Fujitsu Lifebook T900 is my NEW Tablet PC (sort of)

Hey, remember when I said I wanted the Fujitsu Lifebook T900 to be “My Next Tablet PC”? Well, I wasn’t kidding then and I’m even more serious now that I have one as my daily productivity PC.

Here’s the situation: a few months back, I evaluated the Fujitsu Lifebook T900 Tablet PC, and basically, I really liked it. Personal issues forced me to put off an upgrade this year, but I had every intention of making the T900 (or, if necessary, its successor) my next Tablet PC. And then Fujitsu beat me to the punch.

A month ago, Fujitsu contacted us about a long-term review. Great opportunity, but also a challenge for me to put up or shut up. It’s one thing to put a gadget through its paces for a couple of weeks. It’s another to see if it actually stands up to extended, real-world use as I think it will. That’s what I’ll be doing with it.

The unit is almost the same as the base dual-digitizer model that I previously evaluated. Two changes are the memory was bumped up to 4GB from 2GB and it’s running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional instead of 32-bit. The upgrade that I’ll really be testing is the modular bay battery. I strongly recommended this in my review since the main battery could only carry the PC for three hours. Now I can see firsthand if that recommendation was worthwhile, in the real-world conditions where it matters.

Another opportunity it opens is the ability to review new multi-touch applications, something prevented by my upgrade delay. Two applications I need to get back to are ritePen and PDF Annotator. The new versions of both offer multi-touch functionality, which I’d been unable to test. I intend to rectify this and get some InkShows done for them and other applications.

Lastly, I’ll be treating this evaluation unit as a business machine, not my personal tablet. I’ll have to do some personal things on it since it will be my daily productivity PC, but I’ll be keeping personal documents in Evernote and I won’t be syncing my iPhone with it. Part of that is because is because it’s an evaluation unit, but more importantly, my current computer set-up is already too fragmented. So I’m taking this opportunity to start fresh and transition my media PC as our central storage hub.

So there it is. Fujitsu has given me the chance to evaluate the Lifebook T900 as my daily production device. I’ll see if that modular bay battery recommendation was on the money. This gives me a top-of-the-line Tablet PC to evaluate and demonstrate software for GBM. And I should have stories to share about my changing computer set-up. I’m excited about it, mostly for what it lets me do for the GottaBeMobile community. Many thanks to Fujitsu for making this happen.

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Comments

  1. GTaylor says

    The modular battery idea is simply natural, good call. Even a 30 minute, board-mounted battery would allow the main battery to be exchanged with out shutting down.
    If they listened to you on that can you ask them to make the keyboard detachable?

    • Sumocat says

      Well, they listened to the point that they let me evaluate it with the second battery to see how effective it is. A design change goes a bit beyond that.

      Not that I’d suggest changing this convertible design. The dual-direction swivel hinge is simply the best I’ve ever tried. I’d be ecstatic if they restarted their line of slates and offered attachable keyboards, but they nailed the convertible form factor.

      • GTaylor says

        From what I read, convertible tablet users overwhelmingly agree with you.

        A slate with an attachable keyboard or “convertible” with detectable keyboard, is there a subjective difference affecting usability or just a choice of nomenclature cheering a favorite form?

        Whatever you like to call it, I just don’t want to have to lug the keyboard every time I pick up the unit.

        • Sumocat says

          Actually, slate is my favorite form factor. I switched from slate to convertible because I wanted more screen space and nobody made a slate larger than 12″, but I’ve used my convertibles in slate mode most of the time. The great feel of T900 in slate mode is the main reason I enjoy it so much.

          Regardless, my word choice is driven by the established design standards. The convertible form factor refers to a Tablet PC that can convert between slate and laptop modes with the bulk of the hardware located beneath the keyboard, as with a standard laptop. Thus, you can’t simply detach the keyboard. If that hardware was moved up beneath the screen, then it would be a slate with a keyboard.

          • ChrisRS says

            You said ….
            “Actually, slate is my favorite form factor. I switched from slate to convertible because I wanted more screen space and nobody made a slate larger than 12-inch …”

            You go on to say that you asually use the convertable in slayte Mode ..

