Reviewed March 23, 2007 by Lisa Gade, Editor
Big screen, thin slate design tablets aren't the most common beasts in the Tablet PC range where convertibles (those that look like a traditional notebook) dominate. Yet, they're perfect for those who need to carry the computer easily, rest it on one arm while writing notes, drawings or enter data. Perfect for verticals such as medicine, insurance and inventory management, the slate also appeals to artists and ardent handwritten note-takers in meeting or class.
Fujitsu's Stylistic series of slate tablets have been around sometime and have evolved nicely over the years. They're generally easy to come by compared to those made by Motion or Electrovaya, are well made and have an excellent docking station option that makes the transition to desktop functionality easy.
The ST5100 series is the most recent Stylistic slate and it's available with Windows XP or Windows Vista Business Edition for roughly the same price. We received the Windows XP version for our review and the model ST5112 which has a 12.1" indoor/outdoor display compared to the ST5111's 10.4" outdoor screen. The machine weighs only 3.5 pounds and is less than 1" thick, making for an incredibly portable computer that won't cramp your arm. Despite the difference in screen size, both measure 12.77" high and 8.66" inches wide, which isn't petite. .
The Stylistic has the usual set of tablet-centric controls surrounding the front bezel, including function, enter, escape, screen rotation, up/down scroll buttons and an email button. All ports are on the left side of the tablet (as held in portrait mode): two USB 2.0, one unpowered 4 pin FireWire, 3.5mm stereo out, mono mic in, Ethernet and modem ports. Two consumer (fast) IR windows flank the display, one on each side and the integrated mic and speaker are on the left side of the display bezel. The PCMCIA, Smart Card and SD/Memory Stick slots are on the top edge and the removable battery release is on the back near the bottom. The docking station connector is on the back and most of the computer's back surface is covered with a soft, black suede-like material that feels good and improves grip. The biometric fingerprint module is to the left of the display and the stylus silo is on the upper right, while the power button is located above the display.
Slate tablets and ultra-mobile computers aren't generally powerhouses, but the ST5112's Intel Core Duo processor running at 1.2GHz is an admirable performer. The Core Duo CPU, admittedly, not the latest Core 2 Duo, but still better than the Core Solo single core CPU or older Centrino processors. The computer handles business tasks with aplomb and won't leave you tapping your pen in frustration. The processor has 2 megs of level 2 cache, a 533MHz front side bus and 1 gig of DDR 667MHz memory. We're pleased with the 1 gig of RAM and even more pleased with the max 4 gigs supported. Should you wish to upgrade, the machine has two standard SO-DIMM slots with one slot pre-populated with a 1 gig DIMM. Heat is minimal (a good thing since you'll likely often hold it on your arm) and the CPU is power-frugal which translates into long runtimes.
Battery stamina is rated at 6 hours for the standard 6 cell 5200 mAh Lithium Ion battery. We managed about 5.2 hours with display brightness set to 50% and WiFi on while doing average business tasks including web surfing, email, and working with Office documents. Should you require more staying power, Fujitsu sells an extended 9 cell, 7800 mAh battery rated at 9 hours. A tablet that can last through the workday is indeed key to vertical markets, and while the ST5100 series can't beat the Electrovaya Scribbler's amazing runtimes, it has respectable stamina.
The Fujitsu ST5100 series feature 5400 rpm Serial ATA drives (SATA-150) and ours came with an 80 gig drive. Drives as small as 40 megs and as large as 100 gigs are available if you order a customized model. Sorry, there's no room for an optical drive, so you'll need to use an external drive or purchase Fujitsu's docking station which includes a DVD/CD-RW drive. The docking station is very solidly built with a secure base that houses the DVD drive, 3 USB 2.0 ports, a 4 pin unpowered FireWire port and AC. The $449 docking station comes with a spare charger and the tablet mounts onto the hinged upright plate that's adjustable to several different angles. That's a pricey accessory, but it does make up for that a bit with its solid design, included copy of WinDVD and the spare charger.
The Fujitsu Stylistic ST5112 in the optional docking station.
The 12.1" indoor/outdoor viewable display is sharp by tablet standards and reasonably bright, though not the brightest we've seen. It displays at XGA 1024 x768 resolution with 16 million colors (saturation is good) and can drive an external monitor up to 1600 x 1200 resolution with 32 million colors. The 10.4" ST5111 has an outdoor optimized display for those who work primarily outside, and it shares the same XGA resolution. Like all tablets, you can rotate it in 90 degree increments to portrait, landscape or 180 degrees. The Wacom Penabled active digitizer uses an EMR pen, as do most Windows tablets. This makes for better accuracy and no accidental vectoring compared to passive touch screens; though it's less convenient as you must use the special pen. The viewing angle is fairly wide at 160 degrees and is a great improvement over first and second generation tablets which had a very limited viewing angle. The Fujitsu uses Intel's integrated graphics: the GMA 950 with up to 224 megs of shared video memory. Performance is adequate for light Photoshop work, Internet applications and business applications. Clearly it's no gaming or CAD powerhouse, but then same is true of other slate tablets.
