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Flyweight contender

Acer’s TravelMate C100.

When choosing a Tablet PC, there are certain factors, like speed, battery life, and weight, that go into the final decision. With the Acer TravelMate C100, an additional benefit may push some shoppers from browse to buy: cuteness.

With a 10.4-inch screen and a heft of only 3.1 pounds, the Acer seems more like an inordinately large PDA than a small laptop, and its small padded carrying case adds to the feeling of miniaturization. In fact, when having to mail it back (yes, tragically, we have to return such review items), the whole shebang fit into a padded FedEx Pak, and would easily be at home on an airplane tray with room to spare. For those among us who think of tiny and adorable as synonyms, welcome to your next computer.

The more discerning, and cuteness-impaired, Tablet PC buyer will be struck by the computer’s flexibility, easy handling, and reliability. It can be used in laptop or tablet mode, thanks to a swiveling screen that locks tight into either configuration. The speed is not blazing, but nor is it poky, zipping along with Pentium III power as readily as any regular laptop. One caveat, however, is that the memory can’t be expanded past 256MB, which may present a difficulty for serious PowerPointers and graphic design gurus.

Despite these limitations, however, the adorable Acer should prove to be tough competition in the heated tablet battle. Especially because the machine has one more small feature–the price tag. At around $1,700, it’s certainly more spendy than a standard notebook, but a bargain when compared to its tablet brethren. Even if you crave a larger display, it’s hard to ignore the fact that when it comes to price, smaller is better.

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