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Devotion to motion

Is it a tablet? Is it a laptop? Is it a desktop? John Galloway meets the computer that thinks it's all three

Conventional wisdom says you can't have it all. But then the Motion 1400 Tablet is not a conventional computer. It calls itself a tablet but comes with a docking port for an external keyboard to make it a desktop and another keyboard with integral screen support to make it a laptop.

Like all good tablets it is quite light and responsive. The screen quality is good, a cool black when dormant but with clarity and crispness when on.

It is blessed with a particularly wide viewing angle, with an ambient light sensor that apparently automatically adjusts the screen brightness to the environment. Switching between portrait and landscape is virtually instantaneous at the touch of a button, so you can choose the angle and orientation that suits the job.

The Motion 1400 is also very responsive to the pen; and either my handwriting has improved or the recognition software provided has come on a lot. No training is needed for this; simply write with the stylus and it translates into typed text. I even tried changing users in mid-sentence to confuse it, but it just kept on regardless.

However, if you prefer to type, simply attach one of the keyboards. The docking station provided is designed to be left on your desk, but power lead, DVDCD-RW and keyboard can all be unplugged to travel with you - even while turned on - as everything is "hot-swappable". But if that is too much clutter, you can just take the folding keyboard which doubles as a lid and has a built-in joystick mouse.

Mobility is further ensured by the inclusion of wi-fi and Bluetooth capabilities to connect to both the internet and similarly enabled devices - such as the optional keyboard or mouse - quickly and with minimal fuss.

Of course, enhanced portability also means enhanced "nickability" - the easier it is for you to lift it, the easier it is for a passing thief to do the same. However, the M1400 comes with fingerprint recognition as standard, so to be any use thieves are going to have to take more than the machine with them.

The only downside was the sound. There are three microphone modes available through the "Dashboard" facility that quickly configures the machine. These adjust the breadth, or cone, that the microphone picks up. It is a good idea but, unfortunately, the playback remains tinny with a bit of a background buzz, as though recorded in a shower cubicle with an electric toothbrush running.

It's a minor gripe, though - this machine remains fast, crisp, responsive, and flexible.

Motion 1400 tablet PC

Intel Pentium M 1.1GHz and 2MB of L2 Cache; 12.1" XGA TFT LCD display with viewing angles greater than 160-degrees; active digitizer pen (no battery required); 256MB memory Upgradeable to 2GB; hard drive sizes 20GB, 40GB or 60GB; integrated Intel PROWireless 2200 802.11 bg card; ethernet LAN; Bluetooth; two USB 2.0 ports; FireWire Price: pound;1,299 plus VAT www.motioncomputing.co.uk

Fitness for purpose ****

Ease of use *****

Features *****

Quality ****

Value for money ****

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