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Slated for Success

PC Advisor Singapore March 2004

The Stylistic ST5010 lives up to its name - its slate form factor is delicious and stands out in the crowd of niche Tablet PC devices. It certainly feels good as a portable device. The block is solid and sturdy like a cast block of aluminium, yet is not distractingly heavy. Bearing 1GHz Centrino innards, the device is more than enough for anything but serious gaming.

A lot of ergonomic though has certainly gone into the design of the tablet.

For starters, the tablet's Wi-Fi capability to be enabled or disabled immediately via a physical switch on the side of the tablet - certainly useful when one needs to cater to flight restrictions.

The buttons are also flushed to the surface to prevent accidental squashes, and on the whole, the ST5010 does not heat up uncomfortably unless charging AC, and battery life surpasses four hours with minimal LCD backlight and disk use.

For expandability, it also sorts a Gigabit Ethernet jack (RJ45) for those who just need that speed fix, and rounds out connectivity with infrared, modem, USB2 and FireWire ports. A VGA port and audio I/0 sockets make up the rest of the holes as well as a useful SD/MMC slot.

The 12-inch XGA LCD is also most welcomes, beating most contenders that carry only 10-inch screens. The display is reinforced and virtually scratchproof and the device is padded with felt on its rear, a real boon to easy handling, although that same material may quickly get grubby with sweaty hands, so handle with care.

Major kudos must be given to the pen, or stylus technology which tracks accurately right up to the screen edges without drifting. A separate infrared mini keyboard (using 2 AAA cells) backs up the pen, and comes into use quickly and hassle-free - just place it south of the tablet and type.

The optional dock that is shared across the Stylistic series, is well-weighted and houses a modular DVD/CD-RW drive. The dock, reminiscent of Transformer figurines, can also be used without AC power.

So what does it lack? Not much, but some points may irk a potential buyer.

The LCD due to the protective layer has a pretty tight viewing angle, about 30 to 40 degrees before the lighting fades considerably.

Also, my review unit arrived with a pen jitter problem that rendered it practically unusable and that was not solved until I restored it to the factory CD configuration, a possible problem buyers might not come by until later.

Fujitsu offers Bluetooth functionality in the form of a PC card, But at $399, it is lucky we have $60 aftermarket dongles, although that ruins the device svelte shape, as well as brings in possible driver issues.

And of course, all good things come at a premium: the ST5010 almost names its own price, with recommended retail at $4,688 and $899 for the dock (which includes the DVD/CD-RW drive).

Reproduced courtesy of PC Advisor.