A review of my Fujitsu T Series Lifebook Tablet PC
I've had a Fujitsu T Series Lifebook PC for about six months now. It's actually a Tablet PC, or more appropriately, a hybrid. That means that it can switch between being a small notebook computer and a "slate" model Tablet PC. It converts to a slate model by swiveling the monitor 180 degrees, and then folding it down onto the keypad (which is a very clever design).
I was very excited when I first bought the computer. A PC that switched between a laptop and a slate model? Yeah, baby. Now, six months later, where does it stand? Would I buy it again? Read on ...
- The handwriting recognition software is very good. In documents, it converts my handwriting to text with very few errors. (But see the related "con" below.)
- I evaluated a software application named "Mind Manager" that was really, really good, with a great handwriting implementation. (Unfortunately, I think it's way overpriced for the functionality it provides.)
- It is small, reasonably light, and reasonably thin. (Though it is not as small and light and thin as an ultrathin notebook.)
- It's great that it's compatible with all the other Windows apps out there in the world.
- I find it reasonable useful for taking notes in meetings.
- It is a tremendous device for delivering presentations. With some additional software you can blow your audience away.
- While the handwriting recognition in a document is very good, I had a very hard time using it in a browser to get to websites. It's incredibly frustrating not to be able to get to google.com because the handwriting software can't convert my writing properly. (When used in "slate" mode, this is the only way to enter text.)
- The screen size is too small, causing me to constantly have to hunch over the monitor to see what I'm typing. I've even developed a pain in my back after using the machine a lot over several days.
- The keyboard is too small and unconventional. Having to use function key for things like the Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys is incredibly irritating.
- Although it's pretty like and pretty thin, it still needs to be lighter and thinner. I guess nothing will replace the feel of old-fashioned paper.
- When using it in the "slate" mode, or using it as a laptop on my lap, it gives off an awful lot of heat.
- Some parts of the plastic around the monitor screen are peeling away already, and I've had this for less than six months.
- The screen is often not bright enough, especially in high lighting conditions, like most situations outdoors.
Knowing what I know now, after almost six months of usage, what I buy another tablet computer? More specifically, would I buy this computer from Fujitsu?
As noted above, tablet computer is a mixed bag. When I first started working with the I've tried the use the handwriting capability as much as possible. The "Mind Manager" software was extremely good in this area. It seemed like one application where handwriting was a real improvement over keyboard data entry.
The Windows Journal software was supposed to be my other killer app, but I find that I use it less and less each day. The one place where I still use it is in meetings, but quite honestly, I still prefer paper. There's something about being able to look at multiple sheets of paper at the same time, and the feel of paper, that you just don't get with a tablet computer. There's also the thing where someone says "Can I get a copy of your notes?". You can't just go over to a photocopier and make copies. You have to hook up to a network, find a printer, etc. And in my consulting life that doesn't always work too well.
Probably my favorite feature about it is that it is much lighter than my last laptop, but I really miss the larger screen size and the normal keyboard. I constantly connect this PC to a 17" monitor and wireless mouse and keyboard because of these features. I rarely did that with my last laptop.
The handwriting recognition capability is excellent, but in many ways it is not practical or ergonomic. The funny thing about all of my concerns is that they are not software issues. They're really an issue of ergonomics -- how people work with computers, and how people work with paper. The tablet -- any tablet -- is not a suitable replacement for pen and paper.
I also need to say that there are many times where you're using the PC as a traditional notebook, typing on the keyboard, and then you realize that you want to write something on the screen. This becomes surprisingly awkward. Imagine writing on your own laptop monitor: it's a little slimsy, and moves whenever you try to write on it. Not a good thing.
My final analogy is this: Having this Tablet PC from Fujitsu is like having a sexy girlfriend who also has a lot of irritating habits and no substance. There's a lot of excitement at first, but when the excitement wears off, you've got a decision to make.
It has been difficult reaching this decision, but if I had to give it a grade, I would give it a "C".
Final answer: No, I don't recommend buying this. If I were going to buy a Tablet PC again, I would purchase something with the larger screen and a larger keyboard. This would at least get rid of all of my cramped up feelings surrounding this PC. (Of course that would have the effect of adding more weight and size.) Either that, or I'd just buy an ultra-light, ultra-slim traditional notebook. Once again, the handwriting technology in documents is great and sexy, but when trying to use it in a browser it is painful, and the reality is that I rarely use it.