Category Archives: Hardware Reviews

We are constantly getting a wide variety of hardware and software to test and exercise under a range of conditions. As you might expect, some work better than others, some play nicely with others (or not), and a few are genuinely pleasant surprises. Here you’ll find a collection of reviews on a range of products. We’ll be updating this section frequently as we run across new stuff, so come back soon and often!

What I Don’t Like About the Fujitsu Stylistic Q704 Tablet Convertible

OK, it’s been a couple of months since my brand-new Fujitsu Q704 tablet with oodles of add-ons and appurtenances showed up at my door. I’m learning to live with the $165 monthly payment that my “let’s experiment with a business lease” ends up costing me. But I’m not as enamored of the machine as I’d hoped to be, and it hasn’t yet graduated to the status of “production traveling machine.” In fact, I’ve been using my older Lenovo i7 X220 Tablet and T420 notebooks more or less interchangeably on the road for the last two years, and am still happy to work with them.

FujQ704-stuff

As this image from the Fujitsu site shows, the Q704 is available with a battery-powered keyboard dock (center) and a plain dock with video and three USB 3.0 ports.

But now that I’ve been working with and using the Q704 unit for a while, here are my gripes:

1. The battery-powered keyboard dock is heavy, and turns the unit into a 4.75 lb notebook (it’s not even really an ultrabook, at that weight). Battery life is under 8 hours, too. By contrast my older Dell XPS-12 weighs 3.375 lbs, and gets 5 hours from a single battery.
2. When detaching the tablet from the keyboard dock, I’ve learned that it’s best to shut down. Mode switching from tablet to notebook by docking the unit, and from notebook to tablet by undocking same, is not as easy or trouble-free as I would like it to be.
3. As you might expect, an i7 (even a Haswell U4600) gets pretty warm, if not hot, when busy in the tablet, which can make it a little uncomfortable to hold in the hand or on the lap.
4. The touchpad on the keyboard dock, while sizable, is nowhere as nice to use as the one on the XPS-12, and the bottom buttons only click when pushed toward the center of the touchpad, not on the outside edges (as my fingers seem to want to do, to avoid pushing the right button when seeking the left, and vice-versa). For the kind of money Fujitsu charges for its gear, I’d expect them to use absolute top-of-the-line components, including the touchpad.
5. Given the presence of a U4600, the performance is less than you’d expect, and lower than even some higher-end i5 machines. See the Geekbench results at Tablet PC Review for more details. Read the whole thread to get the overall “nerd-view” of the Q704: it’s not pretty. Apparently, waterproofing perforce means less efficient ventilation and lower performance because of thermal inefficiencies. Sigh.

All in all, I’m hopeful that a combination of BIOS fixes and “best use practices” will help me extract a more acceptable experience from my Q704. Should be interesting to see how it all turns out.

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Interesting USB Access Issue on Fujitsu Q704 Worked Around

I’m still breaking in — or rather, getting to know in depth — my latest Windows 8.1 tablet. Somewhat annoyingly, the Fujitsu Q704 stops “seeing” a USB flash drive (UFD for short)  plugged into the keyboard dock once the machine has been idle for half an hour or longer. Continue reading Interesting USB Access Issue on Fujitsu Q704 Worked Around

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Interesting Adventures with New Fujitsu Q704 Tablet/Convertible

Having secured permission from the Chancellor of the Exchequer (aka, “The Boss” — namely, my wife Dina) I recently purchased a new Fujitsu Windows tablet convertible, model Stylistic Q704 Hybrid Tablet PC with the keyboard dock/extra battery option. The price came in at over $2K, which is kinda painful for a 12.5″ tablet, but when the Boss said I could go for it, go for it I did. Now I’m learning to live with it. Here’s a snazzy publicity still:

fujitsu-q704jpg Continue reading Interesting Adventures with New Fujitsu Q704 Tablet/Convertible

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USB 3.0 SandForce Flash Drives: True Value or False Economy?

I’m in a bit of a quandary on an interesting subject. I just purchased a 128 GB USB 2.0 Flash drive — a Centon DataStick Sport — that I picked up on special from TigerDirect for about $65 (as I write this blog, you can pick them up at Amazon for about $80). It seemed like a very good deal when I bought the unit, but I was quickly disabused of my enthusiasm when I plugged it into my desktop PC to copy all 29 GB of music I keep on that machine to see how it performed doing large bulk file transfers. The entire transfer took almost three hours to complete (I can do it in under 40 minutes from one direct-attached disk to another), after which I understood that while I might have purchased plenty of capacity, I didn’t get the kind of performance one might wish to have, to keep the time required for big file transfers more manageable — but then I didn’t pay for that privilege, either.

This flash drive is big (128 GB) but it's not fast.
This flash drive is big (128 GB) but it’s not fast.

At least, I now understand why USB 3.0 or eSATA makes more sense for big flash drives, or other forms of external storage, especially if you need to move large amounts of data on a regular basis. But if you go shopping for USB 3.0 flash drives (probably the most practical form of higher-speed flash storage available at the moment) you’ll find prices running from $1-2 GB for such storage, depending on how fast you want that storage to be. In particular, the bigger and faster such drives get, the more they cost. In particular, this $290 Super Talent 100GB USB3.0 Express RC8 Flash Drive (model ST3U100R8S) stuck me as amazingly extravagant, even if it is “Windows To Go certified” for Windows 8 Enterprise.

 

The SuperTalent Unit is big and fast, but also pretty costly.

On the other hand, you can jump over to Newegg and purchase a Vantec NexStar 3 USB 3.0/eSATA 2.5″ drive enclosure for $30, and a very fast Samsung 830 128GB SSD for $105. Add $20 for shipping and handling, and you’ve spent $155 for more storage capacity (119 GB actual storage in Windows Explorer vs. 93 GB likewise) and similar or better speed (depending on whether or not your notebook has an eSATA port or “only USB 3.0″). Given those economics, I have trouble understanding why anybody would buy the higher-dollar UFD, except that the form factor is significantly smaller. But my Vantec drive measures out at about 5.5 x 3.5 x 0.7” and weighs under 250 grams, so it will fit into a laptop bag with no stress or strain at all. And it only takes 5 minutes and a Philips-head screwdriver to put all the pieces together.

But there must be a market, because there are lots of 64 GB and higher-capacity USB 3.0 UFDs available. Go figure!

 

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