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New Facts About the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 Slate

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I had the opportunity to speak with Paul Moore, senior director of mobile product management for Fujitsu America (this guy), regarding the Stylistic Q550 slate due to start shipping June 3rd. Given the wealth of information already released about this Windows 7 tablet, I figured there wasn’t much new to cover, but I learned more than I expected, including why Fujitsu (and everyone) is choosing N-Trig for their 10″ tablets, how Intel AppUp plays into their strategy, just how swappable that battery is, and what mobile broadband providers it supports.

Why N-Trig?

As the long-time GBM readers know, N-Trig digitizers have been a source of much controversy and heated emotion for Tablet PC users. I won’t rehash it all, but suffice to say, as exciting as their technological advances have been, they’ve garnered a lot of negativity from users. You can see and judge for yourself in our coverage over the years.

For some, an N-Trig digitizer in a tablet is an automatic deal breaker. If you’re in that crowd, you’re out of luck, not just with the Q550 but with all 10″ tablets. According to Paul, N-Trig is the only game in town for dual digitizers in the 10″ space.

This goes against common speculation among tablet enthusiasts that N-Trig is simply a more affordable option than Wacom, particularly with the presumed-cheaper battery-powered pen (which is what the Q550 uses). It was a reasonable conclusion given its deployment among cheaper, consumer-focused tablets, but murkier when it started showing up on enterprise- and business-centric slates (Q550, Motion CL500). It turns out screen size alone is the deciding factor. Can’t put a Wacom digitizer on a 10″ display if they don’t offer it.

Hearing this was a real epiphany for me. Suddenly it makes sense why the ASUS EP121 with 12″ display uses Wacom and everything smaller uses N-Trig. It also solidly explains why Fujitsu, with its long history with Wacom, made the switch.

Intel AppUp Inside

The Q550 is not a consumer tablet such as the iPad and Android models, but Fujitsu recognizes that, as on any computer, application support is vital. To help fill this void, the Q550 will feature their new Infinity App store.

It’s basically a custom version of Intel AppUp that will focus on business and enterprise type of software. Presumably it will have access to the full Intel AppUp market as well, so if you want to play Angry Birds on your Q550 (maybe while playing it on another tablet at the same time), you can. The Infinity App store, uh, app is already available for download for anyone from Fujitsu Hong Kong.

Swappable Battery: Hot, Warm, or Cold?

Road warriors will be interested to learn the battery is cold-swappable, meaning the Q550 must be in a powered-off state when swapping the battery, either off or hibernate, unless running on AC. While this is less convenient than hot- and warm-swappable batteries (swappable while the system is active or in sleep mode, respectively), the SSD should allow it to go into hibernation in a matter of seconds (“near instant” in Paul’s words). There will also be a special utility to enable this. As I’ve seen on other Windows 7 systems with SSDs, hibernation is far less problematic than it has been in the past. The battery itself features a “red, yellow, green” meter to indicate charge status.

Broad mobile broadband support

While some of you could already figure this out from the specs, Paul confirmed that the Gobi 3000 mobile broadband option will support the Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint networks. Pricing for this option is not final but will be $100-125. Available in August (pending certification).

Thanks again to Paul Moore for speaking with me today and clearing up or explaining those points. Frankly, given the wealth of material Fujitsu has already released on this slate, I didn’t think I’d have much to report except for the digitizer decision. I will be giving some of these points a hands-on inspection once review units are available.

Alleged Apple fanboi, accused Android apologist, and confirmed Microsoft MVP for touch and tablet Mark Sumimoto a.k.a. Sumocat dabbles in all areas of mobile computing with a focus on Windows-based Tablet PCs and pen input. A mobile computing enthusiast since 2004, he pioneered the field of ink blogging via his personal blog, Sumocat's Scribbles. His current tools include a Fujitsu Lifebook T900, TEGA v2, and iPhone 4. Email: sumocat [at] notebooks.com

10 Comments

  1. Giacomo UCDS

    05/20/2011 at 8:41 pm

    Wacom offers 10,4 digitizers (the same used in Panasonic CF-19, for exaple, or in Motion C5/F5). But it is 4:3 form factor.

    The problem is that no one OEM want to produce Slate PC in 4:3 form factor, as they prefer the orrible 16:9 (Why this? I don’t know. It appears as the only one interested il 4:3 is Apple…). I tryed the Q550 at CeBIT and i tried the T580 who uses the same digitizer and the same 16:9 screen: they are so tight that you can’t use the tablet in portrait mode. A Q550 with a 10,4 4:3 screen should be a great tc1100-like tablet.

    • Anonymous

      05/20/2011 at 11:18 pm

      Anyway the Q550 has a 16:10 display ratio, which is a lot better than 16:9 and just ok in my opinion.

      I do agree that 4:3 would be even better on such a small device (just look at the ipad).

    • Anonymous

      05/21/2011 at 3:03 pm

       Why are manufacturers so against the 4:3 in general?  

    • Reese

      05/22/2011 at 4:57 am

       I was thinking the exact same thing. Wacom makes senor boards in the 8.4, 9.7, and 10.4 3/4s ratios.

      However…the few tablets that exist in those sizes;(Ls800, TC1100, etc) are “Pen Only”  and not dual digitizers. I just tried looking on Motion Computing’s Site for the C5….and I can’t find any mention of touch capabilities for it. The dual digitizers only seem to be in 12 inch category. But Wacom doesn’t list any screen size specific for their dual digitizers. But since there is clearly a demand for 10 inch and under touch devices, its really foolish of Wacom to not put their hand in the pot and offer a dual digitizer option in a smaller size.

      • Sumocat

        05/23/2011 at 3:12 pm

         Yes, *dual* is the key word here. Wacom has supplied pen only digitizers for smaller devices, but not pen + touch digitizers.

  2. Benpaulowens

    06/18/2011 at 11:41 am

    Hi Sumocat.  Are you getting a unit to review?  No mainstream sites have reviewed as yet.  Only users on tabletpcforum.

    • Sumocat

      06/18/2011 at 3:07 pm

      Yes, in fact, I’m evaluating it now. Sorry I haven’t posted anything about it yet, but the timing’s been horrendous. It arrived while I was on my work trip, during which I was reviewing the HTC Flyer, followed by catching up with the real work I missed while away (and personal stuff). I will do some teases soon, followed by a thorough review (and my last bits about the Flyer in-between).

  3. Tim

    11/02/2011 at 5:54 am

    I’m evaluating the Q550 as a replacement for a conventional laptop.  I find the two ahead really annoying.  Can’t seem to figure out how to disable it.  any ideas? 

    • Tim

      11/02/2011 at 5:57 am

      Of course I meant type ahead.  The error in my previous post is an example of why I want to disable this annoying feature

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