by Chris Carnabatu
Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 Tablet PC User Review
Whether you happen to be a studious college student, a punctual business professional, or your everyday web surfing, word processing user, you’ll find that choosing the right Tablet PC can pose quite a challenge depending on your needs and expectations. But at the base of every specialized tablet, there is one criterion that users seek and that is reliability. But what consumer wants to sacrifice price for reliability? Just like an old proverb states: “I am too poor to afford cheap things.” In the long run, buying such machines will cost you more in downtime and repairs than would purchasing a good and reliable one. With this introduction, I turn to the Fujitsu T4220.
Front view of the T4220 in notebook mode. (view large image)
Specs for the Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 Tablet PC:
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz T7300
- OS: Windows Vista Business
- Ram: 2GB
- Graphics: Intel GM965 Express Chipset, GMA X3100 graphics
- Audio: Integrated speakers
- Hard Drive: 100GB S-ATA 5400 rpm
- Optical Drive: Modular Dual-Layer Multi-Format DVD Writer
- Ports: 3 x USB, 1 x VGA, 1 x microphone in, 1 x headphone in, 1 x Smart card, 1 x 3-in-1 card reader
- Communication: Intel Wireless 4965A/G/N, 10/100/1000 Ethernet, Multinational 56K V.90 modem, Bluetooth
- Dimensions: 11.5" x 9.3" x 1.1/1.4"
- Weight: 4.3 lbs
- Battery Power: 6-Cell Primary
Nobody wants to send their precious and rather expensive Tablet PC to the shop while shelling out boat loads of money. Fortunately, there is a company which not only promises quality, their brand name is synonymous with excellence. Fujitsu‘s rather pricey products are justified by the quality of select parts and components used in each product. Now, this is not to say that Fujitsu doesn’t have their share of problems, but compared to other mainstream companies, Fujitsu retains one of the lowest return rates on the market. I want to make it clear to users or potential buyers reading this review that I am not associated with Fujitsu in any commercial or marketing way. I am merely a happy Fujitsu consumer with a well built machine. Unlike other companies, Fujitsu claims to be closely associated with the companies that make specific hardware components for their products. Because of this close relationship, compatibility within critical computer components such as RAM and motherboards can be assured and machine failure rates naturally reduced, whereas competing corporations use third party products with a statistical hope that a certain number of machines will be defective. This, in turn, allows those companies to sell their products at a lower cost to consumers.
Design and Build
Right out of the box, the rather compact T4220 shows off its sleek and attractive build. Opening the tablet, one may take note that the built in pen silo is placed on the left hand side of the bezel (as opposed to conventional silo placing within the chassis of tablets in competing brands.) This is rather convenient for quick note taking and among other things, preventing possible loss of the pen itself as it is in plain view. Situated right below is the fingerprint scanner, which I will be commenting on later in this review. Below the screen is a small LCD pane which gives users various readings of important instrumentation such as the battery’s level. To the right, there are five buttons and a master power button. The five buttons are used for handy operations while in tablet mode, two of which are user programmable. Users will notice two holes in the bezel, one situated in the top and the other in the bottom. These holes allow the built in microphone to record sound. The white keyboard, although compact, is ergonomically designed and the keys are placed in a rather convenient layout.
Looking at the external portion of the T4220, we have our standard ports: 3 USB ports, an external VGA port, an Ethernet port, a phone line/ internal modem port, a 3.5 mm headphone jack as well as a microphone jack, a PC card slot, a Smart Card reader, an optical drive, and a 3-in-1 card reader (please refer to the pictures for the location of these ports, readers, etc.)
As you will notice, the ports located in the back of the Tablet have a plastic cover to act as a shield from dust while adding an elegant finish to the overall appearance.
Back view of the T4220 with the plastic covers over the ports. (view large image)
One inconvenience that pops out is the lack of a built in fire wire port; however, a PC card with fire wire input can be purchased separately if the user finds that fire wire input is a crucial component.
Left side view of the ports. (view large image)
There is a wireless switch on the left side of the unit which controls the WiFi accessibility of the computer, something that is handy for situations where power management is important. Two speakers, located in the front of the unit, deliver a rather impressive quality of sound (up to a certain level of volume. If it is set at maximum volume, users may start to notice that the bass starts to suffer as well as high pitched notes).
