Fujitsu Stylistic ST5032 Review

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Improving on the award-winning Tablet PC, the Fujitsu Stylistic ST5000 Tablet PC offers technology advancements to keep pace with the versatility of today's mobile professionals. With its added security features such as a dedicated Smart Card slot, embedded Trusted Platform Module, Fujitsu Security Application Panel, and a Kensington lock slot; your data and assets are more secure. In addition, the industry leading indoor/outdoor display is optimized for "true" outdoor viewing. It empowers you wherever your work takes you.

CNET Reviewed Fujitsu Stylistic ST5032 :
This configuration of the Fujitsu Stylistic ST5032 is a 3.5-pound, ultra light notebook computer. Compared to other ultra light notebooks on the market, it is expensive at around $2,400. Has Wi-Fi (wireless connectivity) built-in. Built around the Pentium M 753 processor. In general, this notebook's price seems a bit steep, with respect to its features. For example, when it comes to screen size, the average price of ultra portable products with a similar screen size is quite a bit less -- in fact around $1,802.

HP Compaq TC1100 Review

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Normally I don't take a Tablet or anything else computer related when I am skiing, but knowing the warm weather would mean I would be off the mountain early in the day I made an exception and brought a couple of Tablets along for the trip. With clear blue sky's and temperatures in the high 50's and low 60's the skiing was great until about 1:30 when then mountain became a giant snow cone. Forced off the mountain early I had time to put the New and Improved HP TC1100 through its paces. When I came home I installed Windows XP SP2-RC1 which includes the much anticipated Lonestar upgrade without a problem.

Weighing in at 4.0lb/1.8kg with the keyboard and 3.1 lb/1.4 kg pounds keyboard, the tc1100 is in a class by itself, known as a a hybrid tablet pc. Meaning that the screen swivels and folds flat against the keyboard for use as a slate or at the touch of a button it can be detached from the keyboard altogether. Another nice feature are the small fold out clips that allow you to angle the tablet on the desk for a more comfortable writing experience on a flat surface. There is no question that HP paid attention to the details when designing this machine.

Cleverly placed buttons and a jog dial on the side of the Tablet allow you to enter, tab, escape, and open a "Q" menu of items that emulate tasks quickly and easily. First time users would find the out of box experience more enjoyable and much less threatening if these features were pointed out on the startup sheet or even the front of the manuel rather than having them hidden in in chapter 5.

The Display: 10.4" XGA (1024x768) display is clear, the 1/4 inch black border around the viewable portion of the screen eliminates the problem of trying to close an app from a non responsive corner of the screen. I did not find the screen to be as responsive as other tablet pc's which was a problem for me. It was interesting to note there was a significant increase in the screen sensitivity after Windows XP-SP2 RC1 was installed. The screen orientation changes automatically on the TC1100, which is a very nice feature. Also worth noting, if its slightly overcast outside I can see the screen well enough to work from the upstairs outside balcony so I am not trapped in the house for lack of an indoor outdoor screen. (Thank you HP! )

Battery Life: Between 2 hours and 36 minutes and 2 hours and 43 minutes under normal use with with the backlighting and Wi FI on.

Heat: As I have said in the past, I am not in the habit of working with the Tablet PC in my lap, but I frequently do use the tablet with my hand behind it. The TC1100 does get warm but not overly so.

WiFi: the HP Wlan 802.11a/b/g in the TC1100 literally amazed me. My router is a older Dlink Di-713P and I'm able to connect with with excellent signal strength not only from second and third floors of my home and both outside balcony's, but from the basement, the pool and all the way to the outside mailbox's, which is not something any of my other Tablets Pc's can do.

Notable Features: Q menu, and external pen activated buttons on the tablet allow you do do anything you need quickly and easily.

The Pros:

  • The optional HP W500 802.11a/b/g WLAN is the best Wireless I have used to date
  • Light weight and compact, the TC1100 is great for travel
  • External pen activated icons and programmable"Q" Menu give you instant access to everything you need
  • Hybrid model gives you the option using it as a slate or a convertible
  • Quickly and easily detaches from the case and the keyboard for use as a Slate
  • fold out feet that allow you to angle the tablet on the desk for a more comfortable writing experience
  • Screen orientation changes automatically
  • 3 Year worldwide limited warranty

The Cons:

  • Optical drive must be purchased separately.
  • Unlike a convertible when the tc1100 is closed the face of the tablet is exposed and not protected so a case is a must.
  • For the first time user of a tablet pc the hardware information is in section 5 of the startup guide rather than in the front. If you a new user and don't know where any of the buttons are or what they are for this is a problem
  • Keyboard too close to the screen for comfort

In Conclusion:

Without question The TC1100 is the most improved Tablet PC on I have come across and all of the implemented improvements are for the better. The pen no longer's requires a battery, the Nvida Geforce4 give you excellent graphics and the The HP W500 802.11a/b/g WLAN was far and away the most impressive wireless I have used. Easy to take apart and put back together this Hybrid Tablet PC is a great choice for the road warrior or anyone who move around a lot.

