With the single-core 1.5GHz Intel Atom Z670, 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 memory, and integrated Intel GMA600 graphics, the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 is not going to set the world on fire with its performance. In fact, it failed to run any of our standard tablet benchmarks. In anecdotal testing, we frequently found ourselves often waiting for a command to be recognized. Whatever performance gains one might have received from the fast seek times of the 62B solid-state drive is offset by the slow clockspeed and single core of the Intel Atom CPU. Of course, that Atom CPU does not demand much from the battery, which lasted for five hours and 27 minutes with the screen set to 70% brightness and Wi-Fi on.
Without a spinning hard drive and nary a cooling fan, the tablet is deathly quiet during operation, and it manages to stay cool even when handling demanding tasks such as playing HD video. And speaking of HD video, the integrated graphics proved capable of handling 480p video; we experienced smooth playback when running through a number of 480p trailers on Apple’s site, but were dismayed to find it refused to download 720p trailers. Jon Stewart on Hulu came through smooth and funny at 360p. The accompanying audio was predictably weak. Better to use headphones than rely on the tiny speaker located on the tablet’s lower-left edge (when in portrait mode), unless you enjoy watching video while huddled inches away from the speaker.
Windows 7 is not an operating system built or optimized for touch-screen devices. It features the standard Windows 7 interface and includes standard Windows software including the ad-supported Microsoft Office Starter apps Word Starter 2010 and Excel Starter 2010. It’s doubtful you’ll create long Word docs or sprawling Excel spreadsheets on the Stylistic Q550, whether you use the onscreen keyboard or the handwriting-recognition Writing Pad. The writing pad was fairly accurate in turning my scribbles into text, but the onscreen keyboard was slow in registering key commands when using Word or Excel. It was just enough of a delay between me tapping a key and it registering it to prevent me getting into any sort of typing rhythm. The onscreen keyboard is more responsive in other apps, such as with Firefox when entering the name of a URL or entering a word in the search box of the Start menu.
Another annoying aspect of Windows 7 on a touch screen is the extra step required to call up the onscreen keyboard. Shouldn’t Windows know I need the keyboard when I click in a text field? For example, when I click in the Windows search box or a URL bar, instead of the keyboard automatically appearing, a small keyboard icon appears, which I then must line up my cursor with and click. I feel as if I shouldn’t have to make this second, small step.
Also, many times when flitting about in Windows in both portrait and landscape modes, a window would open that would be half off the edge of the screen, as if it expected the tablet to be in the opposite orientation. Navigating Windows 7 is challenging enough without having to drag newly opened windows into the center of the display. Perhaps as an admission of Windows 7 touch shortcomings, Fujitsu includes a handful of touch utilities to improve the experience.
The most useful of Fujitsu’s touch apps is Touch Launcher, which places a customizable strip of icons along the right edge of the display. It features two modes, launcher mode and Internet mode. In launcher mode, it features certain Windows commands such as print, close window, and call up the onscreen keyboard. There’s also a Touch Mode button that enlarges the top menu bar of windows, making it easier to tap your intended menu options. In Internet mode, it displays a back button along with buttons that let you scroll up and down a web page and bookmark, close, or print a page.
Fujitsu’s Home Launcher app is accessed from the home icon in the Windows taskbar. It presents a customizable touch interface with large icons to access frequently used applications, the webcam, and your photos and documents. It also displays the date and time, battery and Wi-Fi status, and volume and screen brightness controls. It’s easier to navigate than the small icons and menu items in the standard Windows 7 start menu, but it would be more useful if it included a search box.
The OnScreen Touchpad app puts a touchpad and mouse buttons on the display. It also features common keyboard buttons — Esc, cut, copy, paste, enter, Alt commands, and so on — and a number pad with calculator functions.
Touch Notepad is a largely useless app. It features two modes — handwriting and text — that let you create notes on the tiniest of memo pages.
Unrelated to touch, there are also a few utilities includes.PortShutter is a security app that disables the ports and slots of the tablet, keeping vital corporate secrets from prying eyes. And the Battery Swap Utility puts the tablet into hibernation so that you can swap in a new battery. In anecdotal testing, the 4-cell (38WHr) battery ran for approximately 5 hours 45 minutes.
Lastly, despite its billing as a business-class system, the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 comes back with a decidedly consumer-grade warranty. It lasts only one year.