BUILD & DESIGN
The Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 lives up to its name. Its style is obvious and it’s also highly portable and yet feels incredibly durable. A black bezel frames the 10.1-inch display, and the display’s glass extends over the bezel. A thin black border wraps around the bezel and gently tapers out along the side. The back is light gray in color and gently tapers in along its edges. The magnesium alloy back panel has a rubberized coating, creating a great feel when gripping the tablet. At only 1.9 pounds and only 0.6 of an inch thick, the tablet is very comfortable to hold. It’s easy to grip the Stylistic Q550 in one hand and navigate the touchscreen with the other.
Despite its trim dimensions, the Stylus Q550 serves up an impressive number of ports and connections. An SD card slot resides on the right edge, and opposite it on the left edge you’ll find docking and power connections. Just above the SD card slot on the back of the tablet is a fingerprint reader. Along the top edge are a USB 2.0 port and an HDMI port along with a headphone jack. Just behind the top edge on the back panel is a SmartCard slot.
You won’t find any ports or slots along the bottom edge; instead, you’ll discover three small buttons. They call up the keyboard, rotate the screen rotation, and act as the Alt key. The buttons sit flush with the edge of the laptop and aren’t likely to be accidentally engaged, yet they’re large enough to press without too great an effort. Bookending these buttons are two switches: one for power and the other for the Wi-Fi signal. The tablet also features a pair of webcams: a 1.3-megapixel rear-facing camera and 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera. Missing are volume controls; sadly, you’ll need to use the touchscreen to adjust the volume.
Wireless connectivity comprises 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0, while mobile broadband is an optional feature. In testing, I found that the Wi-Fi signal was rather weak. In my (small) home, my 802.11n router is located upstairs. Downstairs, nearly directly below the router, my iPad and a Windows 7 laptop each had an excellent signal, while the Stylistic Q550 struggled, showing only one or two bars out of a possible five.
Display & Stylus
The 10.1-inch display features a 1280 x 800 resolution a matte finish that makes it resistant to glare and smudges. Although the Stylistic Q550 features some rugged aspects, meeting nine military standard 810G tests for demanding environmental conditions (functional shock, vehicle vibration, vibration integrity, altitude, low (cold) and high (heat) temperature, humidity, transit drop and blowing dust), its display is not all that viewable in direct sunlight. If you can find a shady spot on your work site, you should be fine, but for those in the field and under the sun for the majority of the day, you’ll need a specialized tablet built for such conditions. The display does feature impressively wide viewing angles, both horizontally and vertically.
The display is a capacitive touchscreen, meaning it picks up the lightest of touches. The Q550 also features an auto rotation feature, but it needs to be enabled by the user. Without it enabled, you will need to hit the small button on the bottom edge of the tablet to rotate the screen orientation. (Note: a previous version of this review wrongly claimed the Q550 did not feature auto rotation.)
You can navigate the touchscreen with your finger or the included pressure-sensitive N-trig stylus. The stylus is powered by a AAAA battery, but there is no off switch. Sometimes the tablet would pick up the stylus when placed near it, interfering when I was attempting to control the action with my finger, making me pine for an off switch. There is only one button on the side of the stylus — pressing it acts as a right-click. You can also perform a right-click simply by pressing and holding the stylus for half a beat.
The screen is large enough to navigate relatively comfortably and accurately with the tip of your finger, although I did catch myself using my pinky finger to tap on a small icon or link. Oddly, there is no slot or clasp to store the stylus. The stylus comes with a tether, which you can tie to a spot on the lower right corner of the tablet, but it’s rather useless with no place to store the stylus when not in use. Who wants to walk around with a tablet that has a stylus dangling from it? This setup makes the Folio Case that Fujitsu sells all the more attractive; it protects the tablet and includes a spot to store the stylus.