With its black cover and silver magnesium case, the $2,149 Fujitsu LifeBook T4020 convertible tablet looks right at home in the conference room. Its 12.1-inch display offers just enough room for writing, and its integrated optical drive means executives won't have to sacrifice much in the way of features. That drive does add a bit of weight--if portability is your key criterion, you should look to the ThinkPad X41 Tablet, which is a half-pound lighter but lacks an optical drive. But if you want a top-performing tablet that's still reasonably portable, you can't beat the Fujitsu LifeBook T4020.
Measuring 11.5 inches wide, 9.3 inches deep, and 1.4 inches thick, the Fujitsu LifeBook T4020 is roughly same size as other 12.1-inch screen convertible tablets, such as the ThinkPad X41 Tablet and the HP Compaq tc4200. The LifeBook T4020's 4.8-pound weight is nearly identical to that of the HP Compaq tc4200 and 0.6 pound heavier than the ThinkPad X41 Tablet's. With its two-prong AC adapter, the LifeBook T4020 weighs a manageable 5.5 pounds.
The 12.1-inch, 1,024x768 native resolution display swivels smoothly to convert the system to tablet mode. The screen was too dim for outdoor use, but indoors, the screen looked bright and had very wide viewing angles. When you switch from laptop to tablet mode, the LifeBook T4020's screen automatically adjusts from landscape to portrait, and the system parks your optical drive to protect it--two nice touches. Next to the screen are six buttons: power, scroll up and down, orientation, a programmable function key, and Ctrl-Alt-Del.
The LifeBook T4020's keyboard is slightly cramped and the keys are a bit shallow, but it's usable for short typing sessions. The touch pad and the scroll button were responsive. While the tethered Wacom digitizer delivered a good paper-on-pen feel, we would have liked an "eraser" on the other end. Indeed, we prefer the rubberized grip and thick Mont Blanc feel of the Motion LE1600 stylus. Because the LifeBook T4020 runs slightly warm, holding it clipboard-style in one hand can sometimes be uncomfortable.
If you want to use your tablet to record meetings or take dictation, the Fujitsu LifeBook T4020 has a dual-microphone array that's sensitive enough to pick up lectures in a large conference hall (just be sure to adjust your audio recording software for the maximum sensitivity). The tablet also features decent-sounding speakers (especially for a tablet), that sit on the front edge, so they aren't covered when in tablet mode; unfortunately, the volume control is inaccessible when the screen is folded down.
The LifeBook T4020 includes a standard assortment of ports and expansion slots for a tablet. In addition to headphone and microphone jacks, you'll find VGA, FireWire, and two USB 2.0 ports (one fewer than the HP Compaq tc4200); a Type II PC Card slot; and a 3-in-1 card reader that recognizes Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and Secure Digital formats. You can connect to peripherals via Bluetooth and the Internet via modem, Gigabit Ethernet, or 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi. (A dedicated button on the front of the machine lets you easily turn the Wi-Fi on and off.) Our review unit included a hot-swappable, dual-layer multiformat DVD burner.
The Fujitsu LifeBook T4020 runs on Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005. Our test unit came with some useful software, including Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 for note-taking; a suite of Fujitsu utilities for programming function keys, security settings, and driver updates; and Softex OmniPass, which handles security passwords on your computer. We were very pleased that our unit also came with recovery discs, which are becoming increasingly rare. These were especially helpful when we neglected to click Fujitsu's setup icon (which just says ClickMe) on the desktop. We thought it was needless bloatware, but it turned out to be a utility that configures various parts of your LifeBook in vital and necessary ways. Fortunately, we were able to start over again right away.