The lowdown on tablet PC

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What is it? A tablet PC is a combination of an ultraportable notebook PC and pen-based tablet computer'with or without a keyboard'running Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and supporting wireless connections.

When can I buy one? You can already buy a prototype tablet PC such as Acer America's TravelMate 100, PaceBlade Technology's PaceBook or ViewSonic's ViewPad 1000, but one with the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system won't be available until after Nov. 7.

How much will it cost? Analysts expect tablet PCs to compete in the same market as ultraportable notebooks. Most will sell in the $2,000 price range.

Must-know info? Tablet PCs will combine the best attributes of notebook PCs and pen-based tablets, with wireless communications, digital handwriting, handwriting recognition and many other features. Proponents say tablet PCs will replace traditional notebooks. Critics say they are solutions looking for a problem, and won't meet market expectations.

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