I’ve spent the past couple of weeks with the newest gadget in my life – my convertible tablet. I’d like to give some first impressions and a review of sorts from my short time with this device.
While I have definitely been jealous of the iPads I see everywhere these days, I have not ever seriously considered purchasing one. The first requirement when I sought out for a new laptop was that it must have a fully-functional keyboard and trackpad for my day-to-day work. To me, carrying around a slate tablet means carrying around at least two devices – the slate, and a full laptop for when duty calls (or I want to type an email/blog post in under two hours).
Recently, it feels like I have also started spending more time in meetings than out of them, which led me to a second requirement for my new laptop – being able to take notes efficiently, preferably directly, with a stylus. I really, really wanted to stop killing so many trees with my yellow notepads… Combining this requirement with my aversion to heavy mobile devices seemed to limit the playing field significantly. I had now narrowed down my search to two contenders:
My very understanding wife took me on two field trips earlier this month to the local Fry’s in exchange for some clothes shopping ventures. During the second trip I gave the HP and Fujitsu a true head-to-head test (they didn’t have the HP in stock the first time) – and made my decision in under 10 minutes. For a device that is primarily going to be facing up at lights and used in many places that aren’t a dark room, the HP’s extra glossy screen was simply unusable.
I found a good online deal on the Fujitsu TH700 and placed my order the next day! After just short of a week of waiting I got the first laptop that work didn’t buy me in about 7 years. I like a clean build and quickly rebuilt my newly acquired toy with Windows 7 Enterprise x64 and my normal software library. While I had some initial trouble getting the wireless adapter working, I finally found the magic driver on a non-Fujitsu-associated site and was up and running shortly. Everything else I needed came directly from their driver download site, which from past experiences reminded me a lot of Dell’s.
As a tablet, the TH700 is decent. I had been liking using Chrome as my default browser, but have reverted to Firefox because there aren’t good touch/gesture controls for Chrome yet. The Kindle application for PC works just fine, and, although I find the form-factor slightly cumbersome, it’s much nicer than my previous Kindle device – my iPhone. Watching TV shows on Hulu.com and streaming Netflix works flawlessly. While the speakers are a bit tinny, I am usually using headphones anyways, so this hasn’t been much of an issue.
As a notepad, I could not be more impressed with the new(ish) Windows 7 handwriting recognition system. It is simply amazing. While some of the editing controls take getting used to, I don’t have to use them very often – a testament to the accuracy of the initial recognition, and with no training of the software to my handwriting!
As a laptop, the TH700 won’t break any barriers, but it definitely holds its own. I can easily run a couple of test virtual machines and several native applications (including 10+ Firefox tabs) with no slowdown whatsoever. While I am happy with my initial memory configuration of 4GB, upgrading the RAM to 8GB is trivial should it become necessary.
Overall, I am smitten with this tablet/laptop. If I had any complaint, it would be it’s bad viewing angles, particularly while I am lying down. However, I knew this was part of the trade-off of going with the semi-matte screen over the high gloss of the HP TM2T. In conclusion, two weeks in this looks like it was a good buy, and, given the longevity Fujitsu laptop products are known for, one I feel certain I will be enjoying for a while.