Windows 7 business tablets: Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 vs. Motion CL900

These two new Windows 7 tablets offer ruggedized components and enterprise-level mobility

With more than 25 million iPads sold during the device's first 15 months (according to this year's WWDC keynote address), there's no doubt that Apple has been the early winner in the tablet wars. However, while the iPad (and Android tablets) may be popular among individual buyers, for companies that have standardized on Windows, they could be a problem.

"Businesses have a lot invested in Windows software," says Jeff Orr, mobile devices group director at ABI Research. "The cost of starting from scratch to build new programs for the iPad or Android tablets can be exorbitant."

Fujitsu Stylistic Q550
Fujitsu Stylistic Q550

For example, if you're using an iPad, you can't work with Word, Excel or PowerPoint (although there is a rudimentary version of Photoshop). Approximately the same situation exists with Android-based tablets.

Another concern of businesses -- and the reason they may want something other than a media-centric consumer tablet -- is security. Some current Windows 7 tablets offer fingerprint scanners, smart card readers (smart cards are often used to identify a client and authenticate it for acceptance on a secure corporate network) and/or a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip. "Security is a key concern, and these items are must-haves for companies," says Orr. "They are not available on any media tablet. It's not what they're all about."

One feature that is useful for businesses but not included with an iPad or most current Android tablets is a stylus. With it, you can illustrate your point at a meeting, make corrections directly on blueprints and fill out an online form more precisely.

The price to pay for these add-ons is in size and weight. Additional hardware -- such as USB ports and ruggedness features -- make Windows tablets roughly half a pound heavier and a fraction of an inch thicker than the iPad 2. Some are so heavy that they can be uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time.

Two Windows systems

For this review, I tested two new Windows 7-based tablets: the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 Slate PC ($850) and the Motion CL900 Tablet PC ($1,220). Both come equipped with a 1.5GHz Atom Z670 processor, 2GB of RAM and 62GB of solid-state flash storage space. Each comes with Windows 7 Professional and a one-year warranty.

Motion CL900
Motion CL900

To run them through their paces, I used each of these tablets every day for a few weeks: I wrote and edited on them, worked with a website, created and gave presentations, downloaded large files and even watched an online video or two. I also ran several benchmark tests.

Neither of these tablets is going to set any performance records or end up in the hands of gamers, but that misses the point. These tablets can get the job done for companies that are looking for Windows-based systems.

Made for business

On first glance, the Fujitsu Q550 and the Motion Computing CL900 look very much the same. Both are 0.6-in. thick, twice as thick as the 0.3-in. iPad. At 7.6 x 10.8 in., the Fujitsu is a little taller than the Motion, which measures 7.0 x 10.8 in. -- and both are larger than the 7.3 x 9.5 in. iPad 2.

The Fujitsu weighs in at 1.9 lb., less than the 2.1-lb. Motion but about half a pound heavier than the 1.3-lb. iPad 2. Despite that, I was able to comfortably hold the Fujitsu with one hand while working on it with a pen or my finger. In contrast, the Motion felt heavy and ponderous after a few minutes of use.

Both tablets offer a business-like dark-gray-and-black skin; each includes a matching stylus that can be tethered to the unit with an included thin cord. But while the Motion has a handy pop-out pen holder, there's no place to stash the Fujitsu's stylus. In fact, at times I found the pen hanging loose while I was working the screen with my fingers.

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