We've lost count of exactly which generation of tablet PCs the TravelMate C312XMi is part of, but Acer tells us it's the fourth, and who are we to argue?

Whether this is going to be the time that the tablet PC concept catches on outside the education and healthcare sectors is anyone's guess, but if you're thinking about buying a convertible tablet then the C312XMi is well worth considering.

Practicalities first. It weighs 2.9kg, which is slightly on the heavy side for a convertible tablet, but still isn't too much of a burden to carry. It feels sturdy, fits comfortably under the arm and is easy to hold when you're making notes on it.

The screen, which automatically changes from landscape to portrait mode when the Acer is converted from notebook form into a tablet, gives a surprisingly good image, and managed frame rates that weren't far off playable in Doom3 and Halo.

The 1.73GHz Pentium M 735 processor and 512 Mbyte of DDR RAM give the Acer a respectable if not spectacular amount of power. Our WorldBench 5 suite posed some problems for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition but in the tests we could run, the Acer performed adequately, without setting the world on fire.

The power button is on the side of the chassis, which means you can switch the Acer on whether it's in notebook or tablet form. There are connectivity options aplenty, and the slightly curved keyboard is well laid out and comfortable to use.

Verdict
We're not convinced that the tablet PC is going to catch on in a big way, no matter how many times it gets a makeover, but Acer's offering compares favourably with most. It has plenty of good features, even if the price tag is a touch on the high side. Well done, Acer.

Specifications

  • 1.73GHz Intel Pentium M 735 processor
  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005
  • 512 Mbyte DDR RAM
  • 80Gbyte hard drive
  • 14.1in 1,024x768 TFT display
  • 128 Mbyte GeForce Go 6200 graphics card
  • 24x/24x/10x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) 8x/8x/8x/2.4x/4x/4x/3x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM) drive
  • 802.11b/g facilities
  • Bluetooth
  • 326x272x39mm
  • 2.9kg
  • Norton AntiVirus
  • 1-year return-to-base warranty


OUR VERDICT

Tablets are still an acquired taste, but Acer's take on the subject is a good one. If you're prepared to pay the extra for Tablet features, take a look.