The Averatec C3500 Review

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Averatec is offering a shining gem of a mobile computer at an unprecedented price. The Averatec C3500 Convertible Tablet PC carries the promise of outstanding portability at a palatable suggested retail price of $1349. With its solid construction, stylish protective magnesium alloy case and a tolerable 5.5 lbs. of weight, all designed to fit inside a compact 11.6" x 9.8" x 1.57" package, the C3500 exemplifies roadworthiness to the max.

At First Glance

In first powering up the C3500, one is struck by its exceptionally bright and clear display. Despite the limited space available in the design, the keyboard is substantially functional and the thoughtfully rounded edge on the lower half of this model offers extreme comfort for typing even over extended periods of time. Style is integrated inside and out. The C3500 is sure to grab the attention of technophiles who happen upon it. In taking this unit out into the world, I have drawn much attention from onlookers in Starbucks, at the bookstore and have experienced envy from coworkers and clients. Even more fascinating for most folks is to watch me pop out the pen, rotate the display and proceed to write directly on the screen. If you get a C3500, be prepared because everyone will want to "just try it"!

Basic Specs:

Mobile AMD Athlon XP-M 2200+

Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition

LCD Size High Contrast 12.1'' XGA

Optical Drive DVD+CD-RW

Hard Drive 60GB

Memory 512MB DDR

Wireless LAN 802.11g

Wired LAN 10/100 LAN

Modem 56k

USB (4x) 2.0

DimensionsWxDxH) 11.6" x 9.8" x 1.6"

Weight (lbs.) 5.5 lbs.


So let's just dive right in and get down to the features, usability and overall impressions that the many features incorporated into the C3500 offer for the $1349 price tag.


CPU Performance

Like most of the Averatec computer products, the C3500 is powered by the AMD Athlon XP Mobile chip. Specifically, the XP-M 2200+ which operates at a respectable 1.8 GHz. Tests using SiSoft Sandra on the C3500 showed that this CPU can hold its own against Intel processors. The Athlon meets or beats the Intel Pentium M at 1.6GHz and Pentium 4 at 2.0GHz in both arithmetic and multimedia benchmarks.

Drives

The C3500 includes an integrated DVD+CD-RW drive. One hard drive with a 60GB capacity provides plenty of storage. Hard drive performance is speedy and quiet.


Final Notes/Comments

Overall, I have found the C3500 to be a pleasure to use. The Screen swivels on a sturdy hinge keeping the display firm at any angle. The fan is noticeably quieter than those found on the Averatec 3200 series notebooks. I should mention however, that this machine definitely gets hot! The vent that releases heat is located on the top left underside of the unit, and can quickly become uncomfortable to your left leg when using it on your lap. I suggest a cooling pad accessory for anybody wishing to use the C3500 on there laps for extended periods of time. The unique flipping latch on the lid is sturdy and well-designed. There are nice additional hardware controls built right into the edge of the display to rotate the screen, scroll and to invoke menus, saving time and frustration while the unit is folded over into "slate" mode. One minor gripe is that the Power Switch becomes inaccessible once the unit is folded over. You can shut down Windows via software while the display is folded down, but oddly enough, you are stuck opening up the unit to power on while in this mode. It would be a plus to see the Power Switch relocated in subsequent models.

The bottom line: If you are looking for excellent quality in a Convertible Tablet PC without emptying your savings account, the Averatec C3500 should be at the top of your list. As I send our review unit back to Averatec, I will surely miss it and might just add it to my Christmas Wish List!


PROS & CONS


Pros:

-Outstanding Display
-Sturdy magnesium alloy case
-Excellent features and value
-Great porability
-Cost

Cons:
-Weak battery life

Acer C314 Tablet PC Review

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Acer C314 Tablet PC

The Acer C314 Tablet PC is in many ways a breath of fresh air. It's not that this model is the Tablet version of Acer's popular "Ferrari" notebook. What makes this machine special are the nuances and little extras you'll find that were thoughtfully engineered into the design.

