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FIC Crystal TabletPC

Date: Thursday November 22, 2001
Category: Mobile Devices Author: Max Page
Manufacture: FIC

FIC first made waves on the Transmeta scene with the AquaPAD, a mobile web pad like device powered by the TM5400 Crusoe processor.

FIC Crystal TabletPC

FIC first made waves on the Transmeta scene with the AquaPAD, a mobile web pad like device powered by the TM5400 Crusoe processor. This time around we had a chance to see a prototype of the new Crystal TabletPC running Microsoft's Windows XP Professional. Interestingly, a Mobile PIII version code named Thunder is also in the works highlighting the versatility of MicroSoft's TabletPC concept.

In any case the "Crystal" TabletPC from FIC will be powered by a TM5800 Crusoe processor running at speeds of 800MHz to 1.0GHz. Like most of the mainstream computer manufacturers, the new memory of choice is DDR. The TM5800 will be partnered with 128MB of on board DDRAM, and take upto 512MB overal thanks to a SODIMM expansion slot - similar to the kind most notebooks have today.

Storage used to be an aspec many 'webpad' concepts avoided altogether, but the FIC Crystal TabletPC will house a laptop sized 2.5" 20GB hard drive making it as useful as any notebook. Graphics will be handled by ATI's Mobility-M6 chipset with 8MB of DDR VRAM. Nvidia is making head way into the portable graphics market but they are still a long way off from posing a real threat.

A computer, in whatever for it may be in is only as useful as what you can load into it, or what you can connect it to. The Crystal tablet comes packed with a pair of USB ports, a firewire (IEEE1394) jack, one telephone and Ethernet jack (RJ45), a microphone and headphone jack, one VGA, and an InfraRed port. Internally, a miniPCI port gives the tablet built-in 802.11b Wireless Lan.

The interface is a nice large 10.4" TFT screen with XGA resolution (1024x768) which also has an integrated touch screen component. To operate the TabletPC when it is not in a cradle the user need only use a standard EMD pen and write directly to the screen. Hand writting recognition looks like it will be supported by Microsoft's Digital Ink. Digital Ink, from what we have seen, leaves the users chicken scratches in natural form for emails, documents, or other applications. A docking cradle enhances the usefulness of the Crystal TabletPC by enabling the user to input via a keyboard and mouse and use the entire system more like a notebook computer. The cradle features (2x) USB, (1x) RJ45 Ethernet jack, a slim CD-ROM or DVD drive, VGA port and headphone/microphone jacks.

As with any portable device weight and battery life are among the most important aspects. The Crystal TabletPC weighs in at 2.7lbs, and will last about 4 hours on a single battery according to BatteryMark 4.0.1 benchmarks. Charge time for the slim four-cell Lithium-Ion Polymer battery pack (14.8V, 2500mAh) is 2.5 to 3 hours. The tablet itself measures 10.7" x 8.2" x 0.95".

The unit on display at COMDEX Fall 2001 was only a prototype, but the expectations are hight that this new concept form factor will shortly become the next killer apt of the computing world, converging the usefulness of the notebook, with the ergonomics of the PDA.

FIC Crystal TabletPC Specs

FIC Crystal TabletPC
OS Microsoft WindowsXP Professional Edition
Processor Transmeta Crusoe Processor with LongRun Power Managment
TM5800 800MHz - 1.0GHz
Main memory 128MB DDRAM on board; one micro DIMM slot available to upgrade to 512MB DDRAM
Graphic accelerator ATI MOBILITY RADEON-M6 graphics chip
Liquid crystal display 10.4" wide-format XGA TFT display
  • Internal max: 1024 x 768 resolution, 16M colors
  • Hard disk 2.5" 20 GB (Ultra ATA)
    CD-ROM drive Type not specified, housed in cradle

    • Two USB
    • Analog Video
    • RJ-11 (modem)
    • RJ-45 (Ethernet) ports
    • IEEE 1394
    • Headphone and microphone jacks
    PC card slot TypeII PCMCIA CardBus, 32-bit
    Audio AC'97 with built-in mono speaker
  • Built-in 10/100 base-Tx Ethernet
  • Built-in 56K V.90 modem
  • 802.11b Wireless
  • Keyboard / Pointing device Touch sensistive screen, USB keyboard to Cradle
    Power source Auto-sensing dual voltage support, AC100-240V or lithium ion polymer battery
    Battery Life
  • 4 hours with Main battery
  • Dimensions

  • 10.7"(w) x 8.2"(d) x 0.95"(h)
  • Weighs only 2.7 lbs 
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