Coffee break- Are Tablet PCs lighter than notebooks? You’ll be surprised.


Coffee_manI was working in my local Starbucks yesterday and got to talking to one of the regulars I see in there quite frequently.  He works in IT and in fact visits the big HP office around the corner a lot.  I have noticed that he uses an HP laptop, always sitting in one of the comfy chairs with the laptop sitting in his lap.  I sat down in the comfy chair alongside him and pulled out my Fujitsu P1610 and started working in slate mode.  We started talking about the Fuji and his HP and I was pretty shocked when he swiveled the screen around to show me it was a Tablet PC too.  Turns out it was a tc4200 that he’s had for a while and once I looked at it long and hard I realized why I never noticed he uses a Tablet PC.

That’s because he doesn’t.  I have seen this guy dozens of timesworking in the ‘Bucks but always in laptop mode with the HP sitting onhis lap.  The tc4200 is a convertible Tablet PC so it’s a regularlaptop with Tablet features but I’ve never seen him use it as a slate.I asked him if he ever uses it in slate mode and he admitted "only onairplanes" due to the restricted space for working.  He has been usingthe HP for almost 2 years but never uses the Tablet stuff except onplanes.  I have to admit this threw me for a loop for a bit as I can’timagine having a Tablet PC and not using the pen functions.  I askedhim why and he admitted he doesn’t take notes at work and really justneeds a good laptop.  His company supplied it for him so when thetc4200 came out he ordered one.

I commented he must have chosen it because Tablets are thinner andlighter than regular notebooks and he said that’s not what his researchindicates.  He has to recommend hardware for employees at work and hesays that he can usually find lighter notebooks than Tablets withsimilar functions.  That statement really took me by surprise so Idecided to do my own research.  I started with the Lenovo ThinkPad x61since I use one and also because Lenovo offers the same model with andwithout Tablet bits.  Here’s what I found on the Lenovo site:


Sure enough Lenovo has a non-Tablet x61 model notebook starting at 2.7 pounds, yet the lightest Tablet PC model is 3.8 pounds.  That difference blew me away!  The digitizer must be awfully heavy.  :)  I decided to hit up the Gateway site next.


The Gateway NX100X is a thin and light notebook with a 12-inch screen and weighs in at 3.52 pounds.  The comparable C-120X convertible notebook clocks in at a hefty 4.8 pounds.  Wow, I’m beginning to think that the guy in Starbucks knows what he’s talking about.  Maybe HP will break this pattern.


Nope.  The nifty new tc2510p weights in at 2.8 pounds for the non-Tablet model yet the Tablet PC model (2710p) is a tubby 3.7 pounds.  The two models look very comparably equipped yet the weight difference is almost a full pound, just like the other two major OEMs. 

I have to admit this really surprises me as I had no idea that Tablet PCs out-weigh their "subset" counterparts, and by a rather substantial amount at that.  Just goes to show you that even though it is logical that Tablet PCs would be thinner and lighter by design they really aren’t, at least not the convertibles.  It also shows you never know what you might learn in the coffee shop.



its pretty obvious a convertable TPC would weigh more than an equivilant T&L laptop.
WHAT IS A cTPC?.. its a thin and lite laptop WITH other stuff – a touchscreen, and a centred, swivel hinge [stronger] for starters.

your thought that ‘Tablets are thinner and lighter than regular notebooks’ [and by ‘regular laptops in here you are refering to similar ones, not desktop replacement, which would be heavier and fatter] assumes that they aren’t trying to make laptops as thin and light as possible!!!

slate (actual) tablets on the other hand, i’m sure the trend is reversed. bring back the TC1100 design (and my guess is HP are stupid is why they discontinued it, or didn’t want to admit compaq had a better design).

MD in Philly

My NEC VersaLitePad is small, but is several years old and I believe the last version marketed in the US. I actually got it at a good price, probably as the inventory was being cleaned out. As said above, I’ve seen a tc1100 and it was quite nice also. (Following comments by someone who has not followed Tablets closely for 1 1/2 yrs…)

I can think of at least two possible reasons for this. (Following comments by someone who has not followed Tablets closely for 1 1/2 yrs…)

1. I think Tablet manufacturers (and many Tablet buyers?) think of a Tablet convertible as a “laptop plus”. As such, they are not pushing the limit on size/weight yet as with laptops/notebooks- because that is another version of a “laptop plus”. When HP dropped making the tc1100 form they were communicating they thought a bulkier convertible was what people wanted, not a notepad that functions like a computer.

2. Technological problems with “The Wondering Cursor”. The digitizer function of the NEC especially seems to be prone to malfunction/dysfunction/non-function electromagnetic interference under variable conditions such as temperature. By a combination of software and hardware manipulations mine works consistently, but it was a lot of time, energy and warranty-voiding effort to get it this way.