Front view of the T4220. (view large image)
On the right side, one will find two dedicated security locks. Why two, you ask? Well, the one towards the front of the unit acts as a regular lock whereas the second situated behind the latch of the optical drive/ space saver compartment serves to protect whatever is kept in that compartment- whether it be an optical drive, additional hard drive, additional battery or space saver. Because it is extremely easy to flip the latch and eject such an item, a lock is useful to prevent theft or accidental misplacement.
Right side view of the ports. (view large image)
On the bottom of the unit, one will notice patches of fabric placed in areas where a user is most likely to hold the unit or where the unit will come in contact with the user’s skin. Because of the heat that dissipates from the unit, these fabric patches serve as a comfortable layer of protection when either holding the unit or using it in one’s lap.
Underneath view of the T4220 and its fabric patches. (view large image)
My opinion of the overall unit after using it for a little over a week is one of overall satisfaction. The keyboard shows enough flex for a comfortable feeling when typing. However, because of the white background color of the keys, extensive use may result in discoloration (i.e. because of dirt, dust, etc.) That is why I recommend spending 15 dollars and purchasing a plastic cover that will protect your keys and touchpad from dirt, dust or any other solid state nuisance. Note: The plastic cover and the keyboard itself are not in any way liquid proof. To better help dissipate heat from the unit, the keyboard helps vent hot air out of the unit. Because of this, the plastic cover has many very small needle-like holes to help this process. Since the circuitry is beneath the keyboard, one should be very careful with liquids near this Tablet PC (I am mentioning this because there have been questions raised as to whether the keyboard or plastic covering is spill proof.)
Plastic cover over the keyboard. (view large image)
After using the keyboard for an extended period of time, I noticed that the palm rest on the left hand side started to creak and flex because of the pressure of my hand. I believe this is so because of the plastic composite used (in order to make the tablet as light as possible) in the design coupled with the empty PC card slot right under and the heat generated from the unit itself. It is not a large concern, but can be a bit of an annoyance here and there.
View of the keyboard. (view large image)
The screen portion itself is very robust and durable, providing a very comfortable writing surface. The pen, although a bit too light for my liking, functions beautifully in different environments, but I will discuss this further when reviewing the screen. The latch is very solid and locks into place quite smoothly. The industry first bi-directional hinge is a large plus and convenience in the design of the T4220 and a large improvement in the field of Tablet PCs. Whereas other tablets allow users to rotate the screen in one predefined direction, Fujitsu’s T4220 gives users the option of rotating the screen in either direction for an added convenience. On the topic of quality regarding the built in microphone, I have to say that the recorded sound was very impressive. However, in order to record sound, the source of sound has to be within one or two feet of the tablet itself. Otherwise, you will not be able to hear anything very well. This is especially true for recording meetings or lectures where the main speaker or source of sound may be far away from the unit itself. In such cases, I recommend investing in an external microphone.
The touchpad is very responsive to touch and the left, scroll and right buttons act accordingly to provide a very user rich experience.
The T4220 touchpad. (view large image)
The optical drive in this case is a modular dual-layer multi-format DVD writer which sits conveniently in the multipurpose compartment where users are able to store one of the following: an optical drive, an additional hard disk, an additional battery or a space saver (plastic frame). The drive itself runs very well and exhibits the same amount of noise as a regular optical drive; there is no excessive noise present when in use. The drive is also hot-swappable as well as cold-swappable (hot-swap meaning that a user may take the drive out of the compartment thus disconnecting it from the Tablet PC while the Tablet PC is powered up and running).
The Screen (SXGA+)
This unit was built with a 12.1 inch SXGA+ screen, able to handle resolutions of up to (1400 X 1050) without panning. This is a great option because it allows users to take advantage of the smaller icons and graphics. It also utilizes more screen estate, allows for viewing complete pages of documents, and gives users more room to write notes. The colors on this screen are simply amazing and will blow any user away. There is a hint of graininess because of the added film when compared to a conventional laptop or flat screen LCD, but nothing noticeable as when compared to competing tablets. The colors jump right out of the screen with excellent contrast and brightness. The screen is very sensitive to the pen strokes of the Wacom active digitizer producing user rich content and an interactive system. The following is a detailed picture of the SXGA+ screen at maximum resolution (1400 X 1050).
