Averatec C3500 Tablet PC Mini-Review

I picked up an Averatec C3500 Tablet PC a few days ago.

I've been looking forward to this particular machine since hearing about it about 6 months ago.  The promise is that it's a Tablet PC that's reasonably powerful, and affordable - $1349 MSRP (US$).

Best Buy in the US sells it for $1299.  Future Shop in Canada sells it for $2199 Canadian.  This is my first major complaint - the Canadian dollar right now is worth 81 cents, which means it should cost just over $1600 Canadian.  I'm not sure where the extra $500 is going but this sort of price disparity is ridiculous.

Anyway, here's my thoughts on the Tablet PC. 

The C3500 is a convertible, which means you can use it in either a traditional clamshell laptop configuration (where you open it up and type on the keyboard), or you can flip the screen around and back against the keyboard, so that you can use the laptop as a tablet, using a stylus on the touch-sensitive screen to move the mouse and click.

This works really well - doing mouse-intensive things like drawing, jotting down handwritten notes, or playing solitaire, works great.  It's very cool using OneNote on a tablet - it's a whole different experience from using a traditional laptop.  Sitting on the couch with the tablet is great - rather than the laptop dominating your posture, you can hold and use the tablet more like a book or magazine.

Unfortunately there are a lot of places where Windows wants you to type things.  Logging in is awkward as you must tap out your password on the on-screen keybaord. 

You can read up on the merits and limitations of Tablet PC's in general elsewhere; here are my impressions of the C3500.

The keyboard is cheap.  I'm a good typist (~100 wps on a good day) and typing on this thing is an exercise in frustration.  It simply misses keystrokes.  Other users have posted similar comments so I think this is a general problem, not something specific to my unit.

I found it heavier than I think it should have been (it's packed with features, so the weight is understandable), and it gets quite warm. 

An attribute of the display that I didn't expect is that the intensity of the image varies across the display.  When you're looking at it using a typical laptop aspect (landscape), the image is a constant intensity horizontally, but if you move your head up and down, you can see it brighten and dim - there's a “sweet spot” where the display looks best. 

When you're using the tablet in portrait mode (holding it like a clipboard), each eye sees the image with a slightly different intensity.

I'm sure this is something I'd get used to, but it bugged me.. perhaps different display technologies wouldn't have this characteristic.

I love the promise of a Tablet PC, and I still want one, but now I recognize that it must be light, run cool, and preferably have a display that's optimized for portrait orientation. 

I took the unit back to the store, which asked me almost no questions about why I was returning it; unfortunate since you'd think Averatec would like to know why a consumer would return one of their products.  Maybe they'll see this post.