Tablets are, of course, all the rage, and, don't get me wrong, they make dandy holiday gifts. But I'm in the camp that believes that the notebook is hardly doomed and will be around for some time - there's a lot to be said for fast processors, "real" operating systems, and full-size, physical keyboards suitable for typing holiday product reviews.
But the appeal of a touch screen is undeniable, so how about a notebook with one of those? Enter the Fujitsu TH700 family, the latest in a long line of products that features a notebook form factor with a screen that swivels 180 degrees to become a (OK, somewhat thick - at about 1.5 inches - and heavy - more than four pounds, causing it to lose a star in our ratings) tablet? I tried out a TH700 based on a 2.53GHz. Core i3 with 4 GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive, running W7HP. The screen is 12.1 inches and has a resolution of 1280x800 (take that, iPad). It also has HDMI out and gigabit Ethernet, as well as a fingerprint reader and a "spill-resistant" keyboard. The DVD+/-RW drive can be swapped for a second battery, and even the internal dust filter can be cleaned by the user.
OK, as noted above, this type of product is no substitute for the sleekness of a pure tablet, but a pen/touch interface for Windows will prove quite popular with many. It's easy to use. And it's a great value at the price - less than $900.
But count on spending an hour doing initial setup. The supplied pen works fairly well with a little practice, but a finger can also be used, also with a little practice. There's an on-screen keyboard, so you can use Windows 7 in full tablet mode. Of course, most people will want to do this only with certain applications; the touchpad and its buttons work just fine as well. But flipping the screen around and using the TH700 as a pure Windows touchscreen has its advantages. So, no, this won't replace the iPad, mostly because of the slickness of the iPad and the weight of the Fujitsu, but the TH700 can fill the bill quite nicely for anyone looking for a tablet interface to W7.
Cool Yule rating: 4 stars
Price: $899 at B&H Photo, other models available (and judging by the Fujitsu Web site, this model is already obsolete).
Reviewed by C.J. Mathias