The C314 Tablet PC also features the newest Centrino platform, "Sonoma". The new chipset coupled by the very capable NVIDIA Go 6200 graphics GPU promises an extended future. Chances are good that the C314 is ready for the next generation of Windows "Vista" scheduled to hit the shelves in 2006.

C314 Design and Build Quality

There are noticeable design elements that make the Acer C314 Tablet PC unique. A most interesting innovation is the ergonomical "curved" keyboard. Another element is the design of the lid latch. The latch on the C314 is a reverse of the usual design. The hook itself is located on the lower base of the unit and the "slot" is in the display lid. The switch also locks to keep the display firmly in place. Finally, the design of the trackpad (although not entirely original) is simplicity that offers extra functionality, with the added 4-way scroll button located between the left and right mouse buttons.

The case is built of a sturdy sliver and black plastic. The somewhat rounded edges and smooth surfaces are a pleasant contrast to some of the other square and boxy tablet designs. The rotating display hinge is the strongest I have yet to encounter on any Tablet PC. The unit closes tightly with absolutely no play with the lid closed, providing a promising feel as you carry the C314 in your arm or hold on with one hand to place it in your bag.

Heat and Fan


Like many of the Sonoma-based machines, the C314 is capable of generating some heat. Truthfully you can bank on this machine heating up when it is driven hard for CPU and GPU intensive tasks. Such tasks include gaming, video editing or heavy graphics rendering.

When the CPU temperature rises, you can expect the fan to kick on. The fan on the C314 is quiet and runs at smooth intervals. On some Tablet PC's and notebooks sporadic fan action, (constant on and off, on and off) can become a regrettable annoyance. Luckily, that is not the case with the fan on the Acer C314.

Wireless Connectivity


The Acer C314 comes standard with the integrated Intel Pro Wireless 802.11b/g card. A built-in Bluetooth radio is also featured in this model. Both devices work well. We experienced above average range with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity with no observable lost connections during use. For those with IR PDA's, phones or other devices Acer took care to include an infared port on the right side of the unit.

Battery

The Sanyo 4-cell battery provides about 3 hours of "typical" use (such as cruising the web, office applications, etc).

Using Battery Eater Pro we tested the C314 battery under extreme conditions. Using the "Classic" test mode (stressing all hardware components), we were able to squeeze 2 hours and 32 minutes of time in one charge. This is probably the minimum amount of time you can expect when using the C314 for demanding tasks with the 4-cell battery.

Service and Support

The Acer C314 is backed by a standard one-year warranty. For this review, I placed my traditional "random technical support call". to Acer at 1-800-816-2237. I called the number at 5:16 p.m. (PST) on a Monday afternoon. While on hold, I was subjected to a repetitive classical music loop (about 20 seconds in length) that repeated over and over. The repetitive "music" was combined with constant recorded advertisements about various Acer hardware offerings. I finally got to a human at 5:44 p.m. (28 minutes later)! All in all, I found the wait time to be totally unacceptable compared to the 2-5 minute wait times I have experienced with other manufacturers.

Conclusion

The Acer C314 is an excellent full-featured Tablet PC that is powerful enough to function as a desktop replacement. The generous 1024MB of RAM, 100GB hard drive, Built-in Bluetooth and fast 2.0GHz processor are a good value for the price. This machine is great for students or consumers who want a Tablet to be their "only" PC.

Although there is value in the features that are included, it is obvious that Acer has cut back in their technical support. I would not recommend this model to any first-time computer user who might need to talk to a reliable tech support representative without having to wait for 20 minutes on hold.

Pros

* Powerful CPU and graphics.
* Good build quality.
* Good keyboard and trackpad.
* Built-in Bluetooth.

Cons

* Bad microphone.
* Acer's phone support is very slow to respond.

HP Compaq TC4200 Review

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The HP Compaq TC4200 - "Solid as a Rock"

"Flimsy", "cheap", "heavy" are not the words you want to hear about a portable computer. But we hear it all the time. Thankfully you aren't going to hear these words to describe the new HP Compaq TC4200 Tablet PC. The impression you'll get when you first get your hands on the TC4200 is "solid", "compact" and "light". There is even more goodness on the inside. This Tablet PC is one of the first to feature Intel's third generation of Centrino technology dubbed "Sonoma". Yes, deep down the TC4200 Tablet PC has got "guts". Better yet, you won't find the aging Intel 845/855 chipset with (ugh, it makes me shudder to think about it) "Intel Extreme Graphics" technology. Instead the TC4200 has the MUCH improved Intel 915 chipset that incorporates "Intel Graphics Media Accelerator" graphics technology.

