It has to be said from the outset that the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 slate device is not intended for the consumer market - it's not in direct competition with the iPad or any Android tablet. It's designed for enterprise customers, which have specific needs that can't be met by consumer tablets. If you think this device might be good for browsing the Internet and watching videos, then you'll be left sorely disappointed.
The Stylistic Q550 weighs about 850g and it's approximately 18mm thick. It has a screen that measures 10in on its diagonal, but when taking the bezel into account the unit measures close to 12.5in overall. The screen has a native resolution of 1280x800 and its dull finish is not overly reflective. It's an IPS panel with capacitive, multitouch features and it makes use of dual-digitiser technology (N-trig DuoSense). This means you can use your fingers or a pen to navigate around the operating system, and handwritten notes can be executed easily as you rest your palm on the screen and move the pen. Fujitsu has a good pedigree when it comes to tablet-convertible notebooks with excellent touchscreen capabilities, and the Q550 is just as good in this department as the tablet-convertible Fujitsu laptops that we've reviewed in the past.
The operating system on the Stylistic Q550 is Windows 7 Professional (32-bit) and Fujitsu tells us that this is one of the features that many commercial customers want so that they can run their specialised applications. That's not the only feature those users have been clamouring for: a removable battery (the standard one has a 38 Watt-hour rating), and good security measures such as TPM 1.2, a 'kill pill' enabled BIOS, a fingerprint reader and a Smartcard slot are also said to be in demand. The Q550 ticks all those boxes, too. You'll also find more consumer-style features around the edges of the unit, including an HDMI port and two cameras — one front-facing and one rear facing. Like most consumer tablets, the front facing camera only has a VGA resolution, while the rear camera is capable of taking photos that fill up the entire 10in screen. There is also a USB 2.0 port, a docking port, a headphone port, a built-in microphone, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, embedded 3.5G (optional) and you also get a full-sized SD card slot.
See detailed pictures of the Stylistic Q550 in our gallery.
The unit feels very well built and it's fairly easy to hold while taking notes and navigating around the operating system. It has no moving parts (it uses a solid state drive with a formatted capacity of 56.5GB) so it can be used in dusty environments such as workshop floors, for example, without clogging up. The viewing angles of the IPS (in-plane switching) panel are excellent and so is the quality of the screen overall. Images and text look sharp and possess good colour saturation. An accelerometer is built in to the unit, which allows the screen to change orientation depending on the way you are holding it. This was a little inaccurate in our tests; at times, it would change orientation at the slightest movement and we would have to figure out which direction to turn it to get it back the right way. It can also be a somewhat slow operation depending on how many programs are running on the tablet at the time.
That's one of our major quibbles with this slate device: it sometimes feels way too sluggish. It has a similar configuration to a netbook, albeit with more RAM (2GB) and a relatively large solid state drive, but it can be a massive pain just to browse some Web sites. Even scrolling up and down a page won't be easy if the single-core , 1.5GHz Intel Atom Z670 CPU (which is part of the Oak Trail system on a chip platform) is too busy with other background tasks. Don't bother watching YouTube videos on it, for example, as they will play back choppily, especially if they are a medium or high resolution. Even flicking through photos can be a chore. Fujitsu says that the Q550 is designed to complete only one task at a time, be it data entry via a form-style application, or note-taking via the built-in Windows 7 tablet features. It's a wonder then why a lot of extra background software is installed and set to start up once the device has booted.
Not only do you get Norton antivirus software on this device (most organisations will want to run some form of antivirus on this unit, so that's understandable), it also comes with Omnipass and a 'home' style interface for accessing photos and documents. Not to mention all the other background processes that are required for the proper operation of the tablet, such as the accelerometer and touchscreen software. It all adds up and it can take close to 1min for the device to cold boot. We'd love to see this tablet with an extremely streamlined, bare-essentials-only configuration. When we uninstalled Norton and got rid of some of the unnecessary background software, the tablet was quite enjoyable for basic Web browsing and taking handwritten notes, for example, so it does have the potential to be a good productivity tool. Its performance will definitely hinge on how organisations configure it and what type of software they use with it.
Indeed, the Stylistic Q550 could be a good tool for completing very specific tasks, but we think it will be too sluggish to be used like a typical computer for office productivity-style applications or media-rich Web browsing — and the thought of multitasking with it shouldn't be entertained either. We'd like to see it with a dual-core Atom CPU instead. Otherwise, it's a well built device with a very good screen and touch capabilities, and it has plenty of worthwhile features. This build quality and feature-set costs a lot, but as many of those features are designed for minimising downtime (such as the removable battery and the security features, for example), it will hopefully end up paying for itself in the long-run.
The Stylistic Q550 is an Intel 'Oak Trail' based tablet that runs Windows 7. It's designed for enterprise users and has lots of security features to prove it. It's not awfully fast and it can sometimes feel downright sluggish, but as Fujitsu told us: it should only be used to run one task at a time. We agree with that.