Fujitsu’s Stylistic Q550 Slate PC is one of the first tablet computers to use Intel’s latest Atom processor (codenamed Oak Trail) and run the Windows 7 operating system (OS).
It was launched in February and there are three models currently in the Q550 range: a Wi-Fi-only model with a 30GB Toshiba solid state device (SSD) costing £749 + VAT; a 3G mobile broadband version with Wi-Fi and 30GB SSD priced at £799 inc. VAT; and a 3G mobile broadband version with Wi-Fi and 62GB SSD costing £859 inc. VAT.
We reviewed the Wi-Fi-only version with the 30GB SSD. There is also a docking station for the Q550, which is sold separately (£63.60 inc. VAT), making it easier to use [see picture].
The Q550 weighs in at 870g with dimensions of 275 x 192 x 16.2mm, and our review sample ran Windows 7 Professional powered by an Intel Atom Z760 single core (dual-thread) 1.5GHz processor optimised for slate and tablet PCs. Our sample had the maximum of 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 system memory installed in two SoDIMMs.
Display graphics are provided by the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 600 integrated into the Atom processor, driving the Q550 WXGA 10.1in in-plane switched screen to a native resolution of 1280 x 800 in 32-bit colour.
Business users will opt for a Windows 7 Professional install, but there is the consumer option of Windows 7 Home Premium.
Our review sample came with a cleaning cloth and three DVDs. The first contained manuals, drivers and utilities, while the other two contained a recovery image for restoring the system back to factory settings.
You'll need to buy an external DVD drive to use these optical disks, since the Stylistic doesn't have an optical drive as standard.
On the right side are a stereo microphone, a headphone jack, a USB 2.0 port, and an HDMI connection, under which to the right is a Smart Card reader, for more secure logons [see picture].
On the left side is the on/off switch, plus three other buttons, one for starting a software on-screen keyboard, one for changing the screen orientation – in 90-degree increments, and one for changing the software keyboard to the setting.
There’s also an on/off switch to turn on the 802.11b/g/n wireless, and an inset connecting the touch stylus with the Q550 by a cord.
On the front of the Q550 is the AC power connection and the docking connector. On the back is a slot that can take SD and SDHC media, and next to that slot is a fingerprint sensor.
There are also two internal microphones and a mono speaker, an 0.3-megapixel webcam on the front, and a 1.3-megapixel camera at the rear.
The Q550 has an 802.11a/b/g/n Ralink RT3572 WLAN USB system for Wi-Fi connectivity and a Broadcom BCM 20702 Bluetooth USB system for personal area networks (PANs). There's also the option for mobile broadband and GPS function, although this wasn't installed on our review sample.
We weren't impressed with the Stylistic for a number of reasons. First, the system itself felt sluggish, and the touch stylus far too often did not give a clean ‘click’, which resulted in a slight pause before any application we selected fired up.
This happened even though we had calibrated the screen to accept both stylus and finger touches. There was also nowhere on the Stylistic to stow the stylus when it wasn't being used.
The Intel's GMA 600 has to share 756MB of system memory with the processor, which could be one reason why the system is slow – the Q550 then has only 1.25GB of system memory for normal applications and processes.
Another factor is that the Z670 is a single core dual-threaded processor. Dual threading lets a single core processor execute faster, but not as fast as a chip with two physical cores because the two threads have to compete for on-processor resources, such as cache memory.
The Q550 does not automatically sense whether it has been turned from the landscape orientation to portrait. Users need to press the button on the right-hand side to change the orientation.
Another irritation is the location of the AC adaptor. The adaptor connection is on the front, so the system rests on the connector when you prop it up, unless you have the optional docking station [see picture].
The weight of the Stylistic is 870g, and while that sounds light, carrying it constantly with one hand and using it as tablet PCs are meant to be used – held in one hand with stylus input from the other – did eventually induce arm fatigue.
Compare the Stylistic's weight with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer's 692g, the HTC Flyer's 426g or the BlackBerry PlayBook's 425g. The Apple iPad 2 is 600g.
