Discussion in 'Fujitsu' started by SF6, Mar 12, 2014.
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So I just stepped up to the T904 when I realized how affordable they've become, and here's some first impressions:
-Build quality is markedly better than its plasticky predecessors, particularly the hinge on this one not having the typical looseness, but at the expense of a bottom housing that can't be removed without copious use of guitar picks or similar plastic unlatching tools all around. Can't say I'm too happy about that when it makes getting to the internal SO-DIMM slot a total pain.
-Also, I'm not usually one to comment on how thin and light modern laptops are, but it really does make the tablet mode on the T904 that much easier to handle. Heck, it's even easier to handle than my Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid is!
-The pen slips out of its silo far too easily, and when I push it all in to where it's supposed to catch, it'll frequently pop out on its own. Just another reason to pop off the back while I'm slipping more RAM in there, I suppose, but Fujitsu should've been taking notes from the pen clutch design on the HP 2730p/2740p/2760p.
-The screen resolution... what have I been missing out on my whole life? Windows 10 at 200% DPI scaling looks great on this thing (provided, of course, you're running DPI-aware software), and with DPI that even slightly edges out a Retina MBP 15". Even with the somewhat substandard viewing angles, it's still far more livable than a typical TN panel's behavior. I'd trade my T902 panel for one of these in a heartbeat.
-Wacom EMR pen tracking is on point, and at least the drivers Windows Update crams down its throat don't screw up everything. Let's just say there's a reason I have to go crazy with blocking Wacom driver updates on the T902 when running Windows 10 on it.
-The keyboard, unfortunately, suffers from the Ultrabook push to make this thing thin, so there isn't a whole lot of key travel. Note that I prefer the cushier keyboards you used to find on things like old Inspiron 8200s, ThinkPads or PowerBook G3s as far as laptops go, though it's still a compromise compared to a proper mechanical keyboard (which isn't happening in a portable unless you want an MSI GT80/GT83).
-The trackpad is even worse, not just because it lacks discrete buttons, but because the microswitch is one of those kinds that has a noticeably tactile click... and electrical actuation that doesn't go through without even more pressure applied. I thought it was broken at first just because of this, and before anyone suggests tap-to-click, NO. I hate that feature's tendency to misclick at the slightest brush of the palm. I mean, the surface is great, but it's just more reason that only that bitten fruit company post-2005 makes trackpads that don't suck.
-The speakers are worst of all, not that I was expecting much coming from its predecessors. There's pretty noticeable distortion at 50% volume and above.
-The fan... surprisingly doesn't bother me all that much. Yeah, it's higher-pitched, which makes it sound noisier, but everyone acts like it's full hair dryer mode in normal use. To me, hair dryer mode's more like the tiny twin fans in the Inspiron 8200, or any modern gaming laptop that's running some GPU-intensive benchmark.
-Maybe I need to install one of the Fujitsu software utilities for this, but Windows 10 on its own doesn't seem to realize when I have the screen converted to tablet mode, let alone to query for tablet mode and set rotation lock accordingly.
It's too soon to comment on battery life, but with my T902 battery being flat-out dead, it's not hard to win there. With that said, finding working Fujitsu batteries is like buying luxury car parts: uncommon and ridiculously overpriced!
Meanwhile, I look at Fujitsu's successor models, and I can't help but feel a bit disappointed. No more 2560x1440 screen options, AES instead of EMR, USB-C without the extra functionality that makes USB-C good... I'd rather just start looking at the MobileStudio Pro lineup for that kind of money and sling along a compact keyboard and mouse.
UPDATE: So I finally managed to unlatch the bottom half without breaking anything (seriously, there are few things I hate more in electronics repair than snap latches and having to carefully pry them apart with plastic spudgers without scuffing anything), and something's weird about this T904 inside.
The 4 GB of RAM was already in the SO-DIMM slot. 8 GB max on this board, unless you want to try your hand at BGA soldering the missing 4 GB on the mobo.
When did Fujitsu start doing this? I hate soldered RAM enough as is, but this moreso since I was hoping to slip in one of my 8 GB SO-DIMMs from the T902 and have this thing already maxed at 12 GB.
Also, it turns out that, yet again, Fujitsu didn't bother with a pen clutch mechanism; it's pure friction fit in there, and the foam pad that usually provides said friction isn't doing the job any more. Oh well, nothing a few pieces of well-placed electrical tape can't solve.
@NamelessPlayer congratulations on your new purchase!
Had same thoughts after switching from 12.5" HD to 12.5" FHD about a year ago - although I use mine on 100% scaling.
The touchpad does have really unreliable clicks. I recommend using taps instead, without any special tap zones. Works much much smoother.
After using the T904 more, I have a few more things to add to the list:
-TRRS headphone jack quality isn't very good, to say the least. I hear background hissing on those AKG-branded IEMs Samsung packs into S8/Note 8 boxes, and the typical smartphone doesn't even suffer from that sort of noise any more, even the ones that aren't pitched at audiophiles like LG V-series. I suppose it's still better than the craptastic built-in speakers, though.
-Tap-to-click can work if you can get used to it, but again, I've never really liked it to begin with.
Fortunately, it seems that massaging the microswitch and the arm backing it with a bit of repeated pressure while I had the bottom half apart made it considerably more reliable with regard to making the microswitch's tactile click and electrical response line up properly. Unfortunately, there's still the problem of it only clicking easily in the middle, since the trackpad flexes around the switch at the corners.
