Gateway seconds that Motion Tablet PC

About a month after its competitors, Gateway Inc. is jumping into the Tablet PC market with a slate device designed by Motion Computing Inc., it announced Monday.

The Gateway Tablet PC comes with a mobile keyboard and a docking station that features several ports for connecting peripherals. The slate device features integrated 802.11b wireless Internet capability, is less than one inch (2.54 cm) thick, and weighs three pounds (1.35 kg). Two digitized pens for writing memos or taking notes directly on the 12.1-inch screen are provided with the Tablet PC.

Tablet PC designers have chosen between slate or convertible designs for the new breed of portable computer. The slate design looks like a clipboard with a digital screen, and can be used as a traditional desktop computer with a docking station and other peripherals. Convertible designs resemble extremely thin notebook computers, with a display that swivels to cover the keyboard when it is used in tablet mode.

A base configuration with a 866MHz Ultra Low Voltage Pentium III-M processor from Intel Corp., 256M bytes of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 40G-byte hard drive, and an external DVD/CD-rewritable combo drive costs US$2,799.

This selling price puts the Gateway model at the upper end of the price ranges for Tablet PCs, said Stephen Baker, director of research at NPD Techworld in Reston, Virginia.

Motion Computing also sells an extremely similar Tablet PC under its own brand. A Power Mobile, Motion’s top of the line device with the 866MHz Pentium III, 512M bytes of RAM, and a 40G-byte hard drive, sells for $2,599. Hewlett-Packard Co.’s (HP’s) Compaq Tablet PC 1000 costs $1,699 with a 1.0GHz Crusoe TM5800 processor from Transmeta Corp., 256M bytes of RAM, a 30G-byte hard drive, and a graphics card from Nvidia Corp. A model with integrated 802.11b costs $1,799.

Most vendors, including HP, Toshiba Corp., and Fujitsu Ltd., unveiled their devices at Microsoft Corp.’s launch of the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system on Nov. 7 in New York.

A Gateway representative was not immediately available for comment.

The Poway, California, company’s lateness to the Tablet PC market probably won’t hurt it in the long run, Baker said.

“There’s plenty of time for this to turn into a business. Tablet PCs are going to be around for a long time, and they’re not going to be a huge piece of the market right off the bat,” he said.