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Tablet PC receives Pentium M boost

Motion Computing plans to put a little more swing into its tablet PC next month with a model featuring Intel's new 900MHz ultra-low-voltage version of the Pentium M.

Motion Computing plans to put a little more swing into its tablet PC next month.

The Austin, Texas-based start-up plans to release the M1300, a tablet PC based on Intel's new 900MHz ultra-low-voltage version of the Pentium M.

The M1300, set for release on May 12, will offer a performance boost of up to 33 percent over the company's current tablet model, the M1200, Scott Eckert, Motion's CEO, said Tuesday.

Motion will release the M1300, which is one of the first portables to use the 900MHz ultra-low-voltage Pentium M, into a market that has embraced tablets with unexpected vigor.

Tablet computers, which are portable PCs that let people enter data with a stylus, have been around for years. But the category has seen a burst of customer interest and sales activity since the November introduction of Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and a host of new computers based on it.

This new generation of tablets generally offers greater performance, lighter weight and longer battery life when used with wireless networking than did past models. That has helped boost the fortunes of Motion, which is ranked as the No. 5 manufacturer of tablet PCs by market research firm IDC. Motion is also aided by agreements with Dell Computer and Gateway, which of both sell its tablets.

"We've been pleasantly surprised at the market opportunity," Eckert said. "The thing that's been surprising is we're finding interest in a lot of markets other than those we originally thought we would."

Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard have also seen initial tablet sales run ahead of expectations.

Motion originally set out to target markets such as health care and field sales, but it found a wider range of potential customers in the education, government and corporate sectors. Also, about 10 percent of Motion's business comes from consumers who order tablets from the company's Web site, Eckert said.

The company foresees potential sales to college students for the coming back-to-school season. Eckert asserts that college campuses, like corporate meeting rooms, are ideal for tablets because of the availability of wireless networks and the volume of note-taking.

The M1300--a slate-style tablet that ships with a separate keyboard--will include a 12-inch screen and will weigh about 3 pounds. Customers will be able to configure their M1300 models with 20GB, 40GB or 60GB hard drives, as well as memory allotments ranging from 256MB to 1GB.

Motion has not yet revealed prices for the M1300. The company plans to provide that information and battery life statistics at the product's launch, Eckert said. The switch to the Pentium M did increase battery life, he said.

The new model is based on the same chassis as the M1200, which starts at $1,899 with an 866MHz Pentium III. Motion is expected to continue selling the M1200.

The M1200 can be fitted with either an 866MHz or a 933MHz Pentium III-M processor. The M1300 will offer a 900MHz Pentium M instead. Though the newer Pentium M has a slightly lower clock speed, it offers higher performance than the 933MHz Pentium III-M, Eckert said.

Motion cites a performance boost of about 33 percent over the 866MHz chip and about 25 percent over the 933MHz chip. The increase in performance comes from the design of the newer Pentium M, which includes features such as a relatively large 1MB cache. The cache is used to store a pool of often-used data close to the processor core.