Businesses with very specific Windows 7 tablet needs may find some value in the Q550, but it's a very slow performer at a serious asking price that is otherwise easily passed over.
Fujitsu's pitch for the AU$1688 Stylistic Q550 is that it's a business machine, and, at least aesthetically, it's not adorned with much in the way of smooth curves or shiny metal. Measuring in at 275x192x16.2mm and weighing a minimum 730g, this is a solid chunk of tablet, or, in the Q550's case, Tablet PC. While the market's going mad for the iPad 2 (although we suspect at the time of writing that they're none too welcome at Samsung HQ), Fujitsu has stuck to the Tablet PC line with a Windows 7 Professional 32-bit PC.
At AU$1688, you might expect some quite high-end components under the hood of the Q550, but what you get is more akin to a netbook in terms of specific power features. An Intel Atom Z670 processor runs the Q550, supplemented with 2GB of memory and a 64GB SSD drive. Graphics are courtesy of Intel's ageing GMA600 processor, but nobody's going to be buying the Q550 to play games, in any case.
The Q550 doesn't have the worst possible specifications, but we found the overall experience of using it to be frustrating on a number of levels. We've commented previously that while Windows 7 is touch-enabled, it's not particularly touch-friendly, and the Q550 doesn't buck that particular trend to any great degree. Icons are never big enough, programs expect mouse input and, while it's possible to work within Windows 7 programs, which in itself is a big plus for the Q550, it's often frustrating getting it to work with any sense of urgency, even for low processor-intensive applications, like very plain web browser pages. We weren't surprised when the Q550 baulked at running 3DMark06, but we were disappointed in its meagre PCMark05 score of 1515. Undoubtedly, competing Android or iOS tablets couldn't even manage that, but for the asking price you could get a notebook that'd knock the Q550's socks off, performance-wise.
The Q550's accelerometer attempts to spin the screen to suit the orientation in which it's being held, but it's way too oversensitive. Just holding it in our laps had it frequently turning from landscape to portrait with the slightest move of a leg, which made document reading or web page surfing a frustrating prospect.
We ran the Q550 through our standard battery test, disabling all power-saving features and pumping the screen brightness up to full before looping a full-screen video file until battery exhaustion. Here the Q550 gave us mixed results. Its battery life figure of three hours and 58 minutes is actually quite solid for a Windows 7 tablet, but we noticed frequently during testing that it would shudder on set video frames, making for a less-than-smooth video playback experience. Again, this isn't an entertainment tablet per se, but it's indicative of where the Q550 struggles with complex tasks, which could be a concern depending on the use you'd plan to put it to.
Like the rest of Fujitsu’s notebook line-up, the Stylistic Q550 is pitched as a premium-priced tablet solution. Like the rest of Fujitsu's line-up, it's well built. Unlike the rest of its line-up, however, we're reluctant to recommend it, simply because it's all too easily stretched to the limits of its processing power even with simple applications, and for the asking price you could equip several employees with notebooks that have greater functionality. As yet, we're still waiting to see a really impressive Windows 7 tablet, and it's looking more and more likely that we'll have to wait for the more touch-friendly Windows 8 for that to happen.