Motion Computing CL900 Tablet PC – Peformance and Battery Life

There are a lot of questions being asked about performance on the Motion Computing CL900, with some asking if they should cancel their X220T order. As I indicated in my Lenovo X220 Tablet review, I don’t run benchmarks, etc. I base the performance of a tablet upon how it performs for my needs and workflow. My impressions are purely subjective so take them at that.

The CL900 I am testing is an Atom Z670 running 1.5ghz, 62 gb SSD and 2gb of ram. The base model 1gb / 30gb ssd runs $899. Pricing for additional ram and SSD is only available through a reseller. I don’t even know why Motion offers the $899 stripped down unit. Windows 7 needs a good 2gb of RAM to run decently and the ram can’t be upgraded after purchase. After loading Office 2010, the Kindle app, Windows Live MovieMaker, and ArcSoft, I’ve already utilized 26 gb of the 62 gb ssd.

I’ve been using the CL900 with Word, OneNote, Kindle, ArcSoft webcam, and Internet Explorer all running at the same time. There were no delays in application switching with RAM peaking out at about 1 gb – the system never hiccuped. In addition, I’ve played several movies through Netflix and didn’t experience any hiccups at all (see update below). The experience was actually quite nice on the 1366 x 768 screen. From a cold-boot to Welcome screen took 40 seconds. All of that said, I certainly wouldn’t classify the CL900 as a speed demon. There were delays in opening applications that normally fly open on my Lenovo X220 Tablet PC. However, my X220T is also a 2.5 ghz i5 with 4gb of ram while the CL900 is a 1.5 ghz Atom Z670. I wouldn’t expect the CL900 to hold up well to Photoshop and I wouldn’t purchase the CL900 as my sole workstation. As a secondary mobile computer, however, I would have no worries about bringing it on the road and having to get work done.It definitely feels faster than the HP Slate 500 and I’ve been pleased with the performance.

Update: I have been playing more movies on and off today over Netflix and have noticed some intermittent screen flicker / pausing, almost like there is a caching issue but not in traditional “wait” caching. I’m not sure what the difference is between today and last night, but the movie playback quality over Netflix today is more noticeable. It could a difference in the type of movie being streamed.  I’ve tested YouTube videos (like the ones I posted today) and have not noticed the problem I experienced on Netflix today. The sound was decent at full volume – nothing to write home about, but decent.

The only application I had problems with was Windows Live MovieMaker 2011. While trying to test the webcam out, many portions of the application (Options, timeline, webcam recording) were black. The application was completely unusable. I suspect the problem is likely a video card incompatibility issue. Recording through ArcSoft’s webcam application, though, presented no problems at all. I’ll share samples from the front and rear cameras later.

Battery life has been amazing. Motion claims 8 hours and from my tests so far, that claim seems to be holding up. I’ve been using the tablet on / off since yesterday and have yet to get below 50% usage. Another great thing about the CL900 is that it only takes 2 hours to recharge back to 100% battery. My usage has been with the power options set to Motion Optimized. I would classify the CL900 as an all-day mobile computer.

In closing, the CL900 would make a fantastic secondary computer for a mobile worker or student. I would only recommend purchasing the CL900 with 2gb of RAM and 62gb SSD. Under normal conditions, performance shouldn’t be an issue. I wouldn’t, however, run out and replace your desktop or i5 / i7 tablets with the CL900. It wasn’t designed to compete in scenarios where users need to run Photoshop or CAD. If I needed a secondary computer, though, I wouldn’t hesitate a second in purchasing the CL900.