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Two Cents: Light on Its Feet

Our products editor tried on this wearable Web tablet for size.

by / May 26, 2005
The Xybernaut Atigo T/HB is a third-generation "high bright" wireless Web tablet PC, with an 800 x 600 resolution display engineered for enhanced readability under adverse lighting conditions -- particularly outdoors.

The tablet is designed for field use by first responder, military, medical and communications personnel as a stand-alone Web tablet or a thin client that can link to other computers for data access and exchange. The unit measures 7.9 x 9.4 inches (including the 8.4-inch touchscreen) and weighs less than 2 pounds.

As for wearability, I was a bit puzzled at first as to exactly how one is supposed to wear the thing.

The rugged side grips are attached to one another in the back by an elastic strap that lets a person slip one's hand through to use the unit as a tablet. While that was comfortable enough, the sturdy side grips and the unit's light weight made it easiest for me to just hold one side and tap away with the other hand.

A Case Logic holder that straps to a belt or vest was included, which initially seemed to allow you to flip open the case and work from the hip, so to speak. Though the screen can rotate to portrait mode, it won't rotate 180 degrees for upside-down viewing, and the case design only allows the tablet to be inserted one way. The case is just to keep the tablet handy; you still need to unhook it from yourself before working with it.

The tiny on-screen keyboard gave me a scare, but I quickly found a button to enlarge it, making it much more legible. Alternate keyboards give numerical options (including mathematical symbols) and quite a selection of special characters (e.g., accented letters) and symbols (copyright, trademark symbols, etc.) to simply tap on. It's also nice to never have to type out "www." or ".com."

I didn't quite get the hang of the sound recorder, but I did record myself briefly and heard my voice faintly. Users can record up to 60 seconds.

I can't resist talking about the many precautions involved in securing this product for review. Perhaps a few previous review units have gone missing on their way back to the company, so there are strict measures in place. While the company did keep its lending agreement to a praiseworthy one page, keeping the unit too long would subject the reviewer to a possible "rental" payment. Let's just say I'd own this thing in two and a half months if I forgot to send it back within 25 days. At a retail price of $3,500, it gave me nightmares. You thought Blockbuster was tough ...

It also arrived in a combination-locked, highly padded hard case with an additional tamper-resistant seal tag (like the ones used by the Transportation Security Administration at airports) to indicate any tampering that may have happened in transit.

Optional accessories include vehicle adapter, wireless keyboard/mouse options and external batteries and clip-on chargers. Industry-specific PCMCIA cards and wearable peripherals are also available.

In the end, I found the tablet light, easy to use and handsome. The quick start guide gave me enough basics to make my way around and get a good feel for the tablet.

  • Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 1 GHz processor
  • 512 MB Flash ROM (up to 4 GB optional) and 256 MB SDRAM memory
  • Compact Flash slot
  • One USB 2.0 slot (two additional USB ports on optional desktop charging cradle)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Embedded
  • Built-in IEEE 802.11b WLAN wireless networking support (through PC Card slot)
  • Internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Internal speaker and microphone with external jack for headphone

    Rating: 4 out of 5

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    Miriam Jones Chief Copy Editor
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