The T4220’s SXGA+ Display. (view large image)
Another shot of Adobe Photoshop’s color palette to give users a perspective of the rich colors produced by the screen.
Color Palette. (view large image)
The pen input functions well in every application I have used and runs smoothly on the screen. The brightness of the screen itself may be adjusted for power management quite easily.
View of the screen in tablet mode. (view large image)
Applying the Screen Protector
I see this question around many times and had asked it myself at one point: “How in the world do you apply the included screen protector?” Although it would have been nice for Fujitsu to include instructions on doing so, I have included a summary below to save users the frustration of trying to figure out how to apply the screen protector. First, peel off the film with the red-like tab in the corner and throw it away. Secondly, look around the edge of the screen and you will see traces of the adhesive (there are two films – one being the actual screen protector). When you are looking at the traces of adhesive around the edge, you will see that one of the four corners is missing the adhesive – that is where you peel off the second layer of film thus exposing the adhesive of the screen protector. After removing that film, take your screen protector and gently lay it on your screen and enjoy!
Performance and Wireless
This particular unit, running at 2GHz (T7300 processor) with 2GB of memory and 100GB of hard disk space at 5400 RPM, has Windows Vista Business as its operating system and runs on the new Santa Rosa platform. Windows Vista runs flawlessly on this tablet and I recommend that people who decide to invest in a Vista tablet invest in at least 2GB of RAM as well for much improved performance. The graphics offered by the Intel 965 Express Chipset are more than enough to run Vista Aero smoothly, but users who want to run more graphics intensive applications or games will probably be left wanting more. Start-up and power-down times are very impressive depending on the state of performance selected (which will be discussed in the battery section) as well as opening and running many processor intensive applications. The exact time from pressing the power button to loading the “Welcome screen” was 51 seconds while it took the T4220 1 minute and 28 seconds to fully load all applications (many of which I installed myself thus causing the unit to take longer to load.)
Many wonder whether they should order their tablet with Windows XP Tablet Edition or Windows Vista. If you order your unit with at least 2GB of memory or plan on upgrading at some point in time, I definitely recommend ordering Windows Vista because (aside from the obvious reason that it builds upon XP) it has an improved user interface, better inking capabilities, much more eye candy, and is the latest operating system to come out having many advantages in and of itself. I also dearly recommend OneNote 2007 as any user’s main notebook/note taking application (especially if you are a college student or business professional). The features and possibilities built in the application allow users to organize and capture ideas in an efficient and interactive manner. OneNote’s incorporation in Outlook, as well as any other application where printing is possible, is a priceless feature; the application itself has served me as my primary tool for taking, organizing, and sharing my notes, thoughts and ideas.
The wireless card built in is the Internal modem, 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN, and Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (802.11a/b/g/n) with Bluetooth wireless 2.0. I found that the downloading and uploading speeds on certain websites compared to a computer using an actual Ethernet cable can be anywhere from just as fast to two times as fast. The reception distance is also very impressive (I was able to secure a signal and use the Internet connection from well over 50 feet away from my router) although, depending on the obstacles between the computer and wireless router, users may find that connectivity varies with distance.
