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Fujitsu’s Stylistics ST4000.

Although a slate-style tablet PC like the Fujitsu Stylistic ST4000 has a futuristic look, there’s a mild feeling of the old-fashioned about it too, like Laura Ingalls taking a class in pen computing. Those who’ve gotten used to typing, pointing, and clicking, will need to draw on one older skill that may be rusty from disuse: handwriting.

Unlike a convertible tablet that can let you go from laptop to tablet with one swivel, a slate design necessitates more writing, unless you like tapping at the small, PDA-type keyboard interface on the screen. The handwriting recognition can be quite good compared to similar previous technology, but it only works if the user learns how the computer wants the writing done, not the other way around. Fortunately, the Fujitsu’s 10.4-inch screen makes this a snap, because the large, clear writing area allows for expansive, cursive efforts.

The screen size is crucial, too, for desktop setup. Where a smaller tablet like the Acer would get lost on a regular desk, the stand provided with the Fujitsu turns it into a good alternative for everyday computing. Its price (around $2,300) puts it into a higher range than some of its competitors, but some users willing to try the desktop replacement trick may find it’s worth the money.

Fujitsu also distinguishes itself with a longer battery life (4.5 hours) than most tablets, an important factor for a day of meetings. Like many other slates, the back heats up after an hour or so, but since the tablet is usually held at a bit of an angle, like a real paper tablet, this is less of a concern. Besides, if Laura Ingalls can excel at using a slate, so can you, right?

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