HANNOVER, Germany-Fujitsu will be offering an iPad competitor that includes the features that nearly everyone wants in a tablet, plus features that business IT departments wish were already available in tablets today.
The new tablet, dubbed the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550, will run Windows 7 Professional, but will offer a radically different interface that allows full touch-screen capability, multitouch operations, multimedia, and necessities such as WiFi and Bluetooth. But in addition to these tablet features, the Q550 includes a smartcard reader slot, a fingerprint reader, advanced theft protection and a trusted platform module.
A Fujitsu executive demonstrated a prototype of the new tablet for eWEEK during a visit to the company’s booth at CeBIT, in advance of the public announcement that will take place on March 1 when the show officially opens. The new tablet is similar to the Apple iPad in appearance, but the screen, at 10.3 inches, is slightly larger. It’s about the same weight and thickness of the iPad. The tablet is designed to be integrated into a company’s existing enterprise IT infrastructure, according to Fujitsu.
The 10.3-inch screen has an anti-glare finish and, in the harsh lighting of the pre-trade-show construction phase, this appeared to be the case. The Q550 is unique in offering both a pen interface and a touch interface. The device is able to detect when the pen is being used, and will automatically change to pen input, while at the same time turning on handwriting recognition to convert the stylus input to text. When users switch to finger inputs, the device instantly switches to a touch-screen interface.
The Q550 offers two user interface formats, one of which resembles the typical Windows interface, but at a touch it can switch to a screen with colored icons on a black background like the interfaces displayed by the iPad and its competitors. In the brief tests we were allowed, the screen appeared to work well in both modes of operations.
The Fujitsu Q550 will run Windows 7-compatible applications. However, Fujitsu is also setting up an app store designed specifically for its tablet computers. The company representative said Fujitsu will be publishing the APIs so that anyone can develop apps or update their existing Windows applications to take advantage of the dual-mode touch screen.
Fujitsu told eWEEK that the expected retail price of the new tablet will be $699.00. Fujitsu is providing 3G UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) as an option on the Q550. However, the company was unable to provide a price for this option. It will also include WiFi and Bluetooth. The Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 will be available around the end of April.
Discovering the LG 3D Mobile Phone
A visit to the LG booth produced a chance to see the company’s new 3D mobile phone. The screen of the device is designed to refract light in such a way that the 3D image appears without the need for those annoying glasses you have to have for 3D television. The 3D image appears more effective than devices such as the Nintendo 3DS, which was also being shown.
LG’s 3D phone includes a 3D camera so you can produce your own images and videos. The company is also about to announce a new Android “Honeycomb”-based tablet that can’t show 3D without glasses but does include a 3D camera and an HDMI port, so you can watch 3D on your properly equipped television.
In fact, the presence of tablets was inescapable at CeBIT. Virtually every booth I visited was showing an iPad for controlling something ranging from cloud storage to cars. An exception was Microsoft, which will be showing an electric-powered Smart car that has a Microsoft-based user interface operating through Microsoft Windows Phone 7. This device is a cloud-based information system, but when asked what happens when a cell signal is lost, a Microsoft representative wasn’t able to suggest a solution except to say that cell service is so reliable in Germany that this would never happen (our tests suggest that this is an exaggeration).
Clearly, snooping around CeBIT while construction is still under way isn’t the same thing as visiting booths during the show when people are around prepared to talk to the media. But it was also revealing in that I was allowed to see things that probably would be hard to see and try out in the midst of a crowded trade show floor. While I did see some things that provoke thought (like why an Olympic medal winner was promoting a treadmill with a high-tech monitoring system), seeing companies during unguarded moments did reveal some truly interesting products.
The Fujitsu tablet, for example, puts a true enterprise spin on the genre. While the Apple iPad can be forced into an enterprise role, it’s not an easy fit. The Motorola Xoom is slightly better, but the Q550 was made for the enterprise from the ground up. This is what IT managers have dreamed about since tablets suddenly became popular. Just think-a tablet that meets real enterprise security standards. An amazing concept.