I’ve been slowly configuring the Fujitsu Stylistic ST5112 Tablet PC over the past week, and while we don’t have a video review just yet, I’m now comfortable enough to share my first impressions. I always like to set up a review unit for the way I work before providing opinions and I realize that the way I work isn’t the way everyone else works. Still, a consistent approach tends to be more effective.
So after using the Fujitsu for a few days in my daily grind, what can say? With the limited usage, the overall experience is very positive; there’s not much to dislike here.
1. Size, weight and aesthetics. Simply put: this is a beautiful slate! I feel like I’m holding a 12.1-inch LCD display panel, not a computer. The ST5112 is under an inch thick and it’s all screen. In fact, if it weren’t for the battery, it really would be all screen: the two inches below the screen when held in portrait is where the battery hides…and it gives you place hold the tablet without smudging the screen.
With the battery, the unit weighs about 3.5 pounds, which is more than my Samsung Q1 of course, but less than a good portion of notebooks available today. As expected Fujitsu put a high level of thought into the design of this slate; most of the buttons are where you’d want them to be and there’s no wasted space.
The back of the unit is "sueded" in parts where you would hold the unit, making for a non-slip grip. The fan is at the top left in portrait and well out of the way of where your hands would be.
2. Performance. Rock solid sums it up so far. To recap the specs and put this in perspective, the unit I have is configured with:
- Intel Core Duo ULV U2500 CPU at 1.2 GHz
- 12.1-inch indoor/outdoor screen with 1024 by 768 resolution powered by the Intel 945 graphic chipset (capable of 1600 x 1200 res)
- 80 GB S-ATA 150 hard drive running at 5,200 RPM and includes a shock sensor
- 1 GB DDR2 533 MHz RAM
- Integrated 802.11 a/b/g and Bluetooth
- 6-cell Lithium-ion 5200 mAh battery for 56 W/Hr
The unit is very responsive due to these specifications; Fujitsu has crammed a bunch of the latest technology inside. Windows render very quickly and the system never seems to "sputter" or "choke". The ST5112 takes about 3 to 5 seconds to enter Sleep mode and resumes around 2 seconds. Is it as fast as my more powerful desktop? No, but that’s a trade off for the mobility and I honestly find that it’s as responsive as many notebooks I’ve used over the past year or so. While some might wish for a faster processor, you have to remember that you’ll use more battery as you increase the overall performance of your computing device. I find that the Core Due 1.2 GHz chip is plenty fast enough for my tasks, yet it strikes the perfect balance between performance and power usage. I’m routinely getting a full five hours of computing on a single battery charge. I struggled a bit the with hard drive shock sensor as it kept popping up warnings; after some nosing around, I found the settings and modified them so I could safely be "less gentle" with the unit, while still being careful.
3. The Tablet experience. What can I say here: it’s a slate, so it’s all tablet baby! In fact, I did pair my Bluetooth keyboard with the ST5112, but only to test the connectivity. After that test, I put the keyboard away for good so far. The TIP appears as needed quicker than on any other Tablet device I’ve used thanks to the high-performing configuration. The stylus is actually a tad thicker than my Toshiba M205 stylus and is a shade shorter; it works just fine for my small hands.
Going back to design for a sec: Fujitsu succeed on the stylus where Toshiba failed. My M205 pen has a clip like most pens, but it’s way too long and thin. As a result, the clip snapped in half and never sat properly in the Tablet because the clip was used to secure it. Not so with Fujitsu; the clip is used to tether the pen only so you can’t clip it, but then again, you can’t break it off either. Additionally, the Stylistic pen doesn’t use that part of the stylus to secure the pen within the slate; much better. The pen is at the top right for easy access, although lefties will have an issue. Maybe we need left-handed slates?
From a software perspective, you get the standard Tablet PC applications in XP, such as Windows Journal and Sticky Notes. Fujitsu beefs up the software experience on this configuration with Microsoft OneNote and EverNote Plus. Between those two offerings, you’ve got Tablet PC productivity right out of the box.
4. Additional nice features. There’s a few here, so let’s tackle them one at a time.
- Fingerprint sensor: I never had one before, but I’m wishing I did now. You can assign all 10 fingers to the sensor and I’ve used this for signing in to the PC upon resumption from sleep as well as logging into my e-mail. Works flawlessly and doubles as a scroll control, but I haven’t gotten the hang of that yet.
- Dual array integrated microphones: These are on the left and right of the slate as held in portrait. For me, this is a must because I use my mobile devices for Skype. I don’t have the IntelliSonic software tweaked just right for the perfect recording, but hope to have it down for the video review.
- Scroll buttons at the bottom right: perfect for scrolling line-by-line or as page-up and page-down use. The only issue here so far (and this is common) is these function the same when in portrait or landscape. The odd thing is: Fujitsu has labeled these as if they rotate in function when you rotate the screen, but I haven’t seen it work that way. Could be my misunderstanding or a configuration issue on my part.
- Hardware buttons at the top right: take your pick because you’ve got six buttons here. The most common ones I use are the screen rotation (which is near instantaneous) and the dedicated e-mail button which starts or maximizes Outlook for me. The best part: if Outlook isn’t running, I can click the hardware button to start it and then swipe my finger on the fingerprint reader to log in to my Exchange server. One button, one swipe and I’m in!
- Slots & ports: There’s a number of them ranging from: VGA-out, PC Card, SD card, two USB ports, external mic and headphone jacks, FireWire port, wired Ethernet jack and modem jack. There’s also an infrared port on both the left and right side of the slate; useful for synching a Windows Mobile device on either side. For a slate Tablet PC, I think this provides more than enough expansion.
5. What don’t I like so far? It’s only fair to share personal impressions of what I’d like to see different, so here they are. Bear in mind some of these could be my limited use of the Stylistic so far:
- Single speaker. Yes, I’m probably spoiled by the dual-speaker SRS-Surround capabilities of the Samsung Q1. Additionally, most slates in this price range will mainly be purchased for productivity and not entertainment, but I’d like to see a second speaker. Perhaps Fujitsu could drop an IR port and replace it with a speaker in the future.
- Lack of an included stand. Let’s face it: without an integrated or add-on stand, you’re not going be doing anything but inking on this. While that is the intended primary purpose of a slate, I found myself getting tired of holding a 3.5 pound device while inking away. While I paired my Bluetooth keyboard to type instead of ink, I couldn’t put the slate down because it would lay flat on my desk; not ideal. In fairness, Fujitsu does offer a number of stands and docking solutions for the ST5112, but I’d love to see a very basic stand included with all slates.
So there you have it: my first impressions after a few days of true usage. If you’ve got specific questions while I continue to review the unit, please let me know. If I have time to install Vista on a separate partition before shooting the video review, I’ll do that too. We have to thank the generous folks at Allegiance Technology Partners for providing the review unit. Don’t worry guys: I might have configured the Shock Sensor software to be more forgiving, but I’m still taking good care of your baby!