On a brighter note, the Q550 has an anti-glare screen that made it much easier to view in bright sunlight.
Applications included are version 1.2.2 of business eLearning firm Copia's book and eLearning viewer, a starter edition of the painting package ArtRage (v2.6), Adobe Reader v9.3, CyberLink's YouCam package for webcam use, the Starter version of Office 2010, and the PressReader.
The more interesting application is the Fujitsu Infinity Lounge v1.0.1, which is accessible from a tab at the top of the display.
The Infinity Lounge lets users create different workspaces, which they can populate with applications such as calendars, email and certain power settings, for example [see picture].
The Infinity Lounge has the look-and-feel of Android-style applications, and was very easy to use.
Settings changed in the Lounge also propagate to the control panel settings, so if the display is dimmed the change is also reflected in the device control panel power options.
Another feature we found easy to use was the handwriting recognition. The launch box for this pops up when you need to type text into dialogue boxes, and we could then write the required text using the stylus, and tap to transfer the text to the dialogue box.
We found it accurate. It was mostly easier to use than pressing the hardware button on the Q550's side with our finger to fire up the on-screen keyboard.
Security on the Stylistic has the potential to be very good because of the options available.
Users can choose to encrypt the SSD, and also use the optional Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which can process and store cryptographic keys for data protection.
There's also the option for Fujitsu's Advanced Theft Protection (ATP) that uses Absolute Software's Computrace package, which can be used for device tracking, data deletion and device recovery.
Firms can choose to install Softex OmniPass secure single sign-on software at extra cost.
By using the fingerprint sensor and smartcard reader, security can be significantly enhanced.
We checked performance using PassMark’s Performance Test 7.0 software, with SSD performance being checked also by Performance Test 7.0 and using the ATTO disk benchmark.
When used with the optional docking station the Stylistic is similar to a netbook.
So we compared the Stylistic with the Asus Eee Seashell 1015PEM netbook, which we reviewed late last year.
In all benchmarks the Stylistic had inferior perfomance to the 1015PEM, except the disk benchmark.
The Toshiba SSD gave much better performance than the 1015PEM's hard disk [see picture].
The Stylistic's single core dual-threaded CPU offered less than half the performance of the Asus' 1015PEM's dual-core processor, and the graphics performance was also down on the Asus score.
Intel is rumoured to be bringing out a dual-core Oak Trail processor this year. Couple that with a Windows 8 operating system optimised for Tablet PCs and we'd expect an updated Stylistic to perform much better.
The Stylistic's 30GB SSD gave a much better performance than many hard disk systems on netbooks and notebooks that we have tested, with a sequential read speed of 158MB/s and a sequential write speed of 43MB/s.
The rating for the 4-cell Lithium polymer battery in our test system was 5.24Ah (38Wh). You can also buy the Stylistic with a lower rated 2-cell battery (2.62Ah - 19Wh).
We recorded a battery life of just over five hours with the 5.24Ah battery. We did this with the ‘performance’ power option selected, which runs the screen brightness at its maximum setting.
Towards the end of the performance testing, the battery discharged more quickly [see graph below].
Charging the Q550 took about five hours, when we had the screen brightness set to maximum. Users can cut the time to charge the battery by halving the screen brightness, which is what we did a quarter of the way into the charging cycle. Better still is to charge the system when it is in sleep mode.
We estimate that charging could take less than three hours if the brightness is cut significantly [see graph above].
It is a challenge to judge the performance of the Stylistic when we haven’t seen any systems using Oak Trail processors running other operating systems, but the Q550 did seem sluggish to us.
The Stylistic is also at least £300 more than the rival £420 + VAT Asus Eee Pad Transformer. It lacks performance, and is heavier than the Asus tablet when disconnected from its keyboard, 870g compared with 692g.
However, it's more secure than Android systems, and runs Windows, which businesses and IT admins are more used to managing.
It would be interesting to see the performance of an ARM processor-based system running Windows 8, which should be better optimised for tablet and slate devices.