The specs. and build of the TC4200 sound promising. So in this review we take the TC4200 and place it under a microscope. We closely examine all the features found inside and out. We benchmark this Sonoma-powered titan in several aspects of performance to see exactly what kind of performance it delivers. Does the TC4200's insides live up to what its got on outside? Read on!

Basic Specs (our review model):

  • OS - Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005

  • Intel Pentium M 740 (1.73GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 533MHz FSB)

  • 12.1" (1024 x 768) display

  • 40GB, 5400RPM Hard Drive

  • 512MB DDR2 SDRAM

  • No Optical Drive

  • Lithium Ion Battery (6 cell/ 52Wh)

  • Ports: RGB (monitor) port, TV-out (S-Video), 3 USB (2.0),
    External Mic jack, Headphone jack, RJ-45 LAN port,
    RJ-11 modem port, docking connector

  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator -- up to 128MB Dynamically Shared

  • Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG (802.11b/g)

Extra Features worth noting:

  • Shock Mounted Hard Drive

  • Fast IR Port

  • Pointing Stick w/ 4 mouse buttons and touchpad

  • 3 Year Warranty


TC4200 Design and Build Quality

"Solid". I can't emphasize this enough. HP deserves high-praise for the durability and compact design of this model. In hand the TC4200 feels like it won't compromise the integrity of your precious data. It won't crumble in a tight space in your bag or under a safe, tight grip. When the display on many Tablet convertibles and notebooks is closed, it makes me feel uneasy to apply any more pressure than the minimum required to prevent an "accidental" drop. The TC4200 feels exquisitely durable with the lid closed, open or when folded down into "tablet mode".

The rotating display hinge has a "lasting" feel. The entire unit is constructed of strong black and charcoal plastics, giving the TC4200 a professional appearance with a basic, yet sleek style. HP states that a special "scratch-resistant, in-mold lamination" is used to keep the unit "looking newer longer". Also included is a spill-resistant keyboard and shock mounted hard drive. Although I performed no "scratch", "drop" or "spill" test of any kind, I will just go along with HP's word and concur that the materials look like they will hold up for the long haul, and endure the many adventures of the road warrior.

This bantamweight full-featured convertible weighs in at a very reasonable 4.5lbs. The ports, switches, pen slot and indicator lights are all in logical places which makes for a better user experience. To keep the unit light and small, HP decided to forgo a built-in optical drive which I can live with. However, one slight disappointment is a lack of external stereo sound. There is oddly just one speaker on the left side of the unit. To hear audio in stereo with the TC4200, you'll need headphones or external speakers to plug into the headphone jack. Luckily the fan on the TC4200 is so quiet, you can hear the hard drive's lowly murmur over it. So at least you won't need to crank up any mp3's to cover up that kind of racket! (Oh how I hate fan noise!)

One last thing to mention in regards to the design; there is no uncomfortable heat blasting out of the vents, nor do the hand rests or the base get unpleasantly hot. The only time I noticed any heat issue is when the battery is in mid charge. Luckily this time frame is quite short and should be the only time a user might skip the use of the TC4200 in "slate mode" or resting it on the lap.


Conclusion



"Back in Black
I hit the sack
I been too long
I'm glad to be back
Yes, I'm dead loose
from the noose that's kept me hanging around..."
- AC/DC





Brian Johnson sang it just right! Over the last year or so, I have questioned whether or not HP would continue to deliver well-designed, full-featured and well-supported mobile products. With the apparent decline in quality and innovation of its Pocket PC devices, and notebook computers I began to lose trust in the legendary brand name. However, if the HP TC4200 is any reflection of what's to come down the pike from a somewhat reorganized management heading the corporate giant, my trust and attention to HP products will become rapidly revitalized.

The HP TC4200 starts at a respectable $1,599 that will buy you a solid, business-class, full-featured Tablet PC convertible. With no hesitation I would recommend this model to consumers looking to get extreme value without compromise. The TC4200 is strong, powerful and built for the road. This model exudes the dependability and stability of the best desktop in a portable package. If you are looking for a reasonably priced, portable convertible Tablet PC that has got the right stuff, the HP TC4200 is a prospect that should be at the top of your list!


Pros

  • Impeccable design and good all around features

  • Solid construction, compact design

  • Tablet functionality/user experience is great

  • Outstanding value and quality

  • Cons

  • Single external speaker

  • No built-in optical drive