-Did Fujitsu finally make the backlit keyboard a standard option on the T904? The T5010, T901 and T902 I had before were all low-spec enough to not include it, and yet I overlooked the keyboard backlighting thinking it wasn't there until I saw an unfamiliar Fn key icon on F2. It's not as adjustable as a MacBook (two brightness levels and completely off), but it helps a lot at night.
That said, I've still sometimes missed keystrokes due to the irkingly short-throw nature of the keys. The T902, while still not as good as the T901 before it on the keyboard front, really is that much more usable keyboard-wise for touch-typists like myself.
-The screen, portability and overall build quality are still winning me over enough that I'd seriously consider a decked-out T936 in the future, at least if I can find one of the things. Even T935s aren't too common to find at the moment, but the T936 made the jump to Skylake, DDR4, and possibly newer NVMe SSDs for all I know, with the possibility of a full 16 GB of RAM. (Hopefully not single-channel still, that's just plain dumb... but I have a feeling that 16 GB is on a single DDR4 SO-DIMM and not split between soldered and slotted.)
-4 GB of RAM isn't quite cutting it for my usage case. I'm definitely maxing this thing out with 8 GB soon, along with a 256 GB SSD upgrade. Having to undo the case snaps again is gonna suck, though.
-The state of Windows HiDPI support today is actually pretty good, except where it suddenly isn't. Windows Media Player renders at quarter-size (no pixel doubling at 200% scaling) with no option to override that in the file properties, so it's time to snag a media player that is HiDPI-friendly. Web sites often have crisp text, but inconsistent resolution on the images. The overall lack of developer foresight with regard to display advancements over the years is coming back to bite everyone hard.
-I'm still trying to figure out the nature of this 1440p IGZO panel's matrix (since "IGZO" refers to the TFT part of the LCD and is a replacement for a-Si), and it strikes me as a more exaggerated VA with its off-axis shifts, going by its similarities and differences with my two desktop monitors (Eizo FG2421 representing VA, Cintiq Companion Hybrid representing IPS). Weaknesses in black/dark grey response times are similar, too. It doesn't have the really deep black levels that VA panels are known for, though; we're talking anywhere from 3000:1 to a bit over 5000:1 with a typical desktop VA panel.
Still, it's the sort of resolution boost that makes my 1080p Cintiq Hybrid look pixellated and painfully low-res by comparison. Alas, the Cintiq Companion 2 is way out of budget, let alone the MobileStudio Pro, and that's what makes the T904 a winner at current pricing: at a bit over $300, you get a pretty spiffy convertible laptop with MacBook or EliteBook build quality at a fraction of the price, and for those who are willing to work around those pesky case snaps (stock up on guitar picks and plastic spudgers!), upgrading the RAM and SSD isn't too difficult after the fact.
-There's another screen flaw that thankfully isn't present on the T904, but is painfully obvious on the T902 if you've been viewing high-contrast pages with black/dark grey backgrounds: image retention. Yes, really, LCD panels can suffer from that. I think the AFFS+ one in my T901 even burned in some taskbar elements very faintly.
@NamelessPlayer all recent T9XX, T936 included, have single RAM slot without any soldered RAM.
Well, that's a letdown. I guess 12 GB T904s (4 GB soldered + 8 GB DDR3 SO-DIMM) are a bit of a rarity now, and T936s use 16 GB DDR4 SO-DIMMs.
The big issue with having only one RAM slot isn't just the halved capacity; it's the crippled performance that results when you can't use dual-channel mode, and that goes double for any integrated graphics system like all of these Fujitsu convertibles are saddled with. (Of course, integrated graphics alone cripples performance even more than lack of RAM to the point that my decade-old Q6600 box with a GTX 760 runs circles around the T902 and T904, to say nothing of my 4770K/GTX 980 build...)
However, I can see some use cases for gobs of RAM after having found out that some digital artists actually like to work with stupid-huge canvas resolutions in the five-digit range for both dimensions. Throw on a few layers, and the file size goes up real quick. Perhaps that stuff's meant to be printed later, in which case you need all the resolution you can get.
Meanwhile, as much as I love the screen, that keyboard's continuing to be a pain point, moreso than the trackpad without discrete buttons. I've never missed the occasional keystroke like that on any other keyboard I've used, even cheap rubber dome desktop boards, though I've admittedly never used a "butterfly switch" MacBook for any extended period of time for a point of comparison. In any case, it's about as much of a deal-breaker as the screen is a deal-maker, making me feel really conflicted about the T904 as a whole.
I also eventually found some scuffs on the glass, so it's not flawless, but the fact that even I can't tell that they're there on the screen in typical indoor lighting conditions speaks volumes about how much of an improvement it is over the plastic capacitive digitizer surface on the T902. They're only noticeable if I run a fingernail or pen nib across 'em, and since they're toward the top edge of the screen, it's not all that likely. Heck, I'm not sure if the scratches would even be visible under direct light if a good screen protector got thrown on, with adhesive filling in the gaps.
All in all, I suppose that while I like it, I don't love it. Too many shortcomings detract from the nicer points for someone as spoiled by quality computing experiences as I am, and I consider a good keyboard essential for any laptop. But when you're only paying $300-something and can max the RAM to 8 GB (if you're lucky, 12 GB) with another $60 as opposed to the exorbitant price tag Fujitsu wanted for these things new, expectations are lowered accordingly.
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