In the world of pure-slate tablet PCs, the Motion M1400 has long been the model to beat. Enter the new Motion LE1600, which builds upon its older sibling with a faster processor, more RAM and double the L2 cache -- all in a lighter package. The LE1600's carbon-fibre chassis is as corporate as a grey flannel suit, but its sleek design and the powerful performance within make for an attractive system. If you're sold on slate-style tablets and can stomach paying around £1,500 for a portable computer without a keyboard, this is the machine for you.
The Motion LE1600 shares roughly the same dimensions as the M1400, measuring 240mm wide by 296mm deep by 19-22mm high (in portrait orientation). The 1.42kg LE1600 weighs 130g less than the Fujitsu Siemens Stylistic ST5022, and it feels well balanced in the hand. You can easily hold the tablet in one hand while writing with the other, using the rubberised main battery as a grip. The optional £133 extended battery clips onto the bottom of the system and adds little to the form factor. The tablet's AC adaptor brings the travel weight to a portable 1.78kg -- nearly half a kilogram lighter than the Stylistic ST5022's travel weight.
The buttons and the ports on the Motion LE1600 are easily accessed and thoughtfully laid out. Buttons alongside the screen let you close windows, rotate the screen or launch the Motion Dashboard to manage system settings. Conveniently, you have two options for scrolling: you can use the five-way directional joystick or glide your finger over the fingerprint sensor, which doubles as a scroll button. A handy dedicated Wi-Fi on/off switch lets you kill the wireless to extend battery life.
Like its competitors, the Motion LE1600 features a 12.1-inch TFT display with 1,024x768-pixel native resolution. If you need to take your computing outdoors, you'll likely want to add Motion's £194 View Anywhere technology, which lets you see the screen from a variety of angles and under different light conditions. On our View Anywhere-equipped review unit, we were able to surf the Web in direct midday sun without a problem (except for sunburn).
Writing on the LE1600's screen feels almost like writing with pen and paper, thanks to the rubberised digitiser stylus, which has the contours and easy grip of a Cross pen. The stylus has better form and heft than those on the M1400 and the HP Compaq TC1000. Unlike on the TC1000, the lone button on the Motion LE1600's stylus is recessed, ensuring you won't trigger it by accident. The stylus's top acts as an eraser, like on a pencil. An included tether lets you attach the stylus to the tablet so you won't lose it, but the tether string frequently got caught in the zip of our laptop case. It's a small complaint, but we'd love to see someone use a retractable tether.
True to its pure-slate roots, the LE1600 ships without a keyboard, but you can purchase a £105 Convertible Keyboard that also serves as a mini-dock and charging station. Although the handwriting recognition in Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 is excellent (even with our serial-killer scribbles), hunting and stabbing the on-screen keyboard was suitable for only the most basic computing. If you want a tablet with an attached keyboard and are willing to lug around an extra half-kilo, check out the convertible ThinkPad X41 Tablet.
For such a light machine, the Motion LE1600 doesn't skimp on features. The audio array has three microphones that can be configured to capture just one close voice or a large room full of voices. If you use speech-recognition software, the three-mic array allows you to dictate (under reasonably quiet conditions) without having to use a headset. The LE1600 also offers the type of ports and slots you'd expect to find on any ultraportable notebook, starting with two USB 2.0 ports, a mini-USB connection, standard headphone and microphone jacks, Gigabit Ethernet, and both DVI and VGA ports. However, the tablet lacks a FireWire port. In addition to the expected Type II PC Card slot, you'll find an SD card slot for flash media.
Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth and an integrated Intel 802.11b/g card, which accessed three wireless networks flawlessly in our casual tests. Unfortunately, the LE1600 lacks an optical drive, although an external DVD/CD-RW drive is available for an additional £133. Corporate buyers concerned with security will appreciate the tablet's built-in fingerprint sensor and embedded Trusted Platform Module, which protects data by enabling hardware-based encryption.
The Motion LE1600 is not a power-user's system, but it is a solid business computer. Our test unit, which costs £1,520 for the base unit and is built on Intel's current-generation Centrino platform, included a low-voltage 1.5GHz Pentium M processor, 768MB of speedy 400MHz RAM and a small 30GB hard drive spinning at a pedestrian 4,200rpm. With those components, the LE1600 earned a respectable score of 151 on our mobile benchmarks. In our battery-drain tests, the standard battery on the LE1600 lasted a respectable 3 hours and 21 minutes.
Edited by Charles McLellan
Additional editing by Nick Hide