Common wisdom says that change comes from within, an axiom that HP has taken to heart with the tc4400 tablet PC. Physically identical to its predecessor, the tc4200, the tc4400's updated model number indicates only a refresh of the components inside its case: brand-new Core 2 Duo processors, an updated chipset, room for more RAM and larger hard drive capacities.
The basic model retails for £1,688 (our review unit included a few upgrades that brought the cost up slightly). The updated components allow the tc4400 to keep pace with similar tablets on the market, such as the Gateway M285-E and the Fujitsu LifeBook T4215.
The tc4400 (like most other business laptops) is 'Vista capable', meaning it can handle the new operating system, but at the likely cost of some key features of Vista's redesigned user interface. That said, the HP Compaq tc4400 makes sense for businesses that want to complement their existing fleet of HP laptops and those that have no Vista upgrade plans on the horizon. Everyone else would do best to wait until HP refreshes its line later this year.
Because the tc4400 is physically identical to its predecessor, please read the full review of the HP Compaq tc4200 for complete details about the tablet's design and features.
Where the two models differ is in components. Though HP offers several configurations of the tc4400, our review unit included a high-end 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 processor, 512MB of swift 667MHz RAM, an average 80GB, 5,400rpm hard drive and integrated Intel 945GM Express graphics that borrow up to 128MB of system memory.
On CNET Labs' performance benchmarks, the tc4400 kept pace with the Gateway M285-E and the Fujitsu LifeBook T4215 in the iTunes encoding and office productivity modules. The tc4400 was hobbled, however, by its scant RAM when it came to the multitasking and Photoshop benchmarks -- it was easily bested by its two tablet competitors, each of which had twice as much RAM.
Increasing the tc4400's RAM to 1GB is worth the investment, especially if you intend to upgrade to Windows Vista at some point. Potential Vista users should also note that the tc4400's integrated graphics card is likely to hinder its ability to render the operating system's new Aero interface and may affect other elements of the user experience. You can run Vista on the tc4400, though, if you only want to take advantage of its new search and security features.
On our battery-drain tests, the HP Compaq tc4400 lasted 4 hours, 23 minutes -- about 30 minutes less than its predecessor. Nevertheless, that battery life seems reasonable for a Core 2 Duo-based tablet -- the Gateway M285-E's much larger battery lasted just 13 minutes longer, while the LifeBook T4215 trailed behind, giving out after 3 hours, 54 minutes.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)