Slate PC maker Motion offers the new low power Pentium M

by Guy Kewney | posted on 07 April 2004

Intel has released a new, lower-power Pentium processor at its developer Forum in the Far East, and Motion Computing is ready to ship a Tablet PC design with the new processor. Motion is hoping this will help it break into the European markets.

Guy Kewney

The Pentium M is an ultra-low voltage processor, and Tablet PCs, more than any other sort of computer, desperately need ways of improving a battery life - because all their weight is taken on the user's arm.

Motion reckons the new Motion M1400 Tablet PC - of which a sneak preview appeared here last week - actually does achieve "appreciable" battery life improvements, according to the company's new European boss, Andy Toal, who was formerly with Fujitsu Siemens.

From the customer's point of view, the most remarkable change in the new model is the angle of view of the display. Toal says that the colour of the image on screen remains the same over a 160 degree viewing angle at worst, and a 170 degree angle at best.

But from Intel's point of view, the new product showcases its new low power chips. Intel has unveiled four new processors: are the Low Voltage Intel Pentium M processor at 1.30 GHz, the Ultra-Low Voltage Intel Pentium M processor at 1.10 GHz, the Intel Celeron M processor at 1.40 GHz and the Ultra Low Voltage Intel Celeron M processor at 900 MHz.

All four processors are based on Intel's micro-architecture "designed specifically for mobile computing and built using the company's 0.13-micron manufacturing technology."

The M1400 is a second generation Centrino Tablet - at a time when there are still other tablet makers who have yet to embrace Centrino in a first generation - and shows several signs of product maturity.

Voice: the M1400 has a digital array microphone, making it more useful in meetings, where a conventional microphone makes it very difficult to separate background noise from the voice you want to focus on.

The dual microphone arrays are directional. They use beam focusing, and tune themselves to where the sound source is, creating a narrow beam, and cutting out extraneous sounds - but there is also a wide focus mode, to get equal emphasis to several speakers - especially useful when doing conference calling with VoIP - which is another feature of the M1400.

The wireless is 802.11g WiFi, but there is also integrated Bluetooth, set up (says Motion) so as to co-exist seamlessly on the same frequency ranges.

At an entry price of around £1350, the new range overcomes the first objection European buyers have expressed to the original Motion Tablets, which was that they were over-priced. The other problem is distribution; the products are available in the US, through Dell, but that won't be the case for some time (if ever) in Europe, and specialist resellers will carry the products.

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