            I that your favorite TabletPC is a large screen with a largly unused keyboard and hinge/swivel. YOur preference would be a large screen slate, but that that form factor is not available. It woild certainly be my preference.

  2. Tuur says

    I’ve heard that Fujitsu’s after sales support really sucks, especially compared to Dell.
    That’s also very important for me ‘cos I’m hopefully looking forward to the new 10″ tablet they will release.
    Any experience on that?

    • Sumocat says

      I have not had to deal with Fujitsu’s sales support. Actually, I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve never dealt with anyone’s support. All my PC purchases are used or refurbs, and either beaten to death or still functional (despite the beating).

      • js says

        I have a T900 x64 win7 that had some trouble with sleep mode (check the tabletpcreview Fujitsu forums – it’s a common problem). A microsoft hotfix took care of the problem, but Fujitsu’s support was well meaning but completely unhelpful.

        The only other lingering problem I have with this computer is how batteries discharge. In most other laptops with options for multiple batteries, one discharges before the other, and the order of the discharge can sometimes be set. In contrast, Fujitsu treats the two batteries as a single entity, draining them both in parallel, and since the modular battery is smaller than the main, completely undermining built-in low-battery cutoff to prolong lifetime. My modular battery is at 0% while the main is still in the 20s. Fujitsu has been completely unhelpful.

        Would you please see if this is still the case with your T900?

        • Sumocat says

          I also ran into sleep problems with the initial evaluation unit, but it seemed linked to the USB modem I was testing at the time. I’ve not run into that problem with this unit.

          I have been looking at the batteries and notice they do drain simultaneously, which would be a hindrance if you use spare batteries.

  3. Joe says

    I look forward to seeing what you write about the T900, we’re getting ready to replace some old X60 tablets and the only serious contenders are what you’re getting and the X201.

  4. Sumocat says

    ChrisRS: Uh, I think I get what you’re saying (dude, are you typing and driving? :P), but I don’t see why slate can’t be my favorite just because nobody makes them in the size I want. If everyone stopped making aloha shirts in my size, I wouldn’t be able to wear new ones, but they’d still be my favorite work shirts.

  5. JD says

    I’m looking forward to your review as well. I have a one year old tx2 that will be replaced in the next year, if possible (it depends on my job and how much savings I have). It is becoming more unreliable and since I suspect is is now an orphan machine, I really have no choice. I also would like to update it before it dies, if only to take advantage of the ability to transfer all the settings and software over to the new machine using the Windows 7 utilty, instead of doing things manually.

    • Sumocat says

      Thanks. I hope you checked out my first review. I’ll go back to any points that need to be addressed, but I will try to avoid a rehash so a lot of that will still stand.

  6. Brett Gilbertson says

    Still loving the T900, especially once I figured out the “automatic screen rotation” issue tricks (fixed using the Fujitsu Tablet Controls tool).. Love the big screen and really loving the T900′s power (I have the i7 model). I now do most of my Full HD video production on the T900 and it does the trick perfectly. Pen and touch input makes so much sense for video editing to me…

    Only drawback for me being constantly on the road is that its size, especially when its in a bag with four other tablets!

    Service has been very good here in Australia, much better than what we get from Dell, HP and others down here.

    Anyway good to hear that Fujitsu are looking after you Sumocat!

    • Robbie Wilkes says

      Brett,

      Could you tell me what you did through the Fujitsu Tablet Control panel to enable automatic rotation? Recently loaded Windows 7 on the T900, but can’t figure out the trick, though it worked fine on XP.

      Thanks in advance for your advice.

      Robbie

  7. pyrotechnomimus says

    I’ve only ever owned the x200 (my personal tablet currently) and the Fujitsu T5010. From a design perspective I love my x200. Light weight, amazing battery time, it’s older than my fujitsu and still looks new (it’s hard not to look new when you look like a black brick of a computer). My fujitsu, on the other hand, is already making squeeks on the hinge, the screen is showing internal damage from just wear and tear, and the battery never got me anymore than 2 – 3 hours on the most conservative battery settings. I got my x200 refurbed for 1100, got my fujitsu new for 1700, and the x200 still blows me away with everything I can do with it that I can’t simply ever enjoy on the fujitsu. Thankfully it’s a work laptop and due to be replaced here soon.