I have only heard of the new Sahara and do not know the details- I wonder if a device can be made that allows for inking with an active digitizer pen (that “takes priority” on the interface screen) combined with a direct touch keyboard that can be overlayed on the screen in a “ghost” format. Type directly on the slate on the virtual keyboard when you want, use the digitizer pen if you want.

I’m simply speculating, some of you engineering types may be laughing at me, I don’t know.

Kevin C. Tofel

Muliadi, if you can bend a little on the weight, you should try the Fujitsu Stylistic ST5111. It has the ULV Core2Duo, is rated 7 hours on the standard battery, weighs 1.5kg and has a 10.4-inch screen.

Muliadi Jeo

I have to admin I agree that the non-Tablet notebook holds the lightest foot print so far. The lightest 10 inches notebook is still hold by Panasonic R6 (it is 1.8 lb). The lightest 12 inches notebook is hold by Sony VAIO G (2.2lb without optical, 2.4lb with optical). Non of the Tablet counter part on that size even close to that weight. Even Fujitsu P1610 is 2.2lb and it is only mere 8.9 inches foot print and Flybook is 2.4lb with the same foot print. Motion Computing is about 2.4lb and even the UMPCs are at 2lb footprint even tough they only carry 7 inches screen.

If you ask me, I don’t believe the digitizer is the cause of the weight. I don’t think the manufacturer has been working hard enough to bring the weight down even tough they can. NEC Japan once come up with 12 inches notebook that is super thin and I believe less than 3lb. That is the closest perfect slate tablet pc but the price is so high that it is not justifiable to get one.

I am waiting for the ultimate Slate tablet that weighs around 1.5 lb and have 6-7 hours battery life running low power Core2Duo and around 10 inches screen (or the size of Motion Computing LS800). In the meanwhile, I stay with combination of my OQO (for ultra portable) and MacBook (cheap powerful notebook running both XP and MacOS).

t lewis

Don’t forget the slab of clear plastic covering the display. Combined with the tablet-enhanced bezel I bet that’s half a pound right there.


Since everyone else was shocked that James was surprised I will jump in to say I was surprised as well. Perhaps it is the gear that James has owned since this is the reason I was surprised.

When I bought my first tablet, Averatec C3500 is was less than half the weight of my current NON-tablet PC HP5570 which weighed close to 10 lbs. I returned that because of bad battery life and then picked up a Toshiba M205, which Kevin used previously. This laptop was still lighter than my HP and to my knowledge, lighter than the other Toshiba non-tablet PCs at the time. Then I moved to a TC1000 and TC1100 which are lighter than ANY convertible. I did for a brief moment own a Gateway convertible and it was HEAVY, but not having any other information I assume ALL Gateway computers were heavy :)

Aaron J. Walker

Yeah, James. I have to agree with Tilan on the size and weight.

Although I never thought about it, now that you posted it makes perfect sense because of the hinge needing to be made of something stronger than plastic.

(Still wondering about the wide price differential though. The technology involved in making the screens has become pretty standardized, the digitizer is usually made of plastic with some wiring. Other than the need to attach the swivel hinge, it is essentially the same as a standard laptop. But as you said, “You’ve got to pay to play.”)


how could you not know this James? i’m surprised.

Tablet/convertible counterparts are almost bigger, heavier, pricier. because they need to be made extra rigid to support the hinge swivel function.

Jack Shainsky

As an HP employee, I have to confirm (and I hope that I don’t give away any secrets) that most of people that got tc4200 from the company don’t use it as Tablets. Even those who take notes at meetings, use them in laptop mode. In fact, I saw only one guy using his tc4200 in Tablet mode (he was reading a magazine in Zinio at some long presentation).


I am surprised only to see that you are surprised!

A convertible tablet often costs an extra $300-$600, is about an inch wider, and weights an extra pound. And the user will soon find out that the best way to input with the pen is still the on-screen keyboard… oh wait, why not just use a real one.


I have a tablet and never use the pen, too. I just love the keyboard too much… but slate mode gets a workout whenever I’m reading a book.

When I was looking at the X60, I saw the tablet got worse battery life than its laptop counterpart, too. Sigh…


Must be that convertible TPC hinge, James…..

It’s gotta be strong to take all the weight and force applied to it…..right?


Mickey Segal

The larger the production runs for a piece of electronics the more likely the equipment is to be streamlined for size.

A good measure of the seriousness of Dell when it enters the Tablet PC market will be whether their Tablet PC is as light as comparable non-Tablet models, and whether the cost premium is modest (about $200 seems reasonable). If Dell expects to sell lots of Tablets we will see their expectations in their actions.

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