I was in Redmond last weekend for the Microsoft Student Partners summit, and I came back with the mother of all freebies - a Gateway M285-E Tablet PC. :)

Gateway M285-E TabletPC

Tablets have come a long way since they first entered the market. Unlike some of the first-generation underpowered machines, this thing actually packs quite a punch. The model I got includes an Intel Core Duo T2400 at 1.83GHz, 1GB of RAM, a 60GB SATA drive, and an ATI Mobility Radeon X1400. I'm running a (very recent) build of Vista on it, and it's working great with the full Aero UI and all. The battery life with the 12-cell unit is excellent - Gateway claims 8 hours, and based on what I've seen so far, it can at least do more than 6. Plus, the optical drive bay can hold an additional battery, so it could easily do a transcontinental flight on a single charge.

It was great using the machine on the flight back - I folded the screen back, giving me plenty of room, played Hexic, Inkball, Ink Crossword, and tried some of the other bundled pen-enabled apps. The handwriting recognition engine in Vista is even better than it was in XP (which was pretty good in the first place!), and using the pen actually feels pretty natural. I would have loved to have one of these back when I joined uni. Having handwritten notes that are fully indexed and searchable is so convenient. In any case, I have a couple of more quarters of coursework, so it's not too late. I bet Marc would be pleased; his old blog was one of the things that first got me interested in Tablet PCs. :)