PCMark05 measures the system’s performance:
|Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz, GMA X3100 graphics)||3,911 PCMarks|
|HP Compaq 2710p (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics)||2,453 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6GHz, GMA X3100 graphics)||3,473 PCMarks|
|Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics)||4,171 PCMarks|
|Gateway E-155C (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.06GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics)||2,205 PCMarks|
|LG C1 (Intel Core Duo 1.2GHz, Nvidia Go 7300)||2,568 PCMarks|
|Toshiba R400 (Intel Core Duo ULV 1.2GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics)||2,187 PCMarks|
|HP tx1000 (AMD Turion X2 2.0GHz, Nvidia Go 6150)||3,052 PCMarks|
|Asus R1F (1.66GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950 graphics)||2,724 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X60t (1.66GHz LV Core Duo)||2,860 PCMarks|
|Panasonic ToughBook T4 (Intel 1.20GHz LV)||1,390 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Tecra M6 (1.66GHz Intel T2300E, Intel GMA 950)||2,732 PCMarks|
Super Pi measures the time it takes for a system to calculate Pi to 2 million digits:
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 2s|
|HP Compaq 2710p (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo)||1m 39s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (1.6GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 10s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (2.2GHz Core 2 Duo)||54s|
|Gateway E-155C (1.06GHz ULV Core 2 Duo)||1m 58s|
|LG C1 (1.2GHz Intel Core Duo)||1m 49s|
|Toshiba R400 (1.2GHz ULV Core Duo)||2m 10s|
|Asus R1F (1.66GHz Core Duo)||1m 20s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X60t (1.66GHz LV Core Duo)||1m 24s|
|IBM ThinkPad X41t (1.5GHz LV Pentium M)||2m 02s|
|HP TC4400 Tablet PC (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 13s|
|Dell Latitude X1 (1.1 GHz ULV Pentium M)||2m 40s|
|Dell Latitude D420 (1.06GHz Core Solo ULV)||2m 11s|
|Toshiba Portege M400 (1.83GHz Core Duo )||1m 19s|
Comparison Results for 3Dmark05
3DMark05 tests the graphical capabilities of a system
|Notebook||3D Mark 05 Results|
|Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, GMA X3100 graphics)||841 3DMarks|
|HP Compaq 2710p (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo, GMA X3100 graphics)||634 3DMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (1.6GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA X3100 graphics)||812 3DMarks|
|Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (2.2GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA X3100 graphics)||925 3DMarks|
|Gateway E-155C (1.06GHz ULV Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950)||500 3DMarks|
|LG C1 (1.2GHz Intel Core Duo, Nvidia Go 7300)||1,392 3DMarks|
|Fujitsu LifeBook S2210 (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1150)||810 3DMarks|
|PortableOne UX (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950)||590 3DMarks|
|Toshiba Satellite A135 (1.73GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950)||519 3DMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)||2,092 3DMarks|
|Fujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)||2,273 3DMarks|
*Benchmark Results courtesy of Tyler Robertson
Power and Battery
The Fujitsu T4220, using a 6-cell main battery, may last up to 4.25* hours (on the Power Saving setting). I actually tried using the unit with the battery and discovered that, depending on the amount of usage, I was able to squeeze out 4 hours while using Adobe Photoshop and iTunes. *The 4.25 hours described above is Fujitsu’s estimated claim as to how long the battery can last. There are three basic power settings: Power Saver, Balanced, and High Performance. The chart below shows the difference in performance and battery life.
The different power plans for the battery and performance. (view large image)
While plugged in, I operate in balanced mode when using basic Internet applications or doing word processing. When running multiple processor intensive applications, I find that high performance is amazing at delivering the speeds I need. Now these states of power management not only affect performance in terms of speed and RAM usage, they also affect wireless and graphics-related functionality as well.
Some little things to discuss that users generally do not know of or take advantage of include features built into the fingerprint reader. Although its primary function is to scan and validate one’s fingerprint, the reader may also be used to scroll through web pages, documents or any other application where one can scroll with a mouse.
Another nice feature that comes with this tablet is included on the top of the pen – the eraser. The eraser may be used in the TIP or any other inking application to virtually eliminate a character or set of characters as would your conventional eraser.
The T4220 pen compared to your standard pencil. (view large image)
One little topic that somewhat bothers me is the fact that the LCD panel located right under the screen which displays the battery meter, wireless feature, hard disk usage, etc. is not backlit. This is not very important but, I personally would like to see when the hard disk is in use or glance to see if the Caps lock is on – something a bit difficult if I happen to be working in a scarcely lit room or area.
The LCD panel display. (view large image)
Users may find that Fujitsu’s shock senor may be too sensitive (the shock sensor locks the hard drive by removing the read/write head in the event of a violent hit, but in many cases it locks the hard drive after it detects the slightest movement.) In this case, the user may want to modify the way the shock sensor reacts by selecting the “do nothing” option which resolves the issue.
After completely using and testing this unit for more than a week, I have to say that my overall attitude towards Fujitsu’s new T4220 and the company itself reflects the joy I have in using the tablet. I would not hesitate at all in recommending the T4220 to users in search of a solid, robust and stylish Tablet PC. Coupled with Fujitsu’s amazing customer support, I believe that this tablet will meet and far exceed user’s expectations of a high grade Tablet PC.