A year ago we looked at Fujitsu's Stylistic Q550, a 10.1in. Windows 7 tablet designed principally for business users. It was expensive, and despite its finger-friendly Infinity Lounge overlay didn't really wow us. The intervening 12 months has seen a lot of activity in the tablet market, and a proliferation of Android-based devices in particular. Fujitsu's response is the Stylistic M532, a £470 (inc. VAT; £392 ex. VAT) 10.1in. Android 4.0 device that the company says is "the perfect choice for business and private use by mobile professionals".
To cater for both business and home environments the Stylistic M532 needs to look the part and also offer appropriate functionality. As far as looks are concerned, the thin and light Stylistic M532 can hold its own against tablets from the likes of Asus, Samsung and Apple.
The red trim running around the edge is eye catching yet subtle, and is matched by a red Android background when you switch the device on.
We like the rubbery finish to the backplate, which assists with grip and doesn't attract fingerprints as much as shiny plastic can. However, the M532 is a thin device, and we could bow it without having to apply too much pressure. Apple's iPad and the Asus Transformer Prime are both a lot more robust.
Nonetheless the plastic chassis does give the Stylistic M532 a weight advantage. The metal Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime weighs 586g, the original Eee Pad Transformer weighs 635g while the latest iPad with Wi-Fi and 3G comes in at 662g. By comparison, the 560g Stylistic M532 is a lightweight that feels comfortable to hold for extended periods.
There's another plus point for the build. That red edge strip is made from metal and ought to provide some protection from drops that could otherwise damage the sides or corners of the device.
Fujitsu could have done better on the ports and connectors front. The battery is charged via a proprietary port that can also be used to connect the unit to a cradle dock. That dock — which we'll take a look at when it becomes available in a few weeks' time — will add support for things like Ethernet and HDMI.
We much prefer charging via USB, but the Micro-USB port on the M532 is purely for data exchange. We'd also like to see HDMI on the tablet itself rather than a docking unit option.
The top edge of the chassis has a headphone jack and the on/off switch. On the right there's a volume rocker, the Micro-USB connector and a cover protecting a microSD card slot and a standard-size SIM card slot.
There's an ambient light sensor on the screen bezel, along with a battery charge light (we do wish more tablets incorporated one of those). The back of the chassis carries a pair of speakers, one either side at the bottom.
The clear, bright 10.1in. screen has a resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels. It's responsive to finger touches and viewing angles are good. We'd like a button to disable automatic screen rotation, which can kick in at annoying moments — but that criticism can be levelled at many tablets.
Fujitsu has equipped the Stylistic M532 with a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 T30S processor running at 1.4GHz, supported by 1GB of RAM. This puts it at the top of the tablet tree as far as raw computing power is concerned.
The M532 runs Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and has 32GB of internal storage. On our review sample, fresh out of the box, the available capacity was reported as 26.2GB. You can use a microSD card to augment this if need be.
It's a pity that Fujitsu has not been able to integrate the support for USB devices that's a key plus point of the Asus Transformer range. We'd have loved the ability to use USB sticks or even attach an external USB mouse and keyboard. Such capabilities would certainly boost the M532's utility as a business tool.
Still, the Stylistic M532 does have a SIM card slot (conspicuous by its absence on the Asus Transformers) to go with its dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) support. DLNA support is also provided, via CyberLink's PowerDVD Mobile application. This is remarkably easy to use and can stream music, video and photos from remote devices.
Business users need a different array of applications and support to consumers, and Fujitsu has made an effort to tweak Android 4.0 appropriately.
There's a competent file manager in the shape of ES File Explorer, while ThinkFree Office Mobile allows you to create Microsoft Word-, Excel- and PowerPoint-compatible documents. TouchDown for Tablets provides synchronisation facilities for corporate Outlook. Norton Tablet Security is also preinstalled as are Citrix, VMware and iTap mobile RDP clients for virtual desktop scenarios. All of these apps are available from Google Play, but it's nice to see Fujitsu thinking about what apps might be useful right out of the box, saving you or your IT staff the time and bother of locating and installing them.
The Stylistic M532 also includes an app for Absolute Computrace, for remote device tracking and management. However, you need to subscribe to use the service so in this case the app is little more than a glorified advertisement.
There's a front facing 2-megapixel camera for those wanting to make video calls, and an arguably overspecified 8-megapixel camera on the back of the chassis, complete with flash. We'd like to see some preinstalled video call software to help you make the most of the front camera immediately.
The Stylistic M532's quad-core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM mean that it performs well. Web pages rendered quickly and video played smoothly, for example.
According to Fujitsu, the M532's non-removable 3,170mAh battery will play video for 8.4 hours. During the review period it regularly saw us through a full day without needing a recharge, and it's possible you could manage for a weekend without mains power — depending, of course, on your usage pattern.
Fujitsu's Stylistic M532 looks smart, and is light for a 10.1in. tablet. It comes with a good range of preinstalled business software, although there's nothing you can't obtain easily for any other Android tablet.
The lack of support for USB devices — storage or mouse/keyboard — is a missed opportunity. It's also a pity that you can't charge via USB: by forcing you to use the proprietary dock connector, which is hardwired to the power cable, Fujitsu effectively requires you to carry a special charge cable for this device.
Despite these niggles, we think Fujitsu has made an admirable job of producing a tablet that's equally usable in the office and at home.
Editor's note, 2/8/2012