Fujitsu steams ahead with Stylistic

Fujitsu PC Corp. christened the flagship of its pen-based computer line in 1999 — the Stylistic 2300, an innovative hybrid of digital assistant and notebook computer. It was lightweight and transportable while able to harness the power of desktop PC operating systems and components.

Now, amid a sea of other pen tablet challengers such as Aqcess Technologies' fleet of Qbe products, Fujitsu's new flagship — the Stylistic 3400 — has set sail. It retains all the wonderful features of its predecessor while offering enough enhancements to keep Fujitsu ahead of the competition.

Like the Stylistic 2300, the Stylistic 3400 relies on a pen-like stylus and a touch screen — rather than a keyboard — for users to run applications and enter information.

The Stylistic 3400X we reviewed supports Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0 operating systems. It employs a 400 MHz Intel Corp. Pentium III processor and 64M of synchronous dynamic RAM (expandable to 192M).

The 10.4-inch SVGA indoor/outdoor thin film transistor screen provides an impressive, clear display at 1,024 x 768 dpi resolution, and you can easily manipulate the screen orientation from horizontal to vertical with a few clicks. The Stylistic 3400X also features a 6G shock-mounted hard drive, a microphone jack, a headphone jack, an infrared port, a PC Card Type III slot (Type II slots can be added at extra cost), a built-in 56K V.90 modem and an Ethernet local-area network adapter.

These specifications are more advanced than those of the Stylistic 2300, and Fujitsu has made a major enhancement to the Stylistic design that hampered the functionality of the 2300. The connector for the floppy drive, formerly located within the battery compartment of the 2300 and requiring the removal of the battery to access it, has been relocated to an easily accessible port on the side of the Stylistic 3400.

Hot-pad keys along the lower portion of the 3400's display are convenient pen-active buttons that enable the user to change display and speaker volume settings, simulate a right-mouse click or temporarily disable the on-screen touch capabilities of the unit with a tap of the pen. Although the Stylistic 3400's 11.2-inch x 8.5-inch x 1.1-inch dimensions make it slightly larger than the 2300, it weighs only 3.21 pounds, which is less than its predecessor. It is also about half the weight of Aqcess Technologies' Qbe Cirrus personal computing tablet.

Although the Qbe's core unit houses a bounty of useful hardware that must be added externally to the Stylistic 3400, the Stylistic earns accolades for running smoothly and error-free, unlike the Qbe we tested previously ["PC tablet not a cure-all," FCW.com, July 5, 2000]. The Stylistic 3400's systems seem more streamlined and integrated, likely because of Fujitsu's experience in the mobile PC market.

An additional bonus for users of the Stylistic is the enormous line of accessories Fujitsu offers, including a mobile slipcase with carrying strap that makes the unit easier to transport and hold. These accessories, while providing Stylistic users with many ways to customize their 3400, come at an extra cost, which may be a negative for budget-strapped organizations.

On the software side, the Stylistic 3400 ships with Computer Intelligence Corp.'s Handwriting Recognition System software, which provides very good text recognition with a little bit of assistance from the included handwriting tutorial. The tutorial helps the unit recognize your writing style, and a helpful floating editing palette provides quick access to common editing keystrokes.

Overall, the combination of quality hardware and easy-to-use software makes the Stylistic 3400 the complete package for mobile computer users who require the power of a desktop PC. Any agency interested in creating a mobile workforce with equipment that packs a punch will want to give the Stylistic 3400 a close look.

Gray is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at edgray2000@yahoo.com.

REPORT CARD

Fujitsu Stylistic 3400 Pen Tablet

Score: A

Fujitsu PC Corp.

(877) 372-3473

www.fujitsupc.com

Price and Availability: The Fujitsu Stylistic 3400X and 3400S carrya suggested retail price of $4,115, which is only slightly higher than theStylistic 2300 released last year. The lower-end 3400C Series retails for$3,500. Any of the 3400 series can be shipped with Microsoft Corp. Windows2000 pre-installed for an extra $100. Contact Fujitsu for a complete listof resellers.

Remarks: The Fujitsu Stylistic 3400 pen tablet is the latest qualityoffering in Fujitsu's extensive line of mobile PC components. Any federalIT manager interested in mobilizing a workforce will find this to be a wonderfullytransportable, versatile pen tablet with abundant processing power. It couldeven be used as a desktop PC. Fujitsu has a vast line of accessories tohelp customize the way the pen tablet is used; the only drawback is thatthese accessories add to the cost.

BY Ed Gray
November 29, 2000

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