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New Fujitsu tablets: Is the pen mightier than the touchpad?

New Fujitsu tablets: Is the pen mightier than the touchpad?

Tablet PCs used to be a niche product, to put it kindly. They were bulky, underpowered and rarely worked. But the idea of being able to scribble on your laptop screen is hard to resist, so PC makers kept working on tablet designs until they perfected the Transformer-like convertible tablet--a seemingly normal-looking laptop, with a screen that rotates 180-degrees and folds down over the keyboard.

A lot of people must be adding convertible tablets to their holiday wish lists, because we know of several new models that have either been released lately, or are about to be released. Fujitsu announced two new models Tuesday morning--the ultra-compact P1610 and the mainstream T4215.

Both of these guys have specs that compete with regular non-tablet laptops and feature something we've always been in favor of--a screen that rotates both ways, so you don't accidentally rip the LCD off while trying to turn it clockwise when it only goes counter-clockwise.

The positively minuscule P1610 has an Intel Core Solo U1400 CPU, which isn't bad for a 2.2-pound system with a 8.9-inch touchscreen. At least it won't go belly up the first time you ask it to open a couple of windows at the same time. It's also got a fingerprint reader, built-in mic and you can turn the backlight off in bright surroundings to save battery life.

If you're looking for something more like a traditional laptop, the 4.3-pound T4215 has a 12.1-inch display, and is available with three screen finishes--indoor, outdoor and an indoor/outdoor hybrid. It's got Intel's Core 2 Duo CPU (up to a 2.16GHz T7400) and a modular bay that can house a DVD drive or a second battery.

How much are these styling stylus systems going to set you back? The P1610 starts at $1,599 and the T4215 at $1,799, and both are shipping immediately.