Two and a half years after Microsoft and its hardware partners launched the innovative Tablet PC platform, sales have been less than spectacular. Several factors have contributed to this lack of mainstream success. First, the initial generation of Tablet PC hardware was overpriced, often far above that of equivalent notebook computers. Second, the initial generation of Tablet PC hardware was lackluster: Predating the mobile-savvy Pentium M processor and Centrino chipset, the first Tablet PCs used underpowered Pentium III processors and didn’t get great battery life. Third, the first generation Tablet PCs only tackled the thin and light market: Users wanting beefier or more powerful machines were out of luck. And finally, Microsoft’s hardware partners didn’t exactly do a great job of promoting Tablet PCs: Only 1 million units were sold in the first two years of the devices’ existence.
New, less expensive Tablet PCs that first began appearing in 2004 fixed the price issue, and you can now find Tablet PCs in the critical $1000 price range. With the second generation of Tablet PC hardware, featuring Pentium M and Centrino technologies, Microsoft’s partners fixed the performance and battery life issues as well. There are also many more Tablet PC choices out there, including high performance units with high resolution screens. And it seems now that Microsoft’s hardware partners are even plying more mainstream markets with new Tablet PCs aimed not at niche markets but at normal consumers and business users. A revolution, perhaps.
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