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Hot or not: Fujitsu's tablet touch pad

New Fujitsu laptops feature a touch pad that also acts as a tablet input. Is this feature hot or not?

With a stylus, the LifeBook A6030's touch pad becomes a tablet. Michelle Thatcher/CNET Networks

Every once in a while, a laptop comes through our Labs with an innovative new feature that has us scratching our heads. Such a feature showed up last week on the Fujitsu LifeBook A6030, a well-rounded, media-friendly 15.4-inch laptop. When we first booted up the system, we noticed the Windows Vista Tablet Input Panel hiding along the left-hand side of the screen--but the LifeBook A6030 is not a tablet PC, nor does it have a touch-screen display. Quick investigation of the A6030's case revealed a slender stylus hidden in the laptop's base, so we glanced around for an input panel of some sort. The phrase "point and write" printed on the touch pad brought us right to the source: with the stylus, the otherwise average touch pad becomes a tablet input panel. But why?

Writing on such a small surface can be a challenge.
Writing neatly in such a small space is a challenge.

Paul Moore, Fujitsu's senior director of mobile product marketing, explained in an e-mail that this technology lets you jot quick notes, annotate files, touch up photos, and capture a real signature if necessary. But we found writing on such a small space required more finely tuned motor skills than we possessed. (To be fair, taking notes got easier with each try--witness the sample of our fifth attempt at writing a note, above. Getting it even this neat took tremendous concentration.) We also couldn't quite get comfortable navigating with the stylus, which moves the cursor by hovering over, rather than dragging on, the pad. Fortunately, the tablet functionality does nothing to detract from its usability as a traditional touch pad, so we were able to label it as a bonus feature that's nice to have but by no means vital.

Even as we were writing the review, though, we felt sure someone out there would be stoked to have this tablet-input option. So we turn it to you, Crave readers: do you think you'd use this point-and-write touch pad? If so, for what?