The ST5112 is a well-connected machine, offering everything except a wide are cellular radio (you can add that yourself with an EVDO or HSDPA PC Card). The ST5100 series is a available with Intel's Pro/Wireless ABG Wifi 802.11 a/b/g module or the optional Atheros Super AG AR5006EXS which includes Atheros' Client Utility to manage connections. Our unit had the Atheros and it provided excellent range and reliable connections. Their WiFi management software is profile based, so you can create separate profiles for work, home and Starbucks for example. Our tablet had a Toshiba Bluetooth 2.0 module (Toshiba makes the Bluetooth modules for most notebooks). This uses the Bluetooth Stack for Windows by Toshiba and the Toshiba connection wizard. Our ST5112 worked well with Bluetooth keyboards, mice and a variety of Bluetooth enabled mobile phones for DUN and file transfer. For the wired worker, the ST5100 series has gigabit Ethernet (Marvel Yukon 10/100/1000 Ethernet) and a 65k V.90 fax modem.
The Fujitsu ST5112 has a biometric fingerprint scanner and a Trusted Platform Module for hardware-based security and a Smart Card slot as well.
One of the better slate Tablet PC offerings on the market in terms of processing power, battery life, networking and security features, the Fujitsu Stylistic ST5100 series is a wise, though expensive buy. Granted most slate Tablet PCs are pricey, but the Fujitsu is a few hundred more than the competition. Given the very good specs, good battery life, excellent build quality and wide availability you may well find it worth the price.
Pro: Relatively lightweight-- good for holding like a virtual pad of paper. Good performance by slate tablet and ultralight notebook standards with good battery life. Extended battery is great for vertical market users who must get a full work day on a charge. Compact charger doesn't add much bulk or weight to the equation. Display is viewable outdoors. Hard drive shock sensor keeps data safe and both the Smart Card slot and biometric security keep data out of the wrong hands.
Con: Expensive, as are most slate Tablet PCs. Though by no means unbearably dim, the display isn't the brightest we've seen.
Price: ST5112: $2,579 with Vista Business, $2, 649 with Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005. ST5111 $2,729 with Vista and $2,749 with XP Tablet Edition.
Display:ST5112: 12.1” XGA 1024 x 768 TFT indoor/outdoor (Transmissive) display with greater than 160° viewing angles. 10.4" XGA 1024 x 768 TFT indoor/outdoor (Reflective FL) display, outdoor optimized. Both are capable of displaying 16 million colors. Intel GMA 950 graphics with up to 224 megs shared memory. External monitor display resolution (max): 1600 x 1200, 16M colors.
Battery:Standard Lithium ion (6-cell: 10.8V, 5200 mAh, 56 WHr max.); rated up to 6 hours.
Optional high-capacity lithium ion (9-cell: 10.8V, 7800 mAh, 84 WHr max.); rated up to 9 hours. Compact AC adapter 100-240v.
Processor, RAM & chipset: Intel Core Duo Processor Ultra Low Voltage U2500 (1.20 GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 533 MHz FSB). Intel 945GM chipset, 1 gig RAM standard, max is 4 gigs (200 pin SODIMM, 533MHz, two memory slots).
Drives:Internal 5400rpm shock-mounted SATA-150 drive. Available with 40, 60, 80 and 100 gig drives. No internal optical drive (DVD drive included in optional docking station).
Size:ST5111 12.77" (h) x 8.66" (w) x .91-1.01" (d). The ST5112 is slightly thinner at 82-.88". Approximately 3.5 pounds.
in speaker, digital array mic with noise suppression DSP and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack and mono mic jack.
Intel Pro/Wireless WiFi 802.11a/b/g (Atheros is optional) and optional Bluetooth 2.0. 56k V.90 Fax modem and wired 10/100/1000 Ethernet (Marvel Yukon PCI-E gigabit Ethernet).
XP Tablet Edition 2005 or Windows Vista Business Edition.
Expansion and Ports:Two USB 2.0, Infrared port (IrDA 1.1-compatible, 4 Mbps), external monitor, modem (RJ-11), Ethernet (RJ-45), IEEE 1394 FireWire, wireless IR keyboard/mouse receivers, and docking station connector. PCMCIA slot (type I, II and CardBus), dedicated Smart Card slot and SD/Memory Stick/Pro card slot.
In the BoxFujitsu includes the tablet computer, an EMR pen, screen cleaning cloth, complete software and driver restore CDs, a printing guide.