Keeping to the winning formula that has kept Fujitsu at the forefront of the tablet PC design stakes, the ST5011 is a silver-and-black beauty that maintains a minimalist KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) design. For readers shopping for an engaging Centrino slate with an impressive feature set that would have the user wanting for very little else, your search ends here.
Unlike convertible tablets, which try to ease user discomfit of coming to grips with pen input by including a keyboard, the ST5011 is a full slate design without any moveable parts that might possibly snap off. However for users requiring a more conventional computer interface, Fujitsu does offer a rather pricey wireless keyboard (AU$299), which hardly adds to the travel load. It should be noted that unlike the HP Compaq TC1100's keyboard, which snaps on to the slate to create an elevated viewing angle, it could be quite a hassle to type while hunched over your display.
At 1.55kg, the ST5011 is certainly lighter than most slates on the market. Along with a sleek form factor of 325 x 215 x 22mm, it is an absolute delight to whip out while commuting on the train. The suede backing on the base claims to be an additional heat dissipater. However, due to the tendency of the base to still heat up, it is appreciated more as an ideal gripping surface. For a device that is meant to be lugged all over the place, we are puzzled as to why almost all the ports are exposed to the elements with the sole exception of the VGA port, which is sealed with a rubber bung.
The stylus is light but offers a well-balanced grip and for the forgetful user, it even comes with an eyelet to attach a tether to the slate. Pen input is highly intuitive and pressure-responsive; a caricature of Mummy was rendered to the gurgling delight of a four-year-old cousin. Yet some who have never tried their hand at pen-based input, e.g. PDAs, may have some initial difficulty writing even their own names.
For right-handed users, there is an array of function buttons along the right side of the screen that can be easily accessed, rather like guitar chords, when the user is toggling the slate in the crook of his arm. These buttons serve as the keyboard equivalent of functions like ESC and ENTER, along with a handy key to change the display orientation from portrait to landscape. However, lefties may balk at the added inconvenience of trying to press the buttons while writing at the same time. Features
Piecing together an Intel Pentium M 1GHz processor and a 60GB hard drive along with 256MB worth of DDR333 SDRAM, which can be juiced up to 2GB, the ST5011 offers plenty of speed and mileage for the mobile user. For wireless connectivity, Fujitsu gives the user a choice of either an Intel PRO/wireless 802.11b/g or the Atheros 802.11a/b/g with dual antenna which, for the sake of future Wi-Fi compatibility, is a more prudent choice. A switch on the back controls the status of the wireless antenna.
Surfing on the ST5011 is a breeze with the stylus, and if the user should choose to transfer files to his PDA, there is a 3-in-1 card slot (MMC, SD, Memory Stick) which doubles as an IR port. Also onboard are a FireWire port, standard Ethernet, modem, a smart card reader and VGA-out. Though Bluetooth is not included in an otherwise detailed connectivity suite, users can still opt to add it via the PC Card slot or through the two USB 2.0 ports.
No internal drives are included though Fujitsu has a docking station that users can purchase for an optional AU$999. While steep in price, the Fujitsu docking station is currently one of the best in the market in terms of functionality and usability. Duplicating an almost complete desktop experience, the station comes with an additional three USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, Ethernet, VGA-out as well as a replaceable DVD/CD-RW combo drive. Setup is exceedingly simple; the station even offers the user the flexibility to choose from either viewing orientation via the rotatable swivel arm. Additional software like Cyberlink's PowerDVD, RecordNow and PowerProducer are provided for those who exercise the docking station option.
Complementing the indoor-oriented Stylistic ST5010, the ST5011 proffers a crisp 10.4-inch reflective front-lit display which is absolutely viewable even under the afternoon sun. However, one gripe we had is that since the light source is placed along one side of the screen, viewers facing the display from the opposite side will see only a glaring white light. Performance
With its 1GHz Intel Pentium M processor, the ST5011 scored 136 on BAPCo's MobileMark 2002, which puts it above other tablet PCs like the HP Compaq TC1100 despite having a common processor. It even managed to edge out the new BenQ Joybook 6000, which scored a paltry 133 despite a 1.5GHz processor. Office productivity software such as the new OneNote 2003 ran with nary a hitch in speed despite various other MS Office programs operating at the same time.
At 277 minutes, the ST5011 came up tops when measured against the likes of the HP Compaq TC1100 (232 minutes) as well as having twice as much juice as the Acer TravelMate C110TCi (137 minutes). This is a comforting thought for mobile executives who are at the mercy of their battery when without a power socket in sight. For added insurance, an additional standard battery is available at AU$299.
The ST5011 packs in with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, PC Doctor and Norman Virus Control/Personal Firewall as the system's default antivirus application. Online support is limited to an FAQ section and driver downloads whereas a print manual outlines most of the system's hardware features.