Clover Trail tablets pitched as workplace-friendly

PC makers say their Windows tablets are business-friendly, but one analyst said it's still consumers that drive the market

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware

Some of the tablet makers at a launch event for Intel's "Clover Trail" processor emphasized the business smarts of their products as a way to distinguish them from Apple's market-leading iPad.

Dell, Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Acer and other vendors are all banking on the new version of Intel's Atom chip, officially called the Z2760, coupled with Microsoft's Windows 8 OS, to give them a fighting chance in a market dominated by Apple.

Intel invited PC makers to show off their Clover Trail Windows 8 tablets at a launch event Thursday in San Francisco. The new Atom is a dual-core processor that runs at up to 1.8GHz and offers a "full PC experience," according to Erik Reid, general manager of Intel's mobile client platforms group.

Clover Trail tablets will play up to 10 hours of video on a single charge and last up to three weeks in standby mode, he said. Some models will be only 8.5 millimeters thick, he said, a hair's breadth thinner than the iPad.

Taking on Apple will be tough, but emphasizing how Windows tablets fit well in an office environment is the best hope for PC makers, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64.

"I don't know if it's going to be successful, but it's their best shot at success," he said.

Because the tablets run Windows on x86 processors they will be able to drop easily into a Windows 7 environment, working with PC technologies like Active Directory, Domain Join and Group Policy, Reid said.

"This is very easy to manage and deploy, it goes right into a Windows 7 environment," said Lenovo's Tom Butler, describing the company's Thinkpad Tablet 2.

They'll also run a broad range of productivity applications, such as Office and Quicken. Intel showed a sales application it developed with SAP that had a Metro-like interface, and a medical application doctors can use to look up patient records and view x-rays.

Dell went furthest in positioning its tablets for business. It will offer its Latitude 10 with an optional finger-print scanner and smart card reader built into the back, for security authentication, and its tablets also have a removable battery, for "shift workers" who need to swap out a battery before they can get back to a power supply.

The company will offer tablets for "multiple budgets and industries," and applications for vertical industries such as health care will be certified for its tablet at the outset, said Bill Gordon, Dell executive director for end user computing. "We also have a docking station that turns this product into a desktop," he said.

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