones that can be configured to capture just one close voice or a large room full of voices. If you use speech-recognition software, the three-mic array allows you to dictate (under reasonably quiet conditions) without having to use a headset. The LE1600 also offers the type of ports and slots you'd expect to find on any ultraportable laptop, starting with two USB 2.0 ports, a mini-USB connection, standard headphone and microphone jacks, Gigabit Ethernet, and both DVI and VGA ports. However, the tablet lacks a FireWire port. In addition to the expected Type II PC Card slot, you'll find an SD card slot for flash media.
Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth and an integrated Intel 802.11b/g card, which accessed three wireless networks flawlessly in our casual tests. Unfortunately, the LE1600 lacks an optical drive, though an external DVD/CD-RW drive is available for an additional $199. Corporate buyers concerned with security will appreciate the tablet's built-in fingerprint sensor and embedded Trusted Platform Module, which protects data by enabling hardware-based encryption.
The Motion LE1600 is not a muscle machine, but it is as solid a business computer as most people will need. Our test unit, which cost $2,578 (as of July 2005) and is built on Intel's current-generation Centrino platform, included a low-voltage 1.5GHz Pentium M processor, 768MB of speedy, 400MHz RAM, and a small 30GB hard drive spinning at a pedestrian 4,200rpm. With those components, the LE1600 earned respectable scores on CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, coming in just 3 percent behind the ThinkPad X41 Tablet and 7 percent ahead of the Fujitsu Stylistic ST5000, with its slower processor and memory. In our battery-drain tests, the standard battery on the LE1600 lasted 3 hours, 21 minutes--36 minutes less than the Fujitsu's larger standard battery. Neither could hold a candle, though, to the ThinkPad X41 Tablet's much larger battery, which lasted 5 hours, 26 minutes.
The Motion LE1600 comes with a one-year limited warranty, which covers the tablet PC, the hard drive, the memory, and select accessories; two-year and three-year standard warranties are available for an additional charge. Although most computer manufacturers offer 24/7 toll-free technical support, Motion's toll-free number is staffed only from 6 a.m. to midnight CT, Monday though Saturday. When we called the tech-support line, the technician answered quickly and was friendly and effective in dealing with our queries. The Motion support site includes the usual drivers, FAQs, and more, but its knowledge base was a little thin. For example, when we searched for the term fingerprint (remember, the LE1600 has a fingerprint reader), it returned no articles.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes|
Fujitsu Stylistic ST5000
Windows XP Tablet; 1GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel 855GME up to 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2060AT 60GB 4,200rpm
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005; 1.5GHz Intel Pentium M 715; 768MB DDR2 SDRAM PC3200 400MHz; Intel 915GM/GMS 128MB; Toshiba MK3006GAL 30GB 4,200rpm
ThinkPad X41 Tablet
Windows XP Tablet 2005; 1.5GHz Intel Pentium M 758; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM; Intel 915GM/GMS 96MB; Hitachi Travelstar C4K60 40GB 4,200rpm