    I too have never dealt with either tech support simply because I’ve never had a need to call them. All my laptops except my fujitsu (I have 5 laptops in my household) all function and work as if new. The only one that seems to be showing age is my fujitsu, sadly. I know they’ve been well known for making good stuff, just the model I have hasn’t really shown that to me and will likely prevent any personal purchase of a fujitsu at any point.

  8. Nameless says

    I got to handle the T900′s predecessor, the T5010, not too long ago. It became clear as to why you said it’s a convertible that feels like a slate.

    Perhaps the T900 could end up being my next convertible, especially if it uses a Hydis AFFS+ LCD…but I don’t think I can get over the integrated Intel graphics, at least not until Sandy Bridge rolls around. Even then, it would be more of a grudging acceptance.

    I don’t see what’s stopping them from slipping even a lower-end dedicated GPU + VRAM in there, if HP could do so in a smaller package with the tm2 AND make it switchable with the Intel graphics for when battery life is a must…and at half the price, too. Perhaps a better LCD and better build quality go a longer way than I think.

  9. Ash says

    I got the T900 April 1 with a very similar config to your eval machine and my opinion is that it makes a great machine for an IV&V consultant. The low end speaker and graphics solidly place this as a work machine and there it excells. I have not found the perfect solution for keyboard use when in slate mode, but MS OneNote is impressive in meetings as this baby replaced paper 98% in my activities. The attached keyboard is absolutely essential for me since meetings are great for slate but when I need to bang on a Word or Excel doc, I just go back to laptop mode. Very, very versitile. At my desk I have a real setup with a man mouse, LCD and keyboard but that would be true regardless of what laptop I had.

    In 6 months I have found that Touch augments my work and gives me new ways to interact with my PC. It definately doesn’t replace the mouse and keyboard but it makes them better. After a while you figure out which touch features are gimmicks and which are usability necessity. Good luck with the review and I hope the T900 imperfections don’t bite you too badly.

    By the way, I am now down to about 2.5 hours battery life after 6 months of battery use and the addition of a WD 7200rpm Black HD. I got close to 4 hrs the first day I used it. I bought a spare main battery just in case an outlet isn’t handy.

    • Sumocat says

      Thanks. Regarding drive and battery life, I had bumped up a previous Tablet PC to a 7200rpm drive and saw similar results. Wish I could have gotten the SSD option on this T900 to compare. I may have to invest my gadget fund into an SSD that I can rollover into new tablets.

    • Sumocat says

      That’s from one of the included Windows 7 Premium themes called “Scenes”. Microsoft actually made an effort to include non-bland wallpapers this time.

  10. grasshopper says

    Sumocat, great review. I am in Australia and presently there is seems to be a severe shortage of the T900 in any form here. Next (and very limited delivery) is end of March 2011.

    I have been looking at getting the T900 but I was a bit sceptical about how long the battery lasts. Then you mentioned the modular bay battery :).

    Anyway, I have been trying to find out if the modular battery requires an external charger or does it charge whilst is in the slot. Fujitsu has an external charger but is it necessary?

    Can you, please, help resolve this dilemma?

    • Sumocat says

      Charges in the slot. In fact, I believe the external charger is only for the standard battery, not the bay battery. Modular bay uses a different connection arrangement. A bit of a drawback, but the bay is multi-function not battery-specific. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave another comment or email me (above in my profile).

  11. HostPipe Web Design says

    The Bluetooth adapter seemed to suck the life out of my T900, as soon as I disabled it via device manager the battery life extended dramatically. You would have thought they would have a switch somewhere on the the case for turning it on/off.

    • Sumocat says

      There is a switch under the indicator lights for wireless, but that includes Wi-Fi. For quick access to just the Bluetooth, you can set the taskbar to show the Bluetooth indicator icon and toggle it from there.

  12. Clkrohn says

    Can anyone tell me how to disable the touchpad while typing? There was a setting on the Fujitsu 5010, but on the T900 I can’t seem to find this setting.

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