I have had the pleasure this weekend of having the new ultra mobile Tablet PC offering from Motion Computing – the LS800.
After three days I have to say I am very impressed. As previously posted my first impression was “wow that’s small” and I still think that every time I look at it. However I now have a few additional things to say…
The overall impression is that the LS800 as been designed very, very well. When you first look at the unit you notice that the screen is offset away from the battery when held in portrait mode. Additionally the battery itself has a rubberised coating on the exterior surface. These two factors combined make the LS800 very comfortable to hold in one hand like a book – great for reading and browsing. At just 1kg (2.2lbs) the LS800 is light enough to hold like this for quite some time.
The LS800 chassis is constructed from magnesium with a dark grey finish. The rubberised battery and the plastic trim on the sides are black. The hardware buttons are silver and the indicator lights are blue. This gives it a sleek and modern look that has a way of turning heads.
The Motion Computing LS800 - the front
Looking at the front view you can see:
A) Battery – notice the offset mentioned above.
B) Indicator lights. Left to right Power, Battery, HDD Activity and wireless.
C) Hardware buttons. Left to right escape, function, directional keys and enter (separate button in the centre), hot button 1 and hot button 2.
D) Dual microphone array.
E) Fingerprint reader.
F) Windows Security button (Ctrl-Alt-Del)
G) Ambient light sensor.
I) Stylus – nice and comfortable to hold with a good writing feel. The blunt end acts as an eraser – handy.
On the left side you find:
Wireless enable/disable hardware button
2 x USB 2.0 ports
1 x universal audio jack – can be used for headphones or a microphone.
The bottom has the RJ-45 Ethernet network port and the docking station port.
On the right side there is:
SD card slot
The Ls800 has vents to release heat from all sides.
How small is it? The following photo gives you an idea of just how tiny this thing is.
Left to right Motion LS800, HP TC1100, Motion M1400
In terms of thickness it is actually marginally thicker (couple of millimetres) than both the TC1100 and the M1400.
The bump case is a highlight. The little handle makes it very easy to carry and it looks pretty cool. There is significant padding built into the bump case – hence the name – thought this does add a little bulk, as you might expect.
The design is excellent. When in the case you can still access both microphones, the fingerprint reader, all the hardware buttons, one USB port, the audio port, the VGA port, the network port, power in, the SD slot, the power button, the stylus/
Also on the back of the case is a wire stand held in place by a velcro strap.
By loosening the velcro strap you can stand the unit up in landscape mode, making an great ad-hoc stand. I tried to stand it up in portrait mode and it did work, but seemed a little unstable for my liking. Below you can see my daughter Sylvie checking out the tablet propped up in landscape mode (start 'em young).
The bump case
Back of the bump case
Sometimes it is the little touches that count. One feature Motion have included on both the LS800 and its bigger brother the LE1600 is the ability to use the fingerprint reader to scroll the active window. This is surprisingly handy.
The fantastic size of this unit does come at a cost. Potential buyers will need to be aware of these limitations and understand how they will impact them. The main ones are:
The 8.4" screen runs at a maximum resolution of 800x600. This limits the viewable area of some applications - especially in portrait mode.
Gets very hot during extended use.
Maximum of 512MB RAM
No PC Card slot (may mean you can't use EVDO - but you may be able to with one of these)
Approx. 3 hours of battery life.
This is a really great device, even with the limitations listed. What truely excites me about the LS800 is not the device itself - as good as it is - but what it foretells.
Motion Computing LS800 Tablet PC in use
Several of the limitations of the LS800 will be addressed by technologies that are just over the horizon. For example solid state disks will reduce the heat output and extend battery life. Smaller CDMA EV-DO or UMTS chipsets will be embedded in the hardware, eliminating the need for a PC Card slot. Improving battery technology and eventually fuel cells will extend mobile life further.
This tablet is fantastic, but the generations to follow will be really exciting.
The LS800 will certainly appeal to the highly mobile, the executive set and sales teams. With its light weight it could well appeal to those looking for a replacement for the trusty clipboard and paper that have been put off by heavier devices.
At about NZ$3,600 (with US street price about US$1800) for the base unit it is not cheap, but it is firmly in the "ultra-mobile" niche and that does carry a premium.
Where do you get one in New Zealand? i-Toyz is the Motion Computing distributor in the country.