So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Fujitsu LifeBook TH550 tablet
Fujitsu LifeBook TH550 tablet review: A tablet-convertible laptop with an Intel Core i3 CPU
- Decent performance for a small tablet-convertible laptop, the supplied pen or your finger can be used on the touchscreen, bi-directional hinge, HDMI
- Screen's side angles aren't great, only two USB 2.0 ports, keyboard feels too cramped
The Fujitsu LifeBook TH550 is a tablet convertible laptop that's small yet versatile. It has an Intel Core i3 CPU in it, which means it's not too much of a slouch (it will depend on the types of tasks you're running), and its screen works with both finger touch and the supplied pen. Rather than just being a device on which you can browse the Web, the TH550 will recognise handwriting, too, and you can also draw on it, which means it can be used as a content creation device as well as a consumption device.
Price$ 1,599.00 (AUD)
The Fujitsu LifeBook TH550 is a 10.1in tablet-convertible notebook PC that's slightly bigger than a netbook, but it's nothing like a netbook tablet device — it's much, much better.
Read our round-up of the best and worst tablet notebooks.
Like other Fujitsu tablet-convertible notebooks we've seen, such as the 12.1in LifeBook TH700, the Fujitsu has a bi-directional hinge, which means you can turn its screen either to the left or right, lay it down flat over the keyboard and use the notebook as a tablet. The screen is multitouch, accepting up to four simultaneous inputs, and it can be operated by a finger or a pen. Using the LifeBook TH550 as a tablet is not a bad experience at all. As long as you calibrate it, its screen is accurate enough and the resolution decent enough (in most cases) to allow you to browse the Web with ease. Scrolling is smooth, as is flicking back and forth between Web pages. You might have to zoom in on a page in order to accurately tap some links though.
The screen auto-rotates depending on which way you are holding the tablet, but there is also a physical button you can press to switch the orientation of the screen. The side angles of the screen aren't great, so when you view content in a portrait orientation it doesn't always look crisp and the contrast isn't great.
Read reviews of the best Fujitsu laptops of 2010.
The performance of the notebook as a tablet was reasonably swift in our tests and because the screen accepts either pen or finger touch, you can use the tablet's screen for drawing and handwriting. However, it was sometimes slow in recognising pen inputs while writing — although not as slow as it would have been if it had an Intel Atom CPU, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t tablet-convertible netbook.
The LifeBook TH550 features an Intel Core i3-380UM CPU, which gives it a decent amount of grunt for office and multimedia tasks, and it has 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM and a 500GB hard drive installed. It recorded times of 1min 53sec and 2min 2sec in our Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests. The Blender test is on par with what we expected of this CPU based on what we saw from the Sony VAIO Y Series (VPCYA15FGB), but its MP3 encoding performance was much better. It was able to finish our Xvid-encoding test in 2hr 16min, which is 3min off the Sony.
Its graphics performance isn't great, as it's based on Intel HD graphics, but it's good enough for watching videos and editing photos; its hard drive isn't quick. It only managed 20 megabytes per second in our file transfer tests, which is at least 5MBps slower than what we expected.
The TH550 doesn't have a lot of connectivity options: you only get two USB 2.0 ports. There is an SD card slot, an HDMI port, Gigabit Ethernet and VGA, and there is 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Its battery lasted 3hr 36min in our tests, which is excellent, and the laptop didn't warm up noticeably, allowing us to hold it as a tablet without feeling discomfort. Similar to other Fujitsu tablet PCs we've seen, the LifeBook TH550 is well designed and quite useful. If you're in the market for a laptop that can turn into a tablet, it's definitely worth a look, but it is a little expensive.
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