- Mobile broadband and (optional) NFC support
- Cradle-style docking option
- Business-class security, manageability and serviceability
- Add-on keyboard is comfortable for typing
- Digitizer pen
- Battery life could be better
- Magnetic keyboard attachment could be stronger
- Magnetic keyboard is not backlit
- No 'home' for stylus on tablet
- Awkward adhesive pen loop attachment for stylus
- Reflective screen
The primary purpose of Microsoft's Surface Pro range was to point OEMs in the right direction when designing tablet/laptop hybrids -- or "the tablet that can replace your laptop," as Microsoft puts it. Along the way, the company has sold more than a few Surfaces: in its latest quarterly filing (fiscal Q3 2016), Microsoft generated $1.1 billion in revenue from Surface devices, with growth driven primarily by the release of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book in the previous quarter.
Given these financials, the number of Surface Pro-inspired hybrids now available, and the fact that this market segment is an island of growth in an otherwise declining PC market, it's clear that Microsoft has done its job well. In addition to the Surface Pro 4 and Surface 3, businesses seeking a capable Windows 10 tablet with an attachable keyboard can choose from products like Dell's Latitude 12 7000 Series, HP's Elite X2 1012, Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Tablet or Samsung's TabPro S -- and the Fujitsu Stylistic R726, reviewed here.
Fujitsu is particularly focused on business customers, viewing the replacement of a laptop and a tablet with a hybrid as not only a sensible purchasing decision, but also good from the IT manager's point of view, as it reduces the mobile device management (MDM) overhead. The company is one of the few OEMs to build its own systems, either in Japan or -- as in the case of the Stylistic R726 -- in Germany, and it provides a full set of business-class security, manageability and serviceability features, along with a good range of accessories to extend the device's functionality.
Our Core i7-based review unit, which includes an add-on keyboard and an active stylus, costs £1,211 (ex. VAT, or £1,453.20 inc. VAT).
As befits its market positioning, the Stylistic R726 looks as though it means business. The tablet section, which houses a 12.5-inch screen in a magnesium-aluminium chassis, measures 319mm by 201mm by 9.5mm (12.55in. x 7.91in. x 0.37in.) and weighs 830g (1.83lbs). The rear is uniformly grey, broken up only by a silver Fujitsu logo, a camera lens and a kickstand.
The 12.5-inch screen is a PLS (Plane to Line Switching) display with Full HD (1,920 by 1,080 pixels) resolution -- at 176ppi, a reasonable if not outstanding pixel density. There's a substantial bezel (30mm at the sides, in landscape mode, 34mm top and bottom), which is common in hybrids where space is required to grip the device in tablet mode without activating the touchscreen. The screen is quite reflective (Fujitsu says a matte option may be offered in due course), but delivers good image quality and reliable 10-point capacitive touchscreen functionality.
Our review unit came with an active digitiser stylus, powered by an AAAA battery. There's no internal berth for the stylus on the tablet, which is too thin for that; instead, Fujitsu supplies an adhesive pen loop, which thankfully attaches more securely than the one Microsoft supplied with the Surface Pro 3, but is still less than ideal.
The kickstand only extends to 90 degrees from its stowed position, giving a maximum typing angle of 45 degrees on the desktop, so taller users may find they have to raise the device to see the screen comfortably. The hinge mechanism is solid enough, although we'd prefer rubber feet on the understand of the metal kickstand, to prevent the tablet sliding around on a shiny surface when you prod at the touchscreen. Clearly, if 'lappability' is important to you, a convertible ultrabook may be a better choice than a 2-in-1 tablet with a kickstand.
The keyboard, which weighs 340g (12oz), is a Type Cover-style affair that attaches magnetically in a similar way to Microsoft's hybrid tablets -- although there's no dual-position capability as on the most recent Surface Pros. The attachment works well enough, although we'd prefer a stronger magnet with bit more 'snap'. We like the island-style keyboard itself, even though it's not backlit like the Surface Pro 4's: the keys have a decent amount of travel and feel responsive under the fingers. The two-button touchpad is small, but works well.
An unusual aspect of the Stylistic R726's design is the ease of access -- for on-site service personnel rather than users -- to its internals, which is via four small crosshead screws at the bottom of the rear panel and two tiny ones on each side.
Our review sample of the Stylistic R726 ran on an Intel Core i7-6600U processor, clocked between 2.6GHz and 3.4GHz; Core i3 and i5 CPUs are also available, but there's no Core M option, as with the Surface Pro 4. Entry-level Core i3/i5 models have 4GB of RAM, while higher-end Core i5/i7 models have 8GB and also support Intel's vPro technology. The GPU across the board is Intel's integrated HD Graphics 520. Storage on our top-end review sample was a 512GB M.2 SSD from Samsung, with 256GB and 128GB options also available.
Wireless connectivity is exemplary: dual-band 802.11ac wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and LTE mobile broadband, with NFC available as an option. If you've avoided the Surface Pro 4 because of its lack of LTE support, Fujitsu's hybrid should at least be on your shortlist.
Most of the ports and slots are on the left-hand side (with the tablet in landscape orientation). From the top, they are: 3.5mm audio in/out; USB 3.0 with Anytime Charge support; Mini-DisplayPort; power in; Micro-SD card; and SIM card. The right-hand side has a power button -- which we found awkward to locate and engage by touch -- and a volume rocker, while the bottom has the keyboard connector and a docking connector for the optional cradle.
Most 2-in-1 hybrids use a USB dongle-style system for port replication these days, but Fujitsu has gone for a cradle unit -- more akin to the dock supplied with 2014's Surface Pro 3. Particularly suited to hot-desking use cases, Fujitsu's cradle adds HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, two USB 3.0, RJ-45 Ethernet and combo audio ports, along with power-in and a Kensington lock slot.
If you don't go for the cradle, which costs £108 (ex. VAT), optional cable adapters are available for USB to LAN (£25 ex. VAT), and Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI and VGA (£22 ex. VAT each).
Performance & battery life
Our Core i7-6600U-based review system with 8GB of RAM delivered respectable CPU performance, as measured by Primate Labs' Geekbench 3, although it lagged slightly behind the Core i7-6650-based Surface Pro 4 (also with 8GB of RAM):
An integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 GPU means that graphically demanding software (and games) do not feature highly in this system's use case: Maxon's Cinebench R15 OpenGL test, for example, delivered only 22.4 frames per second, a result that isn't going to blow anyone's socks off.
Fujitsu claims up to 9 hours 52 minutes' battery life for the tablet, or an hour less with the keyboard attached, from the 4-cell, 34Wh lithium-polymer battery. From power consumption measurements, we estimated tablet-only longevities between 9h 57m and 1h 46m -- the extremes representing the system idling with 25 percent screen brightness and performing a heavy workload with 100 percent screen brightness respectively. The mid-point is 5h 21m, which is respectable but well below the 7h 10m we estimated for a Core i5-based Surface Pro 4 (with a slightly bigger 38.2Wh battery) using the same method. If you require all-day battery life, you'll need to consider your mix of workloads and screen brightness setting carefully.
Fujitsu's German-built Stylistic R726 is a solid business-focused device that ticks most of the IT manager's boxes -- including an unobtrusive industrial design with good serviceability access. LTE support is welcome, and the optional docking cradle should prove popular in organisations where the Stylistic R726 is adopted as a 'fleet' device and hot-desking is commonplace.
This hybrid is not without its drawbacks, though: battery life could be better; the magnetic keyboard attachment could be stronger; the keyboard -- although comfortable to type on -- is not backlit; there's no 'home' for the active stylus on the tablet; and the screen currently only comes